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
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.
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
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!
We just wrapped up this custom gate installation in Corte Madera. The homeowners wanted a nice architectural gate to match their remodel and front landscape. We installed a heavy timber gate framed with 4×4’s, 6×6 posts and powdercoated black hardware and wire panel inserts.
We reached out to O’Connell Landscape to bid on a large landscaping project for our home in Marin. They were the only firm willing/experienced enough to provide us with line item estimated costs, which was incredibly helpful in deciding how to move forward. When we decided to implement our project in phases, Michael was flexible and worked us into their schedule with only a short wait. We were so impressed with their work — it surpassed our (high) expectations in look, function and quality. They were mindful of every detail and it shows. When we had to make adjustments, they didn’t hit us with change orders and additional costs. They started and finished the project on time, were here every day, provided progress updates, and were generally so professional and pleasant to work with. We’ve worked with many contractors for our landscape and home, and these guys are as good as it gets! We look forward to working with them again on future projects.
This back yard near downtown in West Petaluma had seen better days. The client wanted a complete refresh that would better use the ample flat space with a patio, vegetable garden and potting area, tied together with a water feature and lawn. The result was a much more engaging and usable space that created a new outdoor room off the residence.
Working with O’Connell Landscape has been a pleasure, they turned my once ugly back yard into a beautiful oasis where I could enjoy it for many years to to come. O’Connell Landscape has a wonderful dedicated hard-working crew and it was a pleasure working with them as well . I would definitely recommend this company to turn your yard from dreams into reality and to have a beautiful yard that you always wanted.
This project in Santa Rosa was the first phase of a two phase front and back yard installation. The back yard had been neglected and the clients who had recently purchased the home wanted to freshen up the space and make it more usable. We renovated some existing elements, adding to an existing patio space with the addition of a paver patio, installed a new vegetable garden, replanted, and upgraded some rear landings. Working with the owner we assisted to install a kit pergola that was the focal point of the new yard.
We hired O’Connell Landscape to re-design our backyard and improve drainage. Because they are a design-build company, the scheduling worked out perfectly. Once the design was completed we were able to start construction. Michael, the designer, was easy to work with and came up with a beautiful creative design. Best of all he was receptive to our input and the final result is even better than I had hoped for. His team was very organized and tidy while working on our property.
The whole experience was great. We already have plans for the front yard.
This completed project was a complete re-landscape of a front yard and rear pool area on a half acre off Peacock Gap Golf Course in San Rafael. We developed an all new front planting scheme, and new stone patios and usage areas in the back yard, highlighted by an Aqualens Fountain.
Michael O’Connell presented a very thorough design plan, continued to work with us and provide explanations as the project evolved, and his team maintained a clean job-site. We would hire him again in the future.
This project in West Petaluma was a refresh of a garden installation that was about 10 years old. We installed a new dry stream bed and connecting path, added privacy lattice, driveway access gate, and redeveloped all the planting beds.
We asked Michael to update our existing landscape and add some new elements. We had a fairly vague idea of what we wanted but Michael was able to create a design that brought to life exactly what we wanted. His design seamlessly blended the new elements with the refurbished existing elements and resulted in serene front and back yard areas that contain interesting focal points everywhere you look. The new elements are absolutely lovely and the work done to the existing elements made these look like new again. The dry creek bed and blue flagstone pathway he designed are just perfect. Michael’s crew have been with him for 10+ years and are all extremely knowledgeable, professional and reliable, especially Ubaldo, who executed Michael’s design beautifully. Michael took time to go over all the details, kept us informed on status and provided timely change orders as items were added to the wish list. All in all, Michael and his crew made the process fun and we couldn’t be happier with the results. We highly recommend O’Connell Landscape to anyone looking for a stress-free process and beautiful results in a timely manner.
-Marie Girolo, Petaluma
This recently completed project was a front and back yard installation for a new home on the East Side of Petaluma. The site was a blank slate and we worked with the owner to create a new entertaining space in the back yard with strong Mediterranean influences. A new travertine patio and seat wall are highlights, with the center piece of a Jade water feature. A secondary seating area of Arizona flagstone with creeping thyme balances and softens the other half of the yard. The planting scheme was low maintenance focused with Fruitless Olives, Lavender, and Roses being highlights.
O’Connell Landscape is the best!
