This Fremont home features an expansive covered backyard patio that is well-used by the homeowners: Family gatherings, neighborhood parties, weekend breakfasts or barbecues, and simple meals after a busy day make the patio indispensable to their outdoor lifestyle.
Except for a dwarf tree in the corner of the lot, the space surrounding the patio was barren. The owners wanted to turn this compact area into an inviting backyard oasis for all their activities.
The Koch & Associates team received just two specific requests from the clients: Fit a garden, somehow, into the landscape, and keep the backyard space private without creating the feeling of being walled off.
Although they insisted on space for a garden, these clients had no idea what they wanted to grow. Their Koch & Associates designer suggested a set of easy to maintain container garden for herbs, tomatoes or seasonal items.
Gardening in containers and pots reduces the need for stooping to weed, water and pick fruit. These cedar planting boxes create an interesting focal point to the landscape, and are filled with nutrient-rich soil that is superior to the clay soil native to the neighborhood.
Herbs are ideal for containers. Cilantro, rosemary, parsley and other herbs are easy to grow, require relatively moderate amounts of water, and do well when planted together in containers. Abundant light throughout the day in this backyard also helps. The homeowners love the idea that they need not go to the supermarket to add basil or mint for dinner.
Tomato plants provide another well-used food resource, and flowering bushes were added for variety.
The cedar planter boxes are complemented with a new side and backyard fence, also made of cedar. The height of the fence keeps the backyard private without eliminating a sense of the neighborhood.
Choosing perimeter plants for your yard can be a challenge. Heat emanating from a nearby patio, walkway or other hardscape can dry out plants quickly and make watering difficult. Add into the equation a wall that blocks the sun for several hours during the day, and finding plants that will thrive along the patio becomes more difficult.
The Koch & Associates team selected bunchgrasses native to California, such as oniongrass, purpurea, and fescue. The grasses grow well in warm conditions and convey a relaxing sense of motion when a soft breeze is present.
Grasses such as these are also low-maintenance and require just a little water. A periodic thinning is all that is required to keep them looking good.
This Fremont home shows that it’s possible to achieve a lovely, tranquil backyard garden effect even when a patio hardscape and fencing are the dominant features in a smaller yard.