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Seed Studio Utilizes Existing Tree Canopy to Create Lush ‘Forest-Like’ Landscape

Seed Studio transformed this homeowner's sloping backyard into a remarkable space that captures the essence of Hawaiian Islands.
Seed Studio designs backyard landscape in San Francisco

Several years after relocating to San Francisco from Hawaii, Seed Studio transformed this homeowner’s sloping backyard into a remarkable space that captures the essence of Hawaiian Islands.

Featuring an assortment of plants, varying from ferns to grasses and flowering shrubs, the lush layered landscape mimics the verdant environment of Hawaii and evokes a sense of tranquility for relaxation.

Seed Studio designs backyard landscape in San Francisco
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

Architecturally, the staggered steps provide a structured pathway through the terrace, creating geometric balance and rhythm in the backyard. 

These forms reveal a variety of textures and elements that contribute to its aesthetic and functional qualities.

Contrasting with the wooden elements and finely textured greenery, a dark grey stone palette provides a smooth texture enhancing the overall design through a mix of organic and constructed forms.

Steve Ritchey of Seed Studio commented “the existing retaining wall has been repurposed and faced with wood to serve as outdoor seating.”

Seed Studio design terraced walls with natural materials
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

Paying homage to the Hawaiian Islands’ and their volcanic origins, Seed Studio proposed a volcanic-like stone for the paving and walls while richly stained wood planks used for the terraced walls.

“The specific stone used in this project is basalt, with a split finish for the walls and a flamed texture for the paving” said Steve Ritchey of Seed Studio.

Chosen as an eco-friendly substitute for tropical hardwood, the terraced walls used throughout the design are thermally modified wood – a process that utilizes high heat to alter the dimensional composition of wood.

With the combination of these two textures, the landscape exudes warmth and provides a natural look that harmonizes with the surrounding greenery. 

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Seed Studio creates outdoor living space
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

As the terraced stairs lead to the back landscape, a seating area defined by a striking focal-featured firepit is backdropped by three dramatic tree ferns [Dicksonia antarctica] with delicate foliage.

To enhance the tropical ambiance, these multi-stemmed trees are illuminated from the ground to create a depth in space against the wooden fence that encloses the space.

Steve mentioned “the deck seating area and firepit is really the heart of the garden, a sanctuary for both relaxation and gathering with friends.”

Seed Studio creates outdoor living space
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

Throughout the garden, clean lines with a modern aesthetic harmoniously blend horticulture and functional living. 

Connecting materials within the project, Seed Studio carried wood materials as a vertical surface and backdrop to the garden, providing privacy and enhancing the enclosure’s sense of seclusion. 

Steve mentioned “I really worked to give the upper deck a sense of floating in space.  When you’re up there you feel both elevated and enclosed at the same time.”

Seed Studio creates outdoor lighting
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

With a focus on rich and organic materials, outdoor lighting accentuates the dramatic play of light and shadow on the plants and wooden walls, extending life at night. 

Noticeable among the warm-tone outdoor lighting, is the use of cool blue LED color-changing lights along the steps, which provides a contemporary touch and adds to the safety of navigating the space in low light conditions.

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Seed Studio creates landscape details
Project by Seed Studio Landscape Design. Photography by Travis Rhoads Photography

Seed Studio, led by Steve Ritchey, continuously delves into the possibilities of integrating his clients’ lives more closely with nature, emphasizing the significance of this connection within their homes.

His practice crafts environments that nurture such interactions, employing a design vernacular that resonates with the distinct characteristics of your specific locality.

Seed Studio Landscape Plan
Landscape Plan by Seed Studio Landscape Design.

Landscape Design by: Seed Studio

Construction by: Modernscapes

Gardening by: Cobble & Forge

Photography by: Travis Rhoads Photography

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