Working with Michael and his team made the entire landscaping experience positive and productive – and one that resulted in landscaping that was completed within deadline and is exactly what I had hoped for – and more.
My new home had nothing but clay dirt in the back with a few grasses planted by the building contractor in front. It has now been transformed into a warm and welcoming Tuscan landscape both in front and in back.
Throughout the design process, Michael was patient with my questions regarding hardscape materials, design, colors, and plantings. He was excellent at listening to what I wanted and incorporating those concepts into a realistic design. He was also extremely cognizant of costs and budget issues – I always knew the cost of any of my “ideas” – in other words, at the end of the day, there were no budgetary surprises.
Rueben and his crew are expert and knowledgeable at all that they do. They are diligent, experienced, hardworking, and competent. They were never intrusive or disruptive to the goings on in our household, and always cleaned up before leaving the project each day.
Michael managed the entire process throughout the life of the project, regularly checking in with Rueben and his crew on-site, all the while maintaining excellent communication with me. He was extremely helpful when it came to selection of materials and a garden fountain, always providing samples and identifying vendors that carried materials that were of interest to me. When the project was complete, Michael prepared and reviewed with me, a booklet listing all the plantings and materials used as well as complete garden care specific to my landscaping.
Working with Michael, beginning with design, to material and planting decisions, and throughout the actual build-out, was a seamless process and a huge plus.
My landscaping is beautiful – and it was an absolute pleasure working with Michael.
The old landscape in this Petaluma back yard had become severely overgrown and had been cobbled together over the years. The first step here was a good clean-up to remove all the excess vegetation. This exposed some extensive rock walls, which we rebuilt and complimented with new paver patios, walkways, seating area and vegetable garden boxes.
Thank you so very much for transforming our jungle of a back yard into a lovely, peaceful space. Your ability to modify what we had and attention to detail as you designed and built the new space was tremendous, and we know we will enjoy it for years to come. Please extend our thanks to your team- their work was exceptional.
This project on the Western edge of Petaluma took a large modern farm house and integrated a distinctive more modern planting plan to compliment the house. A large circular driveway dominated the front of the house and the outdated plantings there had seen better days. We designed a planting scheme focusing on ornamental grasses with accents of Olive Trees, Cork Oak, and Arbutus to transform the look of the front. New gravel walkways gave structure and framed the phase 1 implementation.
Michael is a true professional. He and his team are incredibly responsible, organized, detailed, honest, timely, and responsive. We hired O’Connell landscape to transform over two acres of farm property that had been left to waste for over a decade. The results exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to working with them again on future projects. Highly recommended.
This project in Petaluma by Helen Putnam Park was fun transformation of an existing large lot landscape. The homeowners had purchased the home new about 10 years ago, but the existing landscape was showing its age and didn’t fit their needs. We were brought in to look at the project with an existing landscape designers plans. While the plans were nicely detailed, they were too elaborate to be built to a reasonable budget. We worked with the client to develop a scaled back plan, which leveraged many of the initial design ideas, but in a way that was simpler and more elegant, while reducing cost.
The design featured several elements including large concrete patios and stepping stones, grass area, vegetable garden and shade pergola and seat well. Accents of zonable low voltage lighting, succulent garden with fountain, and firepit area filled out the design. We also regraded the property to level and better use the large lot footprint. The result was a nicely transformed and more usable space.
If we had to pick one word to describe O’Connell Landscaping, it would be EXCEPTIONAL.
We met Michael O’Connell when we were putting a design to bid from a different landscape designer. In working up the bid, Michael realized that the work as envisioned by the original designer could not possibly be completed within our budget. Rather than just submitting the bid like the other contractors, he took the extra step to tell us that he’d be happy to work with us on a new design that would better suit our needs and budgets.
Thus, began our wonderful experience with Michael and O’Connell Landscaping.
During the design phase of the project, Michael broke down every element of the original plan and quickly guided us through a decision-making process to prioritize what was important to us, what types of materials would work for us, and how those choices impacted our budget. I was amazed at how quickly Michael was able to narrow down the often-dizzying array of options and through a series of questionnaires and design reviews lead us to a final plan that included ALL of the major design elements from our original plan at a price that met our budget.
