This project maximizes a picturesque 6,000 SF backyard in the Los Osos hills with stately oaks and across-the-valley views. The design entirely re-envisions the patchwork and dated existing landscape, revitalizing it as a family-friendly hangout suitable for kids and adults.
The redwood fencing and gate delineate the overall space, while large format pavers provide an elegant walkway. A sand play pit and trampoline location provide entertainment areas for younger folks, while a hot tub and fire pit evoke warmth for cool Los Osos evenings. Water trough garden beds, citrus trees, and an outdoor shower provide for daytime activity.
With a significant elevation across the site, multiple elevation changes help to define rather than divide the space, increasing the area of usable landscape adjacent to the kitchen and front entry, and opening to the natural hillside beyond.
Taking inspiration from the elegant architecture of the residence, a series of 90-degree and 45-degree angles define paths of travel within the landscape, including the approach to the front door. Multi-level seating, lawn space, and retaining walls lend to the modern feel of the design.
Madrone designers made use of new Sketchup modeling and Lumion rendering abilities to assist the owners in visualizing the site elevations and general character.
A Guide for Central Coast Homeowners
“Imagine a garden that rarely needs pruning, watering or fertilizing. One where natural controls usually take care of pest problems before the gardener even becomes aware of them. A peaceful garden where the sound of blowers, power mowers, or chain saws never intrudes. Imagine a garden that also serves as a climate control for the house, keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter; a garden that traps rainwater in an attractive streambed to deeply irrigate the trees and recharge the groundwater; one that provides habitat for wildlife and food for people. Imagine a garden that truly works. This is the sustainable garden—not barren or sacrificial, but as lush and beautiful as any other without all the struggle and waste.” – Author and landscape architect Owen Dell
If Dell’s description fills your heart with delight and your mind’s eye with images of your ideal oasis, a sustainable landscape is probably for you. Here are three vital components in creating a lush, sustainable landscape:
Central Coast ranch site plan
In considering your sustainable landscape, good planning is vital. Creating a design can save you time and money by sourcing an expert to help make the most of your space, time, and budget.
Your designer will ask, “What are the uses you’d like to incorporate?” Hardscape areas like patios, play areas and structures, or water features can all make your property work for you. When contemplating how you’ll be using the areas, think about the materials. Are they sustainably produced and sourced? Consider the Embodied Energy impacts, which include everything it takes to have a material available for your use.
Any discussion of California landscaping will include irrigation. Irrigation systems need to be accurate, low-flow and timed appropriately to keep plants healthy and thriving. A well-designed system ensures your plants receive an appropriate amount of water.
When thinking about the plants—whether shrubs, trees, veggies or turf—think about conserving resources, especially over time. California Native Plants is an excellent resource for finding plants that will fit your goals and your design. Local native plants are often the most climate compatible and lowest maintenance choices.
These are just a few of the sustainable principles you can use as guidelines to maximize your landscape efforts. And in doing so, take advantage of living in the incredible region of California’s Central Coast. Make time to get out and enjoy yourselves in your gardens. They offer unique opportunities to unwind and relieve stress. Reconnect with things natural, beautiful and up close. Even in our own gardens we are connected in a very real way to the larger landscape, and how we have a responsibility to sustain the health and beauty of our beloved Central Coast. Let’s make it work for the long run.
Want more information on Central Coast resource-friendly landscapes? Here’s a short video hosted by our own Rick Mathews. Contact our landscape designers at [email protected] or (805) 466-6263.
With a modern design style, this family retreat features patio spaces, a deck, fireplace, water feature, lawn, play area, hot tub, retaining walls, and railing.
The main vision for this Paso Robles landscape design was to create terraced levels to accommodate family and entertain guests. This was naturally achieved using the landscape’s significant slope, which simultaneously introduced challenges and invited the opportunity for both integrated and distinctly separate spaces. With retaining walls in place and a design featuring railings and gates for the safety of children, we prioritized creating a secure design without sacrificing beauty and the natural aesthetics of the landscape.
The entertainment patio is tucked into a transitional space between an upper play area and lower deck. A fireplace and water weir feature frame two of its sides leaving it open on the third side to views of a native oak woodland.
The landscape’s functional and striking modern style was created using clean lines and uniform design elements such as concrete, cable rails, and a simple plant palette.
With Spring officially upon us, many people are ready for planting in their yards and updating their landscapes. It’s time to go outside with some of the pent-up energy we’ve been harboring and take it out on the dirt. The rewards can be beautiful!
