A Newly Private Garden: Coastal Courtyard, California, by Jeffrey Gordon Smith

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This renovation of a California home’s parking area and entryway came about through an ingenious design by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architects. A key ingredient here? A steel and sand-blasted glass screen that gives the home privacy and shields the yard from undesirable views; its adjoining motor court was made from concrete scored to echo its grid pattern. Front planters incorporate a “milk chocolate” hue as their major color family, providing an effective backdrop that harmonizes with the oxidized steel color; plants including Kniphofia “Burning Scepter” and Achillea “Fireland” bring out the rust tones and provide their own colorful “pop.” The other key ingredient in this plan involved moving an entry “staging” area — typically indoors — to an external courtyard through a pivot gate that skillfully camouflages the dining room.

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Now when guests enter the courtyard, the first thing they will see is a water wall, a pleasant transition between parking and the inside of the house that encourages them to pause and relax. A further relaxing feature is the Ipe wood deck; protected from predominant coastal winds on Shell Beach, it has the added attraction of a fire pit filled with recycled glass. A stone bench, edged with native grass, offers ample seating for entertaining within the cozy screened enclosure — a spot that’s enhanced by colored lights that glow in hues from subtle gold to vivid purples, pinks, and reds. Well-integrated with the home, the screen is a multi-function addition that “makes” the garden — allowing necessary eastern light while making the yard cozier and more functional.

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