Tag Archives: terrace

Creating Sunny California Shade Without Breaking The Bank

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Weingart-CenterOne of the joys of living in Southern California is its weather. It’s now the middle of February and the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperature is in the 80’s – what more could one ask for? But an irony of our beautiful, sun-drenched out-of-doors is that we must have shade in order to enjoy it and to protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays.

As a landscape designer and contractor, there are a variety of structures I can design and build (pergolas, gazebos, arbors, greenhouses) to satisfy my clients’ desire for shade. However, these structures (hardscape) are expensive and usually entail a substantial amount of landscaping to go along with their construction.

But there are alternatives to a permanent structure and while a few of these may require a certain amount of installation, they can be added to an existing patio or deck or poolside without much fuss and without breaking your bank!

Here are the three major categories:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Beautiful Balconies

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Being a landscape designer, I wind up driving all over greater Los Angeles, and, believe me, seeing how many miles I put on my car ever week, the operative word is greater. But what I’ve  noticed, particularly as I snail along in traffic, is that our city has a great many balconies but so many of those balconies have no color — no life — they are just empty vessels waiting to be filled.

This is so different than what I experience whenever I travel through Europe — particularly through the southern regions along the Mediterranean. There, you can’t go through a village, a town or a city without seeing color dripping from countless window ledges and balconies.

While our weather is certainly similar to Italy, France and Spain, it seems our relationship with nature is not, and I think that’s a shame.  A balcony is a great opportunity to introduce a little nature into your life and beauty to your home. So, here are some really interesting and individually expressed balconies that might inspire you to add to some life to that empty vessel outside your window or even turn it into something spectacular. It’s easy to do, it’s inexpensive and you’ll be amazed at how much happier you’ll feel looking out your window.

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (7)

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Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas

 

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (6)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (4) Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (3)

SWIMMING POOLS – Ready To Take The Plunge?

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leanderWith summer now in full force, I thought this might be the ideal time to bring up the subject of swimming pools. Of course, this being Southern California a majority of my clients already have pools, but for those of you who don’t and are considering putting in an in-ground pool (above-ground pools I’ll leave to the vendors), here are some things to consider.

malibuMake A Plan

Adding an in-ground pool is not only a major expenditure, it’s time consuming and will disrupt you, your yard and your life. It is a permanent feature of your home and will be an important consideration should you ever decide to sell. So if you’re serious about taking it on, the first step is to review the following and make a plan:

  • Choosing The Site: take into consideration it’s orientation to your home – exits – decks – windows, the view, the sun, the trees, existing hardscape, accessibility for construction equipment, the type of soil and the slope of the land
  • Create A Budget: create a realistic budget detailing all of your desired features and what you think they might cost
  • Review Building Codes: while the details of your community’s building codes should be left to your contractor, it would be wise to get a general understanding of what the codes cover and how they might impact the construction and cost

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Top Outdoor Living Trends That Add Resale Value

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I am, thankfully, busier than ever – both as a landscape designer and as a landscape contractor. I am working with a number of clients to transform their front and back yards into wonderful, livable spaces that are not only beautiful outdoor environments designed for relaxation and entertaining but are far more environmentally friendly and far less expensive to maintain than the water-guzzling grass that had previously covered the majority of these sites.

Garden Of Eva Landscape Design GroupA great deal of what I’m doing is the design and construction of hardscape environments. This increased interest in construction was highlighted when I came across a survey of 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. According to their survey (which follows) American homeowners are increasingly interested in creating outdoor rooms and outdoor kitchens (hardscape) for entertaining and relaxation. The results of the survey confirm what I’ve been hearing: with the economy improving and real estate prices heading upward, homeowners are now willing to invest in their homes. It’s clear that they want to maximize their properties’ enjoyable, usable spaces, to save money on maintenance while at the same timeincreasing their homes’ resale value.

Building What People Want Is A Wise Investment

Encino-9The following survey will give you an idea of how a serious sampling of homeowners are looking to improve their properties. It would be a helpful guide if you too are looking to make such an investment. Because, let’s face it, if you’re going to spend the time, energy and money improving you landscape, you might as well know what most people are looking for so that in the event you decided to sell … those improvements will turn out to be a wise investment.

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

A Creative Way to Expand An Existing Terrace

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I have a client that has a beautiful mid-century modern home with a rather small terrace off the living room. The terrace has as it surface, tiles custom designed by the architect. My clients want to substantially expand the terrace but keep the tiles since they are part of the architect’s design and are in remarkably good condition. However, there is no way that I can match the tiles and the cost of having them replicated is not within their budget.

white-steel-pergola-outdoor-house-terrace-design9As I am both a landscape designer and a contractor, I suggested the way to resolve the aesthetic problem of having multiple floor surfaces is to think of that section of the new terrace as the foyer to what is going to become a substantial outdoor living area. As a foyer serves as a transitional area from the out doors into the home, this new foyer will serve in a comparable manner, but in reverse, from the house to the out of doors.

By building a pergola over the old terrace that compliments the architecture of the house, adding a step around its perimeter and lowering the ground level of the expanded terrace, the result will look as though this new addition was what the architect had always intended.

pavers-grassIn order to tie the rest of the terrace to the original, I will use concrete tinted to pick up a dominant color in the tiles. And to integrate the grass of the yard into this new terrace, plant material will be used to band the poured concrete pavers. The pergola of the foyer will be replicated over the dining area and wherever possible, the finishing details of the terrace will compliment but not try to duplicate the mid-century aesthetic of the house.

I want this new addition to feel fresh and have it’s own identity while respecting the beautifully designed home that it abuts.

As the saying goes, when you’re handed lemons, think lemonade.

Landscape Design – Balcony & Container Gardening

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Lemmon TreeWith Summer upon us and life moving into the out of doors, I’ve had a number of clients ask what they can do to make their balconies more attractive. Of course, as a landscape designer and contractor, my obvious answer is … “add plants!”

While there are many other things you can do to improve the look or view of a balcony, including furniture, outdoor lighting, umbrellas and a whole host of soft goods, as well as water features, the thing that will brighten up a balcony faster and more economically than anything else, is a well thought out selection of plants.

Balconies, regardless of their size or the amount of sun they receive, can transform a view from the same old building you’ve been staring at since you moved in, into a charming vista. And while it would be ideal to sit out on one and enjoy the view, a view isn’t required or even room to sit.  A simple “Juliet Balcony” (an ornamental stone or decorative iron enclosure outside a window) or even a window ledge is more than enough space to create landscape magic. Of course, the larger the balcony, patio or roof garden, the more creative you can be.

However, before you rush off to the garden store, there are a few things to consider. Balconies, patios and rooftops are often micro climates that present different conditions from the ground below. Spend time during the day observing the space where you intend to garden. And please consider the following:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Sunset Plaza Makeover – Completed

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In August’s “Notes & News,” I introduced you to a “A Sunset Plaza Makeover,” the landscape I was designing and building for an international film produce and his family. In November, I followed up by showing you what was involved in creating the garden’s “Wall of Water.” And now, after eight months, the planning and designing has come to an end, the construction is over (and aren’t my clients thrilled), all the trees, hedges and plant material have been installed and the cushions, pillows and other accessories are exactly where they should be.

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As the following photographs will show (all by Luke Gibson of Luke Gibson Photography), this has been an extraordinary project. Defined by a series of descending terraces, my client’s new backyard includes a large living area and fire place, a dining area and outdoor kitchen, our famous wall of water, as well as a pool and spa and a charming entertainment room adjacent to the pool.

It has also been a wonderful experience – my clients have been terrific to work for and with – and the result, a collaboration of intent and execution, will provide them, their family and friends with a beautiful and livable landscape for years to come. As a landscape designer, this is as close as I come to perfection.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Landscape Design – Building A Wall Of Water

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In August’s “Notes & News,” I introduced you to a “A Sunset Plaza Makeover,” the landscape I was designing for an international film producer and his family. The construction has been completed, the planting is coming to an end and the D.D. Blanchard Magnolias I featured in that newsletter are doing brilliantly.This has been an extraordinary project, which I am thrilled to have been able to design and build.

Defined by a series of descending terraces, my client’s new backyard includes a large living area and fire place, a dining area and outdoor kitchen, a pool and spa and a charming entertainment room adjacent to the pool. It also has a wall of water, as I call it, the design and construction of which I thought you might find interesting.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

A Sunset Plaza Makeover

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Once Upon A Time …

High in the Hollywood Hills, above Sunset Plaza, an international film producer and his family had grown tired of the mundane landscaping surrounding their home and decided it was time to produce a “Makeover.” So the film producer Googled “Los Angeles Landscape Designer” and, lo and behold, up popped my website. Well, he loved what he saw and gave me a call. We met and we chatted and chatted and chatted some more and I came up with a plan and … so it began.

And we began by ripping out the back yard, but for the swimming pool, and creating a series of descending concrete terraces. When completed, these terraces will include a wall of water, a fire place, a seating area, a barbecue pit and it will all be surrounded by a number of full grown trees that frame and enclose the property.

Over the years, I’ve often been asked what it takes to bring full-grown trees onto a property, and as this makeover provides a “teachable moment”, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to show you exactly what’s involved. And what’s involved is neither easy nor inexpensive!

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Hardscape Your Landscape – Say What?

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It’s summer and it’s time to move outdoors and enjoy our fabulous California weather.  But unless you have a patio, or a terrace, a pergola, gazebo or some other form of “hardscape” the best you will be able to do is to sit in a ch air in the grass and watch Rover bound across the grass.

“Hardscape” as it is defined in the dictionary is, “the nonliving or man-made fixtures of a planned outdoor area” and because I’ve been asked by a number of people how one goes about hardscaping a landscape …

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