Author Archive

Water gardens, water features, landscape design, landscaping, Austin Texas

Friday, September 18th, 2015

I thought I would update my blog by posting a water feature we did in the winter of 2009. It is a 65 foot running stream with multiple waterfalls and is considered a disappearing stream in that there is very little exposed water in the basin. I am very proud of this water feature and will be posting a new one that we completed in Killeen, TX in November 2013. We take an extreme amount of pride in all of our landscapes but when it comes to our water gardens we take even more time to perfect all the details of water flow, sound, aeration, filtration and the ease of maintenance. To install a great water garden, water feature, or disappearing stream takes a very high level of skill and understanding and we consider it a privilege to install a water garden on someone’s property.

Organic fertilizer, xeriscape design, landscape design, twin creeks, cedar park

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

If you have recently received a postcard on your door in Twin Creeks I thought I would formerly invite you to take a look around the website, visit our portfolio and read some of our blogs.

We are currently expanding our business in your area and would like to give you a free consulting and/or design for any landscaping you may need. Fall will be here before you know it, so now is a great time to start the landscape design process.

Also we have introduced a great organic fertilizing program so if you want to get away from the chemicals give us a call. We can measure your property and offer a tailor made solution to your grass, your beds and all your trees.

Here are a few pictures of some landscaping and stone work we have done in your neighborhood.

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Thanks for visiting – Chris Martin – landscape designer and project manager.

Organic living, greener living, homestead, organic food, custom gardens and landscapes

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

I came across this video today on Facebook and had to share it on my blog. This is my personal goal for my family although not quite as extreme. I can foresee growing a garden that sustains all of our personal produce. The quality breads and meats we will still buy from someone local along with our gas. I like that he said it was a ten year long process. If I can be halfway here in five years then that is a really good start.

Not only do I want this to be for me but I also want to help implement these kind of gardens and landscapes in other people’s homes and have been getting more and more calls for this as the years go by.

There is so much information out there on how to do this kind of gardening and if you are interested you can google what they are doing in the U.K. They are completely pioneering a new way of life over there in many parts of that country which I hope will continue to influence what we do here in America.

I would one day like to see master planned communities have master gardens in their designs along with the normal amenities they already have such as pools and playscapes


Flooding Austin, Standing Water, Drainage Solutions, Dry Creek Beds, French Drains, Rain Gardens, Memorial Day Flood, May 2015

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Hello everyone,

It has been quite an eventful Memorial Day weekend with a 200 year old record breaking rainfall and flooding. I took my son who is eight, for a drive around our neighborhood in northwest Austin and we saw mass amounts of flooding and standing water in people’s yards and with more rain in the forecast for the next seven to ten days it doesn’t look like it will dissipate very soon. The grounds are completely saturated so any amount of rain now will just contribute to more runoff. I think we needed the rain, no questions asked but this is crazy. I have lived in Austin for 34 years and have been landscaping in Austin since 1994 and have never seen anything like this.

That being said there is no one solution out of this if you are a homeowner with standing water in your yard but there are things we can do to help in the process to alleviate some of those issues. We offer a variety of solutions ranging anywhere from large french drains to our number one solution – a dry creek bed. Dry creek beds are essential in this kind of weather because they divert the water from the most important areas of your yard like your house. And we can landscape around them installing plants that can handle wet feet for days on end and at the same time handle drought conditions.

We have the ability to do complete regrading makeovers offering multiple drainage solutions to your property. Please look at our portfolio for some examples of dry creek beds.

Now with the Austin floods we are offering free estimates and consultations and a 10% discount to all residents that need landscaping done involving drainage solutions.

Backyard landscape design, landscaping, fire pits, water gardens, Austin, TX.

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

After landscaping for 21 years in Austin, TX I thought I would write a little about what landscaping means to me. This is an interesting blog because for years and years I fought myself on landscaping, always wanting out of the business while all the time growing my business and more importantly my portfolio and client relationships.

Now I am wondering why in the world I ever wanted out of this business because in the end I have come to this conclusion about myself. I absolutely love working outside with my hands. I have sat in cubicles before and worked from a computer and have been a part of the hospitality industry for many years holding a number of different positions.

For reasons beyond explanation I always gravitate toward dirt, rocks and plants. I think it is because almost everything I work with is alive on some level from the microbes in the dirt to the life-giving nature of plants and flowers and the energy that comes from rocks.

