Sage Outdoor Designs » landscape design

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Trends in water features

In the hectic, overstimulated, digital lives we lead these days, I have noticed more of my clients are craving serenity in their outdoor living spaces. One of the things that I find is so helpful to creating as space is the addition of the sound of gently moving water. It doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I’d say the trend right now is that simpler is better.

I love this little water feature for exactly that reason: it is so simple and so peaceful. All it is is a metal trough with three bubblers. They surrounded the trough with black beach pebbles, and behind it there are a few ornamental grasses to sway in the breeze. It couldn’t be much more peaceful.

But what about saving water, you ask? I think a small fountain like this is completely appropriate for a waterwise garden. Did you know that if you compare 100 sq.ft. of lawn to 100 sq.ft. of the exposed surface of a swimming pool or fountain, you lose more water from the lawn? In both cases you have some water loss from evaporation, but the lawn also transpires, pulling water out of the soil and losing it through the pores in its leaves/blades. Plants that are more drought tolerant use a lot of tricky methods to cut down on water loss from transpiration, but turf grass didn’t evolve that way.

So if you want a very waterwise garden, consider getting rid of the lawn, replacing it with some fantastic outdoor living space, and allowing yourself (and the birds, too) a small fountain.

Rebelling against authority

I did my Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, and they had a saying there, “Embrace Ambiguity!” I’ll admit that after three and a half years there, it was something I never learned to do; in fact, I still don’t know exactly what my professors meant by it.  I think they were trying to say something about how the design process doesn’t always start out with clear goals. Sometimes you have no idea where are going, what the client wants, or how to get there. But it is my firm belief that my job as a designer is to do away with ambiguity, to read my clients my clients minds and quickly set the design process going in a direction that makes sense.

I saw this little meme on Buzzfeed, and I thought it was just perfect. Embrace ambiguity? No way, because what happens in vagueness stays in vagueness.

So many of the things I love in one image

1. This is a photo from the EcoSmart Fire website, and if you haven’t been to their site, go there now. They are one of the things I love.

2. Gabions! A gabion is a metal or wire cage, filled with rocks. They are not at all a new idea, but they are gaining popularity as people look for ways to make modern designs more natural and more connected to their landscape.

3. A perimeter overflow pool with floating stepstones: I adore the mirage effect this creates. By making the pool interior an inky black (probably with black granite), and the stones a light cream, the stones look like they are floating on water. I think the cream stones look like limestone, but hopefully they are aren’t real. Real limestone would slowly be eaten away by the water.

4. The blend of cacti: the mixture of columnar cacti with the golden barrel cactus and agave is spot on for this house. It is interesting but understated. Nice.

5. Vein cut stone: the floating stepstones have lovely striations because the stone was cut in a way to show of the veins. Its called vein cut, and it’s oh so a la mode.

The website doesn’t credit the architect or pool designer, only that the house is in Las Vegas. If anyone knows who to give credit to, please let me know!

Where does the inside stop and the outside begin?

We talk a lot about connecting the inside spaces with the outdoor living spaces, but rarely do you see it done so seamlessly. I guess we should expect great things to happen when an industrial designer (Peter Russell-Clarke) hires a top notch architect (Craig Steely, San Francisco). Check out the full article here, and make sure not to miss the slideshow. The garage door is genius!

Gorgeous daybed

If I owned a hotel in Palm Springs, this is what I’d put around the pool. This style of daybed is usually ridiculously you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-you-crazy-nutball expensive. This one, by Babmar is priced so that it is only a little bit off its rocker.