The City of Del Mar in California is breathtaking and complex. It has an individualistic tone that is shown in the style of each home. When you drive through the winding roads, one house after another blows you away. Being Landscape Designers in this area, we have the challenge of continuing this theme by making a distinctive design that stands out and makes a point without having a sign in front saying, “look at me.” In our recent project completed in Fall 2017, you will discover that by highlighting the natural curves of the landscape and reiterating the style of the architecture throughout the yard, we were able to subtly show off our residences’ home.
In the design we wanted to incorporate two different access points to the front door, this not only visually guides the line of sight up to our focal point, but it becomes a practical choice that leads guests to the front door with ease. By proposing a “floating” planter we were able to incorporate two stairway entries encompassing the planter without making it feel overstated. This enabled us to emphasize one staircase as an architectural feature and the other as a functional piece. This design challenge ended up creating the centerpiece of this front yard.
Some major challenges presented themselves as we moved through the design and into the implementation stage of the project. Fortunately, there was an existing built-in statement piece within the yard that seemed advantageous in design inspiration. This 80-year old Torrey Pine graced us with its architectural habit and aged stature; however, it tested our abilities to think on our feet. Only knowing at first the surface of the terrain, we were met with an intricate root system as we started removing layers. On the field we had to account for the roots and adjust accordingly. This spontaneity is not how us professionals like to work most times; however, in our profession we are second in command to nature and we must meander through it so it can run its natural course and thrive even after our involvement.
To create the natural, low maintenance-style landscape we used Festuca mairei and Muhlenbergia rigens to carpet the foreground of the yard while using Aeonium urbicums to accent and contrast the soft grasses. We brought in a greener ground covers, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’ and Carex divulsa, in the corten steel planter by the stairways to contrast and highlight the colors and details of both the hard and soft materials at play. Since the architecture is very modern and sleek we reciprocated the style by using our favorite architectural plants, Dracaena marginata, Pinus thunbergii, and Aloe thraskii. We kept the palette simple and warm so that it does not take away from the authenticity of the house. We jumped, bobbed, and weaved to make this design come to life, but because of the difficulty, it made the creation even more wonderful in the end.