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Landscape Architecture: Curb Appeal and a Cactus Fence for a Modern LA Gem

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Landscape Architecture: Curb Appeal and a Cactus Fence for a Modern LA Gem

July 14, 2022

The project name for this minimalist Los Angeles house by architects Annie Barrett and Hye-Young Chung (each principals of their own firms but collaborating here) is Centered Home, referring to the design’s unique “nesting” concept that centers private zones, like bedrooms, bathrooms, and a yoga studio, in the core of the structure, with the more communal areas, where cooking and conversations happen, surrounding this inner sanctum. The outermost zone, of course, is the exterior of the home and like the interior, it is just as considered.

We recently asked landscape architect David Hocker about the challenges of designing a front and back yard worthy of the home’s thoughtful sensibility. “I wanted to create a sense of privacy,” he says, since the house is “fairly transparent.” In addition, “I really wanted to develop an entry plaza that acts as a transitional space, stitching together the urban edge of the public realm while still allowing for both pedestrian and vehicular use. There were a lot of functional needs that had to be met first, then all these items were solved with wonderfully detailed and executed solutions”—among them, the striking living fence of cacti in the front garden.

Below, he walks us through the elements that make up Centered Home’s arresting landscape design.

Photography by Brandon Shigeta.

A lineup of tall succulents border the front garden. &#8\2\20;The San Pedros cactus &#8\2\16;fence&#8\2\17; or screening concept in the front was a really interesting solution both for visual impact and privacy,&#8\2\2\1; says David.
Above: A lineup of tall succulents border the front garden. “The San Pedros cactus ‘fence’ or screening concept in the front was a really interesting solution both for visual impact and privacy,” says David.
Basalt, in different forms, was used throughout the project. Here, in the front yard, basalt boulders form the retaining wall while basalt cobblestones line the driveway. The steps? They&#8\2\17;re fabricated from basalt blocks.
Above: Basalt, in different forms, was used throughout the project. Here, in the front yard, basalt boulders form the retaining wall while basalt cobblestones line the driveway. The steps? They’re fabricated from basalt blocks.
The exterior of the home is clad in shou sugi ban siding (for more on the Japanese method of charring wood planks, see Remodeling \10\1: Shou Sugi Ban Charred Wood.)
Above: The exterior of the home is clad in shou sugi ban siding (for more on the Japanese method of charring wood planks, see Remodeling 101: Shou Sugi Ban Charred Wood.)
Inside the front garden, Family Chairs by Junya Ishigami sit on a carpet of fallen yellow blossoms from the newly planted palo verde ‘Desert Museum’ tree.
Above: Inside the front garden, Family Chairs by Junya Ishigami sit on a carpet of fallen yellow blossoms from the newly planted palo verde ‘Desert Museum’ tree.
A bed of basalt boulders and succulents.
Above: A bed of basalt boulders and succulents.
&#8\2\20;We had to work around the existing pool. The rear ipe wood deck terrace was redesigned and updated, as well as all the plantings and screening fence elements. New lighting was incorporated as well,&#8\2\2\1; says David.
Above: “We had to work around the existing pool. The rear ipe wood deck terrace was redesigned and updated, as well as all the plantings and screening fence elements. New lighting was incorporated as well,” says David.
Drought-tolerant plantings were chosen for the desert-like landscape—like San Pedros cacti, spineless prickly pear cacti (along the wall), Mexican feather grass, and California poppies among other hardy, sun-loving specimens.
Above: Drought-tolerant plantings were chosen for the desert-like landscape—like San Pedros cacti, spineless prickly pear cacti (along the wall), Mexican feather grass, and California poppies among other hardy, sun-loving specimens.

For more on gardens in Los Angeles, see:

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