Design Trend: Rock VS Bark by Brooke Hansen

Seeing rock used in planting beds as opposed to bark is becoming more common, so let's talk about why you would or wouldn't want to follow the trend.

Ag-Trac Landscape

Ag-Trac Landscape



  • One and done - once you put in rock, it isn't likely to blow away or get shuffled around
  • Doesn't fade in color significantly
  • Easier to weed and maintain in general
  • Has a striking and modern look


  • Much higher up front cost
  • Heavier and more labor intensive to transport and put down



  • Less expensive up front
  • Lighter and easier to transport and put down
  • Has a soft and traditional look


  • Often times blows away and gets shuffled around - especially on a slope
  • Can fade in color significantly with time
  • Will eventually need to be replenished

When it comes down to it, both are good and realistic options.  It mostly depends on your individual situation and the look you are going for.  If you still are having a hard time deciding, here are some lovely examples of both that will hopefully help you decide what you prefer!

Folia Horticultural + Design

Folia Horticultural + Design

Ag-Trac Landscape

Ag-Trac Landscape

C.O.S. Design

C.O.S. Design

A Blade of Grass Landscape Design

A Blade of Grass Landscape Design

Ag-Trac Landscape

Ag-Trac Landscape

Ag-Trac Landscape

Ag-Trac Landscape

Deborah Nevins & Associates

Deborah Nevins & Associates

Plant Spotlight: Taylor Juniper by Brooke



Have I mentioned lately how much I love junipers?  But really, they are the perfect shrub or tree for our climate.  They do well here and I love what they add to those dreary winter months.  It's nice to see some green, amid all the brown and more brown.  Ick.

But that's not the only reason.  I also love these particular junipers because they have a great shape, tall and columnar, which gives them a  naturally formal look without all the effort.  The Taylor Juniper, especially, keeps a nice dense shape and is great for a privacy screen or just a tall dramatic entrance.  So stately. Ha!

It's a nice complement to any yard and worth a spotlight.

Design Trend: Herringbone by Brooke

Since spring is hitting us very early this year, at least in Northern Utah, I am feeling all sorts of pressure to get things going on all our upcoming landscaping projects.  Thankfully, I have had lots of great inspiration to keep me going.  

One of those new bits of inspiration I am loving is herringbone patios.

herringbone patio


Gorgeous, right?

I especially love it because it is a bit more interesting than a normal brick patio but still very classic and timeless.

Here's another one:

Herringbone patio


With flooring this interesting, you can go really simple with furniture and accents so that the floor becomes the focal.


And a close-up of the design.  Love the rustic look here:

herringbone pattern



More inspiration pieces to come!


Pretty Valentines by Brooke

Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to decorate the house with beautiful flowers.  And for eating chocolate.  And all other types of candy.  But let's focus on the flowers, ok? Decorating with fresh flowers is one of my favorite things.  I especially love something simple, while being interesting.  I like an alternative to a dozen long-stemmed red roses.

I came across these and absolutely loved them.  Seems like you'd be able to throw some of these together pretty easily.

Orange and pink:




These I spotted at Target.  Love the colors.



I like using bright vases.  Then, you can keep the flowers very simple.  Like, here.  (Also from Target, though I don't think they are selling the goblets anymore.)



These paper peonies are a fun alternative to fresh cut.  And will certainly last longer.




A more formal look:

flowers source


Mint + hot pink.  How can you go wrong?





Happy Valentines Day!

Houzz Award 2015 by Brooke

Pretty exciting stuff happening!  We got the Houzz Award 2015 for Design a second year in a row.  It is a little bit cool (and a little bit humbling) to think our landscape photos are among the most popular viewed on Houzz.  Thanks to everyone!  Check out our press release below and follow our houzz profile, here.  

Ag-Trac Enterprises LC of Logan, UT Receives

Best Of Houzz 2015 Award

Over 25 Million Monthly Unique Users Rated Top-Rated Home Building,

Remodeling and Design Professionals in the United States and Around the World

Ag-Trac Enterprises LChas been awarded “Best Of Houzz” for Design by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. This landscape design firm was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, helping Houzz users around the world who discover and love a professional’s work to learn even more about that business’ popularity and satisfaction rating among their peers in the Houzz community.

Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, remodeling and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Ag-Trac among our “Best Of” professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”


Getting Organized by Brooke

Yes, the new year is here.  And, yes, I am committed to being more organized (again).  I had so many more Christmas ideas to share that will now have to wait until next year.  December always goes too quickly.  But in a way it is nice to have January and start getting back to "real life."  I am already busy, busy drawing up plans for upcoming projects this spring.  

