Curvy Lawn Softens a Rectangular Yard

The back garden of this semi detached house in Dallas had a very simple, somewhat uninspiring layout when Mike  was asked to redesign it. It consisted of a small patio and a rectangular strip of lawn, with flower beds running along each side. “The owners wanted a variety of shapes and textures that would change all year round. Mike scrapped the rectangular lawn and replaced it with a design based on two ovals. This introduces movement to the landscape and makes it look wider. For the plantings, Mike chose a mix that would bring year-round interest and. at the back of the garden, handle the shade produced by a Shumard Oak.

The lawn area is a design of two ovals, set slightly on the diagonal. “Clients often ask for waviness in their garden design,” Mike  says. “They often want wavy flower beds, but that can make your lawn look odd. So we designed the lawn based on ovals, then just made the beds around that as wide as we could. When Mike was asked to redesign the garden, the owners had lived here for a while and been happy with simply having a big lawn for their children to play on. As the children began to grow up and move out, however, the owners decided to rethink the garden.

“They wanted something a bit more interesting, rather than grass and two tram-line beds down each side,” Mike says. “They felt it was boring and wanted some attractive planting that would look good all year round.”

Creating a good-size patio was also a priority. “They didn’t have anywhere to eat,” Mike said. So Mike designed a curvy Flagstone

Elevate the garden with Art

Understated garden art can elevate a landscape from an ordinary outdoor space to one that feels personal, unique or spiritual. While there’s a time and place for over-the-top sculptures and eye-catching art installations, we’re not talking about those here. Instead, let’s look at ways in which simple sculptures, empty urns, historical artifacts and other objects of beauty can be used to complement and add meaning to any style of garden.

1. Stacked stone orb. Simple art pieces with organic shapes and subtle colors work in harmony with the landscape, adding to, rather than competing with, a garden’s natural beauty.  .download-1

2. Natural form. Man-made works inspired by, say, the symmetrical wings of a butterfly or the vein pattern on a leaf look perfectly in keeping with a natural landscape. This weathered metal sculpture of an upturned blossom seems almost like an oversize waterlily floating above the shrubbery. Viewed from a distance, such sculptures could prompt a second look to see if the pieces are man-made or natural.

3. Piece of history. Historical artifacts and antique objects can give a garden a sense of time and place. To elevate a historical object to a piece of art, think beyond how it was originally used and look for ways to celebrate the beauty of its form in an interesting manner. This old millstone, for example, may have originally been used to grind grain, but it makes an interesting focal point at the corner of a garden path and could easily be repurposed as a fountain.

4. Meaningful figure. Adding a piece of art with personal meaning makes even a modest, unassuming side yard feel like a sacred space. Choosing an object of meaning is entirely personal, and it can be anything from a spiritual or religious figure to an artwork passed down from a family member or an object brought back from a meaningful trip.

5. Moon gate. Create an intentional transition from one area of the garden to the next with a gateway stunning enough to double as garden art. Chinese moon gates are traditionally circular or semicircular gateways that mark the passage from one space to the next, echoing the natural cycle of birth and renewal.

6. Metal spheres. Although most likely anchored in place, a pair of hollow metal globes set in a contemporary front yard look as if they might roll across the pea gravel patio with a slight push. To mimic this suggestion of motion, look for perfectly spherical forms and set them on a flat surface where they have plenty of room, rather than nestled in a garden bed.

7. Watercolor backdrop. The exterior sides of the home, free-standing outdoor walls and wooden fences all serve as blank canvases in the garden. Use the vertical space to hang an outdoor painting, piece of weathered metal or carved wooden panel to add interest to the space. Here, an abstract color-washed painting hung on an outdoor wall creates a beautiful backdrop for a seating area.

8. Balancing act. Think of this stacked stone sculpture as a more refined version of a stone cairn you might use to mark a hiking trail. Set before a backdrop of fading autumn grasses, the stacked stones have a peaceful beauty.

9. Empty vessel. The simple, graceful form of an empty urn with an earth-toned glaze complements nearly any garden setting. Place the vessel in a garden border to anchor perennial plants and add interest to the bed once flowers fade. Or site a container at the end of a garden pathway for a simple focal point. Smaller pots can be propped up on pedestals to give them more impact as pieces of art.

