Award Winning Projects!
APLD Gold Design 2019
ALCA Excellence Construction 2019
This project presented a unique challenge to Josh. The small backyard, less than 2000 sq.ft., was on a severe slope throughout, contained water run-off from four downspouts, and was heavily weeded and overgrown. The challenge was to create an aesthetically pleasing space, with multiple flat useable areas for small parties and get togethers, that would contend with large water flows from the four backyard downspouts during heavy regional monsoon rains.
As the space was relatively small Josh wanted to make use of the entire area. The existing patio was expanded and treated with multi-colored flagstones, a retaining/boundary wall and heavy re-bar railings were designed to prevent falls, large boulders were incorporated into the patio to create an interesting aesthetic and to further prevent falls, a stairway was designed and constructed for easy access to a larger leveled open gathering space, a winding seat wall was designed and constructed, water was harvested to provide additional nourishment to an existing mesquite tree, a cactus garden area was designed and constructed, multiple levels were designed and the grade changes were retained with granite rip-rap. At the client’s wish a fountain was incorporated, butterfly & hummingbird attractors were used heavily in the planting plan, and the severe weed problem was addressed using commercial grade weed cloth throughout the entire area.
A water direction and utilization system was devised by the designer incorporating four cement and rock downspout water collecting basins connected to 4 inch piping and rip-rap retained swales. The water collected by three of the downspout basins was directed via a swale to a relatively large water harvesting basin surrounding the existing mesquite tree. From there an overflow pipe was utilized to channel the water further to the yard wall weep holes when necessary. The fourth and final downspout basin was connected directly to another 4 inch pipe directed out of the yard through an additional back yard weep hole. Four primary useable spaces were created at different levels. An enlarged patio area, a relatively large open gathering space with a fountain in the center, a cactus garden area with connecting path, and a planting area for larger hummingbird and butterfly attracting plants.
Josh was responsible for the entire backyard design and construction, including grading, soil retention, patio expansion and flagstone treatment, seating wall, weed prevention, planting, lighting, and rain water control and harvesting.
The result was a highly functional, complex, interesting, and lively space! During heavy rains, the water collection and diversion system functions extraordinarily, providing a more than ample water supply to the thriving mesquite and directing additional waters away from the yard. During the spring and summer the garden is alive with multiple butterfly and hummingbird species. Additionally the area can safely and successfully host dinner parties, gatherings, and get togethers in the enlarged patio area which now contains a large table and seats, open gathering area with winding seating wall, and cactus garden area.
APLD Silver Design 2019
The project required a comprehensive front yard landscape design to give this newly remodeled, modern 1950’s home a new outdoor appeal. The existing, 20+ year old landscape contained an overgrown hedge spanning the entire street side, three large and beautiful fruiting olive trees, red clay paver walkways and planters, and a small rose garden. Much of the remaining landscape was open space with a pea gravel application.
The clients wanted a low maintenance, low water consumption, densely planted front yard garden which would make a strong visual statement. In addition it was their desire to have an area designated for a vegetable garden. The theme of the space was to be, under client direction, 1950’s modern, to mesh with the home’s architecture.
The design intent for this project was to create an interesting and lively, low water, butterfly and hummingbird garden with a large modernistic sculpture as its focal point. The planting design also incorporated multiple flowering cacti species. In an effort to highlight the beautiful existing fruiting olive trees the designer suggested an open area beneath, incorporating Japanese garden elements such as large boulders and decorative raked gravel. The existing rose garden area was also selected to be re-purposed as a raised garden bed location. Existing red paver elements were to be kept in place and incorporated into the final design. Predominantly, native plants to the area were used in the planting design.
Of unique importance to this project, the designer and contractor implemented a new, experimental material called Hydromat to greatly reduce water evaporation from the soil in this arid region. Hydromat is a permeable cloth material, treated with a patented environmentally friendly chemical, which is installed around the plant approximately one inch below the soil. Once installed it allows water to permeate into the soil, then greatly reduces the evaporation of the water back into the surrounding air. During construction the inventor of the material came to the home and filmed an educational video on the installation of this new product and the project became a test site for Hyrdomat. This was the first residential project worldwide to incorporate the water saving material. In addition to the Hydromat material, a low water use irrigation system was designed and installed to further conserve the area’s precious water resources.
Josh was responsible for all design and construction phases of this project, including the initial and follow-up meetings with the client, the front yard landscape design, the existing landscape demolition, design changes throughout construction, and the complete construction itself. The sculpture design however was left to the hired metal sculptor to be approved by the landscape designer and clients. During the design of the sculpture, the landscape designer worked closely with the metal sculptor to find the right outcome for the space.
