May 19

We’ve got big things coming up for us at Native Edge, not least of which is this new #pergola designed by our very own @dillonatnativeedge. Our crew has just started to break ground on this project, so you can expect many progress shots to come! @sketchup_official
#landscapeDesign #landscapedesigns #landscapedesigner #landscapedesigners #landscaping #landscapearchitecture #outdoordesign #outdoorliving
#landscapeConstruction #contemporary #patio #steel #Austin #austindesign #AustinTX #AustinTexas #austinart #austinlife #austinstyle #ATXlife #sketchup #sketchup3d #3dmodeling via Instagram http://bit.ly/2DU63Rt
Read more
May 3

The reasons in which plants benefit from rainwater are vast and at times complicated, to the point where one could write a dissertation on the subject. Seemingly, the basics are simple, but if you are the curious type this article may leave you with more questions than answers.  

Hopefully, not too many questions. 

Nonetheless, here are my top three reasons why plants prefer rainwater, and (some) of the science behind why this is.  

Side note: Many people complain about the apparent differences they experience in tap water from city to city and state to state in taste and hardness level. Logically, it follows that if tap water is different from state to state the rainwater is too, even without considering human involvement. Not only does rain water change from place to place, it changes from shower to shower, and season to season in the SAME place (1). So, when you go through my list below just keep this in mind. 

1. Rainwater deposits vital nutrients 

Rainwater itself is a chemical cocktail that includes particles from local origins as well as particles that are transferred from elsewhere by the wind. To dive into some chemistry for just a moment, technically, “rainwater is a mixed electrolyte that contains varying amounts of major and minor ions” (1). The list of these ions is very long, but some of them are none other than potassium, calcium, nitrogen, magnesium, nitrate, nitrite, and iron (2).  

This is partly where we get the term “water hardness” from. Water hardness is describing the amount of dissolved minerals (specifically magnesium and calcium) that are found in water.

Tap water is, generally, more hard than rainwater. In efforts to reduce tap water hardness salts are occasionally added. Salts can be found in many things, including fertilizers. However, with repeated watering from tap water that has been “softened” salt can accumulate in the soil and negatively affect the soil structure and decrease the plant’s ability to take in water through osmosis. On its own, hard water is ok for plants; however, the amount of magnesium and calcium in hard water can begin to exceed what is a useful amount.

Nitrogen, is a vital nutrient for plants and is taken up by plants through nitrogen fixation. Nitrates and Nitrites are limited in our tap water due to concerns with diseases. In addition, chlorine and fluoride are added to tap water, among other things, to give tap water a higher PH. A high PH can reduce the plants ability to take up nutrients in the soil, but more on that later. 

2. Rainwater is more acidic. 

Pure water or H2O has a PH level of 7.0 which is neutral. Anything higher than that will be more basic, anything lower more acidic. Rainwater, generally, has a PH of about 5.6, so it’s on the acidic side (3).

The reasons behind this can be found by looking up. The natural presence of Carbon Dioxide, Nitric Oxide, and Sulfur Dioxide found in the lowest layer of our atmosphere reacts with water in the air resulting in a more acidic compound. “Acid rain” is the result of industrial activity pumping out these gases at excessive rates and lowering the PH to harmful levels of 3.0 or below (3).

Austin soils are, generally, high on the PH scale due to the high level of limestone. An alkaline soil can be detrimental to plant growth because it doesn’t allow the nutrients to be in their most available state. “Availability” in this case is not referring to the quantity or amount of a specific nutrient found in the soil, but if that nutrient is in a chemical form that is accessible to the plant. The ideal PH range for a soil to receive the most nutrients is if it’s in a slightly acidic or neutral state. Thusly, rain’s more acidic nature helps lower PH, at least temporarily, and gives plants the ability to take in more nutrients than tap water. 

 

 

3. Rainwater (usually) penetrates deeper and distributes more evenly. 

Last but not least, rain is beneficial because it’s free! It falls from the sky over large areas, usually watering your entire yard for the same amount of time at the same rate, if we assume we are dealing with a flat plot of land with no elevation change or obstructions of course. Drip irrigation, while beneficial for saving water, can suffer from leaks, or human error may result in plants not being watered very deeply. When a plant is watered often, but not deeply, the roots are trained to remain at the surface and not search downward for water. If you forget to water, or we suffer from a drought that prevents you from watering, the plant is at risk of dying because the roots won’t be deep enough to collect water below the soil’s surface. 

