9404 Lightwood Loop

Contemporary meets traditional at 9404 Lightwood Loop. Holly and David Parnos just completed a beautiful transformation of their shaded front yard to garner the August YOM. The Garden Girls were driving by and literally did a double take. Where there had been a traditional, if not a little threadbare front yard, there is now an eye- catching oasis. Holly recently indulged her artistic side and developed a formal landscape plan. Working with a professional landscaper she polished the plan to its final form. Although the project had been in the planning stages since April, once the work began the transformation happened within a matter of days.

A large ash tree dominates the front yard and although lovely, the shade it generates poses its own set of landscaping challenges. Like many of us, last year’s drought was the final straw and the Parnos decided something more significant than nursing the existing grass back to health had to be done. Removing the grass, putting down mulch, and adding colorful specimen plants in artistic groupings creates a peaceful feel. A sidewalk from the curb to the front door solves a problem many of the homes in this neighborhood have and is now a focal point in the landscape. Large concrete squares float in a dark gravel walkway creating a dramatic focal point. Dark gravel along the curb further draws the eye in while solving an access issue for visiting guests that have to park along the street.

When planning the new landscape, Holly leaned heavily on the “Native and Adapted Landscape Plants” booklet published by the City of Austin. This booklet (available at local nurseries and home improvement centers) identifies adapted plants and provides a wealth of information such as watering needs, shade-tolerance, size, etc. Holly selected plants with a variety of striking forms, from complex broad leaves to striking linear shapes. Trailing purple lantana, pink salvia, American beautyberry, and society garlic provide a sweep of purple at the front of the yard. Turk’s cap, columbine, flame-leaf acanthus, and red yucca provide a swath of red. Other standouts in the yard include agarita, sotol, and muhly bamboo. Utilizing this diversity of flowering plants ensures the yard will have colorful blooms from early Spring to late Fall. Although the transformation appears complete, there are still a few planting beds where Holly can hone her burgeoning gardening skills. I for one can’t wait to see the future additions and watch as the landscape matures.

The Parnos took advantage of the great shade in the front yard and created a small patio area in front of the house. Adirondack chairs accentuate the welcoming look and relaxing “feel” of the front yard. The family, including Layla (their furry child), is already enjoying their new urban oasis.