The result was a beautiful, interesting, and engaging space which is often alive with many butterflies flying around its centrally located sculpture!
ALCA Judges Award 2020
ALCA Excellence Construction 2020
APLD Silver Design Award 2020
This project was an exciting project for Josh.
Ultimately the goal of the design was to accomplish functional and useful drainage solutions while creating a very interesting, whimsical, and diverse space, in a very small front yard. Using many colorful and diverse landscape materials this was accomplished. For example, 3 different colored split face granite boulder types were incorporated throughout the design. River rock was utilized instead of granite rip-rap, in stark contrast to the granite gravels and boulders, in order to make the “riparian” areas more pronounced. In addition many different species of interesting and colorful plants were incorporated into the plant palette including many native cacti, Sonoran desert native shrubs, desert adapted plants, and pollinator attractors.
The pre-existing landscape consisted of a few landscape plants. Of particular interest was a medium sized Agave and a Kumquat tree. The clients desired to retain the Kumquat tree, despite a minor objection by the designer regarding plant palette consistency, and the Agave was relocated in the design as an accent plant near the entry walkway to allow for construction of one of the water harvesting basins.
The home had been previously outfitted with a gutter system with 5 downspouts draining into the front yard. The river rock swale system was designed to direct rainwaters into designed water harvesting basins in this small front garden and plantings were placed in the basins to suggest riparian plants. Planted around the basins were colorful desert natives. The collected water from these basins supply nourishment to many of the specified butterfly, hummingbird, and bee attracting plants. The drainage swales and basins were designed to simulate natural stream ways and have a curving, undulating layout which is both energetic and engaging.
To further accentuate the desire for color the designer incorporated many differently colored and textured flowering butterfly and hummingbird attractors. Of particular note are a number of different varietal native Hedgehog Cactus which have beautiful, large, and colorful blooms in pinks, purples, and reds.
Also designed and installed was a grouping of three Totem Pole cacti framed between three different colored boulders. This element was placed strategically as an accent in front of the garage access.
The designer also created a lighting design installed to highlight the space in the evenings. The landscape designer, who is also a licensed landscape contractor, installed the garden and made minor design changes during its construction to improve upon its design.
APLD Bronze Design Award 2020
The project consisted of a comprehensive front, side, and backyard landscape plan. Upon learning about water harvesting from the Josh, the clients desired to incorporate such elements to collect rainwaters from their medium sized home in passive water harvesting basins. They also wanted a low water planting palette with many cacti, native and desert adapted plants, and hummingbird and butterfly attractors.
Furthermore, the clients had a special request, they wanted their home’s landscape to resemble another special space. One of the homeowners was struggling with cancer and had recently received extensive treatment at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. While there he enjoyed the calming, engaging and natural feel of the Cancer Center’s unique desert landscaping. As part of the design process the landscape designer visited the Cancer Center and studied its plants and design style. Many of the same plants were utilized in the home design and its style was mimicked. Landscape elements found at the Cancer Center such as colored gravel pathways, planting mounds incorporating split face granite boulders, flagstone benches, and individual plant species were utilized to suggest this special place.
The pre-existing conditions of the home were very sparse consisting of a few sporadically placed boulders and a few common landscape plants such as Lantana. The landscape had then been treated with decorative granite gravel. The gravel and boulders were repurposed in the new landscape and most of the existing plant materials were transplanted on site.
The backyard of the residence was fenced from the adjoining native desert with rod iron. The landscape designer specified multiple tree species from the adjoining native desert into the enclosed backyard in order to tie the two spaces together. This was done to both create the illusion of a larger overall space and to integrate the garden into its surrounding natural ecosystem. A result of the latter was that many bird species frequent this garden. The shelter of the native trees and the waters of the specified fountain and bird bath welcome many native winged visitors.
On the East side yard of the home, two large water harvesting basins were installed. Incorporated into the basins were native Mesquite trees. It should be mentioned that due to the narrow dimensions of this side yard space the basins were constructed in close proximity to the home footing. Due to the relatively infrequent heavy rains in the region it was felt that minimal, if any, water damage would be caused by their location. Additionally, the basins were designed and constructed at a 1.5’ depth. This accomplished two goals. Increased water harvesting capacity during heavy monsoon rains and tree root placement amply below the home footing. One exciting result of this feature is the rapid growth of its trees.