The construction phase of the project was equally efficient and enjoyable. The O’Connell construction crew was wonderful—very respectful of our property, our neighbors, and our family—and completed the project on-time and on budget. Ruben, the lead on the project and a master at the art of using a Bobcat, has been with O’Connell for more than 30 years, a further testament to the quality business Michael O’Connell operates. Both Ruben’s and Ubaldo’s experience and skill definitely showed through in our finished project—expertly framed pergolas, beautifully crafted seat walls, exceptionally constructed fences and gates. Michael’s choice of sub-contractors was equally exceptional, with three colored-concrete patios that have literally caused our guests to gasp at their quality. Michael was frequently on-site during the course of our 20-week project, reviewing progress, answering questions, and otherwise making us feel that we were his company’s top priority.
To say that the finished product exceeded our wildest hopes would be an understatement—an absolutely remarkable transformation of our backyard and an absolutely wonderful experience with O’Connell Landscaping.
This front yard design and installation in San Rafael focused on creating a new low maintenance, low water use garden to replace an existing front lawn. Because of the layout of the front entry for this project, a new paver patio was installed to create a courtyard space off the front entry path. We used McNear pavers for the hardscape, accented with a Bluestone landing over an exisiting concrete stoop.
Plantings focused on creating color, texture and interest while being easy to care for. New LED lights highlight the path and new patio space.
We highly recommend O’Connell Landscape. We are delighted with our new front yard which eliminated the dreaded lawn and replaced it with an easy care, drought tolerant, very attractive landscape. Michael provided a design that incorporated all the elements my husband and I wanted, and expert advice and infinite patience on all fronts: Hardscape, plants, lighting, irrigation and more. O’Connell Landscape has a very efficient and yet flexible mode of operation; deadlines and the budget were meet. The crew is extremely hard working and highly skilled in all areas: Foundation work, paver fitting, soil preparation, woodwork and lighting installation. There was excellent communication between the crew and/or Michael and the client. In our case, approval of the plan was required by a homeowner’s association. Michael provided the requisite documentation for this process; compliments were expressed by the HOA for the complete and professional plans. The overall care and attention that our project received from O’Connell Landscape was of the highest quality. It was a lot of fun to work with this company.
-Carol Mirenda, San Rafael
We just wrapped up this front and back yard installation in West Petaluma (see progress photos here). The project featured a lot of interesting custom woodwork- new pergolas, all new fencing, and custom Cedar accent gates. These complimented all new paving- a new colored concrete driveway, paver seating area, and rear paver patio. Accent lighting and a polished granite water feature served as accents, while a backyard BBQ included a new grill, fridge and Big Green Egg smoker.
California real estate is expensive…that’s why expanding our living space outdoors was so critical to my husband and me. We hired O’Connell Landscape to basically overhaul every square foot of our yard. This included hardscape, plantings, outdoor kitchen, water feature, drainage, lighting, fencing, gates and more. The end result exceeded our expectations and is a true example of craftsmanship you just don’t see that often. Michael was meticulous with the details and was a real pleasure to work with. Backing him up is the most respectful and hard working team we’ve experienced. At the end of every day, we walk out into our yard and pinch ourselves! Bottom line, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend O’Connell Landscape.
-Cindy Jepsen, Petaluma
This front and back yard project in Cotati focused on new spaces around a recently constructed home. The front yard had some previous landscaping that was not cohesive and didn’t create a sense of entry or curb appeal. The back yard was a gentle slope with little existing landscape that needed a plan to best utilize the space. Our solution for the front yard was a split rail fence and new focus on an existing majestic Valley Oak. In the back yard a new series of spaces with seating areas, large garden area, and firepit with swing were highlights. See before and after images and design drawings below.
We are extremely pleased of what Michael O’Connell helped us achieve in our front, side and backyard.
He listened to our ideas and with his, designed a wonderfully enclosed vegetable garden, which includes a greenhouse and water feature, planned out seating areas for our family and his placement of lighting is absolutely beautiful in the evenings.
This was truly a team effort. And we very much appreciate his staff of workers who were friendly and knowledgeable of all tasks asked of them. They stayed on track and cleaned up each day.
Great selection of drought tolerant plants were chosen with just the right blend and size that will produce color for year round enjoyment.
Thank you Michael for all your advice and making yourself available to answer our questions evenings and weekends.
This project in Petaluma reinvented an older front yard that had been overgrown, junipers taking over the front yard. A new interior courtyard was installed with dividing fence connected with colored stamped concrete throughout. LED low voltage lighting and a front water feature complimented new plantings and accents of natural stone.
