Landscaping allows modern garden to serve many purposes 

One garden can be many things.

In Palo Alto, this modern, contemporary residence is enriched by a backyard that is multifunctional.

The garden is an outdoor entertainment center, a locus of poolside recreation with a spalike feel, a site for rest and relaxation, and a verdant “woodland” retreat.

Designed by Willet Moss and Scott Cataffa of CMG Landscape Architecture, the garden abuts the home with horizontal planks of dark redwood, matching the siding of the home, to form a deck. Beside the deck, also extending to the base of the residence, is a wide expanse of lawn. The grass forms a nice contrast with the angles and geometry of the man-made elements. It’s this medley of nature and structure that makes the space work.

In the center of the property, a leafy, wooded microgarden makes visitors feel like they’re entering another world. Cool and shaded, it features scores of ferns, stone walkways and pavers, and tall trees, including birch. It’s a small forest. The lime greens, deep greens and hunter greens stand out in relief against the light stone walk-base.

The most dramatic part of the garden is the parade of towering carpinus. They stand beside and lean into a reflective swimming pool, adding another dimension to the backyard. Behind the pool is a raised pergola, a site for lounge chairs, outdoor entertaining and rest.

At key places, the garden continues to surprise.

There’s a modern wood and brass gate, and beside it, climbing roses and arborvitae. In another area, patches of ground cover erupt between stone pavers.

Then, there’s a burst of florals. Annuals bloom in sunshine in a flowing, free-form pattern on raised beds. The light, bright colors energize and enliven the garden, providing even more variety.

Throughout, stone steps, outdoor sculptures and multiple elevations deliver a range of perspectives on the plantings, along with places to stop and enjoy the garden.

This is a garden for every mood.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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