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Corten Steel: Your Next Custom Project

by Rowan Marney / June 4, 2022

Corten Steel can give your space a rustic yet modern feel while lasting for years. 


Living in Austin, you’re bound to see Corten Steel incorporated into landscaping. Not only does it look nice, it lasts longer than any other material you could use for raised planters. Let’s take a look at all the benefits, as well as view some examples where Corten steel has helped elevate a space.

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Hilltop Haven

by Dillon Tuttle / December 11, 2021

These homeowners have a beautiful hill country property and were looking to match the aesthetic of the home with an updated landscape design. The primary goals for this project included completing the landscape left unfinished around the existing pool, replacing as much lawn as possible with native plants to attract pollinators and birds, and reimagining the front yard hillside. Custom entry stairs and a bridge were added with steel raised planters to give dimension to the sloping walkway to include a formal path to the front door for guest parking at the street. The bridge gives a clear path over a dry creek drainage system made with river rocks, giving excess water a clear path to follow that avoids important areas of the home and landscaping. We added a custom address marker as well as a few bubbling boulder water features in the front and back yard to provide interest and water source for wildlife.

Project Info

Designer: Dillon Tuttle
Project date: December 11, 2021
Price range: $200,000 - $500,000

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Mid-Century Ranch Makeover

by Dillon Tuttle / October 8, 2021

This mid-century ranch makeover was designed to create an exciting outdoor living space to compliment the homeowners’ in-ground pool and outdoor movie theatre. We wanted the unique style of the home to extend into their outdoor space. Architectural plants paired with the movement of softer flowers and grasses blend into a visually striking and relaxing space for this young family to entertain and enjoy! Texture was a big influence in this landscape with a mix of hardscape and foliage to fuse the space into a modern rustic charm. Windmill palms, cacti, and yuccas were paired with flowering perennials and ornamental grasses to provide seasonal bursts of color and amplify the southwestern ambiance.

Cafe lights and hitching-post towel racks were selected for a cozy and eccentric Austin flare. Artificial Turf was installed to replace the pre-existing pea gravel to soften the landscape and create a more pet-friendly backyard for their dog to play in. An outdoor kitchen with a raised countertop for extra seating was built within access of two doors for hosting and cleaning convenience. With this backyard makeover, the hosting possibilities are endless!

Project Info

Designer: Dillon Tuttle
Project date: October 8, 2021
Price range: $150,000 - $200,000

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Mount Bonnell Native Oasis

by Dillon Tuttle / June 24, 2021

We have had the pleasure of working on multiple projects for this property over the past few years! It has been great to watch the property change and turn into the native oasis it is today! The most important aspect of this property that the owner wanted to maintain was that all the plantings were native to Central Texas. The back of the property was filled with native plantings around the pool, and the property owner wanted a cohesive look with her beds in the front yard that had become overgrown. We removed the old plants and added in some of the same native plantings that were found in her back yard. Yaupon Holly was added along the property line to provide extra privacy from the neighbors and flowering natives were clustered to make the property more pollinator friendly!

Another request from the owner was that we make the property more inviting during the evenings. We added in some outdoor lighting to highlight the trees, as well as lighting that illuminated the pathway up to the house and around the back of the property. This added a dreamy element to the space, making the property more inviting to guests.

Project Info

Designer: Dillon Tuttle
Project date: June 24, 2021
Price range: $100,000 - $150,000

Georgetown Wildflower Wonderland

by Erin Spencer / June 1, 2021

Located in downtown Georgetown, this family transformed their front yard into a wildflower wonderland! They envisioned a welcoming entrance with seating and native landscaping to host both guests and pollinators on their property. They wanted to ditch their grass yard in favor of colorful native plants that would create a charming scene for friends and neighbors alike. They dreamed of a gathering space in their front yard that looked out over their native plantings, so we added a seating area with cafe lights and raised steel planters so that the plantings could be enjoyed while seated. Black star gravel was added for furniture and plant contrast, making them pop against the home and landscaping. This family now has a relaxing area to gather, host friends, and watch the pollinators visit their beautiful wildflowers!=

Project Info

Designer: Erin Spencer
Project date: June 1, 2021
Price range: $25,000 - $50,000

Hudson Bend Hilltop Estate

by Dillon Tuttle / November 3, 2020

These homeowners came to us wanting to update their property with new plantings at the street, which matched the existing landscaping of the neighborhood, as well as update the various beds around their foundation. The existing beds throughout the property became overgrown and needed a bit of breathing room to allow space for the new plants to fill in. The old vegetation was ripped out and replaced with both native, and adapted plants.