10. Classic revival. Sundials, astrolabes and compass motifs have long been features of classical European gardens. In this garden in Southern California, a metal armillary sphere topped with a decorative mythical animal anchors the center of a formal courtyard.

Benefits of an Evergreen Foundation


In the coldest months of the year, a garden that has strong lines and structure still looks good, even without colorful flowers. Evergreen shrubs and trees help define the bones of a garden, outlining the shape of beds, screening views and providing green walls for garden rooms.

1. Divide a garden into multiple areas with hedging. Creating divisions between different areas of a garden can make even small gardens feel bigger. Low hedges of boxwood can be useful for delineating garden borders, while taller hedges can create more visual separation between garden rooms. Without the low hedges or potted trees in this formal entry garden, for example, the front yard would feel like one monotonous space instead of three more interesting garden areas.

2. Frame a view. Evergreen hedges become building blocks for a garden, guiding a visitor down pathways or lines of sight. Borrow a design technique from formal European gardens that looks just as good in summer as it does in winter, and create an allée of trees and evergreen shrubs that leads to a viewpoint, fountain or piece of garden art.

3. Carve out more privacy. When deciduous trees and shrubs have lost their leaves in winter, it can bring attention to areas of the garden that could benefit from increased privacy. Evergreen hedges provide year-round screening where you need it most, blocking the front windows from a busy street or concealing the waste bins from view. Take the time to mark out these areas now for planting this month or in spring.

4. Layer evergreens with different forms in a single bed. Create a landscape with year-round beauty by filling garden beds with interesting evergreens instead of seasonal flowers. To get the look, choose shrubs and small trees with different foliage colors; then maintain them in different forms, such as spheres, cones and clipped hedges, or leave them unclipped and natural.

5. Define the foundation of the home. House-hugging plants help anchor a home to the site, providing a transition from the garden to the building. Using evergreen shrubs as a foundation planting ensures year-round curb appeal. For a totally integrated look, mimic the architectural lines of the home — such as mirroring tall rectilinear windows with upright, narrow evergreen hedges.

6. Use free-standing shrubs as focal points. Evergreens clipped into geometric shapes and planted with low-growing ground covers form accents in garden beds or focal points from a distance. To save on time spent with your pruning shears, choose a slow-growing or dwarf variety of evergreen to make into a topiary, such as a boxwood, dwarf white spruce or yew. In winter, wrap focal-point shrubs with strings of white lights to brighten up the landscape.

7. Create lines and curves. Evergreen hedges can be just as useful as hardscape materials at carving out the geometry of a garden. Hedges in straight lines tend to have a more formal feel, while curves and organic shapes look more naturalistic. Strike a balance between the two by using curving hedges paired with straight stone walls.

Cedar Creek Lake Landscaping

We are doing a new garden project at Arrow Wood Waters in Trinidad Texas on the lake. A sloping backyard is a great opportunity for us to create a beautiful Landscape. Winding flagstone sidewalks among ferns and hostas lead us to the Japanese Maples and impatiens. A water feature at the end of the path is the focal point after traipsing thru an Allee of crepe myrtles. The beds are made with the finest compost and shale that money can buy to promote plant growth. The client loves their garden and we built them a new tomato garden at the end of the driveway.

Design in Dallas gardens

Basic Landscaping Design Principles


If you’ve never dealt with landscaping before, it can quickly become an overwhelming project to handle. Companies like Mike Riley’s Landscaping have been built around the expertise and professional knowledge of landscaping, making the entire process much easier for you to achieve outstanding landscaping results!


Although the principles below are key for achieving a professional looking lawn, never fear straying from what is “normal.” Going outside of what’s considered normal can help to set you apart, but these principles offer a great starting point.



Simplicity is a common principle in other artistic and design professions. We can draw similar influence for landscaping. If you’re new to landscaping, start with this principle to get started. Avoid going overboard with your projects and work at one small thing at a time. The more comfortable you get, the more ambitious you can become.


You can blend the principles of simplicity and unity together by picking a couple of colors to use throughout your landscaping projects and repeating them throughout the garden or lawn. To keep things simple, use the minimal amount of decor and furniture. As your ideas evolve you can begin to add to and change the environment.



