Sage Outdoor Designs » landscape design

Masthead header

Sage Outdoor Designs in San Diego Union Tribune

We are proud to have a Sage Outdoor Designs project featured in this weekend’s San Diego Union Tribune home section in Lou Shook’s weekly column Distinguished Digs. Here is the full article:

By Louis Shook

The Mission Hills home of Judy Flemming and Ishman Clarke is a Tudor-Craftsman style home with views of Coronado, Point Loma and the skyline of downtown San Diego. Built in 1914, the home has been meticulously restored to exceed its original beauty.

The home has been in Flemmings’s family since 1952. When her mother passed away, Flemming and her husband Ishman moved in and began the process of fixing up the house and the landscaping.
“The backyard was in bad shape. It was a typical 1950s style with two patches of grass,” said Clarke who worked as a plant disease control expert for San Diego. “I really enjoyed that type of work,” he said. Retired now, he proudly described a memorable project of renovating the Casa de Estudillo garden in Old Town.

Although Clarke had strong ideas about the type of plants he wanted in his yard, he wanted help with the layout and design. For the design he hired Kate Wiseman of Sage Outdoor. “It was really a pleasure to work with Kate, she helped us pull it all together,” Clarke said. The backyard is now a very inviting area with stonework, an arbor and a variety of plants, fruit trees and exotic palms. “Our plant material comes from areas of the world with similar climates. It all flows together nicely.”

Clarke and Flemming worked with a number of local contractors. Stained glass windows were ordered to match stone tiles on the 100-year old fireplace. The wood floors, window frames, banisters and ceiling beams were beautifully refinished. Interior walls were textured and painted. Clark praised David Lown for the work he did on the wood refinishing, texturing and painting. The exterior of the house was painted by Jose Lemus who has painted a number of homes in the neighborhood according to Clarke. High quality craftsmanship is evident throughout the house.
For interior touches they hired Linda Balinger of Balinger Design Studio. “Linda was very instrumental in the remodel. She selected kitchen flooring and chose the color palette throughout the house,” said Flemming.

The kitchen has been completely upgraded. There are new stainless steel appliances, cherry wood cabinets and stone tile flooring. Clarke’s son, Brian Dingman, who works for Brookman Tile, did tile work in the kitchen and other rooms. The original house had a room known as a “California cooler.” According to Clarke these rooms were built into houses to store and keep food from spoiling. These rooms were used before most homes had the refrigerators we take for granted today. The small room is now used as a pantry and is naturally the coolest place in the house. The original house also had a coal shoot that is no longer in use.

“It was a pleasure working with all the contractors,” said Clarke. “The architectural features and the landscape work very well together.” ■

Louis Shook is freelance writer in Encinitas. He can be contated at

© Kate Wiseman 2010. In San Diego? Want your own waterwise landscape design? I’d love to help! Please visit for more info.

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at