ABC Blog

Landscape Fail: The Most Common Design Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Like any homeowner, you’d probably like your landscaping to look amazing. Wanting an amazing yard and creating one are two different things, of course. It’s easy to make seemingly small mistakes that can wreak major havoc on the appearance of your landscaping. By familiarizing yourself with the most common ones, you can be on your way to incredible landscape design in no time!

1. Not Having a Plan

If at all possible, come up with a plan before doing any major landscaping work. At ABC Austin, we routinely come across yards that have been worked on a little here and a little there. There’s often a mishmash of elements that don’t really go together, which results in a scattered, disheveled look. With a clear plan in mind, you can easily achieve an attractive, cohesive landscape design for your Austin home.

2. Not Considering the View from Inside

It’s easy to have tunnel vision when … Read Full Post »

Best on the Block: Top 10 Design Ideas to Light Up Your Home for the Holidays

Aren’t you sure what to do with your home for the holidays? Check out our top 10 ideas for transforming your Houston home into a stunning seasonal success.

1. Emphasize existing landscape features and the graceful branches of deciduous trees by illuminating them with ground-level flood lights. Use existing landscape lighting or modular spotlights to highlight wreaths and green decorations. Fill fountains, urns, and birdbaths with gazing balls or evergreen boughs to maximize their seasonal appeal.

2. Think about your landscaping before you decorate. Watch for decorative plants that will complement your holiday display. Treat landscape shrubs in late fall to protect them and keep them looking healthy all season. Evergreens, hollies, and berry-producing shrubs are ideal for incorporating into your holiday display.

3. Place greenery, topiaries, garlands, and evergreen wreaths on entryways, windows, mailboxes, columns, and porches. These items will look beautiful during the day before the timer activates your lights.

4. Add … Read Full Post »

Cool-Season Plants Create Cool Yards in San Antonio

The crisp, fall months here in San Antonio are worth celebrating if only because you’ve beat the Texas heat again. If you enjoy digging around in the garden, this is the best time of year to give that green thumb some cool-weather exercise. Here are three local favorites you’ll love in your fall landscape:

Delicious Rosemary Bushes

Forget about that little plant growing on the kitchen windowsill. The full-grown rosemary bush flourishes in central Texas gardens and grows to a feathery height of five feet. If you’re looking for a little drama and delicious fragrance in an evergreen hedge, this is a great choice for your fall planting plans. It grows well in large pots as well, so double down on decorating around the patio. Make sure that your rosemary bush gets plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil. Enjoy this wonderful plant all year, especially when you’re in the mood for a … Read Full Post »

Wanna be Green? Try Losing Your Lawn!

As a homeowner, you probably take pride in your grassy front yard. There’s no shame in this: For many homeowners, nothing says “I’ve made it” like a fenced-in patch of brilliant green grass.

Unfortunately, San Antonio has been experiencing severe drought for several years on end, and forecasters expect the problem to continue. There’s a good chance that already tight city and county water restrictions will become even stricter: in nearby Austin, watering your lawn during the day is punishable by a $475 fine. Cut down on lawn care and get out in front of this looming problem with eco-friendly drought-resistant landscaping that uses native, drought-tolerant plants instead of water-guzzling grass.

What’s a Drought-Tolerant Landscape?

Also known as a “xeriscape,” drought-resistant landscaping is an area of landscaping that eschews moisture-loving varieties of grass in favor of water-sipping plant species like succulents, prairie grasses and desert-native shrubs. According to the University of Arizona’s Water … Read Full Post »

5 Ways to Prepare Your Yard for the Changing Season

Summer is over, but it’s not quite a time to hang up your lawn tools for the year. Here are the final five lawn care tasks you need to complete before winter:

Remove Dead Leaves Immediately

Raking your leaves might sound common sense, but many homeowners put it off until all their trees are completely bare. Trees can drop leaves for more than a month, and they’ll pile up. After a good rain, those leaves will become damp and heavy, and you’ll have difficulty blowing or raking them into a pile.

Try to remove dead leaves at least once a week as soon as they begin dropping, and you’ll split up an enormous task into manageable chunks. Dead leaves will also prevent grass from receiving sunlight, which will decimate your lawn after a few weeks. Fungus and mold will also take their toll.

