We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to go water independent, and that we wanted to plant native California plants, and we wanted a vegetable garden, and we wanted to irrigate the fruit trees with a permitted grey water system which was filtered through a grey water wetlands, and have a stream, and somehow tie this yard in with both the old guest house we were leaving on the property and the new Zen modern architecture, and and and… See blog posts “Planning for water independence”, “Fresh canvas”, “Grey is green” and “Rainwater cachement”. Oh yeah, and have a beautiful yard that was inviting for guests to wander in, children to play in, had cool shady spots for those relaxed summer weekend lunches (for those future relaxed summer weekend lunches that one can have when you aren’t building a house!).
But where to start? Many decisions were going to be driven by the details of the grey water system, and grey water systems that people put in are often pretty bad eyesores… big external piping and storage tanks full of pea gravel. We wanted the water management to be a beautiful feature of the yard. We had some sketches and ideas, and had been reading the bewildering California Plumbing Code on grey water systems, but we knew we’d need help. Catherine was getting very worried that she wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed to make a permittable grey water system, and while we both had lots of ideas for the yard, no cohesive aesthetic was emerging that we felt would do justice to the house.
Extremely luckily for us, an old childhood friend of Catherine’s, Amy Cupples-Rubiano, is a LEED certified landscape architect extraordinaire with a lot of experience in California native landscaping from huge commercial projects that she had been working on. We discussed her taking on this “little project” (the scale of our residential project is tiny compared to what she has been doing!), and she offered to do it through her consulting company Green Pad Designs.
We sat down together at the site and talked about all the things we wanted, and from her first sketch, we knew she would push us in some new directions and manage somehow to build all these desires into a cohesive whole – and we just got the final concept and are thrilled.