Landscaping in California often means dealing with hillsides.
Like so many clients of Koch & Associates, the owners of this sloping Pleasanton property wished for a landscape that looked natural and needed little maintenance but was an attractive setting for parties and get-togethers. Issues such as irrigation and slope stability needed to be addressed but had to be artfully incorporated into the final design.
Terracing the slope with a series of retaining walls built of small boulders was one solution. The rocks convey the natural look of the California countryside and work to prevent soil erosion, even during heavy rains.
Simple concrete stairs and a walkway, solidly anchored to avoid cracking or settling issues in the future, provide access from the spa and patio area near the house to the top of the slope, which provides an additional entertaining area. The steps are in two sections to minimize the severity of the steep slope.
Waterfalls are popular with many clients, and there was no question this particular incline would include a soothing flow of water. A bed of rocks channels the water into a shallow pond.
Plantings that are slow growing and native to California were selected to minimize upkeep on this property. Clients with busy lifestyles often appreciate uncomplicated landscapes that don’t require new plantings from season to season.
For many high-end clients, an outdoor kitchen is a wonderful convenience that can be used virtually year-round in California. In addition to a grill, sink and refrigerator, the homeowners had their hearts set on a pizza oven. We’re assured that it gets quite a workout on weekends and holidays.
The stone facade and countertop are durable, and the stainless steel appliances weather the elements quite well.
The lack of a large open expanse in the back of this property meant the kitchen had to be located along a high traffic walkway. But the wide slate path enables guests to easily pass while allowing plenty of room to move for those working in the kitchen.
The view from atop the hill reveals a shady, comfortable enclosure near the home. A spa ringed with stone tiles was situated so that it catches the sun during much of the day.
A swimming pool isn’t practical for this relatively compact space, but a small pond is an enchanting substitute. The ripple of the waterfall, which quietly flows into the pond, is heard from the seating area directly outside the rear door.
The concrete retaining wall, necessary to keep soil in place, was terraced to give it as low a profile as possible. Also discreet are the solar lights that keep the walkway and steps safely illuminated at night.
The stairs provide access to an additional entertainment area on top of the hillside. The owners use this versatile area as the focus of all types of gatherings, formal and informal. Seating and tables can easily be brought in for guests. One possibility: Bring in cushy outdoor sofas and erect a screen or place a large television under the arbor for movie nights.
A string of old-fashioned Edison-style bulbs provide just the right amount of light after the sun has set. Plantings on the left will eventually provide the hill with green ground cover.
Next to the kitchen, a small, comfortable seating area enables guests to relax as food is prepared nearby.
On one side of the dining area is a expansive view of the hillside. On the other, large pots next to the home provide lots of shrubbery and color.
Heat lamps keep things cozy even when the air turns chilly. The decking is high quality, long-lasting material that needs almost no maintenance.
Our designers strive to incorporate existing trees into each project. None of the mature trees that ring this lot were cut down during this project, so there is plenty of shade throughout the day.