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We're featured in UAC professional journal

Interview with Danna about her background and interests.

Every month the Urban Ag Council selects a member to feature in their journal. We're honored to have been the one selected for the December 2013 issue.


Landscape consultation donated to GLA

Georgia Lawyers for the Arts fundraiser

HGD supports Georgia Lawyers for the Arts by making a donation to their 38th annual Gala's silent auction. The winning bidder received a landscape consultation & design with Danna Cain, our landscape architect.

5 Modern Fire Ideas for outdoor living areas … think outside the circle.

Photo by
Low maintenance fire features in the landscape

I’m loving these contemporary and low maintenance ways to add the warmth and glow of fire to the landscape. Think outside the circular fire pit and imagine linear fire! Here’s some examples I’ve found that introduce strong horizontal and vertical design elements. These are all easy to use and clean to use because they don’t require firewood. These modern fire features use either gels, propane or natural gas.The torches shown above are odorless, smokeless and portable. I can imagine so many ways to use this idea: scattered thru plantings, outlining a path, clustered as a focal point or anchoring the 4 corners of an outdoor dining area. These deliver the warmth and glow of a fireplace in a small space that will get people talking around your fire and about your fire.

Gel fuel powers the torches and the vertical flame pictured below. Both are instant fire that can be extinguished just as quickly and simply.
Photo by Venturi Flame

Linear burners, especially those with electronic ignition, are also easy to use. The fuel source doesn’t need replacing as often because most are fueled by hidden propane tanks. There’s also the option to connect to your gas line.

I love the simple, clean lines of the granite & stucco fire table pictured below. I would place comfy outdoor sofas around this for a very relaxing outdoor living area. The patio below it could be stained concrete or bluestone possibly edged with Japanese garden pebbles to echo the sleek luster of the granite on the table.

Uptown gas fire pit table

The reflecting fire wall below would certainly be the focal point of the landscape where it’s used. The bench shown, though beautiful and artistic, would not be very comfortable or practical in a residential back yard. I would suggest different furniture unless the theme is Minimalist or Zen.
Photo by Colombo Construction

The fifth idea I’d like to share is of a wrap around linear fire. Give me an circa 1950’s/60’s brick planter around a carport or patio and I’ll transform that space into something interesting, exciting and usable.

Photo by
All of these products make sense for the way we live today. Upgrade your home. Enjoy your outdoor space. I can design one of these ideas into your back yard. Construction is available also.

Danna Cain, ASLA
Home & Garden Design, Inc., Atlanta


New walkway and interesting plants transform curb appeal at this John’s Creek home

Patterned concrete ront walk after

Soft textured plants and meandering walkway create a welcoming entrance

There are many things to consider when designing a new entrance walkway. Orienting guests, slope of the land, ease of use and architectural style are all very important. The most special entrances, however, are the ones that create an ambiance that reflects the owner's personality thus truly welcomes guests to the home. Given the style of the house, the walk could have been very linear and formal however we chose a more informal design. The owner wanted a much softer and more welcoming look that would incorporate low maintenance Southern color and texture. Tops on her list were old fashioned favorites such as forsythia, gardenia and daylilies.

On my first visit to this home, I was shocked to see that the builder had provided only a stepping stone path to the front door. It was difficult to walk on and completely too small as the approach to this huge front porch. The landing that made the transition between the path and porch was settling and of mismatched materials. This all needed to be replaced.

Front walk before

The goal was to have the existing porch, landing and walk match. Since the porch paving had several issues, we initially planned to redo it plus all new paving in matching bluestone. This became far more complicated and costly due to the manner in which the builder had installed this porch. The contingency plan was then to renovate/refinish the existing porch’s colored, stamped and patterned concrete then match it on the new surfaces. To my surprise, it’s not always easy to match 20 year old architectural concrete! What initially appeared to be a very typical slate pattern ended up requiring an obsolete proprietary tool. An exhaustive search led to a pioneer in the industry who still had the tool needed. The project was underway!
Patterned concrete ront walk after
I oriented the new, wide meandering walkway so that there would be a view of the front door as guests approached. All grass between the walk and the house was eliminated. A new large bed was added in front of the landing to soften it and to balance the porch. Large French urns were placed on the porch as focal points.


After much deliberation, I decided to keep the old clipped ilex bushes because the house really needed the massiveness of these shrubs. Reclamation pruning has begun on these to equalize the heights, remove dead limbs and encourage healthy, interior foliage.

To soften the look, we added 8’ tall forsythias on the corners of the house behind the old shrubs. More softening was achieved by adding daylilies and perennials in front of the old shrubs. We also introduced evergreen Indian Hawthorne ‘Eleanor Tabor’ and Crown Jewel dwarf gardenias with the intent that these shrubs would grow together forming soft masses.

