Category Archives: Client Reviews

Completed Project- Large Petaluma Back Yard

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.

Completed Project San Rafael

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

Completed Project- West Petaluma

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

Completed Project Cotati

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.

-Gary and Tina Ibello

Completed Project Petaluma

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.

Carol Sikora, Petaluma

Completed Project- West Petaluma

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.

-Courtney and Peter Phleger

Two Small Stone Projects

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.”

-J.W. Mill Valley




Completed Project- Sonoma

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.

-Lorelei and Larry Farmer, Sonoma


Commercial Project- 555 Northgate, San Rafael

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



San Rafael Back Yard Transformation

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…

-Bridget & Scott Ryan, San Rafael

Kentfield Project Landscape Architect Collaboration

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.   

-Jim Bradanini, Bradanini & Associates

Project photos on Houzz from  Bradanini & Associates


Completed Project- Penngrove Landscaping

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.
-Cece & Monte Bible, Penngrove
Planting details for relandscaping
Planting details for re-landscaping

San Rafael- Site Demo & Fence Installation

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.

-Amy & Tim Gilleran, San Rafael


Completed Project- Commercial Landscape Rennovation, San Rafael

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.


Bocce Court Installation- Penngrove

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!



A Nice Note

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.

Estimate notes over design sketch

Completed Project- Novato New Home Landscape

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


Completed Project- Petaluma Front & Back Yard

This project was a complete reworking of a front and back yard, with new stamped concrete driveway, entry pathway and rear patio. In the back yard we installed a new arbor and revamped an old lawn with new plantings and pathways.

 We were very pleased with O’Connell Landscape, from our first meeting with Michael to the completed project of our frontyard, backyard and driveway.  Michael was able to take our vision and with his expertise in landscape design exceeded our expectations for our project.  The crew was great, they were always on time and at the end of each workday the work areas were straightened and ready for the following day.  We had a lot of cement work done and were very pleased with the concrete contractor’s skill with color and design.

We appreciated the landscape drawings that Michael prepared which helped us visualize what the project would look like at completion. The informational booklet that Michael put together for the types and care of the many different plants and trees is proving to be very helpful.
-Ed & Diane Landman, Petaluma

Completed Project- Petaluma BBQ Island

We just completed this back yard project in Petaluma, which transformed an existing paver patio with more space, a seat wall, and BBQ island with bar seating. The BBQ island utilized natural stone veneer panels and large Indian Sandstone natural stone slabs for the countertop.

We could not have been more pleased with our backyard remodel, which consisted of replanting our vegetable bed with non-toxic wood, extending our patio, building a seat wall and putting in a built in BBQ.  O’Connell landscape was responsive to our questions throughout. The project was completed on budget and in the time frame promised. The few issues we raised were promptly addressed to our satisfaction. The crew was onsite everyday, was polite and left the job in clean condition each evening. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them.
-Michael & Stacey Wenzel, Petaluma

Corte Madera Back Yard Transformation

This project in Corte Madera had the advantage that many lots in Marin lack, flat usable space. We took the existing back yard, which had only a small old patio and had been cut up with fencing and old landscaping, and transformed it with a new redwood deck, bluestone patio with integrated firepit, and large lawn with subsurface irrigation.

From the moment we selected O’Connell Landscape this was a worry free project. We especially appreciated being able to collaborate with our project team face to face and via email (with pictures!). And, the end result is gorgeous!

-Laura and Rusty Von Waldburg, Corte Madera

Hillside Project Completed

This project took an existing hillside and transformed into a natural extension of the existing more formal. We used several tons of boulders and a dry stream bed along with ornamental grass and a native bent grass meadow to create a garden that blends with the open space around it.

My wife and I would be delighted to refer O’Connell Landscape to anyone and know they would have as good an experience and outcome as we did. We’re proud of the finished project, especially in the sense that what Michael has created for us incorporates all the elements we had in mind but had difficulty visualizing without his help and complete conceptual plan.

For the bid or proposal process in particular, I especially liked Michael’s approach of packaging the proposal so that we could pick and choose those features we had prioritized. It made the decisions much easier.

My wife and I agree the design and outcome was even better than our expectations. We’re very pleased.

-Mike and Sharon Morgan, Petaluma

See updated photos of the garden 1 year later
Project Video


My wife and I would be delighted to refer O’Connell Landscape to anyone and know they would have as good an experience and outcome as we did. We’re proud of the finished project, especially in the sense that what Michael has created for us incorporates all the elements we had in mind but had difficulty visualizing without his help and complete conceptual plan.

For the bid or proposal process in particular, I especially liked Michael’s approach of packaging the proposal so that we could pick and choose those features we had prioritized. It made the decisions much easier.

My wife and I agree the design and outcome was even better than our expectations. We’re very pleased.

Petaluma Hillside Transformation

This project took a difficult hillside property in Petaluma and transformed it with a new entrance, dry stream bed, access path and low water use garden.