Unity, sometimes understood as consistency and tasteful repetition, is one of the primary goals of landscaping. You’ll create unity in your lawn by repeating specific elements, like specific plants, plant groups, décor, and furniture throughout the entire lawn or landscape. By using these themes consistently throughout the entire landscape, you’ll create unity as everything will come together cohesively.



Strive for equality among the elements in your garden or landscape. By using balance, you can create an environment that is either symmetrical or asymmetrical. A symmetrical landscape is where elements are generally similarly shaped, equally spaced, identically colored, and so forth. Asymmetrical is when elements are far more abstract and don’t necessarily “match” the rest of the landscape, but the look doesn’t completely break from the other two principles of simplicity and unity.


Natural Transitions

You can utilize the natural shape of the current environment and work it into your landscaping plans. Although it is possible to alter the earth and shape it in new ways, sometimes it’s best to keep things as they were. There’s beauty to be found in using what has already been created.


If you do decide to alter the landscape, make sure that the alterations that you make are natural and fit the theme, sticking with the other principles of unification, balance and simplicity. Although you can stray from this and go for more exotic or exaggerated transitions, it may be more difficult to achieve on your own.


If you have any questions about landscaping or the principles listed above, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, give us a call today at Mike Riley’s Landscaping! We can answer all of the questions you have about landscaping, help you formulate ideas, and even help you with the project itself. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, and professional and will help you achieve the look you’ve always wanted at your home or business.

How to Landscape your yard

4 Steps to Bring Personality to Your Landscaping


At Mike Riley’s Landscaping, we know how important it is for both homeowners and business owners to be able to put their personality into everything that they have and do. One way to get your personality out there is to redo your landscaping. A landscaping project can help you to redefine, or at least update, your landscaping in such a way that it emphasizes who you are.


1.) Pick a Theme

By picking a theme to use throughout the entire landscaping project, you’ll make it easier on yourself to pick and choose other elements, additions, and alterations to put into the project. In addition, onlookers will be able to connect more readily with your new landscape if they can pick up on the theme, even if it’s subtle.


2.) Choose Your Colors

What are your favorite colors? What colors complement one another? Do a few colors compliment the theme you chose? Simply looking at a color wheel or even browsing online images of other landscaping projects can help you pick and choose a couple of colors that you want to use. Once you’ve selected your colors, start looking for ways to include them into your landscape. Start with flowers and plants, as this is one of the easiest ways to add color. After that, start considering new pavement and walkways, furniture, and other ways to accessorize the landscaping.


3.) Select Complimenting Decor

Once you have a theme and your colors chosen, you can start to pick out decor items and furniture to include in your new landscaping. Ask yourself what kind of decor items you can add to the landscaping that falls in line with your theme and chosen colors? What kind of furniture would you like to use? Consider lighting, seating arrangements, fire pits, tables, outdoor kitchens, arches, and more.


4.) Create an Environment

Once you’ve chosen your theme, your colors, and some decor and furniture to add, you can begin to draw it all together. If you haven’t already, it’s best to call in the aid of professional landscapers. They have the expertise and knowledge to take your ambitious ideas and bring them to life in a flawless manner. Although it is possible to do a landscaping project on your own, you may not have the necessary tools or manpower to do it in a timely fashion.


With your theme, colors, and decor, you can start to reshape the lawn and space around your home or business. Think about what kind of purposes you want it to fulfill. Do you want your landscaping to be used as a functional gathering place or do you want to keep it simple? Deciding what you want your landscaping to do will help to narrow down the work ahead of you.


If you have any questions about landscaping or how you can take your landscaping idea from dream to reality, give us a call today at Mike Riley’s Landscaping. We’re committed to providing you with a flawless landscaping project in a timely fashion. We’ll work with you to understand exactly what you want to accomplish so that we can take that idea and reshape your landscape to your perfect vision.


When is the best time to Landscape in DFW

When Is the Best Time to Hire an Experienced Landscaper?


You might think about hiring a professional Dallas, TX landscaping company a few different times of year, but still haven’t made the move. Maybe the timing was off or you just didn’t think that you could afford it. However, even if you don’t need an experienced Dallas, TX landscaping company year round, there are a few times you should give them a call to enhance your property. Here are just a few times when it’s the right decision to bring someone in.


