Part 2 – Wong Residence, Texas, Landscape Design

Part 2 – Wong Residence, Texas, Landscape Design (PDF)

  • John Brown


    This is the completed landscape design for the Wong residence.

  • Steve


    Thanks, John — I like the multiple defined spaces. It’s interesting that you drew-in the furniture pieces before the deck and patio on which they sit. Which came first as you were conceiving the plan?

    I’ve been thinking simple, in a Chinese garden kinda way – a wide, raised patio close to the house overlooking a jade-green pond, trees and plantings around the walls, and focal objects to draw the eye into this small yard diagonally. A mound of rustling bamboo at the east corner (to shade the living room window and patio), and a grove of flowering plum trees at the rear. Corner sculptural objects might be a large Taihu rock or small ornamental structure.

    But in water-wise Dallas, ponds are not encouraged. Instead, I’d replace the water with a sunken buffalo grass lawn. The narrow planting areas surrounding the “lawn pond” would be raised with rock edging, undulating to accentuate the diagonals.

    The garden would provide contemplative views from the living room and study (in my plan) as well as two spaces for outdoor living with minimal maintenance.

  • James Scott

    John – I always find the landscaping portion to be the most difficult, the options really are endless. The hint that parking is curb-side tells me that the front yard is probably fairly small. With a small lawn in the back yard it would seem silly to have the resources such as a mower, unless maybe you brought a service in. Any suggestions to making the play space and the greater landscaping more maintenance free?

    Steve – great ideas, almost poetry. Could you elaborate on Buffalo Grass?

  • BradW

    John – good explanation and rationale for your design – nice flow and enough texture (level changes, walls and plants) to provide clear definition to the space

  • BradW

    Frances – I thought your landscape design yesterday had a nice rhythm to it – I think it was your nice use of trees on the perimeter of the garden the so appeals. The floating nature on the living/dining space I also quite like – it is not so formal or symmetrical but more playful, a counterpoint to the home – you also provided more grass space and I can see the kids playing amongst the trees. The deck which runs the width of the house provides a nice transition to the lawn – a metaphorical shore for an island oasis and sea of grass.

  • JimG

    I like the two level deck, but I think the dining area should be the same level as the kitchen to reduce the tripping and falling with food hazzard.

    It gets dark early down there doesn’t it? Any plans for lighting?

  • John Brown

    Good point about tripping but I would still argue for the change in elevation so that it didn’t become this huge exapnse of wood decking.

  • John Brown

    Yard maintenance. What a pain.

    If a lawn mower and such was necessary to store then I think a small shed could be incorporated behind the trees near the dining area deck.

  • John Brown

    As James has said, a lovely idea. My favorite example of a grass pool is in Los Angeles at the King’s Road House by Rudolph Schindler.

  • Louis Pereira

    John – Your plan is broken up nicely and the spatial relationship between interior and exterior is ideal.

    For instance you have the option to dine indoors or outdoors, which are both easily accessible and equal distance from the Kitchen. Likewise for the other outdoor spaces.

    I also like the change in grade between the outdoor dining and lounge areas – even with just a single step. Simply adding the privacy screens and raised planter as you have, helps creates intimate enclaves while adding architectural detail within the landscape.

  • JimG

    If the dining area was the same elevation as the kitchen floor, the sitting area could be a step lower, breaking up the huge expanse of decking (what would the deck be made from? the lifespan of wood, even pressure treated is pretty short, plus it is a pain to maintain)

    One advantage to this would be being able to eliminate the rail because it’s only one step down. (would need to check local code on the need of a railing)

  • Steve


    I’ve spent hours studying Schindler’s home (and visiting when I can) but I had never thought of the sunken gardens as grass ponds. Beautiful! This photo shows it off well …

    I don’t know if that’s buffalo grass in Schindler’s garden, but it’s growing in popularity as a low-water, low-maintenance alternative to bluegrass. It only needs water once a month and cutting once a year — simple and sustainable! Hopefully the “water-wise” landscaping movement continues to blossom.

  • Tina

    John, your design has a nice balance. I would only suggest that some sort of potting bench or shed be incorporated. Just as we have kitchens/baths within the house to ‘maintain’ people, we need potting benches outside to maintain the plantings. It doesn’t need to be large, just functional and well-located.

  • John Brown

    I take my students to the Schindler house every February. It is one of my favorite houses. The way the house and garden fit together to create a series of public/private spaces is remarkable.

  • John Brown

    You are right. A very good point. Thanks for bringing this to the group.