While in many parts of California our gardens can have blooming plants virtually year-round, springtime is particularly associated with floral displays in our gardens. This holds true with the surrounding wild landscapes too.
We Central Coast residents certainly love our California native flora. Other regions across the world share similarities with our California climates. They are known as Mediterranean-type ecosystems or “MTEs.” MTEs, with their characteristic mild wet winters and warm dry summers, occur in just five regions of the world: California; Central Chile; the Mediterranean Basin in Europe; the Cape Region of South Africa; and Southwestern and South Australia. There are abundant examples of plants suitable for our Central Coast gardens that are native to these other regions. Let’s consider five of these plants that might be great for your yard:
Starting close to home, there is the often-overlooked California Native Cornus sericea (Cornus stolonifèra), or Creek Dogwood. It is a deciduous shrub also known as Redtwig for its distinctive red stems, keeping it interesting through the winter. Creek Dogwoods can grow 8–12’ high and wide, and have clusters of creamy white flowers, spring to summer. The form is open, and leaves are 1.5–2.5 inches long and light green to brilliant red in fall. It is hardy to well below freezing and prefers partial shade. Branches will root if allowed to touch ground, and roots will spread. Redtwigs love moisture, are fire-resistive, and require medium irrigation in the dry months.
Mediterranean Basin, Europe Region
When one thinks of aromatic leaves used in cooking, Laurus nobilis, or Sweet Bay, is often the first thought. Also called Bay Laurel or Grecian Laurel, this small tree is a versatile evergreen tree for Central Coast landscapes. Growing 20–30 ft. tall to 20 ft. wide, Sweet Bays produce small yellow flowers in Spring, followed by deep purple berries. Best known for their fragrance, they are deer-resistant, fire resistive, and attract birds. Preferring fertile, well-drained soils, they are low water users once established. The variety “Saratoga” is best for use as a tree, but the species can also be used as a background or for screen shrubs.
South Africa Region
Aloe striata, or Coral Aloe, is one of many aloes native to South Africa. This beautiful succulent has found a home in many a landscape or garden in the milder micro-climates (hardy to 25 degrees Fahrenheit) of North County, and throughout the coastal climates. It grows to be a 2 ft. wide rosette with broad, pale green, nearly toothless, flat leaves. The brilliant coral-pink-to-orange flowers occur in spring on branched clusters up to 3 ft. tall. They thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Coral Aloes are fire- and deer-resistive, require minimal water, and attract hummingbirds.
Central Chile Region
Known for its graceful, weeping form and light green, evergreen foliage, Maytenus boaria, or Maytens Tree, is a unique and small specimen tree for much of the Central Coast. Hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the Maytens Tree grows to over 30 ft. and has long, pendulous branchlets hanging down from its branches. The tiny spring flowers are pretty inconspicuous, and the leaves are 1–2 inches long. They are fire- and deer-resistive and want full sun and ample summer water. Maytens Trees can produce beautiful lighting effects in the landscape.
Southwestern Australia Region
People native to Australia have have made good use of Grevilleas since time immemorial. With over 350 species of Grevilleas—from virtually flat ground covers to soaring trees—their uses range from building furniture to making drinks from the nectar. One favorite landscape plant is Grevillea “Canberra Gem,” also known as Spider Flower. This shrub has a graceful, open form from about 8 ft. tall to 12 ft. wide. The bright green leaves are needlelike and prickly, making for a good barrier plant. Flowers are red clusters starting early spring and intermittently at other times. Not only deer-resistive, this and other Grevilleas attract butterflies and birds with their nectar and seeds. Canberra Gem grows in a variety of soils from clay to sandy loam and is quite tolerant, preferring occasional deep soakings and good drainage. It is hardy to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Designed to succeed in the Atascadero climate, this Mediterranean-style oasis provides ample space for play, multi-functional entertainment features, and the tropical airs of the lush plant selections. The 7,000 SF design-build project is shaping up to be an inviting retreat for family and friends.
Its multi-purpose entertainment spaces include a pool, fire feature, outdoor kitchen, and reduced-footprint lawn that transitions to a patio. The custom kiva fireplace wall is built to warm colder nights and cozy up the recessed seating area just past the pool and mountable movie projector screen. The outdoor kitchen and bar seating make for picture-perfect socializing and party hosting.
Chock-full of fun elements and smooth transitions, this thoughtful and cohesive landscape is sure to be a delightful retreat for both family and guests.
Interested in talking to us about your landscape design? Contact our team at [email protected] or (805) 466-6263.