Motorists driving through Spring Branch will soon have another reason to keep their eyes on the road. In coming weeks, landscaping crews will fan out across the district to begin work on 14 new esplanades—the grassy medians that run along the middle of roadways—that have been adopted by the Spring Branch Management District as part of its ongoing beautification and neighborhood improvement program.SBMD-Esplanade-Rendering

“We get a lot of calls from people asking when we’re going to put in more esplanades, so it’s very exciting to start construction on the next group of them.” said Spring Branch Management District Director of Services Josh Hawes. “The number one question I get is, ‘When are you going to do an esplanade in my area?’”

“If you go down Blalock, you can see the esplanades we’ve done,” said David Schwab, the chair of the district’s environmental and urban design committee. “Now we’ve adopted 14 more, and they’re going to become the standard that we want to spread across the district—we want to adopt as many more as we can.”

The 14 new esplanades will be designed by SWA Architects, the acclaimed international landscape architecture firm responsible for Buffalo Bayou Park and Terry Hershey Park. According to SWA project manager Clayton Bruner, the biggest design challenge was selecting plants that could survive Houston’s extreme weather.

“A few of the other esplanades in the district were pretty heavily impacted by the intense rains we’ve been having over the past year,” Bruner said. “What the management district wanted us to do was to make the design a bit more weather-proof with respect to maintenance. We want these esplanades to stand up for a long time.”


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To mitigate flood damage, SWA built in grassy buffers between the curbs and the plantings to absorb any water sprayed by passing cars. To prevent runoff from going into the street, it minimized the use of impermeable “hardscape” elements like paving stones. “The flood problem is hard to avoid,” Bruner said, “but we tried to come up with plants that will work in the harsh conditions that you have in the medians, surrounded by roadway traffic.”

The plants SWA ultimately selected include New Gold Lantana, Nearly Wild Rose, Little John Bottle Brush, and Sandi-Leaf Fig Ivy; for grass, they chose Bermuda sod. “There were a lot of plants that just weren’t legible at roadway speed, so we chose plants that have a bit more color and vitality,” Bruner explained.

As part of the City of Houston’s Adopt-an-Esplanade Program, the city will provide free water for the esplanades’ sprinklers in exchange for the management district assuming responsibility for upkeep and maintenance. SWA designed the esplanades in compliance with the city’s written guidelines, which mandate that landscaping can’t block drivers’ lines of sight at intersections. Three miles of the project have already been completed.

Given the scope, Bruner expects the new esplanades to get a lot of attention—from locals and outsiders alike. “This project is going to make a pretty big impact,” he said. “It’s definitely a public improvement that people will take notice of.”

  1. p leone June 24, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    So, what are the locations of the esplanades to be landscaped?

    • Tawny Tidwell July 5, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Long Point from Hollister to Pech, Long Point at Wirt Blalock, and I-10, and Westview east of Wirt will all be under construction this year.

      • Bridy talamas July 11, 2016 at 11:15 pm

        Are there any plans for such beautification efforts near Westview and Silber? It is surely needed! Many new homes going up in Westview terrace. Would be great to have the neighborhood entry points reflect the redevelopment that is going on.

        • Gretchen July 13, 2016 at 7:35 am

          Hi Birdy –

          Westview and Silber are in the esplanade improvement plan however, it will be a while before further improvements are made to the area. But we will get there!

          • Bridy talamas July 13, 2016 at 8:48 am

            Thank you for your response. That is great to know! Are there any plans or images that I may look at to see what it’s intended to look like and the location of the new esplanade? Also, what is the time frame for the esplanade? Thank you

  2. Patricia Wesolek July 14, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    We living off Gessner, between I-10 and Hammerly Blvd., have had long held “high hopes”that the esplanades would be addressed and beautified! It is a well used thoroughfare that has nowhere to go, but UP! Please let us know when or if this stretch of roadway will be landscaped! Thank you…

  3. JoAnne Hanzelka July 14, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Esplanades are beautiful that have been planted, and three cheers for more. When will Hammerly Blvd. between Beltway 8 and Gessner, and going further East become as nice? Thanks for your good work..

  4. MIss E July 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Why are the esplanades being done primarily in east Spring Branch/Spring Valley? What abouy west Spring Branch???

  5. Perry Silliman July 15, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    when will esplanade on wirt rd.l between long
    point to kempwood be upgraded

  6. Beau July 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    What happened to the long rumored renaming of Long Point to Spring Branch Boulevard…?

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