Many of Houston’s finest homes can be characterized by their luxurious outdoor spaces, and some of those can be credited to Lanson B. Jones & Co. Landscape Architecture. The Houston-based firm specializes in custom design-based landscaping and has cultivated some of Houston's finest residential gardens over the last 25 years. More recently, they've added a floral and events firm to their traditional design-build services.
LBJ & Co. concentrate on precise design and attention to detail, and client relationships are central to the mission. “We really focus on client relationships as much as the design process to make sure each garden is personalized, unique, and exactly what the client envisioned,” says founder and principal landscape architect Lanson B. Jones. “Our clients are our friends, and our friend list continues to grow,” adds CEO Michael Allen.
Houstonia spoke with Jones and Allen about their approach to revamping outdoor spaces—and a few tips for transforming your own.
What differentiates you from other landscapers?
MA: We are designers—we focus on the design and the details. We design outdoor spaces pulling principles from the European renaissance. Our culture also differentiates us. We are in the business of design and building relationships.
How do you formulate a design plan for a client?
MA: We focus on what we call the three Ps: the personality of the architecture, the personality of the site, and the personality of the client. This approach helps our design team formulate a cohesive design plan that considers not only the outdoor space, but how the garden relates to the interiors of the home and the architecture of the home.
LJ: We like to ask the client about their vision for the space. What do they want to see? We want to know if they've been inspired by certain designs or styles; having a good grasp on their wants and needs helps the design process go smoother.
How does a client’s personality help inform your design process?
LJ: You want the three Ps to work together to create a cohesive design that not only meets the client’s needs but plays well with the architecture and style of the home and fits the sites restrictions.
MA: Some clients entertain outdoors often, while some like to grow and nurture their own plants. In our contemporary art garden project, the client wanted to display pieces that she already owned alongside some additional whimsical pieces that had meaning to her.
You're all about attention to detail—what specific things do you tend to focus on?
LJ: We use interior and exterior mirroring to pull design elements from the home and the décor to tie-in the outdoors. If there is a pattern or interesting shape, we sprinkle it in throughout the design for continuity. We also like to balance the formality of our gardens, soften a more formal garden or home, and add a touch of formality and structure to looser designs.
MA: We may even find a detail in something like a house column or staircase railing that we can pull through to the garden.
How do you balance comfort and style in homes where luxury is equally important?
MA: We find that with formal and informal balancing, one of our eight design guide points, that rarely do we need to make such a trade-off.
LJ: We have not found comfort and luxury to be mutually exclusive. Clients will often request a luxurious feel for their outdoor spaces and at the same time want to feel comfortable and have it fit their style. Great execution is all in the design and getting to know your client’s needs.
What's the most important element of an outdoor space?
MA: I think that multi-use spaces are the most important. This way your outdoor space can serve as an elegant entertaining area and a private oasis for reading and reflection, without sacrificing space.
LJ: To create a space that people want to live in and enjoy, not just look at. We want people to actually use their outdoor space.
Any tips for transforming a space into a relaxing summer spot?
MA: Only keep what makes you happy to create a space that you want to spend time in.
LJ: Find a team to work with who listens to your vision and helps you create a space that you want to spend time in.