Project Spotlight: Tiburon Residence

by Katie Kroger, Project Manager, Landscape Construction

The Tiburon Project is for a residential customer of ours. Our first project with them was for their ranch in Loomis about seven years ago. That project began a great working relationship with them and that has evolved into many projects.

They recently engaged us in their newest property in Tiburon. They wanted design and build work and were interested in native plantings and drought-tolerant landscapes. They had wonderful design ideas as well, so this project was a lot of collaboration and working together.

Before project photos

The Design Process

Our client had some basic ideas for the design and we began putting our team together. We brought on a well-known landscape designer who has partnered with us in the past on several projects. Since we had a good relationship with this designer and he understood this area we were confident he would have excellent ideas and input for the Tiburon Residence that would ultimately result in a basic design concept.

As the project progressed we did make several change orders but we stuck pretty closely to the original concept and layout. We had weekly site meetings with the client's project manager who was managing the landscape portion of the project, and our team from the project manager to our entire crew working on the project.

The Scope

This property is situated on a hill and you approach the house from the front, which already has a redone front yard. But the entire side yards wrap to the back and then slope down the hill into the big open space. Those spaces were not in great shape and just hadn't been worked on in a really long time.

So we pretty much removed everything to basically start from scratch for around the sides and the entire back of the house. There was a lot of grading and a lot of prep work that happened as part of that process. We had to make some areas as wide and flat as we could make them to give the most usable space, along with working with their hillside and slope.

Project photos

Unique Details

There are many unique details about this project. As you can see from the images below, down one side of the house, we built really large boulders into the hill, with a pathway that comes down on four-foot-wide stone slab steps. These steps wind down the hillside to the back.

Another unique change we made for this pathway was installing some hundred-year-old olive trees from southern California to highlight the pathway.

We had to use a crane to get them into place. They had eight-foot root balls, and the trees themselves are about 20 feet tall with really neat trunks that look great along this pathway.

The flat space in the back is as spacious as we could make it on the side of a hill.

We installed a nice artificial turf lawn there which is in keeping with the theme of low water use.

We have a large natural edge flagstone path that wraps around the whole back of the house and it follows the curve of the hill.

The plantings are basically Mediterranean drought-tolerant native plants, with a lot of agaves, succulents, grasses, and some other shrubs with a California color palette scheme of yellows, purples, and whites.

We did vineyard mulch for all the mulch areas. It's partially composted material and it stays pretty well on a slope and is attractive.

We did low-voltage landscaping lighting for the path, wash lights on the rocks, and accents everywhere.

Our client has a big outdoor deck on the top floor of the house, and they can look down on the entire area and enjoy all the color and lighting at night.

Is the project completed?

We have been working on it for about three months, so a lot of the landscape scope is already completed, with some remaining change orders that we're working on currently.

There is also the other side yard which will feature a 20-foot-long swim spa and patio. Those items are out of our standard scope, but still part of the overall design of their back space. We will do some additional plantings around the area when it's complete.

One of the change orders currently in progress is a second staircase being built from the stone slabs. This staircase will wind down to a natural open space that borders their property. Our clients had a few apple trees there and we are adding additional apple trees and another pathway that follows the curve of the hillside.

A rock wall is also being built along with a granite path, which is all being done in the next few weeks. Once these items are completed we will be finished with the change orders and our part of the project.