Details Landscape Art received a call from a young couple with two small children who live in the historic west side area of Petaluma. A few blocks from downtown, the backyard was huge and hadn’t been touched in over forty years. It was tired, with wall-to-wall grass, but had a huge beautiful oak tree towards the rear. The plants were old, neglected and overgrown. The homeowners asked for an updated look that would include lots of room for the kids to play, yet an adult friendly area to entertain and relax. No problem!

We began by removing all the old half-dead grass, and we called in an arborist associate of ours to prune and shape the neglected oak tree. Oak trees are susceptible to oak root fungus, and we know to be careful about planting and irrigating under oaks. So we built a beautiful kidney shaped flagstone patio under the oak, since we couldn’t do much else in that area under the canopy, and the tree provided much needed shade in this hot sunny garden. One half of the patio included a custom flagstone wood burning fire pit: the other half served as a lounge area for casual seating. For additional seating capacity, we constructed two seat walls behind the fire pit area, faced and capped with matching flagstone.

Stamped concrete patio featuring flagstone seat wall and fire pit

The far back corner was reserved for the kid’s ‘campground’. We leveled and prepared a large area for them to set up their tent, and connected to the patio and firepot with a flagstone steppingstone walkway. When it was time to roast marshmallows in the evening, it was an easy walk from the tent. The owner’s contracted separately to have a bocce court constructed, and we left a long open area on the far right side along the fence.

The kids got their large lawn area for soccer and softball,

Large grassy play area for the kids

and a gorgeous planting scheme was installed surrounding the patio and lawn. The lawn irrigation system was challenging since the water pressure and water volume on the property was low. Several valves were needed to accommodate the size of the sod lawn, and all were scheduled with a Raindial six-station indoor controller.

Gardens come in flavors…and we felt we needed to maintain the flavor of an old time west Petaluma country property. Plantings included hydrangeas, pieris japonica, Japanese maples (Tamukeyama), lorapetalum ‘Purple Majesty, ferns, nandina ‘Firepower, society garlic and lots of star jasmine in the back forty.

The family loves to grow and pick their veggies, so they asked us to build four large redwood vegetable boxes. Once constructed the boxes were set in an area of decomposed granite, which was bordered by steel headers.

A low voltage lighting system was installed, with path lights at strategic entries and exits to and from the patio, ‘campground area’, and around the large lawn, while floodlights illuminated various trees. The oak received special attention with three floodlights with stronger bulbs.

This landscape is a classic example of our tag line ‘Gardens for Life’. We built a spectacular garden that was tailored to the lifestyle needs of the homeowner. And definitely kid friendly!