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Large Backyard Landscaping

On this project, Joe Remick, the architect, was working with Michelle Kaufmann doing prefab houses. When he decided to do his own house, he wanted to do a green-building prefab house and incorporate as many green techniques as he could. And so he brought me onboard as landscape architect. We tried to bring that into the landscape, and the various green building techniques we decided to use were regional-based plant materials, low maintenance, permeable paved areas, green roofs, on-site water infiltration, and wildlife habitat. This is a pretty good-sized property, about an acre in size. The architect had already got through planning. He already had the engineered walls in place and the building sited. So when he brought me onboard, we kinda grew the design off of those elements.

There's a wonderful arching wall here, and playing with that, we sited a circular in-ground trampoline structure. These low walls frame that and play off of that wall.

We sited the oval spa structure up on the hill and sized it appropriately to fit for outdoor living.

Permeable paving
For the main outdoor areas, instead of doing concrete, we went with the crushed rock for permeability, cost, and to give a softer aesthetic with the house.

With the planting palette on this property, we went to a combination of native shrubs and grasses, and then other appropriate non-native plants that would perform well in the situation and be low maintenance and would further the aesthetic we were going for. We used a lot of ornamental grasses. We used Miscanthus Morning Light. It's a big, bold, easy-to-take-care-of grass, which softens any hardscape elements.

We have mandevilla, acacia, rosemary - sort of the groundcover shrubs and background plantings. We have Carex Pansa and meadow grass to create a native meadow around the trampoline. We have some mature olive trees we brought in for both a Mediterranean aesthetic and an instant fill-in. And then we sited 17 live oaks and valley oaks around the property, both for reestablishing an oak woodland and as part of the requirements that the city was looking for.

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