color color on the wall...

Got an email early yesterday morning from the builder. "Now where did you want that paint?" And then, shortly after noon, another email: "Some of the paint is up. It doesn't look that different from each other." We rushed out to see. Indeedy deed...

Subtle differences, but not much. Builder suggested (1) painting all the stucco the same color (the white we chose) and (2) going two to three shades darker on the grey for the Hardie and the blue for the eaves (he was tickled that we wanted to paint the eaves blue!).

Just goes to show you that the best laid plans for color can go awry until you see them up!


finalizing the landscaping

With the outside of the house almost done, it's time to start working to install the landscaping. It's also an opportunity to apply some of the project management lessons we've learned early in the process. First and foremost: We need to make sure that the plans are as thorough as possible.

Early on, we hired a landscape architect to come up with a plan, and he did.

Although a few of the details were off (the size and number of rainwater tanks), we're pretty happy with the plan, although it's lacking detail. More recently, we've been working with the architects to transfer this plan to the site plan (that's what the builder and subs like to work from) and address the rainwater tank issue and refine the plans a bit. At present, we're waiting for a return of the final plans.

a bigger lot?

Right off the bat, while transferring info from the landscape architect's plans to the site plan, we found a problem: The landscape architect had our front yard bigger than reality:

I think he traced out our lot and house and then added a city easement to the front that was already there. Ultimately no big deal: we just pretend that front 10-foot easement ain't there on his plans, and off we go!

feather grass stumblers

One of the things we added were holes to the concrete drive to plant feather grass. It was something the architect mentioned early on in the house planning as a possibility for the sidewalk, and we liked it. In fact, at out previous house we had done something similar to a limestone and concrete patio, and it looked awesome!

Feather grass holes (and horno! [and rainwater tank! {and pond!}]) at our previous house.

He has them spec'd for 6-inch holes; we've asked for 4-inch holes: less likely to drive into and 2-inch holes worked fine at our old place.

Note that this version of the site plan we're showing you has certain areas hi-lited with letters. These are notes/instructions to the architect on revising the plans.

more neoplasticism for the front

The plans also now show the additional walls in the front yard (E [with a request to slide it to your right], F, and G). We'll see how these fit into the budget. If they don't, they'll be a future addition (although it makes sense to do them now while everything it all tore up...).

The light orange and dark orange by C note a gravel drainage path. We've also requested a stone-filled trough that will go underneath the front wheels of the car. The thought is to place a "bump" here to hopefully prevent people from hitting the wall at the end of this parking space.

drainage paths

Speaking of the gravel drainage path, we have it running from the back of the house and the front of the house down to the end of the property with plans to put shade-tolerant plants among the stones along the front of the house. See D at the end of the front walkway? That's another hole with a feathergrass :-). "A" carries the stones around the corner in order to take the drainage from the gutter draining the living room, dining room, front entry part of the house. Might put a rain chain there instead of a down spout...

These are bigger stones that we will use (and a curvier path), but we're thinking something like this). Need to choose stones that allow a contrast with the cantilevered wall.

We may add a looser bed of stone on the other side of the front yard for drainage as well.

rainwater tanks (and etc.)

We've got quite a bit going on with the back yard:

If you can see the big orange circle with an "I" on it behind the garage, that's the 5,000 gallon rainwater tank, and it's big. The smaller circle you see there is the architect's rendition of the rainwater tank. Nope: The damn thing's bigger than that! We really want to be able to see that tank from the back courtyard (it' simply gorgeous). Here's a photo of the 5,000 gallon tank we plan to install:

Cripes that's a large tank!

Seeing the tank and having a path and view corridor to the horno is a bit of a challenge. Originally we were thinking of centering the tank on the corner of the garage, but that isn't going to work without putting a jog in the path. Se we'll recess the tank a bit to allow for a straight path and view of the horno. The tank may yet have to be pushed back a couple-few feet from the rear of the garage because of the electrical service, depending how far it is from the back corner of the garage.

"O" marked above is the 3,000 gallon tank. It's also a bit bigger than indicated on the plans. The challenge there is allowing enough room to creep past the tank to gain access to the side of the property.  There won't be much back there, but there will be a wee bit of landscaping outside the kitchen and office windows. We may hold off on installing this tank to see how well we do with 5,000 gallons. Maybe 5,000 is enough with hyperly drought tolerant grass?

Smaller than the 5,000 gallon tank, but still criping large at 3,000!

"Q" on the side of the garage (Q marking our request for a gate at that location) is where we think we'll keep our trash and recycling bins.

"S" marks the stage/deck. It's bigger than what the landscape architect drew in, but with one of the architects being a musician (the Usonian Expert), we deferred to him on a good size. This looks like a good size. "P" is where the greenhouse will go.


