Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Off Topic - Landscape Transformation

One of the best things about having your own blog is that nobody can prevent you from writing about whatever the heck you please. And at the moment, I am so stinkin' excited about this amazing transformation we've done on our landscape that I was dying to write about it.

We've lived in this house for over ten years. When we moved in, the landscape looked decent. Nothing special, but perfectly serviceable. But years of neglect, coupled with a harsher-than-average winter (for Austin) had taken a toll on our landscape, rendering it rather embarassing.

Last spring, I interviewed probably ten different landscapers, chose one, and had a plan drawn up. I won't bore you with the gory details, but long story short, that landscaper then proceeded to go AWOL on us (fortunately, before we had paid him any money) and we were stuck with a plan but nobody to implement it. I got a few bids, including one from the landscaper who eventually did do the work, Steve Dearen of Dearen Landscapes, then spent probably a year getting used to the fact that this project was going to cost a LOT more than I had originally anticipated. Finally, this spring, I decided we could put up with our weed-tastic landscape no more, and called up Steve. Happily, he was still willing to work with us, and we pulled the trigger.

I could not have been more pleased with the work that Steve and his crew did. It was expensive, but after I saw the amount of work they put in, I truly believe it was worth every penny. It would have literally been impossible for us to do what they did. For nine days, there were 5-6 guys here - sometimes more - working really, really hard, all day. They employed a Bobcat, the largest dump truck I've ever seen, a welder, rock cutters, a jackhammer, wheelbarrows, shovels, a generator, probably many other tools that I'm completely unaware of, and lots and lots of hard, hard work. The transformation was nothing short of miraculous. Steve was unfailingly patient and always affable despite my frequent bouts with indecision, mind-changing, and micromanaging; he was unflappable when things went wrong (and things always go wrong); and his crew was startlingly efficient in implementing whatever I eventually decided. In short, they were amazing.

But don't take my long-winded word for it - see for yourself.

Before - Front
Front Yard - BEFORE.  Before the landscaping, our front yard was horribly overgrown. Many plants had frozen and died over the winter. The sidewalk, which I have hated since we moved into this house, was angled in such a way as to make it look like you were entering the side door.

After - Front
Front Yard - AFTER.  All beds have been edged in steel and mulched with crushed limestone. All plant matter was scrapped and replaced with a Japanese garden-esque look using steel planters mulched with Texas black basalt and flanked by Japanese maples. Thanks to a seriously brilliant idea by my architect friend, Kimberly Kohlhaas, the front walk (now made of grey leuder) was rerouted to provide more interaction with our gorgeous old oak tree and a better view of the front door sooner, which helps it feel like a front door.

After - Front 2
Front Yard - AFTER.

Before - Side
Side View - BEFORE.  An overgrown pomegranate bush tangled overhead with one of our trees. Invasive ivy kept creeping up the side of our house, ruining our paint. A large bush (mostly hidden to the right of the photo) blocked our view from the kitchen window.

After - Side
Side View - AFTER.  A curvy bed mulched with crushed limestone contains steel planters holding agapanthus, variegated ginger, bicolor iris, and juniper pom pom topiary trees. Purple fountain grass conceals a protruding pipe.

After - Side 2
Side View - AFTER.

After - Side 3
Side View - AFTER.

Before - back yard
Back Yard - BEFORE.  I should have taken this photo before we removed the over-mature ligustrum with the 6' diameter trunk that was hogging this entire bed. The tan color of the bed's interior is the wood chips left over from grinding the stump.

photo
Back Yard - AFTER. This photo is obviously taken from further to the left than the "before" photo, but you can use the shed for reference. Two islands of shade-friendly grass (Zorro Zoysia) were planted; the rest of the yard besides the back bed is all rainbow and pea gravel.

After - back yard
Back Yard - AFTER.

Before - Back yard
Back Yard - BEFORE.  The one beautiful plant in the back beds, a huge sago palm, was lost amongst the overgrown foliage.

After - back yard
Back Yard - AFTER.  Now the sago palm has room to breathe.

Before - Back Yard
Back Yard - BEFORE. Between the drought, the shade, and Mindy (pictured!), most of our St. Augustine had died.

After - Back Yard
Back Yard - AFTER. Gravel is much harder to kill. Hopefully, Zorro Zoysia is, too. The fence line is dotted with a row of knockout roses.

After - Back Yard
Back Yard - AFTER. I don't have a "before" photo of this spot, but wanted to show my friend Carla that we reserved some planters for a patio garden! 

I am so thrilled by this complete transformation in our landscape and highly recommend Dearen Landscapes if you need to overhaul your outdoor space.*

*In case you're wondering, this rave review is completely unsolicited and Steve has no idea that I'm writing it.

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