Renovation Phase II


Plenty of work was involved in getting to this stage, but the main planes of both terrace and lawn have finally been established. Stripping off the existing struggling grass would be the last step, as soil was needed to flatten that space.  The length of time between adding dirt, and putting down sod needed to be minimal, given 2 dogs who love their yard. Edger strip was installed 8″ from the stucco wall the entire perimeter of the yard. It was my intent to feature that wall with a landscape planting that would not obscure it in any way.  It also makes mowing easy, and eliminates the need for a string trimmer.

renovation81We needed a riser for the one step down into the yard.  A 14″ wide by 9′ long piece of 1/4″ steel, buried, and snugged up against the new wall would do a clean and simple job of it.  Once that steel was installed, the decomposed granite would be leveled right to the edge of the terrace. We adjusted the grade as the base of that step to make the transition to the lower level an easy one.


I planted a small grove of Venus dogwoods in the lawn.  The tree trunks have small and discreet circles of soil around them, to he[p avoid damage to the trunks from mowing the grass.  It interests me that trees with large circles of soil or bark or flowers around them look “landscaped”.  Trees planted in lawn look like a park.  A “park” has a very different feeling than a “landscape”; small details like this can have big visual impact. As  I hate being at the design mercy of a lawn mower or trimmer run amok,  I try to find solutions for practical issues that help make aesthetic decisions maintainable.


The finished landscape,, with new sod, is simple and very clean-lined.  The wall looks great. The columnar carpinus will grow together, and provide a dense green enclosure, perfect for celebrating something yet to come.  A sod topped bench?  A sculpture?


I like planting 25 gallon size columnar carpinus.  They seem to recover from transplant shock faster; they fill out quick.  Someday I do want to plant a hedge of them with the trunks impossibly close together, but in this case, the spacing is what it needs to be.

reno4This view from the new terrace is my favorite.  There is a simple overall shape, which unexpectedly drops down in the center to a lower plane. What is brick in the upper terrace reverses to granite in the lower; this is  a change in material that does not interrupt the big organizing idea, but makes it more interesting.


One more element is yet to come; I hope to install it next week.  Can you imagine what that might be?  For sure, I will keep you posted.


  1. Water…it has to be water in some form!

  2. Deborah Silver says

    Dear Jane, good call! Water, and what else?? Deborah

  3. my personal choice would be a few spheres by Buck. I am in love with those spheres from the smallest on up. Also some of your wonderful chairs with the foot rests…..and a glass of wine!

  4. Make that a bottle of wine!

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