We install projects of all sizes, from small intimate spaces, up to estate size landscapes. This diversity of experience gives us a practical design sense, which is more than just ‘throwing money’ at a project. Rather we can leverage those landscape elements that will generate the most value. Here is a Houzz portfolio of some of our larger installations in Marin and Sonoma Counties, enjoy…
We don’t use a lot of subcontractors on our projects. We are jacks of all trades and do most of the hardscape, woodwork, softscape and sitework in house. That being said, there are places where a good subcontractor is essential. Do you really want landscapers finishing your concrete? Building your brick pizza over? Don’t think so.
When we do use subcontractors, we prefer good ones (read not cheap). We don’t want to have to chase down a contractor who is a day late and dollar short. Scott over at Essential Craftsman explains the importance of subs beautifully in this video.
We don’t often get to do a project twice, but this project in Corte Madera provided a unique opportunity. The homeowners remodeled their one story home, and in the construction process both the front and rear landscapes were erased. The task of this project was to update and restore the landscape we had installed about 10 years ago with an updated version. The result matched the modern lines of the new residence well.
California natives are versatile garden anchors, which are well adapted to our climate and wildlife. Here are 9 of our favorites that fit in almost any landscape scheme- whether it is to provide color, texture, or mass, these plants can do it all!
While the rain has come a bit to the North Bay, that hasn’t slowed down this installation in East Petaluma. In this video we see a new Cal Stone Paver Patio right after installation and check-in on our prep for new turf.
This compact front and back yard in East Petaluma was in need of a make-over after the builder installed landscape had run it’s course.
We replaced the existing lawn with low maintenance synthetic turf, expanded the patio with porcelain pavers to compliment the house and added a new vegetable garden area.
In the front yard a new rock garden style landscape of low maintenance succulents and mediterranean plants completed the renovation.
“We’ve been admiring the yard all afternoon as we set about cleaning things up and putting things away. The lights just came on and it was so wonderful to look out and see the olive tree & back wall illuminated as well as the front steps.
Thank you to you and your crew! It’s Christmas, New Years and our birthdays all in one day!”
This year has been a roller coaster with the spring shut down, followed by an increase in project demand as folks spend more time at home. One of the nice surprises of 2020 is how many repeat client projects we have done this year. We have installed 6 projects for past clients as part of new phases or remodels of their landscapes.
This project in Petaluma featured a repeat client who downsized into a smaller home. We installed a new Versa-lok retaining wall to open up some additional space in their yard; renovated the existing irrigation system and installed new turf and a seating area in this preliminary phase.
This is a repeat performance (second home and landscape project) with O’Connell Landscape and we couldn’t be happier. The first project resulted in an award-winning yard (which undoubtedly helped in last year’s sale). In our current down-sized home we didn’t hesitate to call Michael and his crew, the same men were we worked with 12 years ago. They transformed an overgrown yard into an attractive, low maintenance, functioning living space. They offered detailed fore-thought, responsive collaboration, and quality implementation. We can’t recommend Michael and his team highly enough.
-Sharon & Mike Morgan, Petaluma
Here is a video from another repeat client installation that we recently completed. This featured new fencing and custom driveway gates by Prowell Woodworks in Cotati to compliment the landscape installation we did a couple of years ago. We installed a custom 6’+2′ featherboard fence with matched gates for the carport area.
Hedges are traditional yet versatile components of planting design. They are great for screening, to act as a fence, to provide borders, and to lend a formal or modern element to a planting scheme. Here are some of our favorite plants for hedging from our great Plantmaster database. You’ll notice that some hedges are classified as small trees, which can be maintained at a smaller size with regular pruning.
Sometimes a simple installation can result in the most profound transformation of an existing yard. This was the case for this patio installation near Helen Putnam Park in Cotati. The owners had removed an existing deck and wanted a new paver patio and some grass redone to make the yard more usable. We settled on a classic Calstone Paver with some decomposed granite pathways to tie the areas together. The result was a clean and open new space.
The work you completed here was nothing short of amazing. From your initial consult and design, to the crew’s meticulous work, we are very pleased with the outcome!
This mid-century style installation in Terra Linda focused on clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. We took a tired back yard patio and lawn and renovated with a new patio, connecting paths, spa and shower area, and slab for a soon to be installed studio.
We were in need of a completely new look for our boring, rectangular, flat backyard. Of the design/build firms we contacted, Michael O’Connell of O’Connell Landscape was by far the most responsive, thoughtful and creative. He was familiar with our neighborhood and was interested in working with the mid-century design elements we were hoping to complement. He was willing to work with our rough, preliminary sketches and bring them up to a higher level.
The O’Connell Landscape team was exceptional. Since it was COVID-time, Michael had the same two highly skilled workers on the job, start to finish. They showed up every day at 7:00 and did everything from complete demo of two patios, tree, root, rock and dirt removal, to laying the DG pathways, setting the concrete forms, laying electrical conduit and all new irrigation, building the fences and an outdoor shower and all the plantings. They wore masks consistently and Michael provided two separate portapotties to ensure their safety.
Michael provided regular updates on the job and detailed invoices. He did not go over budget, except for the changes we wanted and approved. There were some unforeseen issues (an older, hidden concrete patio that had to demo-ed, for example) and he itemized the extra costs clearly and in writing. We just love our new yard. It is exactly what we wanted and the entire process was easier better-communicated than some of our other past projects.
