A Dallas Landscape Japanese Style

This week we completed the final touches on a contemporary Japanese garden in the Dallas Prestonwood area. The landscape relied heavily on traditional Japanese garden elements but were simple and bold to introduce a modern look that required lower maintenance.

Vertical living elements include Tanyosho Pine, Weeping Bald Cypress, Weeping Yaupon Holly, and 4 varieties of Japanese Maple. I also introduced some Basalt Columns and Slim Vase Fountains for vertical features.

An Oklahoma chop stone border with random Mossy Boulder inserts separate the lawn from the planted spaces. Within these planted spaces include shrubs like Spreading Plum Yew, Variegated Pittosporum, Japanese Spirea, Autumn Rouge Azalea, Cast Iron Plant, Gold Dust Aucuba, Japanese Cleyera, Japanese Holly Fern, and Chinese fringe Loropetalum.

Drip Irrigation was used throughout the project to create a water efficient landscape.

Willow Bend remodel in Plano, Texas

Here we have a home in a Willow Bend neighborhood in Plano, Tx. The homeowner was in the process of remodeling the inside of their home and wanted to update the curb appeal.

The existing landscape was overgrown and tired. We began fresh by removing nearly all of the existing landscape elements. Because the mature Live Oaks were limiting the sunlight, some areas of the lawn were thin and bare. By incorporating the trees into the landscape beds we were able to creatively overcome this challenge.

The landscape sprinkler system was updated with Line Source Drip Irrigation that will save water, and eliminate water damage on the woodwork. Plant materials such as Spreading Plum Yew, Japanese Maple, Gold Dust Aucuba, Carissa and dwarf Yaupon Holly, Variegated Liriope, Moon Bay Nandina, and Pittosporum were selected to thrive in the mixed light conditions. A border of Oklahoma chopstone and Mossy Boulders ties everything together.

Landscape Survival for Stage 3 Water Restrictions

Officials with the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) have initiated Stage 3 of the NTMWD Water Conservation and Drought Contingency and Water Emergency Response Plan, March 2008, (Plan), which goes into effect November 1. The goal of Stage 3 is a 10% reduction in water use and increased awareness in ongoing water conservation efforts. Member cities include: Allen, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson and Wylie.

Watering is limited to once every other week starting November 1st!

All forms of low flow irrigation including drip irrigation (except soaker hoses) are not restricted; they may be used any day of the week, any time of the day.

I have found the easiest way to convert your restricted landscape shrub sprinklers into a water conserving non-restricted drip system. It requires no digging, no cutting, no gluing, and no permanent modifications to your current shrub spray system. It is inexpensive and simple enough that most any homeowner can do it themselves.

Well, what is it? Its a Twelve Outlet Pressure Compensating drip emitter kit that replaces the conventional shrub spray. Its called the TOP-300 and the kit contains all necessary parts including the tubing and stakes. These can be purchased online, or if you wish, your licensed irrigator can provide these.

Expanded Shale for Texas Clay Soils

I use expanded shale as a soil amendment for all North Texas Blackland clay soils and can attest to its ability to improve our tight, heavy soils. Expanded shale provides a permanent soil solution for aeration and drainage. Unlike compost and other organic amendments, expanded shale will not break down during the normal lifespan of your planted landscape.

Jack Sinclair of TXI Industries explains that the shale is mined and ground to 1" to l/2" range particles and then kiln fired. As it progresses through the kiln for 40 minutes at 2,000 degrees C, certain chemical processes take place in the silica content (60-70%) causing the material to expand. As the material cools, cavities are left after gases escape, leaving a porous lightweight chunk capable of absorbing water and releasing it slowly at a later time. Recommendations for using expanded shale come from Dr. Steve George of the Texas Cooperative Extension. He recommends expanded shale use in containerized pots and soil incorporation for improved water retention and proper drainage. Dr. George also remarked: "Based on a two-year research study and six years of field trials, I feel that expanded shale will open up and aerate heavy, sticky clay soils faster than any material that I have ever tested. Due to its porous nature, it provides aeration from within the shale particles and, in poorly aerated clay soils, resulted in a more extensive and healthier root system than did other treatments being tested. Even though I dearly love finished, plant-based compost, if I were limited to only one application of one soil amendment with which to open up heavy clay soils, I would take expanded shale and never look back!"

Expanded shale can be purchased by the bag or in bulk and is also blended with other organic soil conditioners for potting mixes and bedding mixes.