When You’re Selling Your Property

When you’re selling your home or commercial property, you want it to look its very best. Don’t just concern yourself with the structure of the building. You can add thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars to the value of the property when you improve the curb appeal. The landscape is the first impression people have when they are thinking of buying. And more often than not, people will drive by the property before they even call to look at the interior of the home.


Right Before the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to showcase your Dallas, TX landscape. Many of us will have family and friends over for gatherings, and people take long drives to look at Christmas lights while drinking hot cocoa. Having a beautiful landscape will enhance your holiday experience. Talk to your Dallas, TX landscaping company about options such as adding an outdoor kitchen or expanding your patio to accommodate more people. Plus, getting this done right before the holidays will give you a fresh patio to look forward to in the summer.


Just Before the Summer Months Get Started

A professional Dallas, TX landscaping company can get your design functional as the summer months get started. If it’s not in your budget to have them maintain your lawn all summer long, at least have them get the process started for you. They have the knowledge to select the right plant life, effectively handle sloping issues, and make your Dallas, TX landscaping simple, beautiful, and functional.


When You Notice Dead Spots in the Grass and Deteriorating Plant Life

If you care for your lawn and do all of the research to keep it healthy, but still notice you have trouble spots, it’s time to call in the experts. They can help correct these areas and guide you in the right direction when it comes to caring for them in the future. They can also identify plants that may not be appropriate for your particular landscaping.


When You Want to Expand Your Landscape

Taking on the task of expanding your Dallas, TX landscaping can be a big chore. Whether you want to add a flagstone patio, additional seating, or a larger garden, you want to do it in a way that doesn’t take up a lot of your time or money. Bringing in the professionals at Mike Riley’s Landscaping means that you’ll get it done right the first time, and in a timely manner.

Dallas Commercial Landscaping

What Can a Professional Dallas, TX Landscaping Company Do for Your Commercial Property?


If you think Dallas, TX landscaping companies don’t work when the weather gets a little colder, you haven’t been utilizing all of the services that they can offer you. Over the holidays is a great time to enhance the look of your commercial property and take it to the next level. We understand that you get busy during this time of year, and that’s why Dallas, TX landscaping companies are here to save you time and money. We don’t just run a landscaping business; we make it our mission to be a valuable resource for the betterment of your commercial business endeavors. Here are just a few things that a Dallas, TX landscaping company can do for you.


They Can Add Style to a Bland Design

Whether you want to add retainer walls with signage incorporated in the stone or provide an additional outdoor area for holiday parties, a Dallas, TX landscaping company can enhance any blandness of your commercial property. Plus, they can give it those personal touches that make the design unique to you and your business. Whether you own office buildings, apartments, or commercial space for different shops and restaurants, the people who occupy your property will appreciate a Dallas, TX landscaping design that is stylish and appealing.


They Can Customize Your Design

If you’re going for a specific look, such as southwestern or elegant, a Dallas, TX landscaping company can provide that for you. If you have ever passed by a landscape that makes you turn and scratch your head because you’re not quite sure what the theme of the design is, then you understand how important it is for your property’s landscape to be customized. Whether you own a restaurant and want your landscape to match the regional food you serve, or you have an apartment that plays on a French name and style, let your Dallas, TX landscaping company know and they’ll match it with their design.


They Can Help You Stand Out from the Crowd

Let’s face it – a little neighborly competition with the surrounding businesses can be fun. When you hire a professional Dallas, TX landscaping company, you’ll have the edge on the buildings around you. People will take notice and appreciate the beautiful views you give them everyday. This will add more value to your property and the surrounding area, and over time they will eventually put more money in your pocket because people will seek out your buildings over others in the area.


You don’t have to wait for the holidays to hire an experienced Dallas, TX landscaping company. At Mike Riley’s Landscaping, we want every day to feel like a holiday and give your commercial landscape a beautiful look. We understand the value it adds to commercial property and we take pride in the craftsmanship and attention to detail that is put into every job. Take the time to get in touch today and we’ll help give your commercial property a boost over the competition.

Texas Sloping yard Landscapes

Sloping Property: 5 Solutions to Enhance Texas Landscaping


You might love the property your home is built on, but if the landscaping has areas that slope, it can be difficult to find the right design to make the most of your yard. There’s no reason to let these trouble spots go unattended though. You actually have a lot of options when it comes to the look of your landscape. Here are some positive solutions to enhance the look of your sloping Texas landscaping.


