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Elaine Clemons contacted us in February of 2019 to replace the bushes in the front and build a flowerbed. The bushes were typical holly type bushes that the builders put in for being fast growers, evergreen and hardy. They were several years mature and had a thin layer of mulch spread below with bermuda grass and other weeds growing into the bed and the drip line exposed. There’s not much to work with so this one was going to be a complete rebuild.
I start talking to Ms. Clemons and she’s telling me the things she’s looking for, mainly getting the soil amended so the new plants have the best chance of surviving. We go over the types of plants she likes and the overall design concept. We talk about types of edging, river rock, mulch, and other things that she likes. We have a great conversation sharing each others passions with landscaping and design. Then, she tells me the best part. This landscape renovation would be a huge surprise gift for her daughter and son-in-law while they’re on vacation on a cruise! Ms. Clemons lives at the house with her daughter and family and wants to do this for them. Now, I was really excited. This project would have more meaning to it then other landscaping projects. This is what I live for. I enjoy a doing different projects for different reasons but, when a project has a sentimental meaning behind it like this one does, it makes it special.
I got to work drawing and rendering a custom landscape design for the Clemons family. They have beautiful new house on a nice size piece of land in McLendon-Chisolm. The overall style of the house was nice and I really need to complement it and make the landscape look like it was built with the house. It had to be clean, modern and unique. The austin stone used on the house is common and easy to match so I knew I had to use that as the mortared stone edging. Thankfully, they had excess bricks in the backyard that we were able to use as a brick cap for the edging. The brick cap really gives beds a finished and classy look. I start using the curves and lines in the edging to find where we want the mulch and river rock accents. The sidewalk comes out at a hard ninety and makes for a good place for a little walkway and sitting area. This would be great place for the family to sit outside and enjoy their time together. Sitting areas placed by the door also make the entrance to the house more welcoming. A decomposed granite pathway with a wrought iron and wood bench added some new materials to help this area contrast. Then, we used the same stone and brick to build a half wall behind the bench to further help delineate this area from the rest of the bed.
Based on Ms. Clemons plant tastes, I started to add in the plants. I used boxwood, abelia, mexican feather grass and lorapetalum as the foundation plants. Then, I added some king charles canna’s behind these shrubs to give some height and accent next to the windows. I used desert willow, magnolia, and japanese maple as the trees. I highlighted two key approach areas with an annual color bed. To top it off, some beautiful glazed black planters planted with annual color by each entrance.
I designed a custom watering system for this bed. I have come up with a method of watering landscapes like this that I call precision irrigation. I run a ½” tube from the valve and make a loop around the bed. Then, I tap into that line and run a smaller tube to an emitter by the plant. This method saves water by only watering where it’s needed, at the plant itself. We are even able to run emitters up through the bottom of the pot and water each pot automatically.
I also designed an outdoor lighting system to showcase the new landscape at night. We used path lights along the front edge of the bed to both highlight the plants and cast light onto the sidewalk for safety. Then, I added ledge lights to the seating wall to give some indirect light to that area. The house already had up lights on the house and sconces at the front door entrance to light the house and back of the bed.
We went from design phase to construction phase pretty quick to make this happen during the time the family would be on vacation. And, we only had 5 days to complete the work while they were gone. The pressure was on. We committed a lot of time at the beginning getting the bed prepared. We had to get the plants and existing drip lines out of the bed. Then, we started to incorporate several yards of compost into the bed with a tiller. We dug out the areas for the annual flower beds eighteen inches deep and added a specialty planting mix for them. Once the whole area was tilled over and graded out we started the stone work. After the stone work, the metal edging goes in to separate the mulch and river rock. The areas with river rock get a geofabric to prevent the river rock and dirt from becoming one over time. Next, the drip line and lighting wire goes in to be covered by the river rock and mulch. All of the plants get planted with amended native soil and an organic biological fertilizer. After the plants, mulch, and river rock is in there is just a few final touches to the lighting and irrigation before clean up.
We were able to finish on time and Ms. Clemons got to make a wonderful surprise for her family. I am so happy for them and honored that I was trusted to complete the project and am proud of the final product.