Old homes are desirable thanks to the decades of character that they accrue as they pass from owner to owner, but that character doesn’t always age gracefully. For one house on the rocky cliffs of La Jolla, facing the wild expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the new homeowners felt the backyard landscape that had outgrown its welcome.
Homeowners Frank and Victoria Hobbs inherited the La Jolla home and immediately noticed that the magnificent views afforded by the location were now obscured by an overgrown landscape. Acacia trees that had been planted by Victoria’s parents were now towering over the western and southern borders, while myoporum and Indian hawthorn were quickly consuming substantial tracks of usable yard space.
The couple struggled with what to do with the undesirable expansion of their aging landscape. At first, they hired the renowned local landscape company, Torrey Pines Landscape Company, to simply provide maintenance for the overgrown flora. Once cleaned up, they saw the need for a fresh design and took the plunge. They asked Torrey Pines Landscape Company to start drawing up plans for a full redesign.
The new landscape would orient around a central pool area and provide a modern living and entertaining area complete with a kitchen, bathroom, and fire fixtures. The offending acacia trees that blocked the property’s stellar ocean views would be removed in favor of a colorful mix of local and imported shrubbery and flower beds.
The original parallelogram-shaped design of the pool with a conjoined spa was abandoned in favor of a traditional rectangular design with a separate spa, elevated so occupants can enjoy the ocean view. A mix of concrete and red brick – a design pulled from the traditional California ranch house design of the property – was used to border the pool area and create walkways from the water to the outdoor living space and kitchen, interspersed with small planters containing a mix of flowers and thick carpets of natural grass.
The yard space is separated into two distinct ‘layers’, with the actual house and deck on an elevated level while the usable yard space rests on the lower level. Joining the upper level to the lower is a gently curved, red brick staircase bordered by elevated planters containing bougainvillea and flowering shrubs in a variety of colors. The planter walls simultaneously serve as retaining walls, with the exterior utilizing that same red brick to provide a textured backdrop to the living space and continuity of design.
Sitting just outside the pool area, the sunken outdoor living room was built so that guests could watch the final few rays of sunlight disappear over the horizon as the day retreats to night in the dusky twilight. The arch-shaped area is shaded by a heavy-beamed pergola situated on four brick columns, with the curved portion of the arch bordered by a brick bench and culminating in a glass-pebbled fireplace for comfort during the chilly spring and autumn nights.
The outdoor living room also functions as an outdoor kitchen, featuring stainless steel appliances and a 5-burner barbeque built into a marble-topped hardscape counter. A west-facing bar provides the optimal seating to watch the sunset while enjoying a cold drink after a warm day.
The magic of the landscape design is in the details, and this project was chock-full of them. The in-built black slate water feature, designed by Torrey Pines Landscape founder Harry Thompson, provides the yard with the calming melody of burbling water. River-smoothed stones create the impression of a creek bed and intersect a meandering walkway that connects the newly constructed white trellis side gate to the pool area.
Intermixed with it all are planters featuring layered floras containing fruiting trees, white roses, native succulents, rosea ice plants, juniper hedges, agaves, aeoniums, and lavender. Careful not to recreate the initial issue of obscuring views, taller plants and trees were used to provide a bit of extra privacy for those enjoying the yard.
With the redesign of the yard completed, the Hobbs’ could finally sit back and enjoy everything their property had to offer – a stunning view of the vast pacific and a gorgeous yard space. If you have a property whose landscaping is in desperate need of a facelift after years of neglect, contact Torrey Pines Landscape Company today!