Landscapes of the Month: Creating an Outdoor Destination in a Tight Space - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Creating an Outdoor Destination in a Tight Space

Photo: Tim McAuliffe

Located in Plano, Texas, this client wanted to construct an outdoor living area that included an outdoor kitchen, bar area, planters, lighting, travertine pavers and a firepit. The client intended for the most important item to be a multi-use structure, not attached to the home, that could open and close like a pergola to provide full coverage from the elements and natural lighting.

Due to the challenging nature of the project, the client hired Complete Landsculpture, based in Dallas, Texas, to take on the project. This client was not an existing one; they were referred to Complete Landsculpture by a previous client.

Photo: Tim McAuliffe

“Currently, over 75 percent of my clients are referral based on my design and style,” says Tim McAuliffe, senior landscape consultant at Complete Landsculpture. “My style is a ‘listen to understand’ and not to just ‘respond’ approach; we are relationship based, not transactional based at Complete Landsculpture. We live by ‘relationships matter at all levels.’”

Due to the success of the project, Complete Landsculpture received a Gold Award for the project in the 2022 Awards of Excellence.

“It means the world to our teams at Complete Landsculpture,” McAuliffe says. “Having our teams be recognized nationally for these amazing outdoor destinations we created is awesome! Sharing the success of our projects together the ‘complete way’ is how we do things. A complete team effort always, this project was one of a record eight NALP Awards of Excellence for 2022, so we are very proud.”

Despite the successful end result,  Complete Landsculpture did face a variety of challenges during project construction.

Crews had to access the backyard through this narrow door.
Photo: Tim McAuliffe

The main issue that was faced came from a 42” wide gate being the only way to access the rear garden area for construction. A full paver driveway meant no large equipment or heavy vehicles were allowed on the driveway. These factors made this project very labor-intensive.

“We were challenged with the previous designer’s mistakes with the city as we had to redesign and resubmit everything back to the city after taking over this project,” McAuliffe says. “Overall access and the amount of labor intense items were the most challenging aspects to deal with.”

While working on the project, the company found that all of the lines for the gas and electric would have to be jack hammered by hand due to rock in the subbase. On top of that, the company also dealt with supply chain issues, COVID-19 restrictions, and poorly installed irrigation.

During project execution, the company also faced major delays with the structure manufacturer, the weather, the fire pit and matching the builder-grade travertine.

The design and permitting took two months and seven months for construction and inspections; in total, the project took nine months to complete.

Photo: Tim McAuliffe

When selecting the plant palette, the company wanted to choose plants that best fit the zone based on the working conditions. The palette was based on plants of the metroplex Neil Speary along with the sun and shade patterns for this tighter location. The new structure functionality also had to be factored in order to keep the mature plants alive throughout the year.

“At Complete, we have a client-first approach to items allowing us to better understand our clients’ like and dislikes,” McAuliffe says. “We work to educate our clients based on what they like, but also on what will work best. We provide these options during the design process, unlike most firms that offer a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.”

McAuliffe also adds that the company goes by “we seek first to understand” when it comes to designing the plant palette, and lives by “people don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects by July 10, 2023.