Top Tier Custom Landscape & Pools Residential Design & Build is Our Specialty Thu, 11 Mar 2021 01:51:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Tier Custom Landscape & Pools 32 32 Thinking About Building a Paver Patio? Consider These 11 Things First Thu, 11 Mar 2021 01:51:47 +0000

Building or expanding your outdoor living environment into a gorgeous, functional space with a new paver patio can be immensely rewarding. The return on your investment can even be within the 90% – 110% range, so that makes a paver patio a cost worth making.

It can also feel utterly overwhelming when you first start. There are a lot of design aspects that need to be considered and choices to be made before you even start.

Here are the top 11 questions you need to think about:

1. How do you want to use the space?

What’s your vision for the future in this space? Do you picture intimate gatherings with just your family or a few friends? Do you want to host large parties and social events? Given the way (or ways) that you may use the area, should you go for a large, open space or should you carve off sections to accommodate smaller groups?

Don’t be afraid to pull out pictures from Instagram or snapshots of other patios you’ve seen that you find appealing. That will help inform your contractor of the aesthetic you gravitate toward the most and make your later choices easier.

2. How big does your paver patio need to be?

Once you’ve answered the first question, it’s time to think about the total size of your paver patio. You need to accommodate not just the number of bodies you picture in your gatherings, but things like room to walk, space for your grill, total seating and any other furniture or permanent fixtures you may want.

3. Which paver stones are right for your design?

You really shouldn’t wed yourself to a particular style of paver stone until you’ve done some deep thinking about those first two questions. Ultimately, the pavers you choose will affect both the overall price of your project and the atmosphere of the space.

Your contractor should be able to walk you through the available options and guide you to choices that will best accomplish your goals. You can often accomplish a lot (and limit your costs) by simply incorporating a few custom accent pieces into your basic design by adding an accent band in a wall, an inlay down the center of a patio or a contrasting trim with a different paver color or style around your base.

4. Are any changes in elevation needed for the space?

The easiest (and least-expensive) paver patio is the one that’s laid on a surface that’s already entirely flat. Your existing lawn, however, may need to be raised or lowered at points to achieve that level surface.

Sometimes retaining walls will be necessary, to either build up the patio or keep the surrounding ground from collapsing in on your space. Other times, it may be better to create unique areas through high and low sections.

5. What built-in elements are part of your dream?

Fire pits are probably the number one built-in feature people want in a paver patio. Because these come in numerous variations — round, square, semi-circular, flat, built into walls and free-standing — your choices here will influence the overall look and feel of your space.

You also need to consider whether you want to add things like a summer kitchen, a built-in grill, water features or other design elements. Placement, of course, is also an issue, as that will affect both the functionality and aesthetics of your patio.

6. Are there any restrictions on what you can build?

Your plot plan, HOA bylaws and any easements can limit some of your options. Generally speaking, you’ll need your plot plans ready at your first consultation so that you don’t inadvertently fall in love with a design that you cannot have.

Your HOA may be fairly accommodating as long as you keep your paver patio behind the build lines of your house and submit your plans for approval, but you may want to check with your local HOA representative prior to planning — just to be certain.

7. What kind of permits do you need?

If your paver patio is fairly simple and built per manufacturer recommendations on compacted gravel over screened sand, they are not considered permanent structures, so no permit may be required.

Once you start adding in other features, such as a deck, plumbing, a wood structure to cover a summer kitchen, electric and gas lines, your municipality may require permits, inspections or both. Generally speaking, your contractor will probably prefer to manage everything from the permits to the meetings with the inspectors on your behalf.

8. Do you want or need shade?

There’s nothing more disappointing than a paver patio that you can’t use all the time simply because it doesn’t have any shade. In the summer, the intense heat from the afternoon and late-day sun can make the space far too uncomfortable for your enjoyment — particularly if your patio is on the southern or western side of your home and there’s no existing shade.

A cedar pergola or arbor can be beautiful additions to your patio that will add necessary shade, but you can also look into roofed pavilions and sailcloth as alternatives. Again, your choices here can have a huge effect on the overall aesthetic quality of your space — and its value to you.

9. Should you add some wall seating?

Seat walls are actually a creative, multi-use addition to a paver patio that shouldn’t be under-valued. Properly placed, they can create a sense of flow between sections of your patio and lawn, serve as dimensional accent elements to your overall design and allow you to dramatically increase your seating capacity for large gatherings without messing around with extra chairs.