The wooded area in the backyard was rid of debris, and a drainage system was added using the rocks that were in their previous landscape design. Not only were the materials able to be recycled, they are now used to help prevent continued erosion of the hillside by taking the water from the sloped driveway and giving it a path toward the woods. Limestone was the chosen replacement because it is cohesive with the neighbor’s landscaping and the pre-existing stairs in the backyard. Blocks of limestone were used to line the new beds and build a new fire pit to accessorize the beautiful view!

Project Info

Designer: Dillon Tuttle
Project date: November 3, 2020
Price range: $75,000 - $100,000

Warmest Welcome: Gathering Around A Fire

by Rowan Marney / October 15, 2020

Adding a fire pit to your space provides an eye-catching focal point while increasing the value of your home.


Nothing says “welcome” like a fire pit. They provide both an optimal location for hosting guests, and a relaxing sanctuary for a romantic night in or a quiet evening with the family. The beautiful dancing flames draw you in, making the rest of the world disappear, even for just a moment or two. Fire is also a wonderful way to add a glow to your space without having to install harsh lighting. It adds a certain elegance while also proving a warm atmosphere to unwind in.

Highly customizable from their size, to type, to function, there are endless possibilities when choosing the right fire pit to fit your lifestyle. There are portable pits for those who want to have the option of moving their gathering space around. Customizable built-in pits leave room to create a cohesive look and flow within the space. Fire pits come in all shapes and sizes that allow you to choose exactly what size will work for your needs and space. Wood-burning and natural gas fire pits both have their added benefits and harbor different uses, so thinking about the type of experience you want is important.

Wood burning fire pits provide guests with a nostalgic and traditional experience. Humans have been making fires this way since the beginning of time so why shouldn’t you? There’s something about the smell and warmth of a wood burning fire that allows us to relax and reminisce. This type of fire pit needs to be built and placed safely to ensure the flames and sparks won’t travel outside the pit. Raised pits and the use of gravel or rock around the area can provide a safer environment to light fires.

Natural gas fire pits provide all the benefits of having a fire, without the smell or mess. There is no soot or ash to clean up, no smell left on your clothes, and they cast less emissions when burning. Natural gas pits work by running a gas line to a metal fire pit ring. This ring is placed on top of river rock to provide drainage, then topped with lava rock which absorbs some of the heat. Glass rock can then be added on top to finish the look and give your space that “wow” factor. Natural gas fires do not have sparks that fly out from the flames, making this option the safer of the two.

Now that the bulk of the summer heat is over, the best place to enjoy the expansive, Texas starry-night sky is next to a fire. Give yourself, and guests, the ultimate space to enjoy a drink or toast marshmallows as we head into our cooler season!

 

 

Native Modern Mueller

by Dillon Tuttle / December 2, 2019

These modest homeowners were looking for drainage solutions, low maintenance plantings, and an entertainment space they could enjoy outside. Mowing the grass had been a pain in the past, so with this design we decided to remove it entirely. Instead, more native grasses were utilized to take in water and reduce erosion. A new fence modernized and updated the space and allowed the interior of the backyard to be leveled providing more opportunities for design elements like a floating bench and custom built fire pit.

Project Info

Designer: Dillon Tuttle
Project date: December 2, 2019
Price range: $75,000 - $100,000

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Why Do Plants Prefer Rainwater?

by Erin Spencer / May 3, 2019

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

Oh you know, just another day on the job.. 🕷

by Rodney Stoutenger / May 18, 2018

Oh you know, just another day on the job.. 🕷

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Oh you know, just another day on the job.. 🕷 #spider #surprise #landscape #lifeofalandscaper #landscape #austin #atxlife #atx #nativeedge #nativeedgelandscape