O’Connell Landscaping completed a wonderful project for us.  The finished design exceeded our expectations.  Construction went as planned in spite of the weather and the difficult terrain!  Every detail was attended to whether it was specifically stated in the contract or not. The crew was meticulous in their work, pleasant to be around and were not at all imposing. Communication was consistent and all questions were addressed immediately.  We are pleased with the outcome, pleased with the service we received and pleased with the ease of construction. -Maureen & Frank, Petaluma

Intimate Petaluma Back Yard

We completed this project last fall, transforming an unused small back yard into something special with a new stone patio, plantings, and water feature as a focal point.

O’Connell Landscaping helped make the project a satisfying experience by providing a timely estimate, submitting a clear explanation of work items in the agreement, and flexible times to meet and discuss changes/additions during the project.  Their work crew were on time and completed stages of the job efficiently.  I am very happy with the quality of the products they installed. -Lorrie, Petaluma

Petaluma Dog Friendly Paver Installation

This project in Petaluma took a back yard with a small existing concrete patio and developed a large paver patio with more usable area for entertaining and better access for the owner’s dogs. Planter beds were used to soften existing fencing and as foundation plantings. We used Sonoma Blend McNear Pavers and matching Versa-lok and integrated this with a large compacted gravel alleyway area with brown pathway fines that coordinated well.

Installation details were important here. Gopher wire was installed underneath the compacted gravel and driveway Turf Block to prevent disturbance, and all perimeters of the patio were set in mortared solider courses for good long term stability.

O’Connell Landscape did a great job of designing a yard that is both dog friendly and beautiful. Our requirements were rather unique with 4 dogs. The crew showed up early and worked hard 5 days a week for 5 weeks. There was a minimum of disruption during the process and we are very happy with the results. – Mike and Cherri Scannell, Petaluma

Completed Project- Penngrove

We just finished a front yard garden in Penngrove, which removed an old lawn and reinvented  it as a more usable, dynamic garden space. A organic path now meanders through the yard by a new seating area spilling pot fountain.

I knew that by removing our front lawn, I wanted to have low maintenance plantings that would be aesthetically pleasing while using much less water than the lawn required.  O’Connell Landscape came up with a design that achieved both.  I was pleased that they were flexible in utilizing some of the material we had in another part of our yard (gravel) to incorporate into the design, thus recycling and keeping costs down.

Communication about the project was exceptional.

-Joan Walsh, Penngrove

New front garden plan that re-imagined an unused front lawn

Arroyo Community Garden Volunteer Work

We recently volunteered with Petaluma Bounty to help design the new Arroyo Community Garden, creating a design, layout, and material plan from the project. The garden is in the process of being constructed at the Living Word Lutheran Church in Petaluma. You can read the latest happenings at the Arroyo Community Garden Blog.

Dear Virginia,

We want to thank you and O’Connell Landscape for so generously providing many hours of your time developing and presenting professional plans for the layout and materials list for the Arroyo Community Garden. This weekend we are completing the boxes, filling with soil and planting our vegetables and flowers. We hope you will swing by and see the progress and know that you are appreciated for your wonderful contribution. On behalf of Arroyo Community Garden and the many community members that your contribution supports— thank YOU!

With appreciation,

MaryAnn Kendall
Arroyo Volunteer Garden Team

Design Diagram Arroyo Community Garden

See a time lapse Video from one of the work days on the garden:

Novato Front Garden and Entry

We finished this project this past winter to makeover the front yard of this Novato home. The design incorporated two bluestone pathways to a front landing that was surfaced with solid bluestone. Around a large existing redwood a dry laid wall was built, with another at the front of the house for a raised planter.

“Construction work of any kind always brings challenges. O’Connell Landscape makes the process enjoyable as they are so responsive to questions and concerns.”

-Pam Russo, Novato

Client Design Feedback – Corte Madera Project

We are working on a design and installation project in Corte Madera, which had been through design iterations with a couple of other companies that didn’t fit the client’s needs for the project. The client’s decided to move forward with our design because of our client focused approach. Always nice to receive a note like this:
We spent some time last night looking at the design and both said ‘wow…yes, now we’re getting somewhere!’ I will spend some more time processing today to prepare for tomorrow, but clearly we are close and you have us on the right track. Thanks for taking the time to ask us what we want and then giving some time to process your work before our meeting on Friday. Impressive, this really helps.Thank you, thank you!
This intimate entry courtyard design focuses on cool tones with layers of ornamental grasses.

Corte Madera Paver Project

Small gardens present unique opportunities and challenges. A smaller area means more richer detail can be incorporated into the design. At the same time small spaces need to be scaled appropriately. We transformed this small back yard into a usable extension of the lower living room of this condominium.

I was very pleased with the entire process. They helped me work with the condo board to get the project approved, were timely and responsive to my needs. And I love the finished project.

-Antoinette Nies, Corte Madera


Mill Valley Project Completed

One of the great things about working on residential landscape construction projects is it gives us the opportunity to work closely with homeowners to transform the yards and outdoor spaces. We just wrapped a hillside project installation in Mill Valley.

“The best contractor we have ever worked with!  Always responsive and sensitive to budget issues.  We would highly recommend O’Connell Landscape.”

-Kim Niquette, Mill Valley