A Look At Dallas Gardens Using Rock

Beautiful Dallas gardens with a focus on intriguing hardscapes by local landscape architectural firm Boyd Heiderich Bargas Gilson.

ANY SEASON: In the summer, the crape myrtles’ foliage shades the aggregate, providing a cooling effect. In winter, the sculptural forms of their bare branches cast strong shadow patterns on the ground.

Rock On
“Architectural aggregate” hardly sounds like an artist’s tool. But landscape architects are using this remarkable material to transform gardens throughout Dallas.



Design: Sculptural shade garden

Trees: Seven crape myrtle trees

Stone: Antique-green aggregate

Landscape Architect: Jeffery Bargas of Boyd Heiderich Bargas Gilson


At the rear of this Bodron + Fruit modern home, seven towering crape myrtles create an organic sculptural form enjoyed through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the backyard. As their canopies grew together, creating shade, the carpet of St. Augustine below began to suffer. Bargas replaced the grass with Antique-green aggregate, creating a canvas beneath the trees.


OLD HP: A large raised bed in the center of the garden creates an island and focal point of plantings, with artfully placed trees, shrubs, flowers, and bulbs.

Old Highland Park:

Design: Japanese garden

Plants: Japanese black pine, Japanese maple, oak-leaf hydrangea, hydrangea macrophylla, azalea, mahonia, and spirea

Stone: Cactus-green aggregate

Landscape Architects: Dick Heiderich and Waldo Boyd of BHBG


For a Bud Oglesby-designed modern house the challenge was to create a classic representational-style garden in the Japanese tradition and establish a space for displaying art. Boyd and Heiderich used Cactus-green aggregate to simulate a river winding through gorgeous plantings of mature Japanese black pines, Japanese maples, hydrangea, azalea, mahonia, and spirea, while providing the surface for a walking path. A stone “bridge” overhangs the simulated water, connecting garden sections and tying each element to the overall theme.



HP: Rather than the usual solution of planting ground cover around the tree roots to conceal them, Kathy Gilson viewed the roots as an artistic element and chose a pale-colored aggregate to accentuate them.

Highland Park:

Design: Low-maintenance shade garden with entertaining space

Trees: Live oak

Stone: The patio extension is a combination of Persian Cream and Ivory aggregates; the side garden is Florene.

Design Team: Kathy Gilson of BHBG and Russell Buchanan of Buchanan Architect


While the owners were restoring this midcentury modern house, they decided to extend the patio entertaining area into the heavily shaded garden. Grass would not grow under the mature live oaks, and even if a variety could be found that would grow, the trees’ large exposed roots would have made it difficult to mow. Solid slabs of stone or concrete would have prevented air and water from reaching the tree roots, and would have been difficult to lay flat without damaging them. For these reasons, landscape architect Kathy Gilson chose architectural aggregate. Working closely with remodeling architect Russell Buchanan of Buchanan Architects, Gilson designed a garden that complements the architecture of the house.






The Good Stuff

Unlike the pea gravel of our childhood, architectural aggregate packs down and therefore doesn’t “travel” with lawn blowers or when walked on. With eight sizes, from river rock-diameter to fine sand, and a rainbow of colors ranging from blue and green to peach and terra cotta and even black, this versatile material easily becomes a design component. It is adaptable to any look, working as well with straight, geometric lines as with flowing curves, and, depending on the other design elements used, can give a garden an Asian, English, traditional, or contemporary slant or make no artistic statement at all.


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