It was an absolute delight to work with Michael and his team. He was always available and very knowledgeable about all aspects of landscaping our front yard. Deadlines were always met and the workers were always on time and left everything neat when they left for the day.
The price was always broken down so I knew what each item cost. I would highly recommend O’Connell Landscape and Michael to anyone. Michael made the job seem so easy and effortless and he followed up after the job was completed to make sure everything was working correctly. I only wish all contractors were as friendly and as easy to get along with as Michael.
The landscape design and installation for this distinctive Victorian in West Petaluma was focused on improving the usability of a large 1/4 acre corner lot.
The project featured:
– New exterior picket fencing to reclaim the front yard spaces, while fitting in with the neighborhood.
– At the side yard a large hedge of mature 24″ box Pittosporum shrubs was used as screening to expand the back yard space.
-New redwood fencing was installed at the neighbors to provide for greater privacy.
-The landscape was integrated with a new irrigation system with laundry to landscape greywater system.
We absolutely loved working with Michael and his team on landscaping for our new home in Petaluma. Everyone of the team was very professional. Michael paid attention to all the details of design, budgets, contracts, schedules and overall customer service. All budgeted items and schedules were met. He was responsive to our questions nights and weekends and followed up on everything. We highly recommend them.
Winter’s slower pace provides more schedule flexibility to fit in smaller projects. These two projects, one in Mill Valley and the other in Corte Madera had two things in common- small spaces and new Indian Sandstone. In Corte Madera we installed a new Navajo Brown Indian Sandstone patio. This created a more elegant and usable space, with screening achieved with Bamboo in concrete pots. In Mill Valley, we installed new Navajo Dusk Indian Sandstone over an existing concrete path, making an attractive new entry.
“Our project was a rather small one involving our front entry, so initially I was concerned it was too small for O’Connell to be interested. But when I explained our budget constraints to Michael, he was very responsive in designing a project that met our needs within our budget. He incorporated existing elements so that the work was focused on the things that needed changing. The old and new were blended very nicely.
The project itself was on time and on budget and we are very pleased with the results, both Michael’s design work, selection of materials, and the quality of the work done by the crews. Throughout the project Michael and the crew were very response to our questions and suggestions. Crews showed up on time, worked diligently, showed an amazing variety of skills, paid attention to detail, and did a good job of cleaning up at the end of each day.
Needless to say, we are pleased with the result and enjoyed working with O’Connell.”
This project in Sonoma was a complete make over of a front and back yard for a residence a few blocks from the Sonoma Square. The design focused on the back yard, with a new patio, seat wall and shade arbor framing paver garden paths. In the front yard a new matching bluestone walkway, concrete driveway, and privacy fence changed the look of the home from the street.
O’Connell Landscape just completed a landscape project for our front and back yards. The design, quality of workmanship, plant selection and his crew exceeded our expectations. His attention to detail is reflected in how his crew approached each phase of our landscape project.
Michael provided us with a detailed design, options for different materials and the cost. When we made a few changes/additions to the original design, he provided us with a signed Change Order before any additional work was started so there were no “surprises” at the end. He was available to answer all our questions and concerns and provided us with knowledgeable guidance from the day he gave us our complimentary consultation to the day of completion.
We are extremely pleased with the outcome and enjoy sitting out in our new backyard. It was a pleasure working with Michael and his crew.
This commercial office building was our second installation for the Marin Community Foundation (MCF), after our first project for their building near the Civic Center in San Rafael. This project was a more extensive removal and redevelopment of the landscape in the front and rear of the building. We focused our design on a reduced lawn area in front (the project is on reclaimed water and not subject to water restrictions). In the rear of the building we installed new screening trees and plantings.
“As I’ve said, you’ve done an exceptional job on this project, Michael. Thank you for your thorough investment in our nonprofit center and helping to make our tenants who serve the community feel valued.” -Mike Cosby, MCF Property Holdings
As is common with many older landscapings, this project had been completely landscaped years ago, but had declined with age and lack of maintenance. For this back yard in San Rafael, the client was looking for something that would feature more usable space, entertaining areas, and updated plantings.
Great experience working with O’Connell Landscape! They did a great job from beginning to end in dramatically changing our backyard.
Michael was great through all phases of our major backyard project – planning, budgeting, execution and follow up. It was really helpful working with the same company through all phases – no opportunity for surprises or blame games between design and build.
