Thursday, April 30, 2009

On My Drawing Board

I thought I would post about some of the current design work that has passed over my drawing board this season. This job is just beginning the demo phase so I can show you pictures of the installation as it progresses. This is a smaller job with a conservative budget. Nothing super fancy here. The clients have a new son and would like to spend more time in a nice backyard.

As you can see the house is sort of a ranch style. The front is simple and fits the rest of the neighborhood. Hands off, Bill. The job is in back.

Here are a couple of general pictures of the yard.

The grass has been stressed and warn in places. There is a sprinkler system,but it obviously doesn't work well. The trees look like they aren't getting any water either. However, the Austrailian Bottle trees look fine. Here is a good argument for Hydo-zoning. The practice of seperating plants and trees by water need rather then by location. Imagine if all these trees were on one irrigation zone (they probably were). The water to the bottle trees would be wasted while you tried to keep the citrus happy.

The clients would like a complete redesign. Bulldoze it and start over. Good call!
While walking the yard the first things to look for when walking into a remodel are utilities lines. The most dangerous lines are the ones added by the homeowner or previous owner. Below is the existing and poorly designed irrigation system. Now we know why the citrus is sick and the lawn is dieing.

The next thing is drainage, where does the water go when the monsoon hits. This yard drains to the back fence. This could be an issue. Write it down and move to the next observation. Circulation and access; where do people come from and where do they go? What kind of equipment can we use here? The shed blocks the beautiful RV gate. We’ll need to move it. Next we look at view lines and privacy. Cactus Road is just behind the back fence so we could use some screening.

The husband tells me he envisions a Corona commercial for his back yard design theme. A hammock is mandatory. The wife would like more of a southern garden theme, the plantation style. The first thing I think of is the French Colonial influence in our southern states and the Bahamas. A French Plantation theme! But, before I get too excited, I need a budget reality check. Budget constraints on this job will keep us conservative and require us to phase this project into two or three installations. Access needs to be openned up on the west side. The east side needs to contain the dogs. A natural screen and sound baffle is needed accross the back. And we need to insert as much Southern Comfort as possible. Not the beverage, thank you.

Ok, I envisioned the stereotypical southern plantation driveway here. But without the drive. Large majestic trees (Chinese Elms) line and contain the lawn area where children can play. The little circles you may be able to make out under the trees are up-lights. This yard will be stunning at night. But that is phase two. The patio is extended for Mom and Dad to enjoy and a fountain tames some of the road noise. The small patio at the top of the page is a gazebo area with the little portable fire pit you may have noticed in one of the pictures above. It is difficult to see in this scanned image, but a white fence like you would see at a Caribbean plantation or resort separates the dog run to the east and the RV access to the west. The little square to the left is a grass patch the client requested for the dogs. To the right you can see I’ve really opened up the access for an RV, boat or whatever and I’ve moved the shed to the south west corner. I really like this simple design, but most importantly the clients loved it, too. They didn’t want to change a thing.
I’ll upload more in a day or two as the job progresses


  1. "They didn’t want to change a thing."

    That's a phrase that always makes a designer happy!

    Looking forward to seeing the install.

  2. Hi Jenn,
    It is a wonderful feeling to think that you nailed it! This will be an interesting job to post about because the budget is very conservative so we have to make the most of every dollar. For instance, all the plants will probably be 1 gallon in size and the trees will probably be 15 gallon. Then, we will phase the installation so the complete plan will take some time to finish.

    Even though this is a small job, conservative is what I'm seeing with all my design customers so far this year.

    Hope your doing well, Jenn.

  3. This is really interesting, Bill! It's good to hear about all the different aspects, even how you will muffle the sounds etc. I'm looking forward to seeing the transformation as it progresses!

  4. How is your desert garden going, Phx C? I haven't been to your blog in a while. This is nornally our busy season and I have really been running.

    On the above job, the patios and curbing are in. The irrigation system is almost complete, not flushed and tested yet. I'll post about the progress this weekend.

    Thanks for stoppping by.

  5. I am so impressed! Congratulations on giving the clients a plan they loved. A beautiful color plan by the way. I am looking forward to seeing the installation. Remember to take photos of work in progress. Those are the best photos.

  6. More than a day or two has passed, and I've been waiting for the next post! I love seeing landscaping plans coming to life. Please post progress.

  7. Red Studio & Aiyana: Thanks and sorry for the delay. I haven't lost interest in blogging, I just didn't tnink I was going to be this busy this year. I volunteered for a number of Pro-Bono projects and now I have way to many plates to spin right now. I promiss to post a progress report this weekend.

    Maybe I should post about how to overwhelm yourself with volunteer work in 30 days or less. :-)