Dig in…

Native plants and fruit trees

This Altadena orchard is under planted with native plants.  This is possible using different irrigation valves to control the water going to trees and plants with different needs.  The Epilobium route 66 is obviously very happy in this situation.  Salvia bee’s bliss also thrives in this south facing garden.

Epilobium route 66

Vertical garden in Altadena

Vertical garden in Altadena

Whitefield Dahle Residence

There was so much old and deteriorated concrete to be demolished in this garden, along with an enormous and unusable swimming pool.  We were able to recycle all of it and ended up with this comfortable space surrounded by native and compatible plants.  We were also able to extend the eucalyptus fencing thanks to the neighbor’s provision of the beautiful lumber.

Sunken garden

Sunken garden

Whitefield 3









Whitefield view


Garden Timber Use

Alas, we had to remove a number of sickly red gum eucalyptus trees from a hillside property.  Fortunately, the lumber could be milled by a portable mill brought to the site and, although much of the timber remains stickered and stored for future use, we were able to use the weighty split branches and trunk crotches in combination with concrete slabs to create a garden living area.  Some of the planks made excellent fencing.

Eucalyptus fence 2




Lyford outdoor living area


Lyford firepit

Pizza oven


Photography by Mitch Maher, San Francisco, CA

Doms residence

Doms front yard 1


Doms front yard 5


Doms front yard 3


Doms front yard 7

Moyd residence, Pasadena

When this garden matures it will be full of seeds and fruits for the local bird population.   Goldfinches love it and bees and butterflies have moved in.    Those industrious birds cleverly planted the sunflowers for a more reliable food source now!  For removing her lawn the owner was rewarded with a generous rebate from the local water agency.   The first picture was taken in January and the others just five months later in June.  What a difference spring rain makes.

Marks residence, Altadena

This rambunctious natural garden filled  with a mix of California native plants and Mediterrean species, just installed in October 2011, replaced a lawn partially shaded by a lovely old sycamore.   The space has the lush feel of an English country garden.  The client wished for a lively mix of plants surrounding the large boulders excavated from the site.

Photograph by Catharine Stebbins


Photograph by Catharine Stebbins









Photograph by Catharine Stebbins

Corser Residence

The owners of this lovely craftsman house, situated in oak woodlands, needed a garden that gave them space for their frequent events. There are daily visits from a herd of deer so the plant palette was rather limited by their hunger as well as the prevalent shade.   The plants are a sturdy mixture of California natives, shade loving Mediterranean and succulent plants.

Amsler Rabe residence

This stylish modern house needed visual stablilization in the front yard, and a rectilinear design was chosen.  The backyard in contrast is curvilinear.    Many of the plants chosen for both areas are California natives. 







                                  Photograph by William Rabe

The backyard is a relaxing space full of flowers, birds, butterflies and bees.  Instead of the lawn there is now a comfortable dining area and a colorful garden. 



The fountain receptacle is covered with pebbles to prevent evaporation, and to allow birds to sip as they contemplate Buddha.

Photography by Mitchell Mayer

Haft residence

This small courtyard garden surrounded by assorted neighboring garage walls is sustainably designed.  A 750 gallon water tank collects rainwater from a neighboring roof pitched into the garden and, in tandem with a deep gravel seepage pit in the center of the space, collects water before it penetrates the basement.  The concrete benches and paving are recycled. The fountain is covered to allow birds to perch and to prevent evaporation.  The gas firepit was poured in place.  Most of the plants are native, chosen to feed pollinators.

And here is what we started with: