Native in Belair

Nestled in the hills of Bel Air under the gaze of the Getty Museum, this avant-garde house was lacking in functional outdoor spaces. The stylish renovation had added angles and peaked roof lines. We wanted the landscape design to reflect these aesthetic choices.

 

At the entrance, you’re greeted by an eye-catching street address sign that we constructed from Ipe wood. It’s a beacon that welcomes visitors and – more importantly - signals to firefighters to come help here!

 

The level area of the backyard has been significantly extended with the addition of an attractive Corten retaining wall against the upward slope on one side and a modular retaining wall against the downward slope of the canyon on another. The newly spacious yard gave us plenty of room to work with. Keeping the angles of the house in mind, we created a grid pattern that was consistent throughout the design - playing with the grid by using pavers of different sizes and shades of gray but keeping the angles consistent. 

 

A roomy, high-tech louvered pergola with sun and shade control was added to create a large outdoor dining area with an adjacent sleek, well-equipped outdoor kitchen with a waterfall edge. The family can dine in climate-controlled comfort while basking in the natural beauty of their surroundings. 

 

Across the yard, anchoring the back corner is a sophisticated, custom concrete L-shaped bench, fire table and patio with stunning views of the Santa Monica mountains. Beneath the sighing Eucalyptus branches, it’s an enchanting spot to absorb the magic of the Los Angeles night.

 

A wild, native spirit radiates out from within the structured lines and angles of the hardscape - softened by a lush and biodiverse selection of California native plants in a velvety palette of soft silvery grays, greens, and purples with the occasional pop of yellow and orange. Newly planted native Engelmann Oak and feathery Caesalpinia Sierra Sun trees are grounded by weighty golden boulders. White Cloud Muhly grass whispers to the ceanothus and flannel bush, while verbena ‘De la Mina’ nestles amongst the buckwheat and artemisia, perfumed by the earthy smell of the endemic ‘Aroma’ Sage. Birds, butterflies, and other pollinators have found their way to this sumptuous wildlife habitat that we’ve created, and their presence brings a delightful song and serenity to the garden. We’ve used the core principles of sustainable design and firescaping in this breathtaking garden: permeable hardscape elements, proper grading and infiltration zones that solve the existing drainage problems and absorb the stormwater runoff, a plant palette of predominantly California native plants, and an ultra-low water Kurapia lawn, organic soil building, and efficient drip irrigation with a smart timer. 

 

The early morning thrum of the birds and insects, the seductive scents of the native flora, the magnificent setting for an evening dinner – this bare and unused yard has been transformed into a tranquil and inspiring sanctuary.