By Laura Samuel Meyn
Photos by NEST Real Estate Photography
The address is North Texas but the view smacks of the Pacific Northwest.
Stacked stone and shingle siding, picture windows and timber posts — the custom home was designed to evoke a sense of place far from the homeowners’ new outpost of Argyle. The pair, who have roots in the Pacific Northwest, wanted to preserve as many trees as possible on the private 3.75-acre lot. The wooded portion needed no embellishment to its natural beauty. But for the homesite, the couple enlisted Coppell-based Jason Osterberger Designs to create and install naturalistic landscaping with a nod to the feel of their home state, but filled with plantings that thrive in Texas.
Jason Osterberger, an LSU graduate with a love of the South, has a passion for creating unique outdoor living environments. The Argyle project was completely different from anything he had ever designed. He began not just by walking the property but by looking around inside the house, too. “I like to get to know my clients, and I like to see how they live so we can extend that to the exterior,” he says. “I look at some of the views from key rooms and pull from the interior palette to marry the interior and the landscape together. Ninety percent of the time, you’re inside looking out.”
In the home, he found big fireplaces and cozy seating areas. The lodgelike feel was reflected outside the house, too, from the steep pitched roof to the ample covered porch down to details like the lanterns flanking the front doors. “That style house would not work everywhere, but it’s perfection on that hillside,” he says.
His mission extended to addressing some practical concerns. The home’s location on a hill meant that the primary challenge was to redirect rainwater, which could otherwise wash out landscaping during storms. “On the back of the house, we created a dry creek bed. When water isn’t there, it looks natural, but when it rains, the water is diverted from the house and carried down the hillside.” River rocks of varying sizes line the bed, with lush, terraced planting beds alongside it. Beside the bed, thick slabs of Oklahoma flagstone serve as natural steps up the hill.
Some of the rock used in the landscaping was sourced from the property itself, dug up when the home was built. A drawback of all that rock just underneath the soil? Planting beds would need to be built up with deep soil to be successful. “That drove some of our design,” says Osterberger. “When you can’t plant in rock, you create your own beds.”
When it came to selecting plants, the wife gave the designer plenty of input. “She is a plant enthusiast and extremely knowledgeable,” he says. “She had a thorough list of what she liked and didn’t like.”
Along the creek bed, Osterberger chose anchors like Japanese plum yews, Kaleidoscope abelia, a dwarf mugo pine and Gulf Stream nandinas accented by black-eyed Susans, autumn ferns, Homestead Purple verbena, iris and more. An elegant Japanese maple was planted and carefully lit in front of a trio of large downstairs picture windows. Viewed from inside the house, the tree is framed like a work of art.
At the top of the creek bed, just outside the home’s kitchen, are three raised beds. Used to grow herbs and vegetables, they serve the couple’s love of home cooking. A bed of gravel surrounding the raised garden facilitates drainage and provides a tidy walkway; the look is softened along the house by salvia, purple fountain grass and Sunshine ligustrum.
Along the driveway, Osterberger took advantage of a three-tier retaining wall made from cedar posts to create deep beds just behind each terrace. There, plantings usher in texture, color and seasonal change. A graceful grass, miscanthus Adagio, adds height and movement, while orange zinnias bring a show of annual color. Blackfoot daisy, a Texas-loving perennial (“Man, that thing does well here,” says Osterberger), lends a trailing profile and sweet white blooms. Another favorite of the landscape designer is Rose Creek abelia. “I always call it the Texas azalea,” he says. “Between seed pods, flowers, new growth and leaf color, it always has a little showiness to it.” One of the wife’s desires was plantings that would attract wildlife to the property; gray cotoneaster, in the top tier of the retaining wall, beckons birds with its orange berries.
Between the driveway and a new flagstone path leading to the home’s front door, a lushly landscaped bed includes salvia, juniper and abelia, plus a stand of loblolly pines, a fast-growing Southern variety.
As the project approaches its second year after installation, Osterberger feels he has met the expectations set by the homeowner’s list of Northwest-style plantings. She now enjoys walking the property a couple of times every day. “There’s always something new happening — new wildlife, a new color that pops up — it’s her happy place,” says Osterberger. “That’s my passion, that’s what drives me.”