Landscapes of the Month: Harmonizing the Natural Environment With an Outdoor Living Space - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Harmonizing the Natural Environment With an Outdoor Living Space

Photo: Maryn Jacobs

Among the growing metro of Houston, Texas, you’ll find a quiet Mediterranean-style home with a towering canopy of live oak. Until four years ago, this grand property was full of underperforming gardens and overgrown vines. To manage the property, the owners turned to Grow and Company, based in Houston.

Since taking on this project, the Grow and Company team has worked alongside the owner to restore these areas and bring harmony to the site, allowing them to win a 2023 Silver Award of Excellence.

Photo: Maryn Jacobs

Kyle Cahill, founder and horticulturist, shares the meaning of this award, “It’s an incredible honor and a testament to the skill, creativity, and hard work of our team. It validates our commitment to delivering high-quality landscape services that meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. This recognition from the National Association of Landscape Professionals highlights our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and excellence in landscape design and maintenance. It inspires us to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in our field and to strive for even greater achievements in future projects.”

When the team took on this property, several areas needed work to fulfill the owner’s vision for their home.

“They wanted to focus on creating a serene outdoor living space that harmonizes with the natural environment and provides a beautiful, functional space for relaxation and entertainment,” Cahill adds.

Photo: Maryn Jacobs

One area that required attention was the vines on the house. Many of them had overstayed their welcome and needed trimming, while other spots had significant gaps that affected the home’s look. Vines with two or three layers were thinned to rejuvenate and promote growth in the empty areas, while the vines on the edges of the home were trimmed to form a distinct line. With such a large house, the garden manager collaborated with the owner and team to ensure the priority areas were getting attention during the vine project while staying within budget.

Garden beds were another focus, especially in the front, where the Grow team redesigned several areas.

“Our approach focused on clean lines, a balanced use of open space, and a curated selection of plant species to create a welcoming and elegant entrance,” Cahill says. “The use of sleek hardscape elements, strategically placed lighting, and a restrained color palette further accentuated the contemporary aesthetic while ensuring the landscape remained inviting and functional.”

Some of the front beds previously had boxwood hedges that were impacted by boxwood blight, so the team installed Elaeagnus to restore a formal look along the entry walkways and reduce disease problems. At the owner’s request, seasonal plantings with a green and white color scheme are used in beds and pots around the property.

Sunken beds were an issue along the front of the house, so the team built a carbon steel raised planter to add height and make the plants visible from the street. This unique solution required many steps to create but also gave the owner a permanent solution for the space.

Photo: Maryn Jacobs

“Making the carbon steel planter was a meticulous and collaborative process,” Cahill adds. “First, we consulted with the clients to understand their vision and requirements for requested revisions to the front landscape. We had designed a dwarf yaupon holly parterre and used the carbon steel planters to elevate the plantings within the parterres to be visible from the street. Once approved, we sourced high-quality carbon steel and worked with our in-house metal fabricator to cut and shape the steel to the specified dimensions on-site. Finally, our team carefully selected and planted appropriate plant material to complement the landscape design.”

Five maintenance technicians visit the property every week to keep everything in top shape and monitor the landscape. Some of their tasks include hand pruning different sections of the property on a rotation to remain efficient and accomplish the top priorities. And with the extensive humidity, the garden manager keeps a close eye on each plant for pest and disease problems. While managing this landscape, Grow and Company have taken the time to restore plants that were damaged by freezes with careful pruning and fertilization.

One feature that continues to stand out is the front lawn.

Photo: Maryn Jacobs

“The most challenging area to maintain is the expansive zoysia front lawn beneath the monstrous canopies of the legacy live oaks,” Cahill says. “This area requires careful attention to irrigation, nutrition, and pest management to ensure the grass remains lush and healthy.”

After four years of working on this site, Cahill shares what makes the project so rewarding.

 “It’s exciting to watch our team rise to the challenges that we have faced over the years, from freezes to droughts, and the response that allows the landscape to recover and thrive. Additionally, the positive feedback from the community and the recognition from the National Association of Landscape Professionals reaffirmed the hard work and dedication of our entire team.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Enter your projects by July 29, 2024.

Matt Olson

Matt Olson is a freelancer for NALP.