Garden Street

The Design Challenge

The owners of this property had three goals for their front yar: create a rustic, natural feeling to compliment the simplicity of their 1955 house; turn what was basically an asphalt parking lot bordered by lawn and gravel into a welcoming space; and provide privacy and noise reduction for the rooms on the street side of their Santa Barbara home --- without erecting a barrier between them and their neighbors.

The Design Solution

Working with a sound engineer, new garden walls were built to deaden the street noise, making the home’s front rooms habitable again. The walls are sited to create a private garden that is enjoyed from the newly reclaimed rooms. Viewed from the street, the walls form a backdrop for an artful vignette of sculptural plants and stone that delights the community and owners alike.

The garden hidden behind the wall is a miracle for our clients, who never believed it was possible that they could enjoy relaxing in their front yard. The parking area is reconfigured, and no longer dominates the space.

A unique sandstone fountain adds a lively note and also helps mask traffic noise. Margie designed its basins so they are big enough for birds to have a drink but not so large that raccoons can bathe.

The predominantly purple-colored flowers were selected from a list of plants the owners wanted to see incorporated along with the two existing birch trees. Large juniper trees along the fence were also retained. Popular with 50s-style ranch houses, their shaggy, old bark adds texture to the garden.

Special Feature

The water in the fountain recirculates under the gravel but does not flow down the stream bed. The dry stream, designed as a drainage device to direct rainwater away from the house’s foundation and into a sump pump hidden below the stones, adds interest to the composition.


Santa Barbara Contractors Association, Builder of the Year: Best Landscape and Hardscape 2004

Santa Barbara Beautiful Award: Large Single Family Residence 2004