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John Stewart Leslie is a landmark in Sedona, or perhaps all of his projects share landmark status amidst the red rock of this exclusive Arizona community. "I consider myself a designer who happens to be a contractor, not the other way around," says John, owner and designer of the firm JSL Landscape. This gives John a unique ability to design with direct building costs in mind so his projects always come in on budget. This eliminates unexpected expenses in the field which can be devastating to homeowners. Armed with a masters in landscape architecture, his combination of highbrow design training and a long history of in-the-trenches construction, he is a rare creature in today's market. It's no wonder his projects are detailed, smart and up to date with today's most haute interiors and architecture in this finicky southwest enclave.

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Natural Setting

In a landscape with less view shed than other homes in the neighborhood, the owners built a 100 square foot stucco ramada with a solid roof to provide an observation deck on top to enjoy sweeping 360 degree views. It is accessed by a custom built iron spiral staircase designed to match existing ironwork on the house. Underneath is a full outdoor kitchen with grill, refrigerator, trash compactor and plenty of storage drawers beneath fabulous granite slab counter tops.

This multi-purpose structure was built for $30,000, the kitchen for an additional $10,000 and $8000 for the staircase.

JSL Landscape
Sedona, AZ


An open beam pergola runs along the far side of the swimming pool, it's front column foundations integrated into the pool bond beam with individual block pedestals, which eliminated deeper footings. Each post is wood wrapped in two halves of a cast concrete column that proved far more affordable and versatile than the typical carved cantera stone columns popular in this area. "We can run electrical and plumbing up the inside of these hollow posts," says designer John Leslie, "which makes it much easier to add interesting lighting and outdoor misting systems." The top beams are rough sawn cedar stained dark grey to create contrast against the light value columns for more visual drama.

The cost of the pergola is about $8000.

Outdoor Fireplace

This simple outdoor gas fireplace is constructed with a block core and stucco face. The owners sought to create a more southwestern feel to the home which is strongly Mediterranean, so the designer John Leslie took inspiration from the Santa Fe style with its simple forms and rich color. The wing walls double as additional seating and help to integrate the height of the chimney more softly into the surrounding land forms. The blending of forms and wall heights plus southwestern decorative elements gives this simple outdoor living space a strong desert feel.

Cost of all masonry and stucco for the fireplace, about $8000.

Swimming Pool with Fountains

Real estate savvy owners of this home know that only a great swimming pool will remain appealing over time, so they were certain to integrate the best elements here. This conventional dark bottom swimming pool is augmented by a spa and water features to add easy care animation to the otherwise still reflective water surface. In lieu of plaster, it features deep blue pebbletech and coordinated faux stone waterline tile. This is illuminated by fiber optic lighting along the waterline and at the pair of fountains with their steel agave accent pots. All lighting is coordinated with that of the pergola rising from the bond beam for a beautiful night time ambiance.

Cost of this fabulous pool, about $50,000.

Cantera Stone Paving

This entire site is surfaced with cantera stone tile imported from Mexico. It's light coloring and slip resistant surface is ideal for upscale homes instead of more fragile Saltillo pavers. Designer John Leslie integrated a unique drainage system throughout the project to solve problems related to draining small spaces without visible surface grates. Trench drain channels in the under-slab are then covered with cantera leaving narrow half-inch wide slots in the grout for water to enter and drain away.

Cantera stone paving installed is about $20 per square foot.

Koi Pond

When customers asked for a koi pond, designer John Leslie created a rock garden with a streambed that runs to the waterfall. It was built by the pool contractor, and then finished by the owner who obtained all the mechanical equipment to maintain the water garden. Owner's prior experience with koi ponds asked that there be no trees or shrubs that would shed litter that compromises water quality. The rock garden was designed with the best desert hardy succulent plants such as agave, yucca and cacti.

Landscaping Network

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