Part 2 – Wu Cars Residence, California – Landscape Design

Part 2 – Wu Cars Residence, California – Landscape Design (PDF)

  • Brad W

    John – I think your plan responds nicely to the site and climate. I particularly like the focal tree between the garage and the dining room window.

    I do have a couple of things I was hoping you would comment on.

    1. Two steps are required to enter the utility area. Does that make the entry awkward? (note – these steps are not shown on your plan.)
    2. The south side yard is inaccessible from the backyard.
    3. The main outdoor living space seems small.

  • Brad W

    My design from yesterday has been slightly revised. I have added an outdoor kitchen, expanded the size of the upper landing off the living room, connected the master bedroom terrace with the utility room entrance and added a tree as a focal point in the center of the main patio (inspired by John’s plan).


  • Terri

    I like your revised plan, Brad. I’m wondering if the access to the south is all that necessary. Possibly another house is there and so the yard space is not used much except to cut grass? In that case, access from your garden shed is all that would be required.

    I think with all that living space happening outside, it’d be nice to have total privacy along the southern end of the patio, that’s all.

  • Terri


    You solved the heat issues (that I spoke about yesterday) on the bedroom deck by planting all those trees there. My only issue with your plan is the steps beside the dining room/desk window. Although you do have a tree off from this sightline,on the other side of the steps, people will be walking right next to the window and will be passing a hard surface, a place where the sun will reflect in summer and weathering will exposes in winter–all very open to inspection. That’s why I’d thought of a buffer of small shrubs right beside that site.

  • John Brown

    This is the completed landscape design for this week’s Design Project.


  • John Brown

    The steps got lost in the decking but I had place two steps right outside the back door. I didn’t think the south side yard need to be accessible given that you could carry the lawnmower etc. through the north side. I understand the comment about the living space. My sense, however, was that it was more important to organize the spaces in line with the garage. I also find that it is nicer to have a slightly smaller than expected exterior space. It adds to the intimacy. However, your point is well taken.

  • John Brown

    Good point about the planting by the dining room window. I have a planter on the far side of the walkway to avoid having to have a guardrail. It is about 2′ above the deck grade so it might provide the visual relief you are looking for from the window. It would be possible to put the planter on the other side and detail the elevation change differently.

  • John Brown

    I like your revised plan. It is always a challenge to decide if it is better to step down to grade as soon as possible (as you have done) or extend the interior floor space as far possible (as I have done). Your solution is less expensive and does not impede the circulation to the south. It would be an interesting choice for the client to make.

  • Belle, Toronto

    John – I like your design of outdoor space. When I looked at the lot, the gardener in me was concentrating on where the trees needed to go, what they should be and how big they would be at maturity. I think the “forest” of six young trees would be lovely however I wonder what will happen 10 – 20 years from now? It is very interesting to see an architect plan something like this with the emphasis on outdoor living whereas I get caught up in what planting materials go where.

  • John Brown

    It is important to balance spatial considerations with horticulture. The two should certainly work together. In terms of the bosque of trees I was thinking of something ornamental that would have a canopy of about 20′. What do you think? I don’t think you would want them to get too high.

  • Paul C

    I wanted to have a secondary building/structure to downplay the garage, define the outdoor room a little more and provide a space where someone could look back at the rear of the home. I hope they do like gardening…and what’s California without water feature/pool.


  • Brad W

    Paul C – nice plan.

    I like the new building with solar and the lap pool/spa. One simple thing that really works is moving the door off the back wall of the garage.

  • Brad W

    Louis – nice plan – very similar to Paul C but using John’s house design – you should post it here in part 2 as well.

  • James Scott

    I worked from my finished plan, not John’s. I’ve opened up the entry a bit, a new window in the second bedroom and broader longer steps up to the front entry.

    I placed a planter around both the space in front of the master bedroom and the outdoor dining area adjacent to the kitchen.

    I stole the idea for a greenhouse from Paul as well as placing more emphasis on a working garden. I opted for two larger trees as well as a roof-line that follows my extended wall. I realize trees take a few years but we can wish can’t we?

    One sweeping step was placed the length of the green space for the transition and to make the tiers accessible from everywhere, not just some poorly placed 3′ wide stairs.

    The landscaping certainly could go much further, but what would you do next year, there has to be allowance for evolution. So I opted to spend more of the budget on hard-scaping and a few well placed trees.

    These are all terrific plans. Did anyone include an outdoor sound system and lighting? I like Terri’s avocado tree. I can’t wait to get home tonight, some steaks, a nice avocado salad, a few cool ones. Good times.


  • James Scott

    Just another thought which has come and gone a few times during the past exercises…we should start compiling a more comprehensive symbol library. Possibly something that we can share.

  • Terri

    Like Belle, I think I got more preoccupied with how the garden part of the landscape might be done and I concentrated less on the architectural aspects. I guess I thought a landscape plan meant that the plants are the thing (silly me). It’s been interesting to see how structural that yard can become once some creative designers start working on it!

    James, your suggestion for a comprehensive symbol library that could be shared is good.

  • Louis Pereira

    Hmmm…Sorry I missed a whole day of conversation. I posted instead my plan in Part 1. But, here it is with my comments and attachments. I look forward to reviewing all the other plans that were posted earlier.


    “Mother Nature is too powerful to try and mimic,” – Shane Coen Landscape Architect.

    I certainly believe in that assertion and therefore feel that in order to support the architecture, the geometries of the house should extend into the landscape.

    A large deck connects the Living Room and the garage forming an Outdoor Living Space with Pergola over. The south portion is sheltered by decidous trees to provide screening and shade relief. The outdoor fireplace is centered to the Living Room while an Outdoor Kitchen overlooks the lower Pool and Terrace.

    The circulaion corridor divides the 2 main outdoor spaces. The expanse of concrete surfacing is broken-up by grass or ground-cover striations. An outdoor Dining Room is located next to an Orange Tree Bosque to provide dappled shade in the late afternoon. The continuous deck along the house overlooks the pool and is connected to the Terrace by way of slightly submersed pads. Garden Art is centered to the pool along the north property line providing a point of interest from all other areas of the site


  • Louis Pereira

    Precedent images…


  • Belle, Toronto

    John I think small ornamental trees with a canopy of no more than 20′ would be lovely, especially if there was an underplanting of shade plants.

    Louis you plan is quite different from what I imagined when I first looked at the lot. You have a good eye. If I owned the house I would like to see some “drapey” vines over the pergola though and spoil your design. I find the wood alone too hard, unless its in a Japanese style garden:)

  • Louis Pereira

    Belle – i wouldn’t mind ‘drapey’ plants at all! ;)

    Personally i think you can soften alot of the hard-surfacing using techniques such as lighting and potted plants (which i included in the rendered version). But alas i’m a modernist at heart so I like simple, clean shapes and materials which help reveal the purity of spatial form or architectural expression. The ‘hardness’ of the space however should be tempered with softer materials like foliage, fabric, grass, water etc.

    Since this is a mature neighbourhood, you could also assume there would be an opportunity to include the ‘borrowed landscape’ – that which surrounds the site. I would assume then that there are alot of trees surrounding this property…

    Here’s another precedent (Design by MESA Design Group) that describes the pergola and the deck along the length of the house.


  • John Brown

    I like your plan very much. Moving the bosque of trees to the end of the yard is a good idea because it increases the size of the structured garden space (eliminating my rear lawn). It would be interesting to analyze whether pushing the trees back would interfere with their ability to cut down the heat gain into the house from the west.

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