Details Landscape Art was referred to this split-level project in northeast Santa Rosa, which badly needed landscaping help. The upper level of the backyard consisted of wall-to-wall grass, and an ugly concrete paver patio and steps.The lower level was a weed-infested yard with dozens of huge boulders, which had been dumped there by the developer when the subdivision was built. But the bones of a garden were there, and we recognized the potential.

We brought in heavy equipment – tractors, backhoe, and excavators. The entire yard was bulldozed, and all the boulders were excavated and separated.We cleverly arranged the boulders on the lower level to form a retaining wall separating the two levels. We were actually able to increase the size of the upper level by about twenty feet, and this additional space was backfilled with the excavated dirt. While we had the tractors, we carefully demolished the old paver porch and steps, and sold the material on Craigslist.

Once the extensive demolition was complete, we began the new garden by installing a gorgeous curvilinear stamped concrete patio in a coffee color with gray accent highlights. Three semi-circular steps at the back door threshold accounted for the drop in elevation down to the patio. The steps were ‘bull nosed’, by adding a strip of foam inside the step forms, leaving a space on the lower part of each step.

Half moon shaped bullnosed steps

The homeowner opted to have us seal the finished stamped concrete, which gives it a nice shiny look. We always caution clients that although the sealer does enhance the beauty of the patio, it may become somewhat slippery in the rainy season. And we leave them the choice to seal or leave it dry.

Once the hardscape was complete, Details proceeded to install an absolutely beautiful garden, beginning with a small lawn adjacent to the new patio. We left a small planter area between the lawn and patio to break things up visually, and to bring a small tree into the interior of the garden for shade and vertical interest.

We built a small two-posted three-tiered pass through arbor at the edge of the patio and installed an Arizona ‘Buckskin’ steppingstone walkway to provide access to the lower garden. The arbor was built using con-heart redwood and added more vertical interest to an otherwise flat garden. The flagstone walkway consisted of large thick stones set in compacted fill dirt. This is an installation technique we frequently use as an alternative to poured stamped concrete or flagstone mortared on a concrete base. It results in a less formal look and feel for a walkway as it meanders through the garden.

Plantings included white ‘Iceberg’ roses, nandina ‘Firepower’, lomandra ‘Breeze’, manzanita ‘Emerald Carpet’, and a Japanese maple called ‘Beni shishihenge’.

simple garden design

We love adding a low voltage lighting system to a beautiful garden for some excitement when the sun goes down. We included a tasteful array of path lights at strategic pedestrian intersections, and highlighted several key trees and the arbor with floodlights.

This is a project that is dear to us. The homeowners are very nice people who appreciate a job well done, and we return each December for a winter pruning. It keeps the garden in tip-top shape, and enables us to show off our work to other prospective clients.

A stunning display of flowers and foliage provide a gorgeous backdrop for a quiet seating area