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Landscape Architect Visit: A Refined Family Garden with Flexible Play Zones in LA’s Pacific Palisades

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Landscape Architect Visit: A Refined Family Garden with Flexible Play Zones in LA’s Pacific Palisades

August 19, 2021

To create more outdoor living space for their family of five in LA’s Pacific Palisades neighborhood, landscape architect Mark Tessier’s clients (a Grammy-winning alternative rock musician and his wife) bought the house next door and tore it down to create an expansive garden.

“The question was how to balance a gaggle of kids and their play zones with the grown-up idea of ‘I want my property to look good all the time’?”says Tessier of Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture. “They needed a garden that was as flexible as it was refined.”

And they got it:

Photography by Art Gray.

Simple elements connect the front garden to the driveway and garage. A board and batten fence echoes the clean lines of the garage door, and a stripe of concrete pavers in the driveway points visitors toward the entry path.
Above: Simple elements connect the front garden to the driveway and garage. A board and batten fence echoes the clean lines of the garage door, and a stripe of concrete pavers in the driveway points visitors toward the entry path.
Ornamental grasses alongside the path are Dwarf Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and a low-growing sedge, Carex tumulocola, planted at the edge of the walkway.
Above: Ornamental grasses alongside the path are Dwarf Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and a low-growing sedge, Carex tumulocola, planted at the edge of the walkway.
Adding height to the entry landscape is an allée of drought-resistant Brisbane box trees (Tristania conferta).
Above: Adding height to the entry landscape is an allée of drought-resistant Brisbane box trees (Tristania conferta).

Poured in place concrete pavers were “actually poured a half an inch too high, so we could grind them down like terrazzo to give the path an unexpected stone quality,” says Tessier.

Visible through the gate is a swimming pool, spa, and lawn sited on the vacant parcel formerly occupied by a neighbor&#8\2\17;s house. The clients&#8\2\17; house &#8\2\20;is on the original piece of land, but in this part of the city there is only a five-foot setback, so the whole house had been set next to a tiny courtyard that now melds with the parcel next door,&#8\2\2\1; says Tessier.
Above: Visible through the gate is a swimming pool, spa, and lawn sited on the vacant parcel formerly occupied by a neighbor’s house. The clients’ house “is on the original piece of land, but in this part of the city there is only a five-foot setback, so the whole house had been set next to a tiny courtyard that now melds with the parcel next door,” says Tessier.
Inside the gate, visitors turn right toward an irregularly shaped walkway to reach the house. Bordering the house, the concrete walkway &#8\2\20;is sort of a reinterpretation of a meandering path,&#8\2\2\1; says Tessier. More clumps of Carex tumulocola grow alongside the pavers and at the base of two poured concrete trough fountains.
Above: Inside the gate, visitors turn right toward an irregularly shaped walkway to reach the house. Bordering the house, the concrete walkway “is sort of a reinterpretation of a meandering path,” says Tessier. More clumps of Carex tumulocola grow alongside the pavers and at the base of two poured concrete trough fountains.
Although the two trough fountains are at different elevations, &#8\2\20;they visually read the same,&#8\2\2\1; says Tessier.
Above: Although the two trough fountains are at different elevations, “they visually read the same,” says Tessier.
A closer look at the lower fountain, made of board-formed concrete wtih no finish on the interior. &#8\2\20;It was meant to be simple,&#8\2\2\1; says Tessier.
Above: A closer look at the lower fountain, made of board-formed concrete wtih no finish on the interior. “It was meant to be simple,” says Tessier.
If after entering through the front gate you turn left, you see a climbing wall. Made of wood with ceramic footholds, it is visible from the house. &#8\2\20;You look out from the dining room and the kitchen and can see kids playing, but from the entry you don&#8\2\17;t notice it,&#8\2\2\1; says Tessier.
Above: If after entering through the front gate you turn left, you see a climbing wall. Made of wood with ceramic footholds, it is visible from the house. “You look out from the dining room and the kitchen and can see kids playing, but from the entry you don’t notice it,” says Tessier.
A lawn of turf grass where the children play borders the swimming pool and spa. The interior of the pool is plastered with Pebble-Fina, an aggregate finish available in \1\1 colors. Visible above the water line is tile from Heath Ceramics.
Above: A lawn of turf grass where the children play borders the swimming pool and spa. The interior of the pool is plastered with Pebble-Fina, an aggregate finish available in 11 colors. Visible above the water line is tile from Heath Ceramics.
Bordering the house is a patio paved with bluestone. 
Above: Bordering the house is a patio paved with bluestone. 
An outdoor dining room is beneath a pergola festooned with hanging lanterns and string lights.
Above: An outdoor dining room is beneath a pergola festooned with hanging lanterns and string lights.
An outdoor shower is located on the back of the house, opposite the pool. The choice of materials—water-worn pebbles underfoot and a board and batten shower enclosure—are an echo of the architecture of the house.
Above: An outdoor shower is located on the back of the house, opposite the pool. The choice of materials—water-worn pebbles underfoot and a board and batten shower enclosure—are an echo of the architecture of the house.

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published November 2016.

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