10. How much are you willing to spend?

This is, ultimately, a deeply personal decision. You may have a maximum budget in mind that cannot be passed. If so, it’s important to be clear about that figure before you start planning because it will help your contractor guide you to the design choices that will give you the maximum benefit for your dollars.

If you’re flexible about the amount you want to spend, and you’re more concerned about getting what you need than money, that’s fine, too. The important thing is that you and your contractor are both operating under the same basic understanding of your financial limitations. Otherwise, you can end up disappointed and frustrated as you’re forced to scale-back your dream design.

11. How do you intend to select your contractor?

There’s a lot of science, engineering and design elements in play during the construction of a paver patio — and the best adage to remember here may be, “You get what you pay for.” You don’t have to choose the most expensive contractor you consult with, but choosing someone who is just dipping their toes into the business or going with a cut-rate contractor is likely to give you subpar results.

Ultimately, you could spend more in the long run by choosing the cheapest contractor once you find that your paver patio either doesn’t meet your needs or quickly falls into disrepair. It can be far more costly to build a patio poorly, tear it down and rebuild than it would be to simply pay for a job done right the first time.

While we’d ideally prefer that you choose us as your contractor, you can reliably separate the good contractors from the bad by finding out if they abide by NCMA and ICPI specifications, have NCMA- and ICPI-certified installers and are Authorized Contractors by their preferred paver manufacturers. Also, check to make sure they carry the appropriate liability coverage and workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Also, you’d be remiss if you didn’t at least do a quick Google search for reviews to see what their past customers have said.

Finally, don’t be afraid to speak with several contractors before you make your decision about which to hire. You want to work with someone to whom you can easily relate. That’s the easiest way to find a contractor who will understand your vision and bring your dream paver patio to life.

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Winter Plants for North Texas Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:00:18 +0000 One of the joys of living in North Texas is that you get to escape the brittle cold that’s common in winter throughout much of the country. Just the same, it’s still time to bring your potted plants and hanging ferns indoors for the season and say goodbye to all things summer, including all those annuals and perennials that thrive best in the heat.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you’re consigned to staring at a bare landscape all winter. In fact, there’s plenty of things that you can plant now — right up until the ground is frozen. Check out our suggestions below.

Plant Your Pansies Now


Pansies are among the best flowers for winter color in North Texas. As long as you get them in the ground early enough to establish a solid root system before the first frost, these colorful flowers will keep blooming all season.

Pansies can easily bounce back from single-digit weather with just a mere six hours of sunlight per day, and their heady blooms come in a huge array of colors, including yellow, red, blue, white and deep purple — making them particularly versatile for landscape designs.

Add Snapdragons for an Eye-Catching Look


A favorite of kids (and kids-at-heart) everywhere, snapdragons can provide tons of bright color for your winter garden. If you’re eco-minded, these flowers also make a great winter home for some of the area’s most beneficial insects.

Snapdragons don’t particularly like the heat, so expect them to die off once the summer comes back around. That makes them a great “filler” you can put in around your dormant perennials. Snapdragons are also great if you have a spot you like to fill with summer annuals but don’t want to leave bare all fall and winter.

Try Ornamental Cabbage and Kale


If you’re only familiar with the kind of cabbage and kale that’s grown for salads, you’re really missing out: The ornamental variety is absolutely stunning in cold weather.

Hardy even when the temperature gets down close to zero, ornamental cabbages and kales are much too bitter for the average palate — but they make up for that failing with frilled leaves that turn gorgeous shades of pink, purple and red as the weather gets colder.

Get Maximum Color with Violas


A close cousin of the pansy, the viola makes up for its smallish size by producing many more blooms per stem than the typical pansy. They also have a virtually unlimited color palette from which you can choose, making them an excellent choice whether you have a specific look you want to maintain in your yard or just want the maximum display of color.

Violas are easy to grow, and they’re gorgeous when planted in large masses. Since they rest low to the ground, they’re particularly good for planting around driveways and other areas where you don’t want tall plants obscuring your view.

Use Winter Honeysuckle for Holiday Flare


Who needs snow when you have winter honeysuckles around? Most of the year, these plain green shrubs just fade into the background — until the cold weather hits. Just in time for the holiday season, small white blooms with a heady fragrance burst forth everywhere you see, adding an element of Christmas magic to your yard.

