This incorporates several projects:
1. 3-4 retaining wall projects
2. an entryway, front yard project
3. multi-tier rear yard project
4. a gardening/planting project
5. a pet enclosure project
From Zillow –
House 1,094 square feet
Lot 4,250 square feet
Outdoor area 3,156 square feet
What is the existing condition?
Five-sided, steep, and small hillside.
The front lattice fence doesn’t represent the width of the property line. In the photo of the property front, the property line aligns the tall E-W fence to the blue paint mark on the road.
Steep with three narrow redwood decks stepped up the hill, and a teak hot tub at the middle level.
There is a shed at the top of the hill with low retaining wall just east of it and an uneven, square, concrete patio on top of that wall.
Concrete stairs straight up the hill in the back yard are solidly built and functional but not attractive.
There is a triangular concrete pad at the top between the shed and fence.
There is a large oak tree at the top of the property literally on the property line.
North – There is a low redwood deck connects directly with kitchen. Recent excavation at NW corner creates room for patio, porch, or pergola.
South – There is a narrow planting area available along concrete splash pad. Wedge-shaped, it gets slightly larger at the rear while the grade increases. This was excavated with the intention of having two low retaining walls and a planter area behind the lowest wall. The open view over the neighbor’s property is currently being borrowed, but ownership of the property is likely to change.
Style: Structurally-sound, post-WWII, wood-frame single family dwelling.
Orientation: N-S-E-W with the front (main entry) facing east and having a view of San Francisco Bay through the DR windows and large LR picture window; the higher the elevation, the better the view.
There are solar panels on the south-facing roof, west of the chimney.
What is the problem?
1. Retaining walls are needed. The S and NW sides of the house have been excavated for new retaining walls. What kind? Should they house structural supports for shade sails or pergola?
2. The east side is blasted by the sun all year and the west in the summer. There is not enough shade. Around noon, the sun passes over the roof, shading the front yard, and blasts the back (west) and south side of the house. In summer, the sun goes down behind the west hill around 7-8 PM. In winter, the sun goes behind the hill around 3 or 4 PM.
3. From the street, the front of the house is looming. Existing front concrete retaining walls are unattractive and the front walkway has an unappealing connection to the front door.
4. One or more outdoor cat runs or enclosures are needed for predator (coyote) protection.
1. Design ideas for retaining walls with views of various materials selections.
2. These walls and shade for the west deck are my highest priority. There is a question as to how to top the highest wall at the property line; fence, pergola, plants – trees, shrubs, vines?
3. Design ideas for fence or trees or trellis between upper back yard and neighbor’s large parking structure.
1. Retaining wall design.
2. Shade - especially for the north end of the east-facing (dining room) windows in the summer but not in the winter and maybe also for the south end of the east-facing large picture window (living room). Pergola? Shade sails?
Shade for the car in the driveway. Deck? Porch off the front door?
3. Street appeal - a design with privacy and views for occupants inside and outside the front of the house.
4. A more attractive walkway/stairs from the driveway to the front door.
5. Gardening areas for perennials, annuals, shrubs.
I like casual outdoorsy California styles. Beach house, cottage, and Craftsman styles are favorites.
I have four gray sun shade sails (three triangles, 11'10”x11'10”x11'10” and one square, 11'10”x11'10”) that I’d like to use, possibly using a pergola as connector, maybe over lapping the triangles.
The middle and upper deck could be modified to accommodate a different shape hot tub, from round to this:
I have no interest in a fire pit. I would enjoy a water feature but it would have to a type that would not be contaminated by raccoons nightly (e.g., a vessel over which water flows into a graveled screen).
I need detailed plans for retaining walls (including all needed supports, appurtenances, and accessories such as a shelf for a small portable grill) to be used for contractor bids. The side and back yard retaining walls will be built immediately. I have an engineer for the project.
Concept sketches will suffice for the other project aspects.
Elements to remain:
1. Upper deck - I will consider modifying wood stairs.
2. Exposed rock stays - more might be exposed by further excavation at the NW corner.
3. Middle deck – it is custom-cut to fit the exposed rock. I will consider modifying the east side of the middle deck for new stairs or a bench.
4. The shed - I would like to level the deck and fix the retaining wall in front of it.
Preferred color palette for fabric or accents is anything that would appear near the ocean: blues, grays, purples, seafoam greens. I also like bright colors and whimsical designs.
The soil is clay and rock, typical of the area. New plants must be deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, and able to grow in this soil with irregular watering.
I like having wildlife pass through my yard. I don’t want to block their passage.
Gardening in the Bay Area is Sunset Zone 7, but also is specific to the microclimate of Central Marin County.
Water conservation is a priority: http://www.marinwater.org/controller?action=menuclick&id=261
Gardening for wildlife preferred:
The root zone of the oak tree up the hill has to be protected.
Trees that I like, that do well here are:
Deciduous: Pear, Apple, Chinese Pistashe, Crape Myrtle.
Evergreen: Orange, Lemon, California Pepper tree.
Cat enclosure around the upper level deck with some ground?
Perhaps like this:
Backyard retaining wall possibilities:
DYI system is McNear’s VersaLok (local)
Rock veneers on concrete block or dry stacked rock walls are gorgeous and they provide hiding places for lizards and salamanders, but price is a big consideration.
Seasonal (summer only) shade
Design that complements or enhances the house
Pet protection that is wildlife-friendly, eco-friendly
i. A layout, plan view, top view, etc.?
ii. Description in text format?
iii. A section and/or elevation?
iv. Birds eye view(s)?
v. Eye-level view(s)?
Please ask questions. I have lots of photos and a few ideas about the cat enclosure.