Using Stonework to Tie Together a Santa Barbara Home and Garden

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When these clients hired Grace Design Associates for their garden layout, they had just built a home and studio on Pedregosa Street in Santa Barbara, CA. But, true to its name — pedregosa meaning “rocky” in Spanish — the site was replete with sandstone unearthed during construction, everything from boulders to a large wall and curbs. The clients wanted all stone to be integrated into the landscape and any new stonework made to blend with the old. They needed to tie the new construction together with already existing historical homes in the neighborhood, some dating from the 1800s. As if those parameters weren’t challenging enough, the clients — recent Iowa transplants — also wanted a “little bit of home” and a prairie feel about the grounds.

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Grace went to work, using boulders and terracing to make outdoor “rooms” for different uses. A stone amphitheater — for proposed musical/social evenings — and fire pit are now central gathering places; fixed seating on one side allows for the other side to be used as anything from additional “stage” area to a spot to lay out sleeping bags. Near the fire pit is a cedar hot tub, close enough for enjoyment of the flames but distant enough to provide solitude. Plantings are simple, with lots of native grasses that not only conserve water, but are low-maintenance. Best of all, as the designers put it, “Every last piece of stone was used on site…and some were then ‘broken down’ to differing degrees to suggest a long history of site occupation.” Thus, “The garden connects the house to the site, the neighborhood, and the larger setting seamlessly.”

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