We completed this garden in Cotati in 2016, and have returned a couple of times for some follow-up projects. A couple years back we extended a driveway for the homeowners. This past summer we tuned up the bluestone seating areas in the back yard. Here is a post install video of the landscape, which has matured nicely since it was installed.
The plan for this traditional home in West Petaluma near downtown is starting with a virtual clean slate. The front yard features a new expanded driveway, entry, and fence; the back starts over with a rear patio and entertaining area are among the highlights. Use of brick and concrete will tie together old and new elements.
I had the pleasure of revisiting one of our past installations in preparation for some additional fencing and gate work we are going to do on the property. This landscape has really grown in since it was first installed two years ago and looks great.
We have been using YouTube video recaps as a productive tool to communicate with clients for a while now. This before and after series of videos really underscores the transformation we made to the property with a front and back yard installation.
This project in Petaluma started with a yard that was in need of a clean slate and new vision. We created a design scheme that incorporated multiple use areas- a new patio, a firepit area and a vegetable garden, all tied together with a beautiful redwood pergola. Several accents, including boulders, a new fountain and low voltage lighting tied the front and rear yards and brought the whole project together.
Our experience with O’Connell Landscape from beginning to end was exceptional. Michael came to our house, listened to our thoughts and ideas and came up with the perfect design for our front and back yards. He took our ugly, weed infested yards and created an oasis. Michael and his crew were very professional and super easy to work with. Any questions or concerns were addressed in a very timely manner. We can not express how much we love our new ”Shangri La”! -Melanie & Russ, Petaluma
Recently we featured our favorite evergreen small trees. Here are their compliments in all their fall foliage and spring bloom beauty- trees that make nice accents and don’t get huge. All images come from our Plantmaster database.
In our last post we highlighted our favorite Small Scale Evergreen Trees, using our awesome Plantmaster Database. This time we wanted to share some favorite grasses. Truth be told, these selections include “grass like” plants, such as sedges and reeds, as well as true grasses. Many of these grasses are evergreen (indicated with – (EG), providing year round appeal. Grasses are a great component of any planting design, providing a break in texture, form, and color. They range in size from the small Mondo Grass (less than a foot), to towering Miscanthus which may be 6′ or more. These plant genera also host many other interesting and nice cultivars to explore.
For many modern homes the back yard can feel like a fishbowl. Higher density housing often means more eyes peering from neighboring second story windows. In these situations plant screening becomes a great way to create privacy. The challenge here becomes selecting the right plants that screen, but don’t turn into monster trees over time.
Small scale evergreens are the solution, but what are some good selections? Many times these plants are either trees proper, or large shrubs that can be used as a tall hedge or trained as a small tree (standardized to a single trunk). Here are some of our favorites shared via our Plantmaster online database.
This project was a complete demo and renovation of a deep lot on Sir Francis Drake Blvd in Kentfield. The design redeveloped the front of the yard with a privacy fence, driveway gate and auto court, providing a much need break with the street. In the back a large patio, deck, and softscape areas were detailed to transform and make the area more usable and kid friendly.
Michael and his team recently completed a complete renovation of our outdoor landscaping. We did extensive use of pavers, woodwork, lighting, drainage and of course planting. Michael is clearly very knowledgeable about landscaping and provided excellent advice on design and implementation. We are very happy with the quality of his work and his very reasonable pricing. Highly recommended!
Here are images from a project we wrapped up this past spring of an installation in Corte Madera. Deer and access were and issue for the large uphill property. We created a secure perimeter with an new driveway entry gate, deer and entry fencing This really opened up the property and made it feel larger and more usable.
Here are some images from a project we completed in 2017 of a Modern Farm House in the country on the West side of Petaluma. The design featured large masses of ornamental grasses, which as they have grown in totally changed the look of the large entrance and circular driveway.
For this project in Kentfield we installed a large rear patio and front yard auto court using Cal Stone pavers. This video gives a good overview of the Quarry Stone line from Cal Stone and illustrates the installation in progress.
Nothing is worse than a newly installed landscape that is quickly overcome with weeds with the arrival of the spring rains. One potential solution is to install weed fabric under mulched areas to reduce weed growth. Weed fabric is typically a spun polycloth that allows water to pass, but limits weeds. We don’t typically install weed fabric on our projects, but it has its uses and applications.
Here are some Pros and Cons of weed fabric:
Pro: Reduces weed growth Con: Small weeds can grow on top of the cloth
Pro: Reduces need for hand weeding or herbicide. Con: While not very expensive, the cost of weed cloth can add up over large areas. Weeds will grow next to plant crowns where fabric windows are cut for plant installation.
Pro: Can help control weed prone areas like rural installations Con: Can pop-up over mulch with time and must be cut to install new plants
Pro: Segregates gravel mulches from soil Con: Adds expense, but this is one of weed fabrics best applications
Alternatives: Good alternatives to traditional weed cloths or fabrics are increasing the depth of mulch layer or using a sheet mulch cardboard to reduce weed germination.
For this project in Kentfield we are redeveloping a full front and back yard. At the front of the property a new driveway gate and pedestrian access gate is being installed to buffer a busy main thoroughfare. Details show the detail of drive gate, fence, and smaller gate- a custom cedar gate from Pacific Gate Works.
Here are some construction and permit document details from a project in design in San Anselmo. The new work will totally open up and formalize a cobbled together entryway. Show here are section-elevation views and details of the proposed stairs and deck.