Eliminate Weeds on Your Lawn

Most plants begin to conserve nutrients in … Read Full Post »

Healthy Grass under Your Tootsies

Which lawn personality are you?

It isn’t summer until the kids are running around on the green lawn in bare feet and tank tops. Of course, in the land of endless summers (like in Bryan-College Station and most of the southwest), it’s tank top weather year-round! High temperatures and unpredictable precipitation make lawn maintenance a tricky proposition. This combination invites all manner of creeping, crawling and rapidly expanding pests that can take over your lawn faster than you can find your flip-flops.

Fungus Grows on Texas Lawns

St. Augustine grass is popular as a Texas turf material because it grows thick and green with proper lawn care. It’s also cushy and not too tickly on bare feet. However, this grass type is also susceptible to pest problems, especially when forces of nature conspire to create a cozy environment for fungal growth. Other grass types including Bahia and Bermuda can harbor some fungus growth given high temperatures, waterlogged … Read Full Post »

Hardscaping vs. Greenscaping: Considerations for Homeowners

drought-resistant landscaping is an eco-friendly alternative

As a San Antonio homeowner, are you sitting on the fence between greenscaping and hardscaping? Both landscaping forms have advantages and disadvantages, yet choosing either can be an environmentally sound and smart decision.

If the fence hurts your derriere, weighing the following considerations might help you jump down on the side of greenscaping, which involves building a sustainable landscape from the soil up, or hardscaping, which utilizes rock, concrete, wood and other hard materials to reduce a yard’s negative environmental impact.


If you fall off the fence, hard landing surfaces generally cost more to establish than soft. The materials to create or remodel a hardscape cost more than greenery costs, but hardscape costs you little, if anything, after it’s established. Inversely, greenscapes cost less to start, but your cost carries across years of nurturing, maintaining and replenishing greenery. Fence sitters: Would you rather pay up front or over time?


Maintaining hardscapes involves little work. If … Read Full Post »

How to Create an Epic Pool in Your Own Backyard

If you own a backyard pool, you may have the typical oasis that many neighbors have. Wouldn’t you prefer to flaunt the same spectacular pool that famous hotels and resorts feature? You may not be able to match the extravagance of a five-star accommodation, but you can apply some similar design ideas and create an aquatic masterpiece in your yard.

You can customize your pool by pulling specific qualities from elaborate designs to give it epic appeal. Remodeling a pool may be as simple as adding some landscaping, or it can be a marathon renovation. The initial idea of a pool overhaul may seem overwhelming, but imagine diving into your new luxurious splash zone as a reward for your efforts.

Before you take the sledgehammer or ax to your backyard, consider how to avoid destruction. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. Landscaping is ideal for making slight alterations that pack … Read Full Post »

Mosquito Dangers: What You Need to Know

Along with the enjoyment of warm weather comes the annoyance of mosquitoes. Although you may plan on just ignoring these pests, the frequency of mosquito bites may become irritating, and the potential for serious health concerns should keep you cautious. It may be wise this summer to be proactive about the mosquito problem.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are carriers of an array of viruses. Although not every mosquito is a threat, there is no way to know before a mosquito bites you. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has a thorough list of mosquito-borne diseases. Still, the four diseases most likely to affect any family in the United States are the West Nile virus, malaria, dengue fever, and canine heartworm.

West Nile virus is a potentially fatal disease that causes brain inflammation and flu-like symptoms. Malaria involves a parasite attacking your red blood cells, causing a persistent fever. Dengue is a type of fever … Read Full Post »

Deep Root Feeding: Do Your Trees Need It?

Deep root feeding, also known as deep root fertilization, is a treatment that delivers nutrients directly to the root zone of a tree or shrub. If a tree is not adequately nourished, the tree cannot flourish. In the worst-case scenario, tree removal may be necessary.

Is Deep Root Feeding Necessary?

Deep root feeding is not always necessary, but some trees require it. Trees in the Houston area grow in an environment that can make it difficult to fertilize trees adequately using traditional broadcasting fertilization methods. Here are some circumstances that require treatment:

  • If a tree grows in very compact soil, nutrients are less likely to penetrate the soil and reach the root zone.
  • Trees cannot gather adequate nutrients from the immediate environment in some urban and suburban areas.
  • If the branch and leaf growth of the tree appears to be stunted, this can be a serious sign that the tree is not obtaining adequate water … Read Full Post »