After fighting in World War II, Lynn Gripon studied landscape design at Texas A&M and in 1951 opened a gardening shop with the help of his green-thumbed wife. Now operated by his son, Lynn's Landscaping & Water Garden Center has blossomed into a lush showroom of outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, manicured putting greens, and the shop's bestselling disappearing fountains—glazed pots overflowing with water that seems to disappear into the ground. Waterfalls tumble over miniature boulders before slipping into calm ponds filled with leisurely koi, flowering lily pads, and sunken galleons. Knowledgeable staffers serve as tour guides to the veritable forest of plants and dispense helpful tips for creating backyard utopias.Lynn's professional landscapers transform backyards into tiered gardens, spacious party zones, or verdant hiding places for the family's pet T-rex. Designers plot the set-up before gardeners, and handymen plant trees and shrubs or install decks, gazebos, water-efficient sprinklers, and koi ponds. Every design is built to last with quality materials, such as outdoor fireplaces and kitchens made with glass-fiber-reinforced concrete and Vista light fixtures made with weather-resistant carbon composite and bulbs modeled after Superman's eyeballs.
If a Houston homeowner's landscape is a family made up of verdant lawns, colorful flowers, and leafy shrubs, then the trees are the shy middle children. Unlike the lawn, trees don't get doted on with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Unlike flowers, trees are not patiently pruned, weeded, or plucked and pinned to a grandmother's lapel. Sadly, most homeowners only pay attention to trees once it's too late; by then, their foliage has wilted to a pale yellowy complexion and they’ve started hanging out with bad crowds of bagworms or pine-bark beetles. At Texas Tree Team, arborists make sure that these gentle specimens get the nurturing they need to survive and thrive. Their services care for trees throughout their leafy life span, from planting and feeding to pruning and stump removal. The team also protects trees threatened with displacement or removal by construction or urban sprawl, preserving shade and blossoms for future residents. Along with protecting mature trees, the company also plants new saplings, dotting landscapes with trees ranging from color-sprayed magnolias, bradford pears, pecan trees, or crepe myrtles to palms hearty enough to weather even the hottest heat waves.
Beyond Paradise Nursery spreads scores of succulents, shrubs, flowers, palm trees, and other seasonal plants across its spacious 3-acre facility. Homeowners can fill empty spaces with long-lasting blooms such as 3-gallon Double Knock Out roses ($20), or let the colorful petals of a 3-gallon loropetalum ($16) cheer up a lonely lawn ornament. Encore azaleas ($25 for a 3-gal.) turn their vibrant faces toward driveways and porches; the blossoms of Little John bottlebrushes ($20 for a 3-gal.) blow in the breeze like miniature pom-poms. During the holiday season, a variety of poinsettias will also be available.
The dedicated grass whisperers at Scapes Environmental Design spruce up front-yard foliage with a retinue of mulch-cutting mowers. Green carpets of up to 4,500 square feet are scythed once a week, kept short enough so as to not sprout unsightly dandelion colonies or swallow up immobile sunbathers. Each mowing is accompanied by an edging of grassy cuticles from sidewalks, driveways, and front curbs, the viridian debris eventually whisked away by a blower. Whether for a month or a one-time service, Scapes Environmental Design relieves homeowners from the onerous task of intimidating grass back into the netherworld, freeing up time for weekend getaways or getting to the bottom of their pet parakeet's recent sullen comments.