Michael gave us good guidance on budgeting, showing us how to get the best bang for the buck in materials, and executed well on that plan.
We are very happy with the results and would recommend them highly…
We received a nice note from Jim at Bradanini and Associates Landscape Architecture. We worked with Jim installing a large custom residential landscape in Kentfield.
O’Connell Landscape is an excellent landscape contractor who did a fabulous job installing a large and challenging landscape project for my Clients in Marin County. The project was multi-faceted and required considerable coordination with the General Contractor, Sub-Contractors, Owners and Architects over a 7- month period. Michael is very knowledgeable in all aspects of landscape construction, and very experienced in suggesting ways to economize but not cut quality. I would highly recommend O’Connell Landscape and look forward to many more collaborations.
This project in Penngrove suffered from overgrown and outdated plantings combined a drip irrigation system in need of work. We installed new plantings for planting areas throughout the large lot in the front and back yards, improving the entry and impact of the landscaped spaces.
The services were professional, on time and delivered as planned. The project was always kept clean and well managed. The value was excellent. Michael O’Connell knew exactly how to meet our needs and always had sage advice as to what plants were best suited for our weather and soil conditions. As a landscaper he is an artist.
This project in San Rafael started with a yard that hadn’t been worked on in years. Working with the owners we installed phase 1 of the project- building a new fence to enclose the back yard, installing landings at a couple of sets of doors and clean up, grading and drainage for the whole site.
We have been very satisfied with O’Connell Landscape, and are planning to contract with them again for future phases of our landscaping project. Michael O’Connell was responsive, detail-oriented, and flexible throughout the proposal and construction phases. We asked for multiple changes and additions throughout the process, and he responded quickly and documented changes thoroughly. When minor hiccups occurred, he responded quickly and made it right. We needed mostly the “infrastructure” completed (demo, grading, drainage, gravel walkways, redwood fencing and landings, irrigation, small lawn), and plan to do much of the planting later ourselves. Despite this not being in their scope, Michael has been very helpful in recommending plantings based on our style and level of watering desired. He definitely understands customer service, and their crews are highly skilled.
This project near the Civic Center in San Rafael was typical of many commercial landscapes. Old and overgrown plantings (out of control ivy and old Junipers) needed a complete refresh to improve the look and feel surrounding this commercial office building. We developed a planting and irrigation scheme focused on low maintenance, low water use plantings, retrofitting the existing overhead irrigation to efficient reclaimed water drip irrigation.
It is a rare pleasure to work with a new vendor on a property improvement and have the process and end result surpass every expectation. Our recent landscaping project with O’Connell Landscape provided us with exactly this experience.
From first contact to final payment, O’Connell Landscape was outstanding. Every call was returned and question answered promptly and thoroughly. Numerous requests for changes were patiently accommodated, while still completing the project on time. All documents and drawings were user-friendly, which allowed us to better visualize recommendations and understand the process. They consistently kept us apprised of the project’s progress, giving us a sense of control. And their professionalism dealing with tenants and water district officials made us look good as the property owner.
It is without hesitation that we highly recommend O’Connell Landscape.
Mike Cosby, Marin Community Foundation MCF Property Holdings, Inc.
This phased implementation of a back yard master plan started with the removal of an existing fiberglass swimming pool, replaced with a new Bocce Court and gravel pathway. The new space focuses on different entertaining areas, with the Bocce court as the focal point.
Thank you for your work on the Bocce Court, my girlfriends love it!
We received this note from a client who is an architect after a project proposal.
Sorry that I haven’t piped in yet, but thank you for the thorough presentation and terrific material you left us. We will be reviewing everything this weekend but it’s a real treat to receive such a complete and educational proposal. I know first-hand how much effort goes into what you put together and it reflects very well on your company.
This new home in Novato combined several elements into a complete back yard installation. Situated with great views of the sweeping San Marin hills, the design for the project incorporated distinct areas- main new deck, new patio with pergola, access pathways up and down hillsides, and a vegetable garden and Japanese inspired zig-zag boardwalk.
O’Connell Landscape has an excellent team of designers, plant specialists, and experienced employees. They communicate well and completed our landscape efficiently and in a very reasonable time. Our backyard is really beautiful and we are enjoying it already.
-Susan and Jeff Schlosser, Novato