Softscape installation at this North Bennett Valley residence followed the hardscape, subject of the previous blog.

The backyard had a wall of mature trees and mature hedges planted thirty years ago within two feet of the property fences. The hedges had been pruned and sheared to where there was no new growth inside the plants.

The homeowner agreed to have all this perimeter planting removed, and plant new trees and screening material at least five to six feet from the fences so that pruning and shearing would not be required. This will result in healthier and more attractive plant material for years to come.

Apart from the perimeter trees and hedges described above, almost the entire interior of the yard was wall-to-wall grass. We persuaded the owners that a more interesting garden layout was possible, with a smaller curvilinear lawn and strategic tree planting, and drew a design accordingly.

The plan was submitted to the homeowners association; upon approval the hardscape was begun. Two months later, upon completion of the hardscape including patios, steps, hot tub pad, seat walls and a network of flagstone, we started the softscape.

When we spray painted the outline of the lawn as designed, the homeowner asked for it to be larger, thinking her grandchildren need more room to play. Once the bendaboard lawn edging was installed, the planting areas were now defined.

We used three evergreen Elaeocarpus decipiens (Japanese Blueberry tree), and two deciduous Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ (Scarlet maples) several feet in from the back fence. In the back left shady corner we planted a (Cornus ‘Starlight’ (white dogwood), and on the right side of the patio we planted a Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ (Western redbud) in the full sun.

On the shady side we used sarcococca ruscifolia, variegated dogwood, azalea ‘Southern indica’, pieris japonica, michelia figo (banana shrub), one rhododendron, one upright camellia, a tibouchina ‘Urvilleana’ (Princess Flower)’,  helleborus, three abutilon, several lomandra breeze and a few nandina ‘Firepower’.

On the sunny side of the yard we planted buddleia (butterfly bush), pennisetum orientalis (feather grass), berberis ‘Concorde’ (dark red Japanese barberry), salvia greggii ‘Mirage’ (sage), stachys (Lamb’s ears), lavatera maritime ‘bicolor’, and salvia leucantha (Mexican sage).

The homeowner requested herbs, so we arranged a small herb garden. It was difficult finding herbs in the fall, but we were able to locate some small 4” pots at the local garden center.

All plants we irrigated with a new drip irrigation system, each plant and tree receiving an appropriate size drip emitter according to plant or tree’s watering requirement.

The lawn sprinkler system was installed around the perimeter of the lawn, with some modest overspray since the lawn was curved and sprinklers only spray in a straight line.

All lawn and drip valves were wired to a Raindial six-station exterior irrigation controller and programmed for an initial planting schedule. The homeowner received written and verbal instructions about how to operate the controller and how to schedule watering cycles in the future.

The softscape installation was now complete and the garden looks gorgeous.