Here is a sampling of the hundreds of landscapes we’ve completed since 1971. We have been fortunate to have worked on so many fascinating projects.
☞ Please enjoy a look at our work by clicking on the thumbnail photos to reveal a photo album.
BACKYARD TOUR DE FORCE. Like so many gardens, this large property was mostly threadbare lawn and poorly maintained shrubbery. It offered little in the way of usable space and the owners wanted more. On the positive side, the soil was a wonderful loam, there were some handsome old trees, and tall hedges surrounding the backyard created a very private environment.
NEW! COUNTRY ELEGANCE. This Corvallis, Oregon area farmhouse was beautifully redesigned by architect Lori Stephens of Broadleaf Architecture, and it needed a landscape that matched the loving care the owners had put into the house remodel. Much turf was removed and replaced with a colorful array of shrubs and perennials that were carefully color-keyed into the paint colors. The result has been a happy neighborhood landmark that draws attention from all who pass by. Click on the photo to see for yourself.
NEW! ARTFUL BACKYARD REMODEL. Gardens need a little freshening up now and then. The owners of this Corvallis garden are accomplished gardeners who wanted some help making their lovely backyard more coherent and easier to live with. We collaborated with them to realign paths, change and add plants, develop a vegetable garden area, and make practical decisions about irrigation, paths, and other elements. The results are festive and fun.
NEW! PHILOMATH FIREWISE GARDEN. The Philomath, Oregon Fire Department, working in collaboration with Benton County, is developing a demonstration garden at its main fire station. The garden will educate homeowners, landscape professionals, and others about the principles of firewise landscaping for the wildland-urban interface. This will be Owen Dell’s fourth firescape garden; he is a pioneer in the world of interface fire safety. The garden is presently under design. Watch this space for updates as construction gets underway in fall, 2016.
A STROLLING GARDEN. In 2000, we transformed this neglected small backyard into a lush, intimate garden meant for strolling, reading, contemplation and entertaining family and small groups. Subdividing a small space like this one into separate but visually linked outdoor rooms creates an intimate feeling and encourages exploration.
THREE WATERS PROJECT. The First Alternative Food Co-op has long been a fine example of rainwater harvesting and watershed-friendly landscaping at its best. A multi-year project led by the Water Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition created a veritable theme park of watershed-friendly technology, including a sophisticated graywater system, an extensive array of rainwater harvesting tanks, and other features available for public view and well documented with signage and other educational elements. Owen Dell and Jeff Ard of Owen Dell and Associates came on board in 2013, helping to design a new rain garden that took the place of two parking spaces, and also assisting with rainwater tank installation, redesign, and management. You can see the results in the photos.
RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEM. We design rainwater harvesting systems for our affiliate company, J2O Rainwater Collective. Here is a typical residential system, installed in Corvallis in April, 2015. Rainwater harvesting offers many advantages: reducing demand on municipal water supplies, providing essential water where well water or other supplies are lacking, reducing urban flooding by keeping water on site, and more. We design non-potable systems for residential, commercial, and public properties.
A SEASIDE GARDEN. Although the back yard of this new home was quite large, most of it had been landscaped by the developer and was off limits to any changes. However, the small level area on the south and east sides of the housed was adequate for a couple of room-sized garden spaces. The corner lot was separated from the street on one side by a low, open rail fence that offered little privacy.
A WHIMSICAL FAMILY GARDEN. The owners of this brand new house were busy professionals and the parents of a young daughter. Although they had little time for gardening, they dreamed of a place they could really get involved with and use very actively for entertaining, play, and relaxation at the end of a long day. We created a garden that’s packed with features, outdoor rooms, and sustainable elements.
A SWIMMING POND. This elegant natural swimming pool was a collaboration between the property owner and local pool and masonry contractors. It features a chlorine-free ozonator system, a remote-controlled waterfall, a built-in stone spa and a swim-in grotto. The stones are local native sandstone applied over a conventional concrete pool shell. We designed and installed the landscaping, creating a lush meadow environment.
TWO OWNERS, TWO GARDENS. We enjoyed working on this property with two different owners at different times. The front yard is a mix of sturdy, beautiful Mediterranean climate plants, and the back yard is an intimate space filled with lovely plants and strolling paths. A live stream bed running the length of the property controls flooding and makes a dramatic visual impact.
AN ESTATE GARDEN. Despite its venerable appearance, this home and garden are less that two years old! The house is patterned after a residence in Provence. Built adjacent to a nature preserve, most of the multi-acre oak woodland property has been left in or restored to its natural state. A pond was dug and it filled itself with water from underground and today attracts many waterfowl who feed, nest and breed there.
INTIMATE SPACES. It’s amazing what can be done with an ordinary tract home if you know how to create magic out of seemingly ordinary spaces. This small property gained several outdoor rooms with sunny and shady places, patios and seating areas for every season, and a sense of privacy. It’s a little world unto itself, as if there were no place else to be.
FLOWERS AND RUST. This historic adobe home needed a garden to match. We created a private nook for hot tubbing, meals, and general laying about. Entry is through a sheltered breezeway, opening into a sunny patio and garden space. Privacy comes from an unusual fence design.
