9508 Tea Rose

Congratulations to Michael and Mandy Henry of 9508 Tea Rose!! They have more than September Yard of the Month to celebrate. The Henry’s welcomed twins Simon and Zoe to the family on July 19th. Although the happy new parents enjoy working in the yard, Mandy admits that Longhorn Lawns has helped out this summer. After searching for the right company to replace the lawn (lost during last year’s drought) and maintain the sprinkler system, they remembered that Longhorn has been performing maintenance at the neighborhood’s entrance. Replacing the failing grass with Celebration Bermuda Grass has provided a soft, lush look to the yard. Celebration Bermuda Grass is a new variety that is wear-resistant, drought-tolerant, and is the most shade-tolerant of all Bermuda Grasses. These features make it a good choice for this yard which is graced by large oak, cedar, and magnolia trees.

However, the first thing I noticed was the inviting patio and fire pit near the house. This seems to be a new trend, in the neighborhood and beyond. The front patio provides a great place to enjoy the shade and interact with the neighbors. Good neighbors, lots of young children, park amenities and activities, as well as a quiet, nice place to walk Ripley (the family’s out-going corgi) is what will keep them here.

Although the Garden Gals are done for the season, we look forward to the great holiday displays and will be watching for you and your green thumbs next year!



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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.

9316 Silk Oak Cove

It’s all about the details. Yard of the month for July is picture perfect whether it is December or the dog days of summer. Erica Bonner of 9316 Silk Oak Cove keeps her yard ready for inspection at all times. Unlike some of the previous YOM yards, this yard has very manicured, traditional landscaping which enhances the red brick traditional home. And the house is as well kept as the yard with lots of energy efficient upgrades like a storm door and solar screens. The front of the house has precisely trimmed shrubs that extend right up to the front door. Limestone pavers neatly edge the flower beds and red mulch (reflecting the house color) provides a pop of color while completing the manicured look. The yard is shaded by two large trees, an ash and an oak. A large, prettyflowergardensurroundstheoaktree. Vibrantcoordinatingcolors are provided by roses, oxalis, dusty miller, purple verbena, Hawthorne, Shasta daisies, begonias and more.

But like all great yards, this one has small surprises at every turn. A pretty urn overflowing with asparagus fern, begonias, and other flowers greets visitors at the front walk accompanied by a welcome sign bedecked with turtles.. Erica is obviously a bird watcher as evidenced by the two whimsical bird feeders, blown glass hummingbird feeder, and bird bath. But Erica isn’t the only bird fancier in the family. Blinds in the front room are left open so her cat can watch the bird feeder and daydream.

The yard didn’t always look this way though, when Erica bought the house in 2009 it had been a rental and the yard reflected it. Erica says she met many of her neighbors for the first time when they stopped to visit while she worked in her yard. Neighbors on Silk Oak Cove were thankful for all the hard work she put in and the lovely improvements. After talking to Erica, it is clear she knows her plants and has a great love of all things outdoors.

Like all the YOM homeowners I have met, Erica’s backyard is even more beautiful than her front yard. She has created a haven for plants, wildlife, and especially people. A couple of interesting things I learned were to look for plants in non-traditional settings; she especially recommends the Lavender Festival in Fredericksburg. She says you get interesting species at great prices. The other take-away was not to sweat the little things, she will try different species in various locations and see what works. It’s the process not the destination, just get out and enjoy!

3323 Slik Oak Drive

Mike and Barbara Tankey (along with Paddy their playful 2 year old golden retriever) recently converted their ailing front yard into a beautiful and refreshing shade garden. Like many of us in the neighborhood, last year’s drought took its toll on their lawn. Another factor that was working against them was the increasing shade provided by the Bradford pear tree that they planted approximately 14 years ago after buying their new home. Every spring they put sod down in the increasingly large bare patches in an attempt to keep their lawn lush, but it soon became a losing battle. This Spring they tried a different tactic. They portioned-off the densely shaded section of their front yard and rotatilled the remaining grass into the soil. After stripping out the grass roots and leveling the soil, they mulched the entire area, then added splashes of color by planting clusters of shade-loving plants and flowers. Several pieces of yard art and pottery further enhance the setting.

The front yard transformation actually started a couple of years ago with Mexican feather grass and rosemary along the driveway. The recent additions include coleus, hostus, fern, Hawaiian ti, caladiums, vincas, and mondo grass. One plant that really loves the shade garden is the Japense aralia planted in the tall pots. Like finding Waldo, take a moment to search out the little surprises tucked throughout – look for the toads, fish, cats, and fossils among many others.

Beside its beauty, another benefit of the shade garden is that it requires much less water than the St. Augustine grass it replaced. Although the plants and flowers they selected are generally not native to Texas, they are well-adapted to our hot, dry environment. Being perennials they are cost-effective because they will come back year after year. Now the front yard matches the beauty and serenity of the backyard(where they previously concentrated their efforts). So thank you Tankeys for the inspiration and the lovely new addition to the neighborhood.

