In this Cardiff-by-the-Sea compact garden space, the home-owner requested an understated and modern rhythm. The challenge was to facilitate functionality and beauty in a small space with fixed elements - and for it to perform as an extension of the living space. We utilized multiple planes to take advantage of the space with overhead festoon lights, green walls (Wooly Pockets) and a softened ground plane. The synthesis resulting in a comfortable space for entertaining family and friends.
Plant highlights: Echeveria imbricata, Juncus patens 'Elk Blue', Weaver's bamboo, Cercis 'Forest Pansy'
A 28 year old spa and redwood deck were falling apart in this garden in Encinitas. The homeowners had already removed a decaying wood arbor and additional deck underneath a towering Podocarpus tree. Varying heights around the existing tree was creating a water-issue against the house. Boulders had been used for several decades to shore up the soil from against the stucco siding. Unfortunately the stucco had severe damage and needed repairs. Dozens of granite cobblestones were hidden in the old garden. The cobbles came from C Street in downtown San Diego, circa 1850.
The resulting garden has a Neo-Asian feel incorporating a glass tile fountain and reflecting pool, a new overhead structure with UV filtering shade cloth that protects but doesn’t overpower the space, and a synthetic turf area. The Podocarpus tree was thinned out aggressively to allow more sun to penetrate down to a new raised garden bed with Sago palms, various varieties of Ophiopogon (Mondo grass), and ‘Yellow Wave’ Phormiums. The cobbles were cleaned and repurposed to create a path from the side-yard to the backyard much to the surprise and delight of the Antique-loving owners.
While the backyard was under construction, we were retained to redesign the front yard. A new entryway and retaining walls invite guests to the front door. A custom rock fountain was constructed on-site to add sound and movement to the new front porch planting area. A Chinese Flame tree was craned in to provide shade over a ‘lawn’ of Sedges and Fescues (Carex albula, Carex testacea, Festuca mairei) ground junipers and Blue Fescue. The three small Black Pines (Pinus thunbergii) in the garden receive bi-annual pruning from a traditional Bonsai artist. One of the trees, upon further inspection, turned out to be a very rare Red Pine.
Garden Title: ‘Art and Texture’
The garden for the 2008 San Diego Fair was designed and built with clean lines, minimalist spaces, and one very large tree. A 100 year old Sevillano Olive tree was trucked in from Northern California. Olive trees have a unique capacity to be relocated with minimal damage to the tree. The tree was placed first, directly on top of the asphalt parking lot, and during the next 10 days the garden was constructed around it. An unfinished ‘single score’ block wall created a backdrop for the scene and added a feeling of enclosure. A 36” sheet of water spills into a runnel-style pond that separates landscape from decking. The stained redwood deck with custom concrete fire feature represented the ‘entertaining area’. The Olive tree was surrounded by Palm Springs Gold Decomposed Granite. To add softness and height to the garden, Bamboo (Bambusa textilis gracilis) was used on one side, while a raised planter with Miscanthus (Maiden grass) and Perovskia (Russian sage) frame the opposite side. The garden was contained by redwood borders, stucco walls, and rusted sheet metal. Custom Concrete benches provided seating for fair-goers. The display won several awards, including Best of Show. The Olive tree was donated to Quail Botanical Gardens for their newly inaugurated Children’s Garden. We hear it is doing just fine.
Recently completed in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA.
To achieve the desired look in the backyard at the Bluemer Residence, several designs were produced. The wish list included a new Fireplace, BBQ, entertaining area, water feature, and vegetable garden.
The existing garden included a steep slope punctuated by an assortment of overgrown trees and iceplant. Underused and much maligned grass areas were ditched in favor of a zero-maintenance combo of saw-cut concrete and Decomposed Granite patios. A stuccoed retaining wall holds back the newly graded slope, planted with a mix of ornamental grasses, Agave Americana, and Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’). The water feature serves multiple purposes, connecting the side and back yards by way of ‘floating’ exposed aggregate pavers. A poured in place concrete formation holds a galvanized steel scupper that spills into the reflecting pool. Three ‘Desert Museum’ Hybrid Palo Verde (no thorns) trees trucked in from Palm Springs complete the theme for this garden.
We were asked back 5 years later to develop the frontyard. HIghlights include: Rendered Masonry walls in 'eggplant', swaths of grasses, Acacia and Agaves. Purple fencing and succulent panels
Garden Title: ‘The Modern Patio’
The secret to the Modern Patio is not so much in the elements one uses, but how these elements are used together to complete the scene. Incidentally, modern gardening is just that; using available and affordable materials in a way that makes sense for the region, location, and times we are living in. San Diego is home to an eclectic mix of flora and fauna and with its many micro-climates come many opportunities to use not just ‘Native’ plant material, but a panoply of interesting and extraordinary plants. The ‘Outdoor Room’ is becoming increasingly popular, and here in San Diego we are perfectly suited for the outdoor lifestyle, and since most of us don’t have unlimited real-estate, our outdoor spaces demand to be utilized.
“The Modern Patio” is meant to be experienced, not gazed at from afar. It’s a destination, a place to relax and forget about your worries. This space shouldn’t be burdensome or require more time to maintain than one can afford. Here in San Diego it should be planned to use water in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
This design is intended to surprise and delight. The quadratic ubiquity of most “modern” spaces is broken by the curves in the concrete and the black volcanic rock planter beds. The vertical succulent garden draws the eye up, while the water feature, with its sound and movement brings us back to the space. The visual relationship between the elements should complement, not compete for your attention. This show garden was designed to be experienced, and refresh the visitor.
2009 SD Fair submission
133 Mozart is the latest completed project at Mozart Ave. The owner requested an overgrown wild aesthetic to compliment the white beach house architecture. We facilitated that request with flowing grasses and gravel walkways that lead to private enclaves. The front makes use of the ocean view and makes for a casual sitting and fire pit scenario while surrounded by the untamed vegetation. 133 Mozart is part of the larger Mozart Ave. residential development in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA.
Located in a new community west of the 5 freeway, these homes have modest yard spaces. We originally worked with the owner's on the front yard and minimal backyard. FWLI was brought in some 3 years later to help complete the pool area.
Landscape, Decking & concrete coping by FWLI. Pool shell and tile by Premier Pools.
Synthetic turf, Ipe deck tiles, Stepstone pavers, Mexican beach pebbles (buff color), Caravita umbrellas, green-form GFRC planters.
Private Residence in Eastlake, San Diego, CA.
Desert Modern style with two distinctive outdoor spaces separated by a large aubergine wall with duel fireplaces. Separate entrances allow for private entry to Granny flat in the backyard. Sweeping views of Otay Lake and the mountains beyond are framed with Mesquite, Yucca rostrata, grasses and fencepost cactus.