And I am loving Snow and Graham's new calendar for this year and am hoping if I look at it long enough, it may organize and schedule my year for me.  Pretty please?  Oh well.  Still fun to look at, though.


Here's to a great 2015!  Excited to share some upcoming projects and to see what the next few months bring.

Winter Planters by Brooke

Of course, everyone thinks of filling their pots and planters in the summer time, but I think winter is my favorite.  There is nothing like beautiful evergreens and branches when everything else is covered with snow...or dead. This year, I have especially enjoyed putting these together.  Here are a few I've worked on.  I made the final touches on these a couple weeks ago and then took a few quick pictures with my phone.

A more traditional, classic design.  Here I surrounded the boxwood with blue spruce branches, arborvitae, holly, and seeded eucalyptus branches.

winter planter

They are nice and full, and I love the red from the holly.


More of the same on this one.  Plus I added reindeer moss to give it another pop of color.  Hard to see from this angle, but the reindeer moss is a perfect complement to the darker evergreens.

photo 5 (2)

A better shot here, though a tad blurry (darn those phones):

photo 4 (3)
And some front door garland.  So inviting.
photo 4 (5)
Love the festive look and the low maintenance planters.  They will stay looking good all winter long.
Happy potting!

Magnolia Wreaths by Brooke


Here are those pretty magnolia wreaths we hung last week.  I snapped a couple of quick pictures with my phone, but you get the idea.  They really make a statement.  We added some simple ribbon, and we were done.square magnolia wreaths


photo 4 (6)




Wreaths and Garlands by Brooke

I've been keeping busy this December prepping some beautiful homes for the holidays.  I have especially been loving all the greenery in the Christmas decor, both inside and out.  I think the wreaths and garlands in particular have been my favorite.  There is nothing like a beautiful green wreath, pulled up by a bow.  

Here is some of my favorite inspiration pieces for holiday greenery.  Maybe it will give you a few ideas.


Love this simple, classic bay wreath.  This would look great hanging from a front door.  Or really anywhere.  I love seeing wreaths in unexpected places, too.  Like on windows or walls or even propped up on a console table.  So festive and green.

Christmas Decor



Also love this square magnolia wreath.  I used two of these to hang from a client's front doors.  We ended up hanging them in as a diamond and I loved the end result.

Christmas Decor


And these are nice.  Used this for inspiration as well.

Modern Christmas Decorsource

I also love using garland.  It can really fancy up a mantelpiece, front entry, or window.  This simple boxwood garland is versatile and very pretty.

Boxwood garlandsource

And I especially love these glass globe string lights.  Wouldn't these look pretty over a mantelpiece with a fire below?  Perfect for nighttime entertaining.  Or even a cup of hot chocolate and a blanket.  Stunning.

Christmas Decor




It's been fun seeing some of these come together.  Come back next week for some outdoor, holiday planter inspiration and photos.



Junipers by Brooke

Just stumbled across an interesting article on Houzz last week about a great, versatile shrub--junipers.

I love this because junipers typically get a bad rap in landscaping design.  Lots of people think of them as outdated and ugly.  But when you use them right, they look really nice. Plus, they are evergreens and keep their color in the winter.  Which is perfect for Cache Valley.


Check it out.  See what you think.


Brick Wall by Brooke


We just had a few photos taken of a brick entry wall I designed for a lovely home.  Our client was wanting to have a more formal, established entryway.  Something to make an impact but still fit in nicely with the rest of the home.  I drew up a 3D model and then we went to work.


Here is the finished wall.CMP_9367 (Custom)

Isn't it nice?  And the lights give a nice evening atmosphere at well.


The brick wall gradually slopes up towards a small pillar on either side of the walk.

CMP_9375 (Custom)


A closeup of the brick detail:

brick wall


It is a beautiful home and the wall fits in nicely.  Glad to see it all come together.

Outdoor Lighting by Brooke

I love Fall.  It's a great time of year to drink cider, eat donuts, and consider changing up your outdoor lighting.  No, really.  So get a donut and take a walk outside in your yard.  It gets darker earlier so you really notice lighting in ways you may not during the summer months.  It's actually amazing the effect lighting can have on a home.  It can be very stunning.  

Here are a few options that we just put in on one of our landscaping jobs.

The first is perfect to light a path, walkway, or patio.

walkway lighting

This one is a great accent light to spotlight a special feature in your landscape.  Maybe a beautiful tree, statue or water feature.



We used this last one to illuminate a low accent wall with house numbers.  It's small but has a great impact in the dark.groundlight



Tudor Gardens Landscape by Brooke




I was thrilled to get some pictures back from a couple landscape jobs we've finished up recently.  This was a fun job for us, and the result is simply gorgeous.  Very traditional, secluded, but classic.  I love the secluded feel of the grounds and especially the pots and planters.  They fit the home perfectly, I think.


