By Kristy Alpert
When Parker County resident Terri Swain moved from the mid cities to the country to build her dream home on 2.5 acres, she knew exactly who to call to keep his landscape green while saving some green. “We contracted with Native Dave to develop a landscape plan that took into account our desire to be native and to capture our personalities,” says Swain, who hired this landscaping company based on their knowledge of regionally native plants and their ability to translate their client’s dreams into something spectacular.
Native Dave is a sustainable landscape design and consultation company that specializes in native plants, and is owned and operated by nature enthusiasts, and husband-and-wife team, David and Christy Ilfrey. This natural duo started their business in Plano in 2001, just two months prior to Texas Wildflower Day (which was, not coincidentally, also their wedding day), and took off designing and implementing eco-landscapes across the greater DFW area. In 2008, after the birth of their daughter, Sage, they moved to Corpus Christi so their little girl could take her first steps in the sand, not on concrete. Above: David and Christy Ilfrey and daughter Sage.
But with a mission to “conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate” all of Texas, they took their lives on the road in order to take their message about sustainability across the great state. Since September 15, 2010, Native Dave has been a 100 percent mobile, sustainable family and business, making its way across the state in Bluebonnet (their truck) and Seabean (their “adventure” trailer). Above Bluebonnet and seabean -- Padre Island National Seashore: Bluebonnet, a vintage F150, doubles as vehicle and office (or observation deck at the beach). Built-in storage areas allow organization of staplers and envelopes, and pails and shovels for building sandcastles. They sleep in our beloved Seabean, their homemade adventure trailer that theye designed and built by deconstructing our own landscape and repurposing deck wood, hardware, pieces and parts of theirr daughter's playset, and sentimental items from loved ones.
“Our purpose all along has been to make the world a better place,” says Christy Ilfrey. “But there are other reasons we continue to work hard at what we do. Upwards of 400 people per day are moving to DFW, straining our [water] resources further. At our current rates of consumption, not even the proposed water pipelines can keep up. Approximately 65 percent of a community’s water usage is attributed to watering lawns and landscapes.
If we replace water-hogging plants with native species, we can make a significant and immediate impact on the local supply of water. Further, native plants do not require regular fertilizing, herbicides or pesticides, which keeps the local water supply healthy and suitable for sustaining life.”
Above: Plano: Commercial properties like Prairie Creek Baptist Church enjoy cost savings by converting to sustainable landscaping methods. This project has no irrigation system and relies exclusively on ambient rainfall. Routine maintenance consists of mowing and cutting back perennials once annually and applying mulch 1-2 times annually.
Below: Dallas: Even tiny front yards have room enough for natives to grow! Blue blooms of Gray Shrub Sage (Salvia chamaedryoides) and red flowers of Gregg's aka Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) complement the yellow Four Nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris or Hymenoxys scaposa).
The subject of unhealthy chemicals is one that’s near and dear to their Parker County client’s heart. Swain was not only a client of Native Dave, but she is also a two-time cancer survivor. It was for this reason she looked to this duo to help her avoid lawn chemicals to keep his natural resources conserved and clean.
“Our neighborhood is on a co-op and there were several times we ran out of water this summer,” Swain recalls. “Native Dave helped us to restore our beautiful land back to its native scape, letting us live in it instead of overtaking it. The end result is a yard that requires very little maintenance; requires very little water, blooms almost all year long and maintains a healthy habitat for the birds, bees, flowers and trees. During this year’s drought conditions and mandatory water conservation, our yard maintained its integrity!” (Photo Credits: Native Dave)
972-596-3889 (Dallas / Fort Worth area)
361-549-2503 (Corpus Christi area)
Freelance writer Kristy Alpert has been covering the green scene since before it was the “thing to do.” Her work has been featured in publications such as D Magazine, Omni Escapes, DallasChild, Modern Luxury, Home Comfort Style, Oregon Home, among others. When not crafting stories at her refinished Victorian writing desk, she can be found traveling the globe or scouring the bins at flea markets, searching for those diamonds in the rough. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @kristyalpert.