Deep in the Yards of Texas - Kissing Tree
Mar 24th, 2021

Deep in the Yards of Texas

When Chris David first began plotting her move to Kissing Tree, she was focused on finding the perfect lot. The Austinite and long-time gardener knew that she wanted a large, private home site on a cul-de-sac so that she could create an inviting, park-like environment. “I didn’t move here for the house, I moved here for the community,” Chris says. “Back in the day, people had wrap around porches, where you could holler and hey at everybody as they walked by. I wanted a home that was conducive to inviting people over, with lots of plants designed to attract birds, bees, and butterflies.”

Finding the Right Partner

Chris moved to Kissing Tree in January of 2019, and by October, she was ready to extend her front and back porches. Chris added large deck extensions and meandering pathways, but she didn’t do it alone. After talking to several landscape firms, Chris chose Debbie Jackson at Sagebrush to be her co-collaborator. “I was clear, this is not my first yard; I know plants and what I like, and I had a vision,” Chris says. “Debbie helped me understand the pieces: light, safety, compliance, codes, irrigation. It was a complimentary collaboration. It was a romance made in gardeners’ heaven.”

Understanding the Land

While the landscaping was an investment, Chris did the project in phases, ensuring that both the function and aesthetics matched her vision of a landscape rich with drought-tolerant native plants that welcomed birds, bees, butterflies, and neighbors. Living in the house before beginning the project also helped Chris understand the lay of the lot and get to know her new neighbors. “It was a process of assessment,” Chris says. “What’s this house and cul-de-sac like, how is the irrigation, what is the lighting like, what are the pitfalls of the lot?”

Striking the Right Balance

After the decks were installed, the planting beds could begin to take shape. Chris knew she wanted drought-tolerant landscaping with a careful balance of soft- and hard-scapes that would look good year-round and not require mowing. “One of the key things aesthetically has to be the balance of the design,” she says. “You can’t go with too many rocks or too much planting. I get all gaga when I see butterflies and hummingbirds; I find it very nurturing and inspiring. I get excited over a leaf. You have to have a passion for it, and I do.”

Shooting Stars Abound

One of the specific ways Debbie guided the landscape’s vision was in helping Chris understanding the role that lighting could play in the design. Carefully placed downlights highlight the paths, trees, and planting beds. “I had never thought about accent lights,” Chris says. “Because Kissing Tree is a night sky community, we did down light, so at night, the yard looks as beautiful as it does during the daytime. The night sky is beautiful. I’ll go out at night and stand on the side deck, and you forget how exhilarating it is to see shooting star. It brings the magic and the beauty of the outside in.”

Welcoming the Neighbors

Chris works from home, which lets her enjoy the landscaping (and the visitors it brings) throughout the day. “I invite people to walk through,” she says, “There are stepping stones that go from front to back. People are nice, and it’s a good way to get to know everyone.” The natural beauty of Chris’s yard doesn’t just attract human neighbors—it also creates good vibes for animals and other creatures. Last week, Chris saw a movement on her back porch and found that a fox had come up two sets of steps to preen on her back porch! “I get all kind of birds, butterflies, deer, skunks,” Chris says. “That’s why I like living here. When I have a horrible day, but then I see a hummingbird grooving with nature, it gives me a sense of what’s important. It’s all good. It keeps me grounded to life.”

As she coaxes her yard back from this February’s brutal freeze, Chris is out in her yard each day evaluating plants and taking care of new spring buds. “It’s a passion; it restores my soul,” she says. “Your house and yard should be your inner sanctum, and it should be something that fulfills you.”

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