Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Napa Pool Project Update- May 29, 07

The Pour

After a nice relaxing 3 day long weekend the crew came to work early this warm Tuesday morning to commence with pouring and finishing 1950 square feet of colored concrete.

Below is a photo showing the rebar layout that will be embedded in the concrete.
It is number 4 size bar set on 12” centers

This shot shows the lounge chair area overlooking the pool

This is the elevated terrace - it is two steps up and overlooks the deep end of the pool.
The 3 pipes that you see sticking out of the raised wall will eventually be fountain heads.

Here you can see the nifty copper irrigation line that will be enveloped in a plastic sleeve ( to prevent galvanic action ) and the 4 inch white drain pipe . This is located on the upper terrace.

I usually disappear into the woodwork when the concrete arrives and starts to get worked.
The tension can be cut with a knife ! You really need to know what you are doing when the pumper truck arrives and all unnecessary people need to get out of the way.

This is one of the finishers troweling the colored concrete.
Check out his neat ‘skis’ .

Friday, May 25, 2007

The term 'Yardening" is just plain stupid.

A quote from Garden Rant :
I think "yardening" describes a gardening style that is about using a limited palette of plants to achieve possibly great effects. ~ excerpt from GardenRant.

Yikes, if that is the definition of what a yardener / yardening is then it is even more deplorable than I originally thought.

Come on folks, do we really need to be reduced to making up adolescent words to describe what has been a part of our evolving natural history just to be kitschy ?

Haven’t we got enough dumbing down going on in our current day society ?

If ‘less is more’ in your garden then your not ‘yardening’ , you are gardening in the minimalist style where judicious editing, harmonious proportions and a highly detailed eye towards your few well chosen details makes for a calm and pleasant spatial experience.

Ratchet up or down the minimalist garden and you might have a zen like contemplative sanctuary garden or a simply well balanced front yard entry garden or backyard courtyard.

These are not yardens, these are gardens.

Front entry garden utilizing a single variety of plant, Equisetum , in red pots.

Using 4 varieties of plants along a long winding Napa Valley driveway :
Olive trees, pennisetum, miscanthus and salvia leucantha.

A front yard entry garden - in this photo the loropetalum is out of bloom

The same garden with the loropetalum in bloom

A detail shot of the the same garden.

The same property as previously depicted. This is the back yard garden
Here we used a limited palette of plants again - Olive Trees, Roses, Lavender and prostrate Rosemary.

This garden belongs to a textile artist.
It is very small. The plants that were chosen all all fairly easy care plants.
The limited planting palette contains Ornamental Grasses, Alstromeria, Nepeta and an Olive tree in the corner.
The core ten planter covers a giant 3’x 3’ drain culvert the the developement decided to plunk down directly in this tiny 20x20 back yard.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chistopher Columbus Syndrome.

I’m taking a break for a momentary break down.

Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall and whine on for a moment.

Rarely will you ever hear me speak negatively about my clients, because for all their charming and alarming personality traits, I enjoy collaborating with them.

Sure, some can be ‘very’ challenging to work with, but for the most part I enjoy a challenge and in the end of it all love my job.

But I think I/ we have finally hit upon a client that is more than a challenge.
I/ we can’t even finds the words to express the amount of complete exasperation and mental torment this person can cast

Every single contractor that she has hired in the past will not come back to work for her.

In the 17 years that I have worked with my mild mannered easy going partner I have never known him to simply give up and walk off a job.... until THIS ONE.

Suppliers who have had to endure her visits now shut the doors and hang a ‘CLOSED for BUSINESS’ sign on their door when they see her coming.

She has the vexing capacity to bring down big burly manly men , construction workers and seasoned contractors down to their knees in fits of shear aggravation, irritation and mental tormentation..

It’s not that this woman is nasty or mean spirited, on the contrary she is actually a very sweet person, she is just utterly and completely C L U E L E S S.

Yesterday the [ new ] landscape contractor came by my office to have a nervous breakdown.
He said that he spent all day explaining to her the steps of installing the project yet by the end of the day he was still at step one.

The only thing I could offer him was a shot of Tequila to take the blue out of his face.