Retaining Rock Wall


Your local Texas landscaping company offers a lot of design ideas to capture the look you want. A retaining rock wall is one of the best solutions to a sloping property. It is elegant and beautiful to look at, as well as extremely durable. Plus, it adds a great deal of value to your home! Talk to Mike Riley’s Landscaping about the different varieties of stone you can choose from and which ones will compliment the look of your home the best.




You can add terraces to gradually make your way up and down the slope. Using different stones will also give your Texas landscaping an attractive look. If you want extra seating areas, you can make the terraces wide enough to be able to support benches and chairs. Add extra accents by placing fun and colorful planting pots on the different levels. Once you add a few of these features, you’ll be able to enjoy the unique qualities of your lawn.


Local Flowers and Plants


Add local plants and flowers to anchor the ground and add pleasing colors to your landscape. Some plants actually thrive in sloped areas and prefer to be planted in that setting. Talk to an experienced Texas landscaping company about your options and what would be the most impressive additions to your lawn. If you enjoy gardening, you can use the retaining walls to close in areas that you want to plant vegetables or add flowers gardens. These solid plant beds will help make gardening more manageable and give you a place to let your green thumb shine.




You can provide a nice seating area at the base of your slope by incorporating a flagstone patio into your design. Start with a gravel base and then place the stones with a little bit of room in between them, covering the desired amount of space. This will give water a place to go when it rains, so you won’t have a pond at the lowest part of your landscape. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to make this part of your lawn as private or open as you desire.


Professional Landscape Services


If you have tried everything to make the slope on your property look beautiful or be a practical use of space, but haven’t liked the results, then contact Mike Riley’s Landscaping. We can provide you with design ideas and solutions to the problems you’re having. Where some people may see a flaw in your Texas landscaping because of the slope, we see an opportunity to give you the most elegant and unique lawn that will improve the value of your home.

Curb Appeal

5 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal


When you own a home in Texas, you want your landscape to look fabulous to all that are passing by. Whether you are selling your property or you just want to make the neighbors jealous, curb appeal does matter. When it comes to Texas landscaping, there are a lot of ideas and tricks out there to make your home stand out. Here are 5 essential curb appeal techniques that you can get started on today.


Take your mailbox up a notch


At Mike Riley’s Landscaping, mailboxes are more than just a place to collect letters and magazines. A beautiful stone mailbox can really do wonders for the way the rest of your Texas landscaping is perceived. Plus, it’s one of the first things that people will see when they look at your home and yard. Make a lasting impression with your mailbox, and you’ll love admiring it every time you pull in your driveway.


Use lawn ornaments sparingly


There are some very impressive lawn ornaments available and it can be hard to pass up all of the gnomes, flamingos, birdbaths, and stone statues that we see. However, during your Texas landscaping project, be sure that you don’t go overboard. Just pick a few of your favorite lawn ornaments that provide lovely accents to your yard. There is no need to have twenty different objects scattered across the lawn. Too many decorative ornaments can distract people from seeing the other beautiful elements of your Texas landscaping.


Repair your driveway


You might not think about the look of your driveway too often, but when you are trying to improve your curb appeal in Texas, be sure that you spend a little time in this area. Check for any cracks or blemishes that can distract from the design of your home and landscape. Try something new like multi-colored paver stones, or choose a custom stone. Your local Texas landscaping company can help you select the best looking stone driveway for your project.


Add a splash of color


By adding flowers and plant life to your lawn, you can incorporate the perfect amount of color that makes your landscape pop. Use flowers and plants that can withstand the weather of your region. If your grass is not performing well this year, then it might be time to sod and grass the trouble spots. Once you have selected the plant life, then paint your shutters or front porch a complimentary color.


Bring in a professional


If you’re unsure about the best methods and landscape designs to improve your curb appeal, then don’t hesitate to contact Mike Riley’s Landscaping. Having a professionally groomed landscape can add thousands of dollars onto the value of your property. Plus, we can give you insider tips on how to maintain the fresh look of your curb appeal after the work is done. When you bring in the experts, not only will you save yourself a great deal of time, but you’ll have one of the best looking lawns in your community.