Sedona Landscaping Archives

A backyard with no landscaping is not a very desirable place to hang out, nor to look upon from the inside. That is what these clients were faced with when they decided to live full time in their Sedona home they had been renting out. I came over to take a look after they called me for a free consultation for a landscape design. While on site, I gave them numerous options on how to situate everything so that it looked well planned and then agreed to come up with a formal design (below).

The yard is about 20 feet deep, has a small covered patio and an above the ground spa. Their needs and wants were pretty straightforward: a place where they could entertain, hang out with friends and create a much more useable patio and outdoor living area.

Their wish list was basically the following: a built in bbq island, a fireplace, new extended patio flooring (they were sold on concrete pavers), and a small lawn area for their dog. Of course, trees and shrubs would be included as well in the overall landscape design.

Sounds pretty typical for a outdoor entertainment area, functioning as an extension of the home and incorporating the existing spa. So the next step would be to explore various locations of where to place these features both in a functional and aesthetic manner.

One big issue however, is the electric powerpole in the right rear corner and a electrical access box at ground level a few feet away. I knew there must be some kind of restrictions about building or planting shrubs too close for them to have access. There may even be some kind of easement as well. Once we find out what the restrictions are, we will adjust the design as necessary, but for now, I think the design works very well given the size of the yard and the views from the inside.

I placed the bbq island with the understanding that there would be some distance required to access the electrical equipment and powerpole. The island was placed in such a way as to use its bulk as a screen. Bamboo would be planted to help mitigate the objectionable powerpole — at least at eye level for the first 10 feet or so.

The fireplace was also placed towards the perimeter of the patio area and situated as a focal point of the backyard. Clearly visible from all windows of the house. The hearth has extended bench seating on each side of the firebox giving it width and angled to reflect the fortyfive degree angles used to accent the patio configuration and the bbq island. The fireplace will be a simple design, stucco and painted to match the house which is of a southwest territorial style.

The paver patio narrows as it follows the narrow covered patio effectively widening the four foot wide walkway leading to a bedroom door by another four feet. This allows improves the flow from that door and makes the backyard seem much bigger because there is now much more hard surface to walk on.

The patio ends and meets an island area for plantings which forms a transition between the paver patio area and the lawn area. It was decided due to the relatively small area involved, that synthetic turf would be a good choice eliminating the need to water, mow and deal with potential dog related issues creating brown or yellow patches in the lawn.

We will get started once the utility issues are understood and the necessary permits are obtained from the City of Sedona. Future blog posts will track the progress.

The real landscape design issue here is twofold: 1) how to deal with the powerlines/powerpole and 2) where to place everything. This design came together rather quickly for me as the clients already knew exactly what things they wanted and just needed a landscape design professional to show them how it would look arranged within the site limitations of their Sedona backyard.

A large backyard remodel in the Village of Oak Creek started out having nothing in it except gravel and a couple decks that kept the new owner wondering, what could or should I do with all this space in the backyard?

Working with this out of state client over the phone and internet, I began the landscape design process starting with a few conceptual ideas. They did want a pool, a gazebo and some kind of connection that integrated the two. The clients concept was taken from a picture in a magazine and they wanted me to apply the concept to their yard and make it work — and of course, look beautiful.

The client’s preferred style was contemporary, clean lines and simplicity.

The most difficult part of this was to make the elements visually interesting and relate to the house — which is angled which effectively creates two separate areas.  You can see in the design below how the yard relates to the house.

The pool was angled to reflect the angle of the house. This served to functions: 1) to create a focal point from the great room to view the deck jet waterfeatures designed into the backend deck of the pool; and 2) to relate to the ramada view deck which was 30 feet away and at a 45 degree angle.

The connection between the two use areas was a raised water channel that starts out as a fountain and then flows down the channel into the pool. The channel was a visual feature that is highlighted when looking down from the observation deck. We raised the back edge of the channel so that at ground level, one could see that it was lined with tile and served as a strong horizontal statement that guided the eye between the two ends of the pool.

Sitting under the view deck, the waterfeature basin contains a contemporary stainless steel fountain consisting of 3 tiered cylinders that creates a vertical movement of splashing water at the view deck end of the yard. At the far end of the view deck is a fire pit also designed in a contemporary fashion using oblique shaped planters set on pedestals. Cobalt blue fire glass was used to reflect the waterline pool tile.

The view deck and fire pit were designed in an axial symmetrical layout tot the french doors accessing the game room and primary entrance to the backyard towards the east side.

At the west side featuring the pool, the deck jets (also fiber optically lighted for night time effects) lines up with the primary view from the great room and front entry. Between the house and the water channel is an expanse of synthetic grass which gives the landscaping part of the design a clean look.

From the view deck patio, we created stairs to descend the slope down to the spa level where a new portable spa was built and integrated into the existing raised master bedroom wood deck. Against one side of the spa, we built a sit up bar with cantilevered counter top using the cobalt blue and glass tiles used in the waterline of the pool.

This kind of project is time consuming because of all the hardscape, infrastructure, grading, drainage and permits involved.

The final video images have not been taken as of this post, but I do have a mid way progress (in the middle of construction) video that I took from time to time to update the clients. Please forgive the unprofessional quality — its a rough “here is what is happening” type of video not a slick production.

The one disappointing thing about the project is that the clients decided to hold off installing or even thinking seriously about the plant material until they had time to absorb and take in the yard. In hindsight, I would now tend to agree since they had not even lived in the house to provide any meaningful reaction to my proposed plantings, nor have a grasp on the kind of plants that grow in our region. It just makes the project look somewhat unfinished, especially when I attempt to share it pictures and videos.

I’m not complaining and am grateful for the opportunity to share my skills, design ideas and construction knowledge with my clients regardless of the size or type of project here in Sedona.

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