Designed for a bachelor, this low-maintenance, modern garden plays up tones and textures on a small-scale beach lot. Because the 2,700-square-foot lot is consumed almost entirely by the house, leaving very little outdoor space, I was inspired by tsuboniwa or the Japanese courtyard garden. It was important to create a space that was inviting, strong, yet quietly beautiful - well curated. While spatial constraints often challenge design, I also considered how to make the garden relative to its’ locale and prominent from inside the house.
Locating the entry gate on the side allows for a more generous space. The cast concrete steps help create more dimension as they float to the lounge and fire element. Privacy is crucial, so rather than hedging the house, bamboo and Afrocarpus are strategically placed to obscure certain sight lines, while the myriad of forms and patterns of wooly bush, selected vines, succulents and cacti serve as contrast to the course texture of the lava rock ground cover and the smooth anthracite cement board canvas of the house.
After an exhaustive search with the team for trees, Washingtonia palms were chosen for the parkway. A 50-year-old Ponytail palm, a living sculpture, is the centerpiece for the entry court.
The center courtyard, positioned between the house and garage, is a shade garden. Slabs of organic flagstone and tumbled black stones create a dramatic foundation for ficus, mondo grass and dracaena, viewed from the terrarium-like windows of the living room. Bamboo rises at the edge of the garden and provides privacy from the neighbor along with lush burst of foliage viewed from the rooftop garden.
On the rooftop, recycled fiber cement containers house reed grass and a bonsai olive tree. Lizard vines climb the vertical trellis along the rear of the building; a refreshing patch of green in an otherwise concrete jungle. Pedestrian-friendly plantings of succulents, wooly bush, ornamental grape and lizard vines are planted in mass outside the walls of the house and extend the garden to the street.