During construction, Josh slightly tweaked the design when it was thought that changes would improve the ultimate outcome. Josh and one helper installed the landscape in its entirety.
APLD Bronze Design Award 2020
The project consisted of a comprehensive front, side, and backyard landscape plan for this rather large sized corner lot.
Josh quickly identified 5 primary design areas; a front entry microclimate zone, a relatively large front yard zone, a lawn conversion zone, a side yard zone, and a pool zone.
During the initial consult the designer identified an entryway microclimate suitable for tropical plantings. This was suggested to the clients and very favorably received. Tropical plants such as African Bird of Paradise and Philodendrun were placed in this area and have performed beautifully. This unique space defines and delineates the home’s entry. It serves as a transition from the harsh desert outdoors into the cooler inner confines of the property.
The rather large front yard zone had a few existing landscape elements and its grade was flat. Josh proposed passive water harvesting, tree plantings near the proposed collection basins, additional grade changes constructed with approximately 8 tons of imported native soils, and low water, desert adapted, hummingbird and butterfly attracting plantings. The result is a beautiful, constructed, desert, ecosystem which is both functional and aesthetically engaging. The homeowners have received many comments on its beauty by visitors and neighbors. Butterflies and hummingbirds frequent the space.
Upon entry through the side gate to the backyard, there was a large pre-existing lawn. The designer proposed removing the lawn to both conserve water and to create a more interesting space. The final proposition, which was later installed, was a Japanese style meditation garden complete with a custom built granite boulder and flagstone bench. The area is truly unique.
Just past the lawn zone was a side yard area of approximately 250 square feet. The pre-existing condition of this area was a gravel treatment. The area was identified by the designer as a heat sink as it happened to be directly against the hot South side of the home. A few fast growing, low litter trees, were selected to shade the house and to reduce reflected heat from the gravel. Also incorporated were large, low water, desert adapted shrubs to further insulate the home and side yard from high summer temperatures. Finally, many smaller, low water, butterfly and hummingbird attractors were incorporated into this space to enliven and add interest. The result was an energetic area often alive with butterflies which serves to protect the home from extreme desert heat.
Finally, the property had a beautiful pool and spa however there was essentially no landscaping around it but gravel. The clients desired color in this area as well as an oasis feel. The color was achieved through the use of different lantana species and varieties. Mediterranean Fan Palms were selected for the space as well to help create the oasis feel. The small to medium scale of this particular species was favorable and selected to retain the backdrop mountain views.
The landscape designer, who is also a licensed landscape contractor, designed and installed the project.
APLD Gold Design Award 2021 & ALCA Judges Award 2020
The project was particularly exciting to the designer as drastic changes to this front residential property were desired. The client wished to have her large, linear, driveway redesigned to recoup approximately 60% of its space for a prominent pedestrian entry and large garden area. A new exit point was to be located for the redesigned, and drastically reduced, driveway and a bold pedestrian entry was to be created.
The existing entry to this property was bland and drab as demonstrated by the before photo. It consisted of a straight sidewalk and long, straight, front entry, drive. A few existing trees, a large Yucca, and a Saguaro were incorporated into the design and retained in the space and the driveway was drastically reimagined and reduced. The designer removed the sidewalk and the long front entry drive and relocated the roundabout exit, thereby creating considerable space for the project’s garden and pedestrian entry.
The designer also placed a large, decorative, planting mound in the center of the new, much smaller, driveway roundabout. This element is visible in the foreground of the nearby Catalina Mountains and serves as a reminder of the mountains located behind arriving visitors pulling into the home.
The designed flagstone entry, highlighted with massive split face granite boulders, native to the area, is suggestive of the stream and wash beds found nearby in the Catalina mountains. It is bordered with low maintenance, desert, butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants and creates an ambiance for visitors to the home. The frequent activity of butterflies bring the space to life and the many flowering plants transport the homes visiting guests to the nearby mountains as they enter the home from the bustling city nearby.
As most of the surrounding natural desert blooms in yellow, a predominantly yellow flower theme was incorporated into this design. This was accentuated with the heavy use of Chocolate Flowers along the edges of the flagstone entry. These serve a dual purpose as the wonderful and powerful fragrance they emit help to create the space’s transformative feel.
During the design phase, metal mesh was specified and included during construction in the large, flagstone, concrete sublayer. This process prevented any future cracking of the surface and to date it remains crack free.
This unique project was constructed by the designer and his team and was selected for an, “Excellence in Construction Award– 2020” by the Arizona Landscape Contractor’s Association.