My most recent bout of mental tortuosity came from our agonizing discussion about the design for her upper hillside.
NOTE the word “ H I L L S I D E “. ... as in 2 to 1 SLOPE
Despite hours upon hours of mental anguish, cut section illustrations, perspective sketches, actual infield layout and falling flat on my ass due to the steep slope, she still did not get why the various ‘garden rooms’ she desired required retaining walls.

I have come to realize that this woman suffers from ( amongst many things ) Christopher Columbus Syndrome. Every thing in the landscape is F L A T .

Below is a photo of her FLAT [ eyes rolling ] back yard .
This is where she wants a level inground trampoline , play area and sitting areas and a big flat grassy area for the dog and kids to run around on.
“ Why on earth would I need to put a wall there ? “


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Napa Pool Project - Color Samples

A couple of new photo additions to the Napa Pool Project.

Below is a mock up of the Pool Fountain Wall showing the brown glass tile and the burlap
colored tile water spout.

We will actually be using the 'lighter blue tile’ along with the the burlap colored tile for the water spout . ( exact sample is the one that is set in at a diagonal in the mock up with brown glass tile )
It will have the same pattern layout as the brown glass tile mock up but we will be using the blue tile.

These color combo’s will work well with the color in the upholstery fabric for the patio furniture and the pool plaster color , which will be a toned down true white.

Also we have finally configured a colored concrete recipe for the pool coping and the colored concrete patios and terraces.
X marks the sample that we have chosen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sheet L2 from the Napa Pool + Landscape project

Below is sheet L2.
It is the Detailed Area of Construction with the basic dimension.

The Title Block with the Sheet Index that are located off the the side got cut off when I photographed the plans for this blog.

The contents of the Plan Package :

Sheet L1 - Shows the entire Property with all the pertinent site information required for Design Review Process with both the County of Napa and the Home Owner Association. It notes all the Set Backs, Utilities, Property Lines, House footprint and all the elements of the new landscape improvements are labelled and documented.

Sheet L2 - Documents the dimension of the project in greater detailed scale so that the excavators can set the grade heights and the building contractors can build the project

Sheet L3 - Cross sectional elevations of the construction elements - The Pool, The Terrace ect...

Sheet L4 - More Construction Details -

Sheet L5 - Electrical schematic and Gas

Sheet L6 - Planting

Sheet L7 - Irrigation, Erosion, Drainage.

Sheet S1 thru S3 - The structural engineering plans for the Pool.

Sheet L2

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pool and Landscape Project in The Napa Valley

A little history about this project :
About 15 years ago I was hired to design and install this garden (pictured below) located in Napa Valley.
The property had some really wonderful old redwoods, a few big pines and a gorgeous huge Tulip tree and not much else.

We cleared out the scrubby under brush, installed a lime stone border and flagstone patio and planted a woodland wonderland of Rhodo’s, lots of dogwoods, Philadelphus, Azaleas, Japanese Maples, Enkianthus, Kalmia, Weigelia, A Dove tree and lots of other woodland type perennials and a sod lawn.

Fifteen years later the garden is quite mature and now that the kids are all grown up , the parents decided it was time for a swimming pool.

The clients and I collaborated for almost a year to formulate a design that would work within their budget.
Originally the homeowners desired to have a flagstone patio and various levels of raised stone terraces, wrought iron railings, and an overhead arbor/ pool house , but after reviewing the various installation bids we scaled back.... way back.

The pool remained as did the main patio and one upper terrace but they were no longer veneered in flagstone. Instead we are opting for a colored concrete surface with diagonal score lines.

The pool house is gone but we are installing the underground piers for its future installation.

This is how the property looked in April of 07 , just before we started digging for the pool

and another view of the first rhodie in the border to bloom in early April.

The hole for the swimming pool along with the piping. This is going to be a chlorine free pool. The filtration system will be with salt water.

In this photo the pool has now been gunited .
Notice the three small pipes sticking out at the far end of the pool, they are in the 14 inch raised wall at the end of the pool.
These three pipes are the water feed lines that will service three fountain head spouts.

To get an idea of what that area will look like here is a quick sketch of this upper terrace with the pool fountain spouts.

The pool fountain tile band is blue glass tiles set on the diagonal . The spouts are hand carved ceramic tiles from a shop called Sonoma Tile.

