Details Landscape Art is a Novato landscaper with projects throughout Marin County, Sonoma County and Napa County. We were called by a family who live up in the hills west of Highway 101, to see what we could do with a challenging backyard landscape.

The property backed up to a hillside open space with beautiful views in every direction. The residence is situated at the bottom of the slope, with a small level area out the back sliding door. At the outer edge of this flat area is a six foot retaining wall, covered with fig ivy, beyond which the slope begins to rise dramatically at about a forty five degree angle.

The existing landscape was poorly done. The lower living area consisted of a Connecticut bluestone patio that almost completely covered the area from the house to the retaining wall and from one side to the other. Many of the Connecticut bluestone pieces, which were supposedly mortared down onto a concrete base, were coming loose, and most of the grout between the flagstone pieces was either cracked, missing or crumbling. On one side of this patio there had apparently been an attempt at a lawn in a very shady area, which had been removed by the homeowner. There were shrubs that had been badly pruned, so that they were totally dead in the interior and had no discernable shape.

The slope was completely planted with lantana, which looked like they had mostly died, and the drip irrigation wasn’t even reaching all the plants. There was a set of pressure treated stairs ascending one side of the hill up to a poorly built, semi circular retaining wall that created a sort of small sitting area for two Adirondack chairs. The job was badly in need of a quality, knowledgeable Novato landscaper.

We prepared a design, presented it to the homeowners, and went through a few iterations, as we honed in on a plan that met their needs. They wanted a patio that could accommodate an outdoor eating area and a fire pit, a lush garden, and a beautifully planted slope. When the design was blessed we bid the project with a specific budget in mind.

Upon signing contracts, we began with demolition. The old patio was jackhammered out, the plants on the slope were removed, the old drip tubing and lighting wire were pulled up, and everything was hauled away.

While the stamped concrete patio was being formed, we installed jute netting on the slope for erosion control. We began acquiring and laying out the trees and plants for the upper hillside, and since there was evidence of gophers on the slope, each plant required a gopher basket.

The upper retaining wall was repaired, a short informal fieldstone wall was built alongside the pressure treated steps, and the hillside planting was installed.

Meanwhile the shape of the patio was changed, and the two toned stamped concrete patio was poured, leaving two semi circular planters adjacent to the house. A flagstone steppingstone walkway/sitting area was built in a coordinating color to transition from the patio to a side yard existing hot tub. Then the lower area was planted around the patio and walkway. Upon completion of all the planting, two drip irrigation lines were set up, one for the upper slope and one for the lower living area.

A new low voltage lighting system was installed, with both up lights into existing trees, and path lights through the garden and along the pressure treated steps. A layer of mini fir bark over all the planted areas added the finishing touch.

This Novato landscaper totally remodeled and renovated this hillside property in South Novato.