I put all that together and formed an idea or philosophy – custom living design where all landscapes and gardens grow organically from a precision line of sight. All I have to do is place everything correctly for the maximum amount of energy to be released. That is why many times people will visit my landscapes and remark that it breathes well or that it has a positive energy. That is because I take a great amount of time in the design process.

It is one of those things that is hard to explain with words on paper but easy to explain with words as we walk throughout the property at every stage of the landscaping from initial consultation to design and then on to the tweaking of that design to the implementation and execution of the entire build process.

It all begins with precision line of sight. What our eyes focus on at every part of the landscape is so important. Because with our eyes our mind perceives and our hearts feel. So when the landscape installation is done poorly our mind perceives that something is off but doesn’t know what and that causes hesitation and confusion in our hearts.

When the landscape installation is done with precision line of sight throughout its space then our mind perceives an openness and our hearts feel peaceful and calm thus enhancing the entire experience in a properly landscaped property. This results in great conversations, meditations and a greater connection to our outdoor surroundings.

Below is a small space that was designed poorly with only one thing in mind. Make a little money so the homeowner can be happy. There is absolutely no thought into what this space can be. As a result the backyard is hot and uncomfortable and only worth avoiding. And this is only 7 feet wide by twenty feet long. Think of this poorly designed landscape over the space of 70 feet by 40 feet. It would be completely uninhabitable.

Before zen garden, austin, tx xeriscape

Now look at what just a little thought and intention does. In this design I use stone, plants, grasses and water to complete the landscape. What a difference. You can now relax and talk to a friend or read a book or even take a nap. I love this backyard because it feels like an outdoor room.

after zen garden austin tx xeriscape

So the line of sight is off center right to the colorful pot as you walk out the back door which lends itself to all the landscaping being done on that side. Then when you look to the right you see the anchor Bamboo in the corner which balances everything to the right and left. Then you look down and see the beautiful small round boulders that separate the garden area from the walking area. And in between the two seats is a small water feature for the added sound effect. Simple but powerful. I just increased her living space by 140 square feet and because this is in a small garden home community it really does feel like an outdoor room.

So now when you build something in the arena of 70 feet by 30 feet it could look and feel something like this…

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With this design everything breathes and flows from one thing to another.

And I suppose that is why I keep landscaping because as I install things that are alive and living I feel alive and I feel like I am living. The goal then is to go from death to life through custom living design founded on the philosophy of precision line of sight.

Landscape design ideas, stone fire pits, water features, backyard landscaping, Austin, TX

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

This is a quick blog on plants and becoming a better landscape designer. When I first started landscaping I knew of four plants that were my “go to” plants for everything.

Nandina, Bicolor Iris, Mexican Heather, Asian Jasmine.

I still use Bicolor Iris in many of my landscapes because they are so hardy and it is an evergreen grass whereas most other grasses except Lirope are perennial.

I very rarely use the other three and in fact I never use Asian Jasmine any more.

As a landscape designer it is important to grow in your plant knowledge because the more knowledgeable you are the more valuable you become to the market place.

With Austin growing by leaps and bounds most people don’t know what plants work well here and we have a pretty intolerant climate to a lot of plants that do great in other parts of the country.

For example I have tried to grow Camellia again and again and can’t seem to win with that plant even though I love it. So I substitute if with Rose of Sharon who has always performed great.

Legustrum is another plant that does well here but it is highly overused and I have severe allergies to the flowers on this plant. So I discovered Sweet Olive and Evergreen Sumac and Pineapple Guava. All of these do fantastic.

And instead of Red tipped Photenia I plant Variegated Pittosporum. This plant I absolutely love and use it in many landscapes because it is so versatile and hardy. Plus the green and white leaves goes with greens, blues, reds, pinks, purples.

Texas Sage seems to get kind of leggy over time so I now use Green Cloud Sage or Bush Germainder.  Both of these keep their fullness while Texas Sage peters out unless you prune it way back.

I saw Greggs Mist Flower at the nursery and the butterflies were always on their flowers so I decided to buy some and install them in a landscape. Little did I know how they spread and they completely took over an area which was not my intent. So now when I plant them I isolate them to a certain part of the yard that I can allow to grow a little wild and then I just let the butterflies come.