Near "A" we asked that the concrete drive be extended into the back yard a wee bit (notice the feather grass holes) to (1) tie in the walk to the back door of the house and (2) slightly minimize the amount of "grasscrete" we need to install (grasscrete = expensive). We've been calling it grasscrete, but the system we're looking at is plastic based instead of concrete based, something we first saw at a Cool Home Tour several years ago:

The above is a photo I took at that tour. The plastic in the front is the supporting material and the grass in the back is the result, the goal being that you can't tell that it's drivable. Since we won't be parking our daily drivers in the garage or in the back, this'll add a little green to the back yard. 

Still thinking about that Habiturf for the grassy knolls:


We haven't quite figured out what to do with the planters on the back patio yet (shown in pinky-red below).

The architects envision rusty metal, but we aren't convinced.

Given the whiteness of the house and the white walls out front, we're thinking they should be white or, at the very least, concrete in color. One possibility is the stacked concrete look:

Or perhaps something we saw at Marfa this past Thanksgiving that appears to have been made out of concrete blocks:

As drawn on the plans, the planters are two to three feet wide, so making 'em out of concrete blocks doesn't leave much room for planting stuff (concrete blocks = 8 inches wide = 20 inches wide planting area for 3-foot planters and 8 inches wide for  2-foot planters). But that would be enough, I reckon. We'd like a water feature, so perhaps the wider one could be designed to hold water. hmmmm... We lean toward concrete block stucco'd and painted to match the house and front walls. It'll help give the patio a feel like this courtyard behind Schindler's where the chairs tie in with the house:

(photo from here)

Yes, I would kill for those chairs...

We also need to think about raised beds in the back yard. The landscape architect envisioned this:

but we're thinking something like this:

(lifted from Houzz)

(photo I took at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center)

That business up top is easy to do, so it'll be cost effective (you can't exactly tell on the photo on the bottom, but they actually cut into the tanks so one insets into another; a neat effect, but requires some expert welding skills). Given the hot tub, the horno, and the rainwater tanks, there's already a circle motif going on out back, so they'll fit visually.

Tractor supply sells a six-foot diameter tank:

as well as an eight-foot diameter tank:

Both have clean lines (although I hope those logos peel off...). It would be ideal to have another, smaller size to go with these two bigguns. Here's a four footer:

and a three footer:

Gawking at stock tanks gives us this idea: Build the "planter" along the drive-way big enough to accommodate this bad boy:

Two feet tall, two feet wide, and six feet long. Wouldn't have to worry about lining the "planter" as a pond. It looks like the planter is ten feet long, but part of it could be planter, part of it could be pond. We may be onto something here... There's also an eight-foot long version.


The architects provided specs on the side fences:

Here's our mock-up of what this would look like:

Which is cool (kinda like that randomly chosen color, too!).


We still have our heart set on the long and linear pavers:

When placed, we're thinking of randomly shifting them their width (to create a square hole) to plant feather grass (we love that feather grass...).

One issue that has us thinking is how these would work heading up the path:

shown in that long up and down oriented rectangle in the above. The linear pavers would run left to right on the diagram above. They could be a challenge running that direction up yonder to toward the horno. One thought is that for the orange rectangle, have the more basic large format concrete (or limestone) and use the long linear pavers everywhere else. Even better if we could do this:

something we saw on an AIA homes tour last year done by Pollen Architecture. Pretty freakin'awesome, really, but that might be asking too much with our budget.

living on the edge

We're going to have to figure out what to use for edging, if any. Because our front yard will be so different than the neighbors', we figure we need something (concrete curb? linear pavers?) to mark the edge. We'll also need edgers for the area around the grass in front of the stage. In fact, an argument could be made that there needs to edging at the pinkish-red lines in the plan below, which mark a change in substrate material:

speaking of substrate...

Been thinking about what to put down. We don't have plans for much (habi)turf (shown in green). The orangey color would be mulch, the greyish green either concrete or pavers, and the yellow either stones or coarse gravel.

Seems like a lot of gravel, but we get all whoopsie over yards like this, such as this one on the Modern Home Tour coming up:

And here's that courtyard from Marfa way we liked so much:

The builder is hawt on the landscaping over at the Livestrong offices on the east side, and it is, indeed, mighty nice:

And it uses this coarser brand of crushed granite:

The builder is also hawt for us to plant these huisache trees in front of our house:

more etc.

Way back when, we were thinking about a clothesline that evoked Schindler's garden stakes. But now we're thinking a reproduction of a Frank Lloyd Wright's clothesline posts painted International Style white:

Oh yeah. Frank wouldn't want 'em white, but he ain't here to stop us, now is he?