I hope that I’ve answered some of your burning questions on why rain water is preferred over tap water and if nothing else peaked your interest to go and explore the subject more. So, this month as we move into our flood season you can at least stay positive that your plants will enjoy the rain a little more than you will.

 

(1) Carroll, Dorothy, 1962, Rainwater as a Chemical Agent of Geologic Processes-A Review, United Staes Government Printing Office, Washington, G-2 p.

(2) Hutchinson, G. E., 1957, A treatise on limnology, v. 1, Geography, physics, and chemistry: New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1015 p. 

(3) Casiday Rachel and Frey Regina, Acid Rain: Inorganic Reactions Experiment, Department of Chemistry, Washington University, Missouri, 1998. http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/Water/FreshWater/acidrain.html

Read more
May 2

New #mulch makes everything better! Not only does it improve soil structure, help retain moisture, and limit weed growth it also looks fantastic. It’s so fun to work in such a lush and green space near #bartoncreek!

#landscapeDesign #landscapedesigns #landscapedesigner #landscapedesigners #landscaping #landscapearchitecture #outdoordesign #outdoorliving #maintenance #landscapemaintenance #Austin #austindesign #AustinTX #AustinTexas #austinlife #austinphotography #austinstyle #ATXlife

Read more
Mar 4

Sticky weed, sticky willy, bedstraw, or velcro plant as it’s otherwise lovingly referred to is actually called Galium aparine. “Galium comes from the Greek word ‘gala’ or milk referring to some species of Galium ability to curdle milk” and aparine, also derived from Greek, means “to seize” or “cling”. (1) Both qualities make sticky weed a surprisingly useful and menacing plant.

Sticky weed is native to vast regions of North America and thusly Texas; however, for the home-gardener and farmer sticky weed can invade planting beds and outcompete cultivated varieties. Due to its clinging nature it can entangle itself in and around plants, blocking out the sun and using up water and nutrients.

So, what can be done about it?

Sticky weed is an annual, which means if you act fast enough and prevent the seed heads from dropping you can drastically reduce the amount you find in your yard the following seasons. When dealt with immediately, in early Spring, sticky weed is easy to pull or dig up as long as you are gentle enough to pull out the root with the plant. If you leave the roots intact a new plant will grow next year. Leave the plants in the ground too long and they will start to form their signature hook-like hairs attaching themselves to neighboring plants.

Not only can this damage the tender foliage of these neighboring plants while weeding, it can also irritate the skin and make them more difficult to work with. The seed heads themselves, once formed, create burrs that cling to clothes and animal fur. This helps to disperse the seeds, which is good news for the plant bad news for you. This is yet another reason to deal with the plants as early as possible.

Of course, once you carefully pull out all the sticky weed you can find, you can either dispose of it in a safe space, or eat it! That’s right Galium was not just used to curdle milk is was actually ingested on its own. In fact, it’s not just edible it’s considered medicinal, helping to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation among other remedies. A common use for Galium apron is to steep it and drink it as a tea. This is in part due to it being a member of the rubiaceae family, or more commonly known as the coffee family. Sticky weed is best ingested at a young age, before the hairs have formed. However, even at maturity it can still be boiled and the tea ingested, just be sure to strain it well!

To help prevent more sticky weed from growing in the future a good measure of defense is to have healthy lawns and beds. A lawn that is full and lush will leave less room for sticky weed to grab hold. This can be achieved through a variety of methods. Corn gluten, used as an organic herbicide, can be spread on your yard pre-Spring to inhibit the weed roots from growing into the soil.

Mulching your plant beds also helps reduce the spread of weeds along with the multitude of other benefits it provides.

 

(1) https://guides.nynhp.org/shining-bedstraw/

Read more
Dec 3

If you’ve ever traveled up North you may have noticed a significant difference in the style of trees you typically find there compared to down here in the lone star state.

Conifers are very popular in colder and higher elevations due to their resiliency to those extreme conditions.
However, not all conifer species have adapted to live in the cold, some can be found in more temperate regions.