That is the kind of stuff that books don’t teach. Experience in the landscape industry is always a big plus.

Any way I just wanted to blog about growing as a designer. It is important to grow because there are several different themes that will work well in Austin, it is just about finding the right plants for the right places that bloom at the right time.

Also here is some food for thought. Every landscape project I do, I try to incorporate a plant or two that I have not used before to see what it does. If it performs under our conditions I add it to my pallet, if it fails I either try it in another area or discard it from what I install. Buy a Texas plant book and keep it handy while designing landscapes. That’s what I do.

For a greater understanding of plants and their habitat view my portfolio.

Landscape design ideas, stone fire pits, water features, backyard landscaping, Austin, TX

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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Landscape design, water gardens, water features, koi ponds, fish ponds, Austin, TX

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

This is one of our latest water garden designs that we built in Killeen, TX a little over a year ago. As you can see it is pretty mature with surrounding plants. We just added the lilies after we cleaned the pond.

It pumps between 5000-8000 gallons an hour with a remote controlled adjustable pump. At its deepest it is just under four feet with fish tubes and caves.

This water garden also has several shelves for future water plants. With one more year of maturity this water garden is going to be full and immaculate.

It sits in the corner of his backyard just off two patios we built, one with a covered extension and one with a built in firepit. From start to finish the project took about a week and half to complete.

Check it out…

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Another angle:

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Another angle:

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If anyone is going to spend good money on a water garden like this, low voltage LED lights are the way to go, not what you see in this picture. As a landscape designer I can only suggest so much. In the end it is up to the homeowner to what they want.


Landscape design, water gardens, water features, zen gardens, Austin, TX

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Here is a life cycle of a water garden from old to new , then a year later. Check out the transformation. We started with a pond that had a leak and was completely overgrown and non-functioning. I am not even sure how the fish lived in this.

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You can’t even see the water right. Overgrown ferns, Umbrella Palm and who knows what else.

Day One – deconstruction begins:

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Boy that water sure looks tasty. And the smell is great.

Day Two – new pond liner goes in along with the waterfall rocks and other shelving.



Day Two – continued. The skimmer is installed along with more rocks. The shelving is almost complete so we add some plants and water.



Day Three – pond liner is cut and details are made. Water will need 24 hours to settle and become clear.

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One year later…

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Another photo…



And one more…



And so with a little hard work and some tender loving care along with a bit of knowledge on how to build and grow a water garden you can see that an old run down, out of work water feature that was designed to be the highlight of the backyard came to ruin then became revitalized. The Cana Lily and the Elephant Ears in this water garden went bananas. So did the native grass and some of the other water plants.

This water garden came in around five feet by eight feet (surface water area) with multiple shelves for water plants and a one and a half foot high waterfall. So when you take all that into consideration along with the surrounding landscape design you have about 225 square feet of water garden. A very nice addition to any backyard in Austin.

Our value at greeneraustin is not just a quick in-and-out installation. It is complete garden design that will grow and become something special for years to come, whether it is a small water garden like this or a grand backyard landscape design.

Remember – everything alive grows.

Backyard landscaping design, water features, custom stone work, xeriscape, Austin, TX

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

This is now my second entry into blogging for landscaping in central Texas. Thoughts of xeriscape design for many homeowners means zero scape. Zero scape brings up ideas of white river rock with a few cacti. That is not what a water-wise xeriscape garden is. In fact they are some of the hardiest of all garden designs and with the Texas heat and sun a xeriscape garden is the way to go.

Here is one that we did along her curbside where there was nothing but weeds and poor soil and with the grade of the yard there it became very hard to mow and maintain. We ripped out all the grass, brought in hill country moss rock and created natural looking tiers.

In this garden here is a portion of the variety of plants we used:

Non prickly pear cactcus

Vitex tree

Variegated yucca

Purple tipped cactus

Copper canyon daisy

Butterfly bush


Pride of Barbados


Bi-color iris

Green cloud sage

Gulf muhly

Bluebonnet seeds


Now check out what the garden looks like in the spring (this is also a year into its maturity).

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Now that same garden in the fall.

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A close up…

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Another close up…

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As you see there is so much detail and variety in the plants we used. It would be great if we could one day xeriscape another 50% of her front yard and remove the high maintenance St. Augustine that needs to be watered all the time.