Oasis-Like Garden by Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture, California

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It’s easy to see where this outdoor landscape design by Jeffrey Gordon Smith gets its name: take a look at the lay of the land, and you’ll see an incline being cleverly managed by the skill of the landscape designer into patio, plantings, fire pits, and water features. This design encompasses multiple levels as well, from the hot tub and cozy bench around the ground-level fire pit, to the rooftop garden with its own live plants and another fire pit. The stone patio and driveway are major stars of this production: diamond-shaped patterns harmonize with both the house’s exterior and garage door panels, while large oblongs and geometric shapes flow throughout. Succulents, pines, and native grasses fill raised beds and ceramic planters, as well as the edging below the windows of the house itself.

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But one of the other major intriguing features of this landscape is a “tower” that appears to rise from the decking, forming a manmade “cliff” in the landscape, to complement the natural incline of the land. A gentle waterfall, down its rippled edge, adds the fourth element to the other three elements — earth, air, and fire — already present in this holistic design. With tall willows reaching almost to the railings of the rooftop deck, the eye is drawn both upward and outward to take in the entire picture of these small but versatile outdoor “rooms,” distinct areas of outdoor living that can serve several functions. Al fresco dining on either level, watching the stars from the spa, or dreaming as the embers glow — whatever the mood, Falling Cliff provides a space to indulge in.

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