Yes, even in Texas!

So, for this holiday season I compiled a list of our top 5 Texas conifers.

  1. BALD CYPRESS

    Bald cypress is one of the few Deciduous coniferous trees out there. Meaning, in the fall the bald cypress’ leaves
    turn a cinnamon-red color before falling of the tree. Bald cypress , being a large tree, can grow over 100 feet tall and have a spread of 20-30 feet. They are traditionally found in riparian habitats that receive a lot of flooding. Once fully grown the bald cypress displays a wide pyramidal shape.

  2. JAPANESE BLACK PINE

    For a smaller darker option consider using Japanese black pine. Growing upwards of 30 feet, with a spread half that size, this tree has an irregular crown structure that responds well to pruning. Beautiful as an ornamental tree, the Japanese Black pine does well in well drained soil that is slightly acidic. It can even be turned into a bonsai!

  3. ITALIAN STONE PINE

    If you don’t like the traditional conical shaped conifer, the Italian stone pine might be the right choice for you. These trees have small trunks and develop without a central leader creating an open spreading tree crown. The needles are light green and the size is moderate reaching 50 feet tall and wide. Plus, you get fresh pine nuts for free!

  4. EASTERN RED CEDAR
    The eastern redcedar is a good solid choice for screening, wind barriers, or hedging. Dark green, with a conical shape, they are what pop in your head when you first hear the word conifer. They can get 50 feet tall and 12-15 feet wide with dense clumping foliage, and their berries produce food for birds and wildlife. They are just about as
    Christmasy as the conifers down south can get.

  5. ARIZONA CYPRESS

    Like the name suggests, you can find Arizona cypress growing in the wild in the lower southwest. Arizona cypress adds a beautiful pop of color all year round with it’s steely-blue leaves. This species requires very little water and is quick growing, allowing you to fill in any gaps in your backyard with ease. Only growing 8-12 feet across it’s a great option for hedging and mass planting. However, be aware that if you aren’t planning on pruning it can reach a height of 20-30 feet.

Read more
Dec 3

Before, this backyard was just a grass lot. Now, this L-shaped space is being fully utilized; split between a patio, fire pit, and grill/dining area. Custom built-in  benches maximize the available seating and allow for cushions to seamlessly fit inside. Cafe lighting and a trellis add a bit of romance to this modern, clean, design. 

Read More

Oct 3

 

After this home was completely rebuilt in the established Barton Hills neighborhood, the landscape needed a reboot to match the new modern/contemporary house.  To update the style, we replaced the cracked solid driveway with concrete ribbons and gravel that lines up with the garage. We built a retaining to hold back the sloped, problematic front yard. This leveled out a buffer space of plantings near the curb helping to create a welcoming accent for guests. We also introduced a comfortable pathway to transition through the yard into the new courtyard space, balancing out the scale of the house with the landscape.

Read More

Sep 20

 

Awesome News!

We made the short list for Austin Chronicle’s Best of Ausitn 2018 poll! But to bring home the prize we need you to vote again! So, head on over to the Austin Chronicle’s website and vote for us in the “Lawn Care/Landscaping” category for their 2018 #BestOfAustin list!
Comment below when you’ve cast your vote!

Click Here For The Ballot!

Below is a list of other local businesses and organizations we think deserve your support and love as well!

Read more
Sep 19

Wanting to mimic some of their favorite downtown bars and patios, this customer opted to remove their huge obtrusive pergola that was already in disrepair. In it’s place, we designed three separate spaces that overflow into one another, divided and softened by borderless plantings and low raised planters and ornamental trees. To address major drainage issues, we utilized rain barrels to ease and redirect water captured from the gutters.
Read More

Sep 12
Jill Zimmerman

Zilker Native Chic

By Jill Zimmerman | Leave a comment

This yard was transformed from a bland bilder basic to a fun and lush xeriscaped entry way. To make the yard feel bigger, we removed the driveway and used gravel from end to end, creating an open, borderless planting and patio space across the entire front yard. For extra security and privacy, a fence was added along the front, which features an automatic gate for easy use as they come and go. With the limestone facade being one of the customers least favorite features of the house, we planted fig ivy vines to grow and cover it.

 

Read More