It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.

I know i know- for a couple of reasons it’s easy to forget that i’m related to Dolly Parton. I try to play up the Anne Boylen side of the family for the sympathy card. But, you know I really relate to cousin Dolly when i’m trying to talk to clients about the price of…. subtle. I mean it’s like the older you get– it takes an inordinate amount of maintenance to look like you haven’t put any effort into your maintenance. And hear me now, but believe me later it’s as complicated to achieve that in the garden as it is under your chin.

Let’s start with chez Spong. We found a photo at the History Center of the original front of the house and decided to dial it back to pre- war chill.


At the time of purchase:



Sometime this summer:



And I confess, it seems annoying, even to me who understands why it costs so much, to pay to just take stuff away. But you know, pull up all those boring yaupons, get rid of all the excess stones, bricks, tiles, hire a really great hombre to wield a tiny little jackhammer to take off the additions to the patio while leaving the original 95 year old tile work, move the electric, re route the gas, hand dig around the heritage oak , bulldoze the wall and OMG look at all that dirt i just took out of that little bit of space down there?


And i really added were some limestone caps on the steps that were kind of already there under all the 80’s ca-ca. easy. and i’m installing a circular low wall that let’s us hang under the oak canopy. some grass. and you know. done. but mon dieu. it’s a fortune. BRS is too busy- i’m using subcontractors- i feel our client’s pain. I’ve been doing it in little bite sizes to hide the price from myself.


We’ve a couple other favorite clients who have faith in subtle. For a favorite recent project we arrived on site to this:




The client wanted it really to look like “nothing happened to the site- perhaps a bit enhanced”. So we planted thousands of natives. grasses, yuccas, some bushes, seeds etc. We pick axed them into the rock just like nature would have done it. The patient patient client was out of town during our install. She was sent photos that showed “all we had done that day” in which was all but impossible for her to see what she was paying for.