Beautifying a Side Yard, Part I
Side yards are often barren wastelands. At this home overlooking the San Fernando Valley side of Topanga Canyon, the clients asked me to create five distinct gardens. Both side yards were utilized, as well as two very different styled gardens in the back of the property and the front yard. The east side yard became a Japanese style garden, with a dry riverbed snaking through the 60 foot length of the yard.
Beautifying a Side Yard, Part II
A pathway crisscrossed the bed with a redwood bridge in the middle. Two redwood “landings” created the illusion that the riverbed began and ended elsewhere—creating the idea of continual flow. Plants were selected and placed based on what one might typically see in a natural riverbed and liberal use of mossy groundcovers and bamboos completed the design.
Converting a Slope, Part I
I came into this project after the spa was built, with the idea that we needed to create an environment around the spa where my clients would feel like they were in a tropical paradise, while sitting in their spa. There was also a koi pond surrounding the spa, which meant we needed to careful and not put in any plants that would affect the fish when they fell into the pond.
Converting a Slope, Part II
I worked with the client and scoured multiple unique nurseries in southern California, selecting plants we would not find in any other yards. This was truly a labor of love and I spent a considerable amount of time learning what my client wanted—loving every minute of that collaboration!
Mixing Colors and Textures
When mixing textures and colors, I find I can incorporate plants into a plant palette that one might not typically put together. I believe any styles can be mixed—you simply need to create balance using either color, texture, style or mass. I also always consider a client’s aesthetic—even if it doesn’t initially make sense to me, as I find that my most creative designs have come out of incorporating a clients ideas with what naturally comes to my mind in the design process.
This small original home in the Santa Monica Canyon area has a large specimen tree that dominates the back garden, but came complete with many beautiful rocks and a slope. We created a dry river bed which snaked through the garden and a simple, Asian style planting to compliment the home’s style and simplicity. This view shows the guest house and the use of colored small stones that we brought in to compliment the stones that were original from the property.
Sometimes we find spaces that don’t make sense. As a designer, its my job to make sense of them. This atrium—wedged between the kitchen and family room, was originally an outdoor space, but for whatever reason, was not removed when the space was enclosed. We decided to get creative with materials and plantings and blend the two spaces with the atrium, as well as create a fun/conversation piece. A stone water shape grows out of wall and is accompanied by a specimen bamboo.
View from the Inside Out
This additional view of the Fascinating Creatures atrium shows how important it is to design from the views from the interior of the home. Its as important to design from spaces inside, looking out, as it is to design standing in the garden space. In this case, the created view gave the illusion that the space was much larger than it actually is as well as the illusion that there were “secret” spaces on the other side of the atrium that one needs to go into the atrium to see.
I love unique projects and this one definitely was unique! My clients raised exotic reptiles (slow moving) and they wanted them to have an environment to live in outdoors that was protected—they wouldn’t “escape” and would be completely taken care of within the space. We used decomposed granite, slow growing plants, installed a drip/mist system, and a sprinkler system. This space included a small pond in one corner with a bench and a larger sitting area on the opposite side of the atrium.
This other view of Equalizing the Unequal, shows how we created a “borrowed view”. By incorporating larger leaved plants in to my clients plant palette, we seamlessly blended the two yards, which in turn caused my clients yard to appear larger. We also eliminated the appearance that the clients yard is in a hole compared to its neighbors. We also created a beautiful raised deck which provided a great entertainment area for the clients.
Equalizing the Unequal
In the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, this garden rested six feet below their neighbors. The neighboring property utilized tropical plantings—NOT at all what my client wanted in their yard. We were able to seamlessly incorporate two seemingly opposite styles, by creating a plant palette that my client wanted and then adding in larger leaved plants to mimic the neighboring style.
Corner Exposed Lot, Part II
With a few small additions, we were able to create a private space—a break from the foot traffic of the neighborhood. We found tiles in their garage that were from the original construction of the house and inlayed them to the walls to tie them together with the original home, as well as painting the walls and overhang the same colors as the home’s exterior. Broken concrete was an easy choice for a natural surface—inexpensive the taken from breaking up the old pathway.
Corner Exposed Lot, Part I
Nestled in the Pan Pacific area of Los Angeles, this gem was a very exposed property. There is a lot of foot traffic on this street, and the homeowners wanted to create some privacy. We built an courtyard and overhang at the entrance, offering them a break from the street to their front door. We utilized lavenders and antique roses and softened the façade of the home with soft plantings—preserving the lawn areas.
This home in the Santa Monica coastal area has tall facades, with a variety of textural features. The clients wanted larger areas of plantings of similar plants. We created meadows and strips of plantings using one type of plant to visually draw the eye in various directions.
One of my favorite projects—this client took an outdated, in need of work, classic Spanish style home in Brentwood Park and did a complete restoration. We preserved as much of the old growth trees and charm as possible, using plants that fit with the existing design. I utilized natural materials that played off of the original Spanish details of the house.
The plantings in this garden (same as Reflecting Showcase) remained simple and function as background. I like to think of this garden as more of an outdoor gallery to showcase a clients spectacular art collection.
When I originally began working with these clients, it was clear that they were sophisticated art collectors and wanted originality and creativity in their design. They had a number of pieces of artwork that they wanted incorporated into the garden design—the largest of which was this piece by artist Guy Dill. As we proceeded through the project, the client decided to “rework” the piece, which ultimately resulted in a new piece—similar look, but new/metal materials.
This traditional style home needed an update. We moved the pool, created a usable lawn, opened up the room of the guest house, and created an entertainment space. Space planning ultimately made this yard a considerably larger functional space than had originally existed.