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  • New flagstone transforms the pool and patio area, while the pergola creates a shady structure for hanging out poolside.
  • The pergola over the spa is enhanced by decorative laser-cut panels and a raised garden bed off to the side.
  • The spa and raised garden are illuminated by decorative lighting at night, creating an inviting retreat.
  • The third pergola frames the driveway and serves as an attractive gateway into the property.
  • A close-up of the Indian fossil stone used to pave the patio and pool deck. Real fossil imprints add to its unique look.

A spacious backyard is almost always an asset, but as with a large indoor room, it can be difficult to create a sense of intimacy while unifying the various design elements.

That was the challenge faced on this residential landscaping project in Palo Alto, Calif. The home had an expansive backyard with an in-ground swimming pool, yet it lacked secluded spaces for entertaining or just hanging out with family.

“The homeowners host many business dinner parties and family events, so they wanted an area that was elegant and integrated and would lend itself to entertaining their guests as well as friends and family,” says Michael Galli of Metamorphosis Landscaping, which specializes in the design and installation of high-end residential landscapes.

Landscaping Solutions

The backyard remodel included new flagstone around the pool and patio area, three custom redwood pergolas, a spa, and the installation of more than 80 different types of plants.

One key upgrade was the pool deck. “It was basic concrete, and we replaced it with a natural India fossil stone. This one improvement created an air of elegance and sophistication that made all other choices more vibrant,” says Galli. Indian fossil stone, sometimes called Cherokee stone, is a natural sandstone that ranges in color from cream to light tan, a scheme that worked well with the surrounding California landscape. Imprints of actual fossils in the stone are the most unique feature and impart interesting pattern and texture.

The plantings were also chosen to enhance the backyard’s new elegant yet informal look, and included iris, heuchera, verbena, and the most prominent addition, 'Limelight' hydrangea, which Galli chose for its huge football-shaped flowers that bloom from summer to late fall.

“The homeowners set aside a healthy budget for the project, but what impressed them was that we made each element of the garden deliver value to increase the impact,” says Galli.

Project Highlights

Pergola Features

The redwood pergolas are the key unifying design elements on the property, yet each one was customized to serve a unique purpose. “The property is flat, and we needed to create focal points to draw the eye up and out, and the pergolas do that,” says Galli. “We chose redwood as it allows varied use in creating unique designs and for its cost efficiency.

The first pergola is beside the pool and provides a shaded sitting area for reading and relaxing, the second frames the driveway and provides the structural framework for an electric gate, and the third provides shade and privacy around the spa

To provide a sense of privacy, decorative panels made of laser-cut aluminum coated in copper were used as side walls in the pergola over the spa and as the gate spanning the home’s driveway.

Another decorative touch are the craftsman-style lighting fixtures hanging from all three pergolas, making each space suitable for nighttime entertaining and relaxation. Lights also spotlight a raised garden bed off to the side of the hot tub. “We used adapters to modify the lighting to a 12-volt system, which makes it safe to be near the water,” says Galli

Why Redwood?

There are a number of different woods that can be used to build pergolas, but redwood is one of the best. In addition to its beautiful, rich red tones, redwood naturally resists weathering and insect damage due to its dense grains and natural oils. The dense composition also resists decay and UV exposure.

Learn more about redwood and other types of wood pergolas.

Landscaping Network

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