First up is the landscaping. We got the initial concept of the design from the designer, and here it is:
In short, minimal and lots of natives. The landscape architect said his plant palette was purposefully limited to those plants that he knew were hardy for our climate as well as low maintenance (hardiness [heat, drought, and the occasional hard freeze] and low-maintenance tend to go hand in hand). Since a water-wise/low-maintenance landscape is high on our list, we are happy to oblige. Note that many of the plants have "Texas" and "Mexican" in their names. That's good. "Vermont Wiregrass" or "Brazilian Sycamore" probably wouldn't do well here (and I loves me some Mexican Wire [Feather] Grass).
High on the landscape architect's priority list was not competing with the architecture, which may be why he didn't pick up on my (gentle) suggestion of a couple de Stijl walls in the front [ :-( ]. We'll have to think about that one... And notice the absence of chickens. We've vacillated on the pollo (are chickens compatible with a low-maintenance lifestyle? ummm: no.). The landscape architect wasn't too keen on them (whole lotta, whole lotta scratching on the landscape going on....). And fryers can take up a lot of room. If we change our minds, we can always add chickens (and bees?) over in the garden area. And after seeing how much real estate gets eaten up by this plan, it's hard to envision where chickens and bees would go.
To deal with the back of the property, we ultimately decided on clumping bamboo. That fig tree back yonder is already there. We're in love with it (and it ably survived the worst one-year drought in Texas history last year).
Things we like:
- the simplicity
- all the natives
- the courtyard
- that there's some lawn but not a lot
- the use of the outdoor oven as a focal point in the distance ('cause it is a "What the hell is that?" kinda deal)
- the large pavers
- the Texas Mountain Laurel outside the kitchen window
- the Texas Redbud in the patio area
- the vision of a bistro table in the courtyard
- the stage! (and the grass before it for adoring fans [and tomatoes nearby in the garden in case a performance goes south...])
- the almost ironic juxtaposition of the hot tub and Texas Sabal Palm
Things that (may) need to get changed:
- losing one of the rainwater tanks off the garage (the landscape architect hadn't seen the roof design, so didn't know that one of them wouldn't work).
- Boxwood Hedge in the entry area. Not sure we want a hedge blocking the view of the front of the house. We're in love with that part of the design. The architects, however, were fine with them hedges. We'll need to ask how high these suckers are envisioned at before signing off on 'em. They may be low to simply define the entry and not block the building.
- The position of the driveway gate off the back of the house. We're concerned it might distract from the cantilevered carport and that it might be nice to have a door to access the back yard from there. The architects, however, are fine with it.
- adding a rainwater tank over by the master bedroom.
- more privacy/shielding of the hot tub (hedge? fence?)
- need a place for the trash/recycling containers (large enough to accommodate a future third one for compostables (will Austin or won't Austin?)
- what's the plan for the border areas?
- lowish fence (or hedge?) on the property line where the carport is? The neighbors have a bedroom there. Might be nice (for them) to have some sort of visual (and sound) barrier there...
The architects envisioned the tub just outside the door from the master, but we think it needs to be out back. We don't want to see the darn thing from the living room. The architects would also like to see the courtyard and master bedroom area more developed and defined with vertical elements. We need to also cross check these plants with Austin's list. If we want a five star green rating, each and every plant needs to also be on Austin's approved list.
So we'll ponder the plan this weekend and send comments over to the landscape architect late Sunday.