Transforming a Challenging Hillside Space

Updated Feb 20, 2013
Landscapers installed this rocky water feature complete with sculpture as a barrier between the pool and the edge of the hillside.

Project: Private residence, Los Angeles, California

Landscaping: Gregory Davis & Associates, Culver City, California

The homeowners spared no expense on the makeover of their Brentwood home and were married on the new patio under the oaks after it was completed. “The project makes use of the hillside and invites exploration of the garden. It also provides conversation areas for entertaining,” says designer Jason Flowers, who assisted landscape contractor Greg


Davis with the project. With a price tag of $229,000, the new landscape includes additions such as patios and seating, the expansion of an existing patio, an herb garden, fruit orchard, and new lighting and water features.

While opening up the hillside was tricky, the project’s real challenge was completing the work on time, since the team needed to finish planting early so new trees, shrubs and flowers would have time to grow in before the wedding.

When the preliminary design discussions began in 2009, nearly half of the half-acre property was untended hillside. To make use of the challenging terrain and take advantage of the beautiful view overlooking the canyon, the crew built terraces using landscape ties that transverse the slope rather than trying to redirect it, which creates a more natural look. The pathway zigzags from the highest deck down the hill past the orchard to two additional patios. “We have a lot of experience developing hillsides due to the terrain of Los Angles,” Flowers says. “Most private property in the hills have severe slope. We love utilizing these spaces, making them accessible, comfortable and beautiful.”

The existing patio was extended to add more space to socialize and enjoy the canyon views.

About half of the lawn was removed to expand the stone patio. The iron rail behind the pool also was removed to enhance the view to the canyon and hills from the house. A pond and waterfall were added along the edge of the hill to create movement and deter anyone from standing too close to the edge. The deck was thoughtfully built around mature oak trees, and a walkway to the herb garden and fruit orchard was added. New lighting and pedestals display the homeowners’ sculptures. Cedar landscape ties, granite and California Gold gravel were used to build the hillside pathway and line the orchard. All of the plantings, except those in the orchard and herb garden, are drought tolerant and chosen to “recreate a South African paradise that one of the owners grew up in,” Flowers says.

Every angle provides a beautiful view on this hilly property.
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