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Terry Endo Smith
+ Japanese Garden using CA native plants and materials
+ Zen Garden
+ Sentinel Stone
+ Path system using crushed granite, redwood, and Red Fescue
+ LED lighting system
+ The latest in smart irrigation
+ Natural Gas fire pit
+ Rock and Boulder placement
+ Outdoor dining room
+ Entertaining areas
We love this garden because it is a true Japanese Garden; a garden that uses materials and plants found in close proximity to the garden. My favorite part of any Japanese garden is the art of the placement, and how the garden features represent some aspect of life in beautiful Japan. Located in the exclusive and private city of Coto de Caza (nestled in the hills of Orange County), this garden had to not only be approved by the owner, but the local architectural committee. Even though the community promotes CA native and responsible plantings, grass is still a major part of the Coto de Caza look, so we had to have a balance of green with the Zen aspect of the rocks and gravel we designed. We did use grass, but a CA native variety called Red Fescue, a beautiful small grass that can be walked on, mowed or left natural. Their property is a rectangle, with the longest sides moving away from the house. This gave us an opportunity to play with depth perception. By using plants and textures with the largest presence closest to the house and the finer textures further away, we created a subtle illusion that their garden is larger than it is. We designed a path system and small kidney shaped planting areas, which represent walking around the islands of Japans. We used excavated soil from the paths to create islands of berms. There are designed not to get from "point A" to point B", but the journey of getting there. Terry and Chris wanted many textures of materials and plants. This garden faces West and is HOT, so there was a need for trees. Chris, who is in the Solar business, appreciated that we used deciduous trees which shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. The trees were also placed so as not to ultimately block their solar collectors.

We created a unique mixture of gravel (coral and granite) for the Zen garden (photo above) by experimenting with different blends of gravel found locally. The mixture we designed is bright and can be easily raked into patterns, it also provides a subtle contrast from the gravel we used for the paths. Our biggest challenge was their desire to have a sentinel stone, which represents their ancestors. Typically a sentinel stone is a tall upright boulder. If four feet is showing (above ground), then it must be approximately three-four feet underground as well. Although this is possible, it did not fit within our budget; so, we went on an excursion to find a solution. We used "feather stone", a charcoal gray stone that is a fraction of the weight of granite. It worked perfectly. Terry is an admirer of CA native plants, about 90% of this garden is native to CA. There were a few Japanese plants that we all agreed would be appropriate and interesting additions to the mix. We were flattered when Terry told us that their house had become the meeting place for their children's friends. If the kids love a garden, then we are successful.
Japanese Elegance in Coto de Caza
Landscape Design Connected with Nature
Terry Endo Smith Garden
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