Covered with scrub oak, and redwood and pine seedlings, this one-acre property with dozens of mature redwood trees in the background, sat on three different elevations.

One of the challenges for Details Landscape Art, a Penngrove landscape contractor, was to transition from one level of the garden to another, incorporating the front, side and backyard areas, and including all the elements required by the homeowner.

The first order of business was to clear the property of unwanted trees, wild scrub and volunteer oaks. An arborist was called in and removed all this material and associated stumps and roots in a few days, leaving the mature redwoods, which we ‘limbed up’ to create planting space beneath them. Granted they are messy trees, continually dropping their needles, but they provided a stately background and much needed privacy.

There was an old rotting deck at the threshold level of the back door with narrow steps down to the garden, which we removed. The outdoor living area was expanded by creating a series of five semicircular steps

Semicircular steps in this patio

down from the back French doors to a sweeping flagstone patio. The flagstone used throughout was an Arizona flagstone called ‘Buckskin’. It is a warm pastel color with a golden hue. The same flagstone was used on the patio, capping the seat wall, and for all the steppingstone walkways and transition steps through the garden. Around the perimeter of the patio an eighteen-inch high retaining wall was built, faced with a color coordinated cultured stone and capped with flagstone to provide additional seating. On the slope behind the patio/seat wall we constructed a cascading waterfall beginning back under the redwoods and ferns and winding down into a koi pond directly behind the seat wall.

Cascading stone waterfall

The sound of running water and low voltage lighting add a nice flavor to an expansive and inviting entertainment area. The slope was planted with Japanese maples, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, pieris, mondo grass and other shade-loving plants in the shadow of the towering redwoods.

Flagstone steppingstone stairs down from the patio led to the side yard, where a new lower lawn area Good irrigation systems are key to a successful gardenwas bordered by a perennial garden and an L-shaped redwood three-tiered arbor with lattice screens framing a small intimate flagstone patio

This corner arbor provides some privacy

This patio was an excellent example of a masonry technique we use where we set the flagstone on sand or on a decomposed granite base. The flagstone pieces are large and thick and therefore quite stable underfoot. A flagstone pathway continued from this patio and circled through this lower side area garden, which was planted with more Japanese maples, ornamental ‘Akebono’ flowering cherry trees, coleonema ‘Golden Sunset’, Japanese barberry, and some rather large Sonoma fieldstone boulders. One of our preferred planting styles for clients who want color in the garden yet low maintenance, is to use color in the foliage.Low Maintenance Garden

This combination of golds and burgundys is a striking example of this style. Another stone retaining wall and steppingstones transitioned from this lower side area around and up to the front entry and the upper lawn area.

 

Several Japanese maples, large placement boulders and a smaller pass-through arbor gave this entry and transition area an Asian flavor.

"Akebono" cherry, a "Bloodgood" Japanese maple and coleonema "Gold Sunset" offer vibrant color