Our Entryway and Courtyard

When we moved to rural Collin County (outside McKinney) in 1978, most of the rural roads were white caliche rock. When it rained they became slimy and sometimes impassible.

We are fairly ordinary people. Our house is nice but not lavish. I do enjoy landscaping, however, so I’ve always spent more time in our gardens than elsewhere. I guess you would expect that. I thought this might be a good time to share some of it with you.

Our driveway is several hundred feet long. We saved our dollars for several years until we could afford Pavestone concrete pavers, and once the county blacktopped our road some 35 years ago, we had Pavestone installed. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done. This is what we see when we go out to our cars and look up to the county road at the top of our drive.

I wasn’t sure what color of pavers would look best, and I was really stumped when it came to the layout of the driveway. Well-known landscape architects (and my friends) Richard Myrick and Gene Newman came to our house to look things over and advise me. Dick drew up the design, saying that the edges of the driveway, several tens of thousands of pavers, would be in continuous curves – no straight lines.

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The entire driveway installation began here at this one square corner. The corner is now completely concealed by Carissa hollies that have grown to cover it.

This tree was 8 inches in diameter when our house was built in 1978. It is now 30 inches in diameter, the largest tree on our 11 acres. Click image for larger view.

Our entire landscape is shaded, primarily by pecan trees. One giant pecan predominates. Unfortunately, our foundation was poured about 18 inches closer to that tree than the blueprint called for. But we’ll do everything in our power so that the tree and our house can co-exist in harmony. Our friends at Arborilogical Services take special care of this tree.

Wrought iron table and chair sets like this have been with us for 30 years. They’ve served us well on our courtyard.

We use our driveway as a courtyard for dining and entertaining. By parking the cars elsewhere and setting up tables and chairs, we’ve entertained as many as 30 or 40 people out on the flat portion of our drive, down by the house.

You can see a portion of our courtyard to the south of our entry. We can put 6 or 8 tables or 30 or 35 folding chairs here. We don’t do a lot of big entertaining, but when we do, this space is invaluable. Click image for larger view.

By using the textures and variegation in foliage and those flowers that some plants can be coaxed into producing in shade, I can provide good summer interest along our driveway. Click image for larger view.

I use tropicals for color and textural interest during the growing season. I’m really fond of wax begonias and fancy-leafed types as well. Also philodendrons with their widely varying foliage and peace lilies with their dramatic foliage and flowers. I use 20 or 30 6-inch pots of peperomias to border these groupings, and you can see the rock I talk about on my radio program while I’m doing ads for my friends at Whiz-Q Stone in Fort Worth.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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