Sometimes Leaving It Alone…

Most landscape architects cannot control every aspect of a project once it leaves their hands on the design board, installation or maintenance.

Only an exceptional client works more collaboratively.

Yet sometimes those who direct or allow poor maintenance take a break. Hopefully a permanent one!


After several years and the 2011 freeze, the ‘Sierra Sweet’ Acacia trees died and were replaced with Screwbean Mesquite. Many of the golden Turpentine Bush died, and I’ve heard over-watering was the culprit throughout this project.


There certainly are signs of over-watering in parts of the project, such as a Pampas Grass volunteer in one parkway section. But there are other signs there is little to no over-watering in many other places.

So, on irrigation issues, I don’t know for sure.

And what I notice the most is despite some grasses and shrub volunteers that aren’t removed to preserve the design intent, this section is holding together.


The mixed gravel  mulch sizes now look more natural.

The Turpentine Bush here remains, and it should serve as a model for replacing the same species downhill, which are now dead.

I would hope regard for maintenance could take over. But I have to enjoy what I can from this, while it lasts.

10/18/17 weather: 81 / 55 / 0.00


Dion’s 2 Years Later

Night landscape visits in September beat evening visits in July, which is my last time here 2 years ago.

And how Dion’s in Albuquerque’s south valley is maturing.


The drive-through pickup lane plantings are exactly as envisioned.


The maintenance has greatly improved, even with some plant substitutions that may be a result of over-watering or other issues previously. How can I tell, since my 2015 visit, when it was relatively weed-free with only smaller plants?

The containers at the key pedestrian entry now look like what I specified in my plan. Summer plantings in the growing season beat winter annuals.


Vitex agnus-castus / Chaste Tree in alternating, sunken parking lot planters are growing in.



The “LE” on the monument stands for this development, Las Estancias, beckoning one to the old days when this was a farm in a Spanish land grant. As building pads fill in, and the homes are built in the new pecan orchard at the far end, it will only help a once-deflated part of town.

These parking lot planters and the adjacent ponding slope alternate from Vitex into Chinese Pistache and masses of Deergrass.


Office Space

The contractor friend I helped design this for did a number of things on the fly, including surprising me that it had to be LEED certified.

Even with that, sketchy maintenance and caliche soils are giving way to a maturing planting for more than the usual, bullet-proof plant posse of Yucca-Sotol-Purple Three Awn-blah blah blah.

Though the latter is there.


The end-of-the-monsoon skies and a quick flash of warm, humid air help provide a backdrop of my simple design of Quercus fusiformis, Nolina greenei, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Prostrata’, and accents of beefy Yucca faxoniana and Dasylirion wheeleri.

These are actually the first live oaks I noticed when I drove by, and they just need some light, interior pruning with some more drip emitters.


But those root sprouts…just let them fill in and mow to 4″ like a groundcover.


The sides and decline or removal of once-thriving native wildflowers is disappointing to me. But the maintenance here is finally better than it was.

There’s hope.