Landscape Architect & Specifier News

NOV 2018

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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This back-bay residence, located in Los Osos, Calif. merges contemporary design with rugged natural elements to reflect the regional landscape surrounding the site. After about seven months, Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture completed the project in 2008. Going with the Flow The project draws on the curved shapes of the bay's shoreline and estuary that can be seen winding away from the property, and it blurs any lines between the site boundaries and the bay. These natural sweeps are drawn into the smooth curving hardscape walls, textured stone seat walls, and meandering flagstone pathways. The polished concrete seat wall caps of the wood deck echo the waters of the bay in the late afternoon sun while the natural paving stone mimics the colors in the distant sand-spit. The fingers of water that drain into the bay are drawn into the hardscape through the use of dark blue Mexican pebbles that fill the joints between the flagstone, casting a contrast between dark and light. Morro Rock can be seen in the distance, like a bookend to the sand-spit, abstracted by large boulders anchoring the stacked stone seat walls and fire pit. The ipe wood decking is reminiscent of the interior of an old ship, fitting within the coastal harbor theme. These design elements help to give the site a connection to its spirit of place or "Genius Loci." Using Plants to Create a Connection The connection to place was decidedly important in creating the plant palette as well. The indigenous landscape of the estuary and the salty marsh edges are predominated by native juncus, pickle weed, yarrow, salt grass, and coyote brush, which were then pulled up into the landscape to help create a seamless connection between nature and the home. Restios, dwarf Baccharis, hybrid Achillea, Artemisias, and a variety of grasses were used to draw relationships with the existing natives in the estuary and provide water-conscious, year-round interest. The use of plants also helped shape private spaces, while at the same time, opening up the property to the borrowed views of the estuary, surrounding dunes and Morro Rock in the distance. The flowing dynamic of the space invites guests to stroll along pathways leading to a secluded bench where they can take in the tranquility of the bay, or gather with friends on a flagstone patio, open to the maritime breezes, while absorbing the warmth from a stone fire pit. The plant material and curves bring the interest of the estuary's constantly changing ebb and flow up into the landscape to create interest throughout the year. The warm glow of fire bowls and fire pits, which were strategically placed throughout the site, encourage the use of the outdoor spaces, regardless of the season or cool coastal nights. Top: In 2008, Jeffrey Gordon Landscape Architecture transformed this Los Osos, Calif. residence into a retreat. About ½ acre of the property was redesigned with fire features, plant material and curving elements to blend in with the surrounding landscape and provide a comfortable space. Bottom, Left: Steel cable railing acts as a backrest on the concrete bench and as a fence surrounding the ipe wood deck. Six fire features, including the fire pit shown, are located within the seating areas to provide warmth while by the coast. Bottom, Right: Flagstone pathways and stacked stone seat walls represent the transition towards the bay's shoreline and estuary. Attached to this wall is a succulent called chalk dudleya, which is common in the southwest of the United States and in northern Mexico, as well as California. November 2018 49 "These natural sweeps are drawn into the smooth curving hardscape walls, textured stone seat walls, and meandering flagstone pathways." Retreat Back Bay Celebrating the Spirit of Place Written By L. Raine Frost PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS LESCHINSKY

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