On the left side, we started reclamation pruning on the large sasanquas. We reshaped the one by the chimney, deciding to keep it shrub-form as a backdrop for all the perennials in the butterfly garden. The other sasanqua by the garage was limbed up into tree form.

This project is an example of how existing plants can be revitalized and used in a new design that balances the architectural features of a home. If your home is in dire need of a makeover, I will work with you to develop a concept that will achieve your goals. Start the process by completing this short form

Danna Cain, ASLA
Home & Garden Design, Inc., Atlanta

See our portfolio 


Transform your holly bushes

virginia highlands landscape home garden design danna cain
These holly trees have been "limbed up" into tree form
plus new, more interesting plants added around
for color, texture and an Italian flair

Morphing a holly hedge into an award winning statement

Here's an idea you can use! When faced with a huge, boring hedge, consider "limbing it up" to morph it into a row of trees. That was our solution when the City of Atlanta arborist would not allow us to remove these Virginia Highland hollies. The raised canopy gave us space and sun to plant the herb and perennial garden that the client desired. This idea won the 2013 Atlanta Home Improvement, Best Before/After Makeover contest in the landscape division.

The hedge was so fat and robust that it was difficult for the owner to keep up with pruning it off of the unique, yet small driveway. The first goal was to give the client more space.

before photo of dense holly hedge
Before photo

holly screening hedge
Before photo

The photo below was taken immediately after pruning the hollies. Yes, that entire hedge was from only 2 plants! Notice how we selected only a few of the best main trunks on each plant. We then shaped and cleaned out the canopy. Strategic limbs were cut back severely so that they would “bush up” to fill in and grow into a more compact form. Drastic reclamation pruning, such as this, should be done in February while the plant is dormant. This timing, just before the flush of new Spring growth, assures that the plant will not be barren for long.

Hollies limbed up
During photo, taken just after pruning the hollies

The next photo shows the holly trees "limbed up" into tree form plus the new, more interesting plantings surrounding the hollies. This client wanted color, texture, herbs and an Italian flair. Notice how we incorporated the Italian cypress that he really wanted for texture. He did not mind seeing the neighbor's house. In fact, he welcomed the more spacious view that this idea presented.

virginia highlands curb appeal home garden design danna cain
After Photo, one year later

Between the hollies, we placed a large Italian Terra Cotta urn as a focal point. This provides color rear round, especially in the winter when the surrounding perennials are dormant.

Italian terra cotta pot with annuals home garden design
Large Italian Terra Pot with annuals

The sunniest place in the yard was at the corner, so this is where we placed the main herb garden. See how the pruning of the hollies, addition of the Italian cypress and the herbs plus perennials have transformed the curb appeal of this Midtown home.
photo before pruning hollies
Before photo
Vir High landscape danna cain
After photo shows how this idea provides better
curb appeal plus space for the herb garden
at the sunny curb

Read more about this project:
Award announcement
Magazine article
Portfolio photo #1 curb appeal
Portfolio photo #2 perennial gardens


Good Housekeeping features our organic vegetable garden

"Creating an Outdoor Oasis" article about HGD

Good Housekeeping's official website has selected one of our projects to feature in an article about "Creating an Outdoor Oasis". Here, you'll see an interesting oasis in a front yard landscape that just so happens to be a beautiful organic vegetable and herb garden. We're excited to be picked up by this well respected national magazine.

More about this project ...
In Good Housekeeping
In UAC journal

Atlanta Home Improvement magazine chooses Hoover project as Best Before/After

HGD wins 1st Place Landscape in Before/After Contest

This contest was sponsored by Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. They asked local professionals to submit before and after photos of renovation projects in categories ranging from interior design to landscape. We won 1st Place in the landscape category for Hoover's front yard makeover in the Virginia Highlands area. We were not only given a lovely plaque .... we were featured on this beautiful 2 page spread in the April 2013 issue of the magazine!

See more about this project!

Magazine article

Atlanta InTown features HGD's Buckhead play garden

Before & After section features the Starr project

This kid friendly back yard design for a Buckhead home was featured in the April 2013 issue of Atlanta Intown. This client wanted an attractive play area that could easily be converted to more garden space when the kid grew older.
Here we leveled the yard and used granite cobble stone edging that complimented the architecture of the house. The large round sandpit will one day become a fountain just off of the rear patio with fireplace. The area where the custom play set sits will be an extension of the shade garden that features hostas and ferns.


On the cover of the AJC Homefinder!

"Outdoor Activity Havens" article 

What a thrill to open the Sunday paper and see one of our projects on the cover! The custom play set that we designed as a part of the Urquhart discovery play garden gets center stage.

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