Low-maintenance lawns are just part of what makes this neighborhood unique. In the second part of “Wide Open Spaces,” we examine why carefully chosen flowers and trees—and the inclusion of parks and trails— help Walsh become a landscape like no other.
Nature at Your Back Door
With 15 percent of Walsh’s land curving and curling around its homes, each residence overlooks a vista of botanical beauty. To complement the Zoysia plantings, Howerton helped devise a mix of vivid plants and flowers to assure vibrancy throughout the seasons.
“As landscape architect, I want shorter grasses and color from spring through fall—wave after wave of color,” she says. “My role is to come up with the aesthetic based on scientific verifications. (BRIT) cares about the ecology, and I do too, but I’m also managing it for the look. Native American Seed curated the mix based on what they know about the specific climate and soil, and after one field trip we were set to go.”
Since Walsh wants its next generation to grow up playing and imagining in the great outdoors, their “breathing room” was a foundation behind the choice of every plant, grass or tree.
Because each house wanted screening for privacy, the trees chosen were also crucial to the overall look. With prairie plantings traditionally being scattered across a plain in a similar fashion to the savannas of Africa, a thicker density of cedars, elms, live oaks and ash was needed to create a more shaded effect.
Enter Dr. Todd Watson, adjunct professor at Texas A&M Ecosystem Science and Management and tree expert. By using bigger root balls and a nurturing soil mix, the trees of Walsh have managed to survive the shock of being thrown from a nursery environment to the native ground, thriving in the short window of time since their planting.
“They only need water to get themselves established, then they’re super happy. They’re not going to need life support—we’ve put in an irrigation system in to get five years of faster growth.” Spaced to accommodate this expansion, the arc of trees that frame the main avenue will eventually form an eye-catching canopy residents can stroll underneath.
“The streetscapes helped us decide how big these trees needed to be,” says Howerton. “We realized we had to plant them 35 to 40 feet apart to have a street framed with live oaks.”
Howerton was also careful to leave space for the 10 miles of connected trails that run throughout the development. Since Walsh wants its next generation to grow up playing and imagining in the great outdoors, their “breathing room” was a foundation behind the choice of every plant, grass or tree.
Says Tony Ruggeri, Co-CEO of Republic Property Group, “We want our kids to have unstructured play in nature: to go safely play with critters and be back in time for dinner. As we start to have residents, we’ll also have classes with kids and help them learn about preservation of the native species in this area.”
“We’re always looking for opportunities to educate in both technology and nature, and BRIT is definitely on the nature side. We have a makerspace where those two concepts align, and that’s a fun collision point in the community.”
“There’s a Graham Greene quote that says ‘there’s a moment in every child’s life where a door opens and lets the future in.’ You never know what’s going to trigger it.”