The terrace furniture is from Summer Classics and the pots are coming from Nichols Brothers , they are colored hand cast concrete.

more to come later.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Before and After

A couple more before and after shots ~

This landscape project was designed and built in a newly created residential community that was formally a rural horse and cattle grazing pasture.

Unfortunately the Master Planners for the Dry Creek Housing Development underestimated and under designed the master plan draining system for all of the homes, their properties and the streets.
This lead to a major battle between the developers, the county building department and the homeowners.
Eventually privately hired Landscape architects were hired by the individual homeowners to re-engineer the grades for each individual lot , house and surrounding street side.

My clients neighbors chose to slope their surface and subsurface drainage water directly into my clients lot.
This caused the property to flood with both water and angry letters from attorney’s.

We eventually came up with a well engineered drainage design that addressed the problem by contouring the grades , installing a network of culverts, , 4”, 6” + 8” drain pipes, and catch basins.

Here is the lot after the floods subsided and the contouring , grading and drainage systems were in place.

Midway through the installation

A sitting area out in the landscape

The gazebo serves the young sisters as their play studio.

The dry stream bed that has holds the 8 inch diameter main drain pipe.

This project was also designed in a new housing development where the homes where sited ( stacked ) very close to one another .

Despite the small scale of the lot this homeowner has big ideas for this small lot.

Building the Rumford fireplace.

The finished fireplace and cook area beyond

The finished project - outdoor kitchen, fireplace, spa, swimming pool.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Before ~ During ~ and After

The Transitions of a Built Landscape

There had been some talk lately on a gardening website that people should disclose how much money it took to complete a project.

I am a little dubious of giving this information out because I think it can be more confusing than helpful and set up some unrealistic expectations.

If I was to say that the job entitle ‘Napa’ cost approximately $ 750,000.00 to install I wonder if people would understand why.
Would they understand what kind of work was required to tame the 3 : 1 hillside into a flat fairway/ soccer field or how much labor and machinery it took to crane in two dozen 70 year old Olive trees ?

Then there is the whole ‘regional’ situation.
The cost of New England Bluestone per ton is about $ 650 a ton here in California but on the east coast this material cost half as much.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but as the old saying goes, “plan to spend more than what was originally quoted’. - cuz that’s the way the construction cookie crumbles.

The Napa Job -
New landscaping along the entry driveway of two dozen 70 year old fruiting Olive trees , large field stone boulders and an underplanting of ornamental grasses.

Giving the planting holes scale-

The crane work -

The specialized forklift scooting the rootballs into some of the holes.

The driveway 9 months later - First Growing Season

Just beyond Olive trees , over the hill, lies the soccer field, fairway and bocce ball area.
The area required a tremendous amount of excavation to tame the 3 : 1 hilliside into a flat playing area.

Cutting into the toe of the slope to install the footing for the retaining wall that is adjacent to the bocce ball court

The day the planting and the sod was installed.

The finished project 9 months later
Two matching bookend metal arbors were fabricated, beyond you can see one of the sand traps, the motorcross bike and golf cart track and putting green.

The first season -
Wild flowers blooming on the cut hillside, lavenders struggling along after a very challenging growing season and the lawn , sandtraps and green is looking pretty good.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Building a Path and capturing character.

The character of a path reflects the personality of the surrounding landscape if it is to be successfully integrated into the project as a whole.

Below are several distinctly different paths.

Without seeing much of the surrounding landscapes I bet you will form an impression in your mind as to what the rest of the surrounding gardens may look like.

1. Does this blue mosaic path look like it might be a part of some eclectic sort of garden?

2. Does this poured in place concrete stepping stone path give the impression that it may be located in a tidy suburban yard ?

3. How about this compacted gray gravel path undulation through a sea of heather's ?

4. Feelings of Tuscany or a modern minimalist yard ?

5. Does this look like this path might be located in a rural or city location ?

6. Decomposed Granite path surrounding the bocce ball court

7. Poured in place colored concrete leading from a slate terrace.

8. A rustic flagstone path. - City, suburbs or rural surround by what type of architecture ?

9. Another flagstone path, this one is wet set on a concrete base. Craftsman’s style perhaps ?

10. Recycled cracked concrete shards make up this path.