Notes from Designer and Landscape Manager Matt Ripley
As some may know, Rohnert Park residences often are build on near solid Adobe clay, one of the most challenging soil types for installing a new landscape. On arrival we found a heavily compacted clay soil with very little organic matter, serious drainage challenges, and a very barren blank slate for the backyard of the newly constructed home. The client requested areas for a hot tub, vegetable garden, fruit trees, main patio for dining, additional patio for site furnishing, seating, and a wishing well, all with companion plantings to liven up the energy. I had worked with this client to design and renovate a much larger Sebastopol Ranch property that included similar features over an entire acre, so inventing a way to replicate that energy in a compact space presented an intriguing set of challenges.
When dealing with such challenging soil conditions it is critical to address them as a top priority, therefore we introduced a significant amount of organic matter and compost and tilled it deeply into the soil. As their desired planting aesthetic involved many ornamental flowering perennials it was essential to loosen the soil and provide adequate drainage and nutrients for these plants to thrive. During the grading process we removed large rocks and clods which couldn’t be integrated and contours the slopes to allow for drainage away from the house, pathways, and seating areas.
Once the fundamentals were in place I imagined how the client’s bucket list of items could fit into the confined space without feeling jumbled and also providing the ability to move throughout the space. Using sweeping curves I was able to link the areas together fluidly yet also allow for open planting areas giving the feeling of a larger garden reminiscent of their Sebastopol ranch. Planting combinations along with statues and furnishings salvaged from the old property brought the sanctuary to life and invited birds, butterflies, and pollinators to join in as well!