CMP_9197 (Custom) - Copy



CMP_9263 (Custom) - Copy


CMP_9244 (Custom)


CMP_9257 (Custom) - Copy


CMP_9219 (Custom) - Copy


Casey McFarland is our photographer and does such a good job of making us look good.  I really love how these turned out!



Japanese Gardens Hardscape by Brooke

Here's a few more images I have been collecting for our Japanese Garden project.  While the other images focused on the landscape, here are some for the hardscape, which is where you can get really creative and add a lot of interest.  

Some of my favorites:

This first one makes me want to take a rake to the gravel.  Work out some of that anxiety, right?  Really though, I love the textures and patterns here.



And some pretty cool water features.  Like this water wall.  Can you imagine having one in your backyard.  So cool.






And this one from Restoration hardware.



cat3100004 (1)


I've used this Mexican Beach Pebble on other landscaping projects and really loved how they turned out.  They have great texture and a nice color.


beach pebble


And, well, if you are wanting to impress the neighbors, how about a private waterfall?



But really, recreating some elements of this on a smaller scale wouldn't be too difficult.  And the effect would be pretty awesome.


And, last, I like the clean, straight lines of this walkway.  Simple but still interesting.





Japanese Garden Inspiration by Brooke

We have been putting together a mood board for a beautiful Japanese Garden.  I love how calm and serene these feel.  So peaceful.  Here are a few of the plants I have been looking at. Love this taller Avalanche Grass, right next the colorful Dianthus.  The texture of the grass is really so soft right next to the shorter purple flower.



And here the Buckthorn adds height but in miniature, giving some privacy but still at the right scale.



And, of course, what could be more classic for a Japanese Garden than a Japanese Maple.  Love these smaller trees with such deep, vibrant foliage.




And then lots of low-growing green moss, surrounded by taller grasses.  The variety of sizes and textures really adds interest and coziness to the space.





Still working on the hardscape mood board.  Lots of great ideas there, as well.  Nice to see it all coming together.

One Last Spotlight by Brooke

I'm hoping you'll indulge me in another quick spotlight.  It seems people are always asking me for good shrubs or trees to plant and I wanted to share a few favorites.  

This one is a Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn tree.  Another great smaller landscape tree.

thornless cockspur hawthorn



It has beautiful white flowers and nice, dark green foliage.


I also love the rusty-orange fall color.  A great smaller accent tree.

Tree Spotlight: Korean Maple by Brooke

Another plant I am loving lately.  Actually, a tree.  But the Korean Maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum) is a small speciman tree, stays very little, and feels almost like a shrub.  But really very beautiful. Korean Maple



I love the foliage.  Aren't those leaves beautiful?  These trees are a lot like the Japanese Maple but are much hardier and can be fully exposed on the south or west side of the house and still be happy.  Which is why the Korean Maple is a great alternative.


They have beautiful coloring all year long, but I am especially partial to their fall coloring.  Really awesome.


It's time we shared this well-kept secret with everyone.

Modern Pergolas by Brooke

I love this roundup on modern pergolas.  Lots of good ideas in here. pergola



I really like those thick straight lines and love to see a variety of materials used here.  And did you see the hanging chandelier on the top right?  Fun!  Aside from being unique and interesting, they are really quite practical, too.  Pergolas add shade, dimension, and even privacy.  Plus, they create another cozy nook for people to congregate.


All these ideas have my head spinning.  Love finding that sort of inspiration.

Plant Spotlight: Blue Grama Grass by Brooke

How has your July been?  Can't believe it is already winding down.  Don't leave, summer!  We have, of course, been keeping busy this month drawing up plans and finishing up jobs.  Lots of good, hard work. With any landscape design, I like to mix together different colors and textures to make an interesting yard.  Which is why I love adding grasses.  They are low maintenance, not always a show-stopper, but just a good, nice texture to add to the yard.  Like this one:

Blue Gama Grass


photo credit: High Country Gardens

This is a Bouteloua 'Blond Ambition'.  Also called Blue Grama Grass or just Blond Ambition.  I love this grass because of its texture.  Plus it is hardy and does well in cold winters.  Big bonus for the yards I design in Cache Valley.  The grass is beautiful and gets a nice flower mid-summer.  Very pretty.


A nice grass that will complement so many different landscaping styles.

More Planters by Brooke

The rest of the planters came in.  Love them. empty planters


Here they are with the boxwood.  Love the classic, formal look.



I think these bowls are my favorite.  I really like how they turned out.planters