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Friends in dry places: Jon Kinder ’06 and Dave Williams ’08

Jon Kinder ’06 (MS ’09) and Dave Williams MS ’08 of LandscapeMafia.com have a thriving business matching native and drought-tolerant plants in typical Texas gardens.

Friends in dry places: Jon Kinder ’06 and Dave Williams ’08

TCU professor Tony Burgess, BRIT researcher Bob O'Kennon, Jon Kinder '06 (MS '09) and Dave Williams MS '08 found native plants suited for a thin-soiled roof environment. (Photo courtesy Botanical Research Institute of Texas)

Friends in dry places: Jon Kinder ’06 and Dave Williams ’08

Jon Kinder ’06 (MS ’09) and Dave Williams MS ’08 of LandscapeMafia.com have a thriving business matching native and drought-tolerant plants in typical Texas gardens.

If the bone-dry scorch of 2011 did a number on your garden, maybe it’s time to call on your TCU connections. LandscapeMafia.com bosses Jon Kinder ’06 (MS ’09) and Dave Williams MS ’08 are happy to hook you up with native and drought-tolerant plants that will thrive in a typical Texas garden.

In 2008, TCU biology professor, Tony Burgess, suggested green roof research to environmental studies students Kinder and Williams for their final year MS project. At the time, the new headquarters for The Botanical Research Institute of Texas was in the planning stages, and a green roof was on the drawing table.

Green roofs have been a feature of buildings in European cities for many years, but not in Texas. It took a year of research and testing, but Kinder and Williams eventually found plants tough enough to brave the brutal Texas heat.

Their research underpins the “living prairie” that grows on the roof of BRIT’s new building on University Avenue, opened last year. And it’s the basis of Kinder and Williams’ first start-up, a green roof consultancy called Prairie Designs, LLC.

Now, with LandscapeMafia.com, they’ve also got their feet on the ground.

“Our goal with LandscapeMafia.com is to try to get a much wider variety of native and drought tolerant plants into yards all across Texas,” says Kinder.  Boasting a virtual rather than an actual shopfront, LandscapeMafia.com allows them to leave a smaller environmental footprint. It also gives them the chance, with photos and online descriptions of over 200 species of plants, “to educate our customers about the huge variety of native species that are being grown locally,” says Kinder.

Now that Texas is in the grip of the worst drought in living memory, native plants are really a must. Since they’re acclimated to Texas climate conditions and soils, they require less water and maintenance than those fancypants plants you get from box stores.

“Native plants should be the starting point for any gardener looking to reduce water usage and improve the environmental function of their landscaping,” says Williams.

“Here at Landscape Mafia we’ve tried very hard to make finding the right plant easy,” says Kinder. In fact, with Austin delivery and free postage throughout Texas on all four-plant orders, these guys make an offer you almost can’t refuse.

On the Web:
The Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Prairie Designs, LLC
LandscapeMafia.com