San Jose Mission Style Family Garden






I worked with the owners of this South San Jose residence to enhance the style of their home and garden. We focused on archways and other hints of the Mission/Spanish style on the existing house and enhanced this style with custom woodwork, tilework, stucco walls, and planting. The hot, sunny front yard is designed to be very drought tolerant and thrive on minimal summer water, yet provide a pleasing accent to the home.

BEFORE: A stark green fence did not blend well with the house. An awkward stepdown from the side yard to the front yard caused difficulty with access from front to back.
AFTER: The new design includes a new stucco wall with arched entry and a custom wood gate to the side yard. A curved step in front of the gate graciously handles the grade change between front and rear.

A natural Arizona flagstone path set on a compacted sand base meanders through native plantings that compliment the Spanish/Mission style. Contrasting foliage colors of grey Salvia 'Bees Bliss' with green Ceanothus 'Yankee Point' provide a year-round structure to the garden. Accents include bright colors of the flowering red California Fuchsia, yellow Sulfur Buckwheat, and purple Coyote Mint. Deer grass blooms in late summer to provide another point of interest. This photo shows the garden during the summer.

BEFORE: Plain rear yard with no life. The owners wanted a space that attracted beneficial insects, hummingbirds, and butterflies and provided a place for small scale vegetable gardening.
AFTER: The new rear yard incorporates a mix of edibles and natives, as well as a hot tub and patio. The hot west bedroom windows are screened with deciduous fruit trees and wine barrels serve as vegetable planters.

The rear yard spa contains a custom-designed seat and trellis that integrate with the spa. Native california grapes are planted on the trellis. This provides a dual function: screening of the fence and neighbors, plus lush green foliage on two sides of the spa. The seat wraps around two sides of the spa and is flush with the top of the spa level. This creates a place to sit comfortably and dangle legs and feet into the water. It also doubles as a resting spot for towels, etc. The trellis design leaves the spa open to the sky for nighttime stargazing.

The side yard of this 'zero lot line' home is generous in width and serves as the main family entertainment space. The owners selected custom tiles to accent the stucco wall and container planting softens the Arizona flagstone patio. The flagstone patio is installed on a compacted sand base, which is a completely stable surface that also saves resources and is less expensive than pouring a concrete slab.

Also in the side yard, a custom-designed wood trellis was created with an angled top for growing edible grapes. I also located two hammocks in the garden, and the owner devised a custom removable sleeve/post system for the hammocks. Underneath the hammock creeping thyme provides a fragrant, soft surface.

Stephanie Morris, Landscape Architect - cell (408) 206.5055 or