Windswept Landscape Studios  
Winter 2008
The Heights Pages Winter 2008 Article by Tim Turner Landscape Utopia - The Ultimate in Outdoor Living!
Implementing a stone patio with accent planting for a small courtyard or dressing up the foundation planting of a bungalow adds to the impact of an architectural gem within an neighborhood.
Proper planning and execution of an outdoor living space is an integral key to a landscape project that will add value to a property. In Houston, especially in the Heights and surrounding areas, residents use their outdoor spaces for a variety of functions. Whether it is to strictly create a visual impact or to create a space of outdoor respite after a hard day's work, these landscape concepts can comprise a variety of elements including, patios, water features, arbors, lighting, and plantings.

Patios act as a transitional element for homeowners to interact with their landscape. Not only do these outdoor surfaces allow furnishings, fire pits, summer kitchens, and planters to become a part of a landscape, but they also bring people into a small outdoor space that would normally only be viewed from inside the house. Materials can range, depending on the architectural style of the residence or the size of the patio. Flagstone, slate, brick cobble pavers, and stained concrete come in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles to accommodate the look tailored to each specific site.

Water Features provide audio sensory, in addition to creating a visual statement for a small space. Small to large water features can become a life-giving force to a variety of birds and other living creatures. Wall mounted features provide a sense of tranquility to a vertical garden in limited space. Anything from a simple boulder or Greek urn with a small reservoir to a custom one of a kind designed architectural stone wall with bronze scuppers or sculpture adds another dimension to outdoor room.

Arbors provide shade and relief to a small outdoor space, especially during the hot summer months in Houston. These structures can be covered or semi-covered. Materials such as canvas can provide a water proof covered space that can be enjoyed when it is either sunny or raining. Open beamed structures provide support for vines to create a filtered screen from the sun. Ceiling fans, outdoor lighting, and other amenities used within an arbor can bring additional comfort to the extreme summer climate of Houston.

Lighting is the key to transforming a landscape from day to night. This element is especially important for homeowners who enjoy the outdoors in the summer evenings when the temperatures are not at the broiling levels that occur throughout the day. Focal elements such as water features, sculptures, or accent trees/shrubs become illuminated within the outdoor space by using lighting. Either a high or low voltage lighting system can easily be incorporated into an outdoor living space.

Plantings help transition architectural elements such as patios, pools, and pathways with the architecture style of the residence. They can be a simple scheme of one accent specimen or a complex array of forms, colors, and textures. Houstonians are lucky, since this city’s mild climate offers an array of trees and shrubs for a small outdoor space. This gives residents of Houston the opportunity to introduce bold textured plant material in addition to some of the more traditional trees or shrubs into a planting scheme.

The above elements are just a few options that can be incorporated into outdoor living. Whether adding soothing music to a lush courtyard with a flagstone patio or installing to a mosquito or irrigation system to deal with some of the practical elements of a landscape, contacting a professional landscape designer can help you plan and determine what elements best suit a homeowner's needs for his or her outdoor living space. Once a conceptual master plan is designed, execution of this design can be implemented for the homeowner to enjoy in the years to come.

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