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30 Years
of Dreaming

This California homeowner had very fond memories of her younger years spent living in Arizona and dreamed for over 30 years of creating her own Southwest garden.  Approximately 5,000 square feet of turf were replaced with low water use plants.  Because we were planting in the heat of the summer, I could not use many California natives.  Most of the plants were shipped from Arizona.  


From her kitchen window that faces the front yard, the homeowner can enjoy a new rain chain and water fountain that matches the color of her front door.  Except for any rain that falls directly on the driveway, all water stays on the property.


The soil was clay to begin with and so compacted that we needed to jackhammer the tree holes.  We brought in lots of organic amendments and began a routine of quarterly compost tea sprays. 


The crumbling front porch was replaced with one stretching the width of the house. An alley of fruit trees guide visitors along a path wide enough to contain a custom water feature and benches for social visits. This creates an approach to the house that is warm and welcoming.


A new driveway, poured in place concrete with decomposed granite leads to the back yard equipped with a custom kitchen and large enclosed vegetable garden.  The patio, constructed of locally sourced Lompoc flagstone, segues to a bluestone flagstone pathway leading past the poured rubber child’s area to a patio area of decomposed granite with another water feature  


Since the garden was planted in September, we used mostly Australian natives and have since added in some California natives.  As we were finishing up the project and the contractor starting his next one on an old estate in Montecito, we realized he was demolishing a beautifully crafted railing which we could repurpose here.

Valley View

This hillside property has just a minimum of space in front for planting.  The backyard has a steep slope but new retaining walls doubled the livable space. 


Better mobility from the upstairs kitchen was accomplished by building a larger balcony that incorporates stairs going down to ground level. 


A lovely patio space, water feature and fire pit area allow ample space for entertaining and relaxing.   

Henry’s Domain

This corner lot received a complete renovation, bringing in 6 Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’ trees and utilizing a majority of California native plants.  New pathways were created along with a patio looking out over the neighboring park.


Fencing was added to close off sections of the side yards and as an informal border for the perimeter.  Two cry creek beds serve as infiltration areas for almost all the rooftop water, air conditioner condensate and water flowing in the street.

The park is riddled with gophers that like to run across the street and wreak havoc with residents’ gardens.  Many square feet of gopher netting helped to keep them away but when Henry became master of this domain, word got out amongst the gopher population to stay away!

Oakdell Sanctuary

This was a project spearheaded by the Studio City Beautification Association in Los Angeles.  An
overgrown, weedy mess for many
years, the lot is situated on a curved and
highly trafficked street.


I created the design around the theme of a Bird Sanctuary, choosing elements and California native plants to invite bird habitat.  A gabion wall creates a safe and enclosed ambiance.


Birdhouses sculpted by a local artist are sited throughout the property and a birdbath that is fed by the irrigation system keeps creatures cool in the summer heat.   


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