For a big family in Sugar Land, Texas, HJT Landscape Architects created a wonderful outdoor living space.
Architect Paul Brow was working with the family on a major renovation and asked Heath Thibodeaux to design the 7,500 square foot outdoor space.
“My first step is always a fact-finding mission to determine how my clients like to live,” says Thibodeaux. “Our client has five children, from elementary school to high school, and she wanted a yard not just to entertain but draw them outside.”
Thibodeaux looks at his projects as a sequence of spaces, considering the context of the home and the surrounding architecture. Once a loose diagram is complete with the client’s vision, Thibodeaux dives into the details.
“Whether it’s a grand lawn, pool garden or an approach through a side garden, we should always understand the value that these spaces add to the property as a whole and to the client’s experience—not an inch should go unconsidered,” he says.
Creating an Ideal Space
The client’s dream then becomes a reality. Thibodeaux puts the initial concepts into a context where the contractor can price it. For this job, he worked with AP Builders who was already on site for the house renovation.
Thibodeaux says the job of a landscape architect is to see everything the client may not even notice—the sun, prevailing winds, drainage patterns, existing vegetation and soils. “There are a lot of numbers involved in making sure the things are correct,” he says. “The layout, various heights, property elevation, amount of planting and rock. My job is to make sure everything is done correctly.”
Thibodeaux starts with the hardscape and then determines the best plant material to complement the flat work. He worked with Yellow Rose Lawn Maintenance to carry out the landscaping design.
“I like to think about shrubs and perennials as ceilings, walls or window seats,” he says, “Flowering ornamentals are the ever-changing wallpaper, and canopy trees become yet another layer of ceilings or roofs.”
Thibodeaux wanted to create a layering effect with the plantings, selecting irises, azaleas and a boxwood border to set off the edge of the brick wall.
A Family’s Dream Pool
Thibodeaux worked with Sunshine Pools for the spa and pool. He designed multiple levels within the pool’s spa area as well as a spillover for a soft effect. The black ceramic tile at the waterline of the pool accentuates the black marble of the fountain. Around the pool are Pennsylvania bluestone pavers, which complement the client’s lead pots.
Thibodeaux installed an outside shower for convenience, but also to create a focal interest along the garage wall. The firepit, opposite the pavilion that Brow designed, is a polished concrete. And while the gravel looks great around the firepit and fountain, it serves as important drainage for the garden.
The backyard is easy on the eyes, and the various amenities are completely balanced. That’s because Thibodeaux created one center line from the seating area and the firepit, across the spa area and pool, to the pavilion. Not only does it look perfect, but the family has a great view for their movie nights while floating in the pool.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the landscape architect, says Thibodeaux, but about how the client enjoys the space.
Photos provided by Zac Seewald Photographer.