Located on a plain between San Francisco Bay and the adjacent Santa Cruz Mountain Range, just 15 miles Northwest of Silicon Valley, is home to a young couple with a growing family in the city of San Carlos, California.
Seed Studio, led by Steve Ritchey created an ecological landscape for the homeowners that, in a sense, bridges the gap between the bay and the mountain range the Redwood’s call home.
Steve Ritchey mentioned “One of the objectives of the landscape was to encourage and support the homeowners ability to solve difficult work-related problems with separate and hidden outdoor spaces within their landscape.”
The area where the couple resides is a friendly, active community that hosts local events in the lively neighborhood, but “the homeowners wanted their yard to produce privacy while creating an imaginative and spiritual relationship with landscape.”
Steve proposed their backyard to be divided in two spaces:
- Outdoor living with lawn and firepit
- Outdoor dining with chairs
The “lawn” is composed of native grasses, more of a meadowy turf than that of a traditional lawn.
Near the outdoor dining area is a large mature Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), to shade a table with chairs and create a suitable room for the couple to work outside, while at home.
This well-established Redwood “played a central role into the design of the landscape” said Steve.
Although within the city limits of San Carlos, Redwoods are a protected species above a certain size, the client really wanted to preserve the Redwoods which led Steve to propose a sensitive solution to protect the tree. A wood deck with post construction was built with cedar wood, a material found on the architecture of the residence.
Large openings in the architecture of the house connect outdoor rooms to the interior, blurring the boundaries where the homeowner can work and live between outside and inside.
Steve has grown to earn a reputation by designing small, efficient, constrained spaces with his unique approach of “functionally ecological landscapes”.
On each of Seed Studio’s projects, Steve Ritchey takes on a new meaning of “locally native” plants. Steve said “California has a diverse range of climates. One town over can be a completely different biodiversity. It’s important to hone in on local plants and local nurseries specific to the project to ensure longevity of each project.”
Landscape Designer: Seed Studio
Photography & Video: Travis Rhoads Photography