Rarely has there been a more unprepossessing lot for an extensive residential landscaping project: a scrubby two-acre parcel shaped like a pie slice and dominated by a steep hill bordering a busy and loud thoroughfare in Austin, Texas. When designer Rick Scheen went to examine it for the first time, large culvert pipes stuck up through the ground in a ditch, trash was strewn everywhere, “and there were some really bad views of tear-down houses,” he recalls.

This article was first published in Garden Design March 2012
Photo by: Blancaneaux Lodge

Rolling hills carpeted in green, limestone that glows a pinkish gold in the setting sun, and miles and miles of river, dammed into sections referred to as lakes, define the Texas Hill Country that surrounds Austin. It is here, 35 minutes northwest of the energized capital city, where you'll find more than 1,000 species of trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables on 19 lakefront acres designed to nourish the body and soul. This is Lake Austin Spa Resort, which is quite simply, really darn pretty.