9606 Kangaroo Lane

Our May 2012 Yard-of-the-Month winners are Mary and Mike Seberger of 9606 Kangaroo Lane. Sitting on their front porch is like stepping back in time. Their yard abuts undeveloped land south of the neighborhood and provides a touch of frontier living. A resident turkey is a frequent and bold visitor. Road runners, hawks, and cardinals are accompanied by larger mammals such as rabbits, raccoons, opossums, and fox. One of the more unexpected sights off their front porch was a couple of horses being chased down by a couple of errant cowboys. The horses still visit across the fence, but haven’t been seen in the yard since the last round up.
Mary used to have a vegetable garden along the fence, but the various critters pushed them out. That garden is now a flower plot replete with colorful poppies, blue bonnets, cosmos, irises, and lantana. The vegetables have now moved to the flower garden in the front of the house. Mingled in the colorful blooms you will find “hidden” pockets of acorn squash and tomatoes. What drew us to the yard initially was the early Spring blooms of bountiful blue bonnets accompanied by bold irises and amaryllis. A second look indicated that the color was going to go on all season long. Clusters of bold black-foot daisy, orange and gold cosmos, blue plumbago, red Mexican poinsettias, and native lantana will continue the riot of color all summer long.
Although mature trees shade the back yard there were no trees in the front yard, so about six years ago they adopted a 2-foot tall bur oak sapling donated by the City of Austin and it is now a beautiful, full 15-foot tall tree. While interviewing Mary and Mike, I enjoyed one of their favorite aspects of their yard…a peaceful sunset with abundant wildlife flitting about.
Mike and Mary purchased their home in 2001 and have put a lot of time and love into their gardens. This is their second YOM honor, though the first time they were October YOM due to the bountiful fall colors and late season blooms. Thanks to all the happy gardeners who bring color and wildlife to our suburban landscape.

9429 Lightwood Loop

Spring has definitely sprung here in Cherry Creek on Brodie Lane! In fact, we should change the name of our neighborhood to Cherry BLOSSOM Creek because of all the lovely, colorful blooming trees, shrubs and plants in the yards of our neighbors. Spring seemed to have taken a flying leap right into the yard of our first Yard of the Month winner for 2012! Congratulations to Mike and Lynn Kelley of 9429 Lightwood Loop for winning our April 2012 Yard of the Month Award! Their yard is beautifully maintained, and splashes of blossoming spring color abound in a rainbow of hues. Mike and Lynn moved into their house in 1996 and are the original owners. Mike is the one with the green thumb and can usually be found working in the yard. Although they were worried about the grass not coming back this year after last year’s drought, the mild winter and abundance of rain have created a lush green yard.

The house has a very inviting front entrance that is flanked by pretty, well-maintained shrubs with a large sago palm as the focal point. They planted the sago palm years ago and have enjoyed watched it grow from a very small plant. It is one of Lynn’s favorite things about the yard. Her other favorite is the Chinaberry tree in the side yard. It was a mature tree when they moved in, and provided the only shade in the yard. The builder shaped the driveway around the tree, and they are very thankful that it was saved. The tree produces berries that draw in all kinds of wildlife, though they are tough on the cars & driveway. The other large tree in the front yard is a beautiful red oak that was planted about 13 years ago and is just now leafing out. The tree was planted to provide shade in the summer to the front of the house which faces

south. It has been very beneficial and keeps the house much cooler. In addition to the well-kept appearance of the yard and house, the landscaping element that drew us to this yard was the colorful, bountiful, spring blooms. Mike is a big fan of Scott’s Planting Soil with Plant Food Mix. Mike an Lynn don’t use fertilizers and pesticides on their lawn because their pets spend so much time in the yard. Therefore, their lawn could be considered more of a “green” yard. This time of year, when most folks are just starting to garden, the Kelley’s flowers were flourishing. Large, robust crimson and salmon-colored snapdragons seem to burst from the earth and surround a well-pruned crape myrtle. Another brilliant spring floral display is in the whiskey barrel planted with periwinkles, begonias, pansies, and marigolds which is surrounded by another band of deep violet-colored flowers. Their trick is to exchange annuals periodically to take advantage of each seasons’ conditions. For example pansies add great color in the winter and thrive in the colder wetter conditions, but will burn up in summer and are replaced by heat tolerant species.

As April 2012 Yard of the Month winners, Lynn and Mike are recipients of a special perk (or maybe we should call it a “perc”) to winning the YOM award, a $20.00 gift card, generously donated by Steve Baer of the Texenza Coffee shop nearby. A special thanks goes to Texenza, a locally owned cafe near the Randalls that is only a 6 minute walk on the trail at the end of Tea Rose Trail– check it out!

9401 Tea Rose Trail

If Edward Scissorhands had a penchant for gumdrops, his yard might very well look like that of Jody and Jack Jennings of 9401 Tea Rose Trail, winners of September’s Yard of the Month!
We should all be grateful of the effort Jody and Jack put into their yard, because it is the first yard prominently on display to all who enter the neighborhood. In fact, their home was the builder’s model home for precisely that reason. Their yard positively influences people who are looking to buy a new home in our neighborhood; therefore it helps to increase our property values.

Since purchasing the home 17 years ago, Jody and Jack have maintained the bushes and trees they inherited from the original landscaping, and have also included some additions such as colorful crape myrtles. It is clear from talking to the Jennings that they gave much thought to each new item placed in the yard, paying particular attention to ease of maintenance, water needs, and suitability to this area. But don’t think that ease of maintenance is really on top of their list because they shape each and every bush almost monthly using electric trimmers, which takes a lot of time. We tried to convince them to try some fun animal topiary shapes since they already have the precise sculpting skills of Edward Scissorhands—maybe we will see a bear or rabbit-shaped hedge in the future?

The Jennings diligently maintain their yard and have used Dillo Dirt, an environmentally friendly compost made by the City of Austin to fertilize their landscape. Even though it is not as prominently on display, the Jennings work just as hard on their beautiful back yard bordered by crape myrtles with white, light pink and fuchsia blossoms.

Besides bragging rights, Jody and Jack are also recipients of a new perk (or maybe we should call it a “perc”) to winning the YOM award, a $20.00 gift card, generously donated by Steve Baer of the Texenza Coffee shop nearby. A special thanks goes to Texenza, a locally owned cafe near the Randalls that is only a 6 minute walk on the trail at the end of Tea Rose Trail– check it out!