THE FIRESCAPE GARDEN. The Firescape Garden in Santa Barbara was the first public garden in the world to demonstrate principles of landscape fire safety in wildland-urban interface areas. Owen was co-designer of this groundbreaking project, which has been imitated all over the world. Owen also coined the term “firescaping,” now in common use in the landscaping profession. Most photos are courtesy of City of Santa Barbara; used by permission.
THE SPONGE GARDEN. This is one of the most sustainable gardens we have ever created. A dry streambed starts picking up water at the street and extends all the way around the house into the back yard. It has handled all the rainfall that has come, even during extreme rainfall events, without a drop of water running off the site. The collected water meets the needs of the mostly native and edible plantings that fill the garden. The use of hardscape is minimal, and most paths are natural bark mulch and plants that tolerate foot traffic. The patio furniture is made from sustainably harvested woods. A graywater system augments the water collected in the rain garden. Supplemental water consumption is effectively zero. The plantings provide habitat for native birds, insects, and animals. The front yard was once nearly all driveway. The garage door was moved to the street side of the garage and the old driveway was removed to make way for the new garden. The new driveway is much shorter and is made of a recycled plastic support structure that is filled with soil and grows native wildflowers and grasses while still being suitable for vehicle traffic. Overall, the garden acts as a giant sponge, soaking up natural rainfall and growing beneficial life forms.
SUSTAINABLE ENGLISH FLOWERBED. Sustainable landscaping is a set of principles and practices, not a visual style. Any worries that opting for a sustainable landscape means having to endure parched plantings and beds of gravel should be put to rest by this garden. It’s drought tolerant, colorful, lush, and friendly. A sustainable landscape can be just about anything: Asian, cottage garden, formal, informal, you name it.
CREATING A ROCKY CLIFF. Here’s what can be done with a steep site hemmed in by a sidewalk and a fence. We created a safe, inviting path to the house by making a cliff of native sandstone boulders combined with plastered block walls where space didn’t permit the use of stone. Space was so constrained that we came within one inch of violating the regulations for wall construction! The plantings are a combination of succulents, woody plants, and perennials and they require very little water or care. This was a pretty massive and costly undertaking, but a similar effect can be achieved on a smaller scale.
MEADOW-CENTRIC PARADISE. Here was a cute little house from the 1920s, with what appeared to be the original landscaping. It didn’t do much for the house or for the residents. A complete change resulted in a sustainable, unusual landscape with a number of interesting features. Read on for details.
COUNTRY NATIVE MAKEOVER. This project was carried out over a 20 year period. The residence is on an acre of oak woodland with “good bones” as they say, but very little in the way of amenities and lots of missed opportunities. We gradually transformed it into an extensive series of linked outdoor rooms, food-growing spaces, and native habitat. The result was an intriguing garden that invites exploration, quiet contemplation, and gatherings of friends. Today, over 40 years after we began, the garden has matured into a fine place to be and a sustainable home for people and wildlife Thanks to careful design at every step, it’s also easy on resources and a breeze to care for. The original owners still live there and consider their garden their favorite place in all the world.
SUSTAINABLE ELEGANCE. The gardens at this walled property had originally been designed by a famous landscape architect in the 1950s. It was time for a makeover that respected his work, and for some brand-new areas as well. We spent several years creating this series of linked spaces. The front yard is a walled Japanese garden, and the back patio is a sequestered space in the traditional European style.
A COUNTRY GARDEN IN TOWN. Here’s what can happen to a basic tract house back yard with the right design. As usual, we had to start by removing an old lawn. We replaced it with an open swale that acts as a rain garden and is filled with native and other perennial plants. A patio provides entertainment space, and a naturalistic pond is habitat for wildlife and a lovely accent and focal point for the space. A stroll brings one to surprises, places to sit, and different views.
NATIVES ON AN HISTORIC SITE. A former stagecoach stop, this home and extensive grounds was a perfect setting for a native garden. The owner collected antiquities and arts from Asia and other parts of the world, and had wonderful taste. It was a pleasure to fill the vast spaces with native and other plants, creating as we went over an extended period. The owners also did some beautiful walls and other work on the site, which adds a great deal to the surroundings. Despite its size, most of the gardens are pretty easy to care for.
OWEN’S SANTA BARBARA GARDEN. Santa Barbara was Owen’s home for 45 years, and for 32 of those years he slowly developed a garden that became a local legend. Starting with a small post-war house on a flat lot a block from the ocean, the home and garden went through nearly continuous remodels and additions for over 3 decades. The results were shared with a regular stream of visitors, and the gardens have been featured in films and on television shows.
OWEN’S CORVALLIS GARDEN. The garden at Owen’s Corvallis home began to take shape in spring of 2013. A young garden with much promise, it will unfold over the years as a sustainable ecosystem, providing food for people, habitat for native plants and animals, and plenty of beauty. The patios and other hardscape features were already at the time the property was purchased, as were a hedge along the driveway and a small back lawn. Everything builds upon these. Much has happened in two years of development, but check back to follow the progress of this project.