Ocean Bluff

The Design Challenge

This garden boasts a 180-degree island view from its bluff-top location, and features true indoor-outdoor living. Challenges included optimizing the panoramic ocean view, way-finding from street to front door and growing veggies in the salt air. A pool was a must for the clients. It wasn’t allowed on the bluff side of the house, so in the front yard it would go! 

The Design Solution

An existing 60-year old Dragon tree on site was carefully protected throughout construction, and formed the inspiration around which the house and garden were designed. Its colors and textures shaped the garden and planting palette, while providing the depth and age a new home may lack.

The pool in the front yard was something to figure out. A solid block wall would separate the garden from the neighborhood too much, but privacy was a must for this nearly transparent house and pool area. The solution was a frosted glass wall which establishes a modern, inviting aesthetic while creating a shadow wall for sculptural plantings. The veggie garden bordered by a grapestake fence is located on the street-side of the wall to provide protection from salt wind, connect the garden to the street and invite neighborly conversations.

A dry-laid “boardwalk” of architectural concrete pavers winds through grassy dunes, under the Dragon Tree and on to the home's entry. Calming Zen influences combine with the Mediterranean plantings and striking views to create a seperate world as you enter the garden. Low-voltage LED landscape path lights and directional accent lighting invite evening fire pit conversations and dining.

The ocean bluff side of the house is a narrow strip designed and installed with strictly low impact uses. A cantilevered deck, native plants, dry-laid pavers and a bocce court bring the living outside. A small “beach” adjacent to the bocce court provides a place to run your toes through the sand while overlooking the white water below. Sculptures are displayed throughout the garden: a kinetic sculpture set against the ocean backdrop, a striking piece along the entry walk, another mounted on the stucco exterior. On a clear day, the homeowners watch pelicans fish, hang gliders drift by at eye level, whales feeding beyond the kelp bed and surfers ride the waves from their breakfast table!


Association of Professional Landscape Designers, Merit Award 2014

Santa Barbara Contractors Association, Construction Awards 2014: Best Landscape and Hardscape Residential