Project Summary
This homeowner cared as much about the wildlife in the adjacent California desert as she did about creating a beautiful retreat in her own backyard. Home Outside created two alternative design solutions for this hillside property, both of which include spaces for outdoor dining and lounging, as well as abundant plantings for animal habitat and forage.
Check out the plan notes below to learn more about Home Outside’s design solutions!

Landscape Design A Plan Notes

Rectangular paver path through sideyard creates a semi-formal entry beside a strip of easy-care shade-tolerant plants along the house foundation.
Stone countertop aligns with free-standing BBQ under modern pergola. Pergola provides shade and a transition point to upper terrace.
Dining area is set on a fine aggregate terrace (peastone or decomposed granite) for easy drainage and an informal look and feel. Wood table with comfy dining chairs. Consider rectangular umbrella for shade on hot, sunny days.
Simple, single-plant, easy-care hedge softens house wall under windows. Add hose storage at faucet. New stone landing at slider, 1:2 proportion, extends at least the full width of sliding door.
A change of paving material on the fire terrace creates two distinct rooms, making a small space feel larger. A simple low hedge along the retaining wall and house foundation softens hardscape.
Rectangular propane fire table with glass shield around flame. Grouping oriented so all lounge seating has a relaxing view of hillside garden, leaving space for path to south sideyard.
Simple planting bed under existing tree fills irregularly shaped corner, creating a squared-off fire terrace. Edge beds with metal edging and keep plants trimmed to maintain crisp rectilinear forms.
Existing Japanese Maple tree transplanted from grill/stair area. Use here to increase sense of privacy in this exposed corner.
New horizontal board screen panel hides AC from gathering space.
Add two Cypresses to the existing three to complete the hedge. Use peastone under hedge to suppress weed growth. Two raised vegetable boxes receive full sun on the south side of the house. Group potted plants around Cypresses or along house.
New stairs added to existing wall line, hugging edge of property. Staircase transitions from solid stairs to gravel platforms retained by stone treads. Low-growing, drought-tolerant plants cover hillside to retain slope.
Private lounge area, with easy access to fruit trees. Recirculating water element on hill for wildlife access as well as dynamic focal point. New large specimen tree provides visual pivot point and habitat for wildlife.

Landscape Design B Plan Notes

Large foyer of dry-laid pavers at the side door keeps entry threshold cleaner. Peastone side yard is fully permeable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. Fill space above wall with Asiatic Jasmine or plant with similar growth habit, kept neatly clipped.
Freestanding BBQ ties into existing propane line at house corner. Countertop extends from retaining walls to create outdoor kitchen with guest seating.
Remove existing retaining wall and replace with new wall behind grill, about 2.5′ tall. Hillside and gardens beyond meet top of wall. Existing Japanese Maple is transplated to hillside. Align trunk with long retaining wall.
Paved dining terrace extends from living room slider to side yard path and new retaining wall. Plant a bed of Asiatic Jasmine or similar plant under living room windows for a fast-growing green groundcover.
Cushioned arm chairs and wooden dining table are located under a modern minimal shade arbor, about 10’x13′ in size. Free-standing wood-burning fireplace with chimney in corner.
New retaining wall is parallel with house. Wooden cantilevered bench built into new wall faces ornamental water feature, either water table or water trough.
Garden bed around existing tree creates square edge to terrace. Tall trees along property edge increase privacy and provide wind-block. Horizontal board fence panel screens AC utility at corner of house.
Group existing potted plants here. Raised vegetable boxes receive full sun on this side of the house. Extend irrigation hardline to each box; use soaker hoses in boxes mulched with straw. Iron pipe trellis with vines could provide shade if the sun is too intense.
Plant low-maintenance plants, such as Sage, Rosemary, and Lavender, between Italian Cypress to attract pollinators to existing fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
Stone steps and peastone landings ascend through baffle in new retaining walls to access hillside gardens. Informal path along top of hillside is retained with a stone edge.
Remaining hill climb is made easier with peastone landings retained with steel edging or stone. Plants hold slope, prevent erosion, provide habitat, add fragrance and year-round visual interest.
Large specimen native tree with irregular branching habit, such as an Olive tree, is proposed in the center of the hillside. Specimen tree aligns with living room entry, and is a focal point from inside the house as well as from all outside gathering spaces.
Upper hillside trail ends at a wooden lounge platform for stargazing, wildlife viewing, and long garden views.

Home Outside Pinterest Board

“Thank you so much for the final designs! They look fantastic. It will be fun to start working on it. It was great talking to you and listening to your beautiful ideas.”

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