Keep in mind that honeysuckles can grow up to 10 feet tall and just as wide, so you need to either plan to do some aggressive pruning or give them plenty of space. Once they start blooming, feel free to cut the stems for vases and transport that beautiful fragrance inside your home.

Keep Your New Flowers and Shrubs Content

Winter gardens take far less work than summer ones, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the landscape entirely. There are some basics you need to keep doing throughout the season, including:

  • Watering: You can turn off your sprinklers in winter, but you still need to check the soil for dryness now and then. Unless there’s a freeze coming, it’s okay to give your new plants a little water if the weather is dry.
  • Weeding: A little casual weeding now will pay off big-time in the spring. Check your flower beds for small sprouts and pull them out by hand to keep them from spreading throughout the season.
  • Mulching: Mulch or compost can help your garden grow and insulate the roots of your favorite shrubs from cold snaps.
  • Pruning: While you shouldn’t do any major cutting in the winter, it’s okay to prune away dead branches on your shrubs and remove any plant material that’s overhanging your driveway or walk.
  • Insulating: If a cold spell is on the horizon, it may be wise to use some frost cloth to protect the plants you’ve recently added (especially if they haven’t had very long to take root).

Don’t be afraid to pick the brain of your favorite local landscape professional for more ideas about how to make your winter landscape come to life. There are plenty of options out there!

Landscaping in North Texas: 6 Steps for Success Fri, 09 Oct 2020 11:36:49 +0000 Color, variety and texture are the three big keys to a gorgeous landscape no matter what the size of your yard. A beautiful landscape can drastically improve your home’s “curb appeal” and make your property the envy of the entire neighborhood.

If your North Texas yard has you less-than-impressed, take it to the next level with some simple (but effective) steps. These landscaping projects aren’t hard, and they don’t require a massive investment of your time. They can, however, quickly transform your yard into the private retreat from the world you desire.

1) Pick Low-Maintenance Plants for Your Projects

You want to enjoy your yard, not spend all your time tending it, so pick plants that can thrive in North Texas landscapes without a lot of extra attention.

Crinum plants, or spider lilies, for example, grow well in the area, and their draping foliage and large, fragrant blooms make them a late-summer favorite. Daylilies flower best in full sun and love the heat, so they can quickly liven up bare patches in the yard. Fall Asters and Black-eyed Susans are both Texas natives, so they’re hardy, drought-tolerant plants that will provide loads of color in the fall.

2) Adorn Your Front Yard with All Kinds of Flowers

A bright array of flowers in your front yard will soften your landscape and make your home seem more inviting to guests. Pay particular attention to the areas in your front yard that are visible from the street and near the entrance of your home when you’re looking for places to add flowers.

As you plant, pay attention to the mature height and form of everything you intend to cultivate. Put the flowers that will grow tallest and thickest in the back and short plants that flower close to the ground or throw their blooms up on delicate stems in the front. Try to aim for a mix that will have some plants flowering in the spring, while others take over in the summer and fall for ongoing interest.

3) Add Some Climbing and Hanging Vines

Letting loose, blooming vines climb over fences, up retaining walls and around lamp posts automatically creates a romantic, secluded feel that will set your landscape apart from all others. Because of the way they grow, vines are perfect when you don’t want bulky shrubs taking up space but still want something flowering and green near a structure.

Clematis vines grow quickly (up to eight feet in a season), and their colorful blooms look fantastic draped over arbors and pergolas or flowing out of large containers. Coral honeysuckle will attract hummingbirds to your yard, and wisteria adds instant southern charm.

4) Make Use of Planters and Baskets

If you want to liven up your steps, porch, back deck or the front of your home, make liberal use of planters and hanging baskets. They’re easy to maintain, and bring instant visual interest and a sense of comfortable abundance to an area.

If you’re uncertain about your ability to design a beautiful garden, pots, planters and window boxes are a great way to get some practice. You can turn them into small, self-contained gardens just by remembering the following rule: You need filler, thrillers and spillers in each grouping. Find a dense, low plant that fills in the space, something that will bloom big and bright to thrill the eyes and something that will spill over the edge and drape down the pots as it grows.

5) Capitalize on Blooming Shrubs

Who says shrubbery has to be dull green all the time? Texas sage, red yucca and oleander are native shrubs that put out bright, vivid blooms that instantly add character and charm to your home year after year. Vitex, or Chaste Tree, actually needs the Texas heat to flower best, and Fringe Flower starts blooming in early spring and can continue throughout the summer.

You can mix evergreen shrubs with early-spring bloomers for extra color, and use low-growing shrubs as accent pieces wherever you need a little green “filler” to soften the look in a spot.

6) Pay Attention to the Driveway

Your driveway serves a necessary function — but it certainly isn’t pretty on its own. You can preserve its practicality and still create a soft, inviting look through the careful addition of flowing flower beds around its edges.

Here, you want to pick slow-growing plants and flowers that won’t creep into the driveway all the time. Mix plants with different textures and colors around landscaping rocks for additional beauty and interest, and don’t be afraid to curve the beds to soften the driveway’s hard lines.

If you aren’t sure about your options, it’s okay: Your local landscape professional will be more than happy to help you examine your choices and make all of your North Texas landscaping dreams come true.


When Is the Best Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees in North Texas? Tue, 29 Sep 2020 08:01:20 +0000 If you’re in North Texas, the ideal time to add shrubs and trees to your landscape is from late fall through early spring. The hot, dry summers in this area can put a lot of stress on new plants, so it’s best to let them have some time to grow roots while the temperatures are still mild and the soil is cool.

If adding new plants to your landscape feels a little bit overwhelming, these suggestions can help:

Select Your Plants and Place Them According to Your Goals

Shrubs and trees can quickly outgrow their location unless you put the right thought into both selection and their placement. To get the most out of your plants:

  • Decide on your goals. Do you want an evergreen that will provide color and interest to your landscape all year long? Do you want trees that will offer a little shade and shelter from the hot summer sun? Do you want flowering shrubs and trees that will blaze up your yard in the spring? Knowing those answers allows you to make informed decisions about both what kinds of plants you want and where you should locate them.
  • Think about sizes. Don’t buy any trees or shrubs until you know exactly how big they can grow. The plants in the nursery are small, but you need to keep their mature sizes in mind when you make your selections and choose where to install them.
  • Leave plenty of open space. It’s easy to overdo it when you’re adding new plants, but you should keep at least 10 feet of clear space around a small tree and 20-30 feet between shade trees and buildings, and keep your sidewalks and driveways unhindered.
  • Keep the sun and shade in mind. Pay attention to a plant’s light tolerance before you commit. You don’t want to put a shrub that thrives in the shade in a sunny spot or put a tree that needs a lot of sun where it’s shady most of the day.

Keep the Unique Demands of the North Texas Climate in Mind

You can’t put a sugar maple down in Texas soil and expect it to thrive. You have to keep the local weather and soil conditions in mind when you plant if you don’t want to end up wasting money, water and time.

Not sure what shrubs or trees you want or which ones can handle the climate? Here’s how to do some research:

  • Stroll through your neighborhood to see what you admire and what’s thriving for ideas.
  • Use a resource book like the “Complete Guide to Texas Gardening,” by Neil Sperry or check out the information guides offered in the Home & Garden section of the Express-News or by the Texas Agrilife Extension.
  • Check out websites like or to determine what’s hardy enough for your location.

Install Your Shrubs and Trees Carefully for the Best Results

Planting your shrubs and trees isn’t hard, but you need to remember the following tips:

  • Bigger is not always better: Small shrubs and trees are cheaper to buy and easier to get into the ground. They may also withstand the transition to the ground better than older, more mature specimens.
  • Dig deep and wide: The hole for your plant’s roots should be about as deep as the plant’s container and two or three times wider. Once your plant is in the ground, its root ball should be about even with the surrounding soil, or just a little higher.
  • Repack the hole with native soil: Don’t buy soil to pack around your new plants. They need to adjust to the native soil as quickly as possible. Using compost or potting soil can also cause water retention in the hole that can rot the new plant’s roots.
  • Skip the fertilizer: Unless your soil has some nutrient deficiencies, you don’t need to add fertilizer when you plant. Keep the fertilizer back until the spring, when the plant can actually use it for growth.
  • Add water and mulch: You do need to soak the root balls of your new plants. The water helps eliminate air pockets and encourages the roots to spread. Organic mulch over the soil will provide much-need protection.

Remember: The effort you invest now on your plants will provide benefits for years to come, so take your time!

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