Category Archives: Work in Progress

Completed Project- Petaluma Estate

This project in Petaluma’s Boulevard Heights neighborhood transformed a neglected formal garden and infused it with new life. We are just completed the second phase of the project, seeding a large meadow lawn and planting screening trees and shrubs for a new garage building. Last spring we installed new plantings, irrigation, and retrofitted existing garden pathways. A large 48″ box tree was installed to balance existing trees on the property and compliment a new driveway installation. In phase two 24″ box Arizona Cypress were installed to help screen the new garage building. Even though they have been in less than 6 months, the first phase plantings are maturing nicely. Plantings are installed with a weather adaptive Hunter Solar Sync Controller for optimal water savings on the large lot.

Current Project- Petaluma

Here is a large McNear Paver and planter installation for a project in Petaluma. The old yard had a smaller concrete patio that we installed the pavers directly over, minimizing excavation and debris disposal.

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

Current Project- Mill Valley

This terracing project in Mill Valley is transforming a sloping back yard into a usable lawn space and play area. With some grading of the existing hillside and new wood retaining walls a good size area has been created that compliments a large patio space  installed in the first phase of the project.

In Progress- Mill Valley Wood Retaining Wall & Lawn Area
Large Concrete Patio with Stone Seat Wall Installed in Project Phase I

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

Novato Completed Project

This project in Novato was a multi-phase project that grew from an initial focus on one section of the yard, to a comprehensive new grouping of flagstone patios, steps, and plantings.
We used a Dusty Way Indian Sandstone to tie together the front entry, side landings and steps, and a large rear patio.

“We had such a good experience we increased the work 4 fold. Workers turned up every day and left the site clean and safe. I would recommend O’Connell for anyone wanting a top quality job with excellent project management” -Juliet, Novato

Petaluma Lawn Renovation

We are working on a project in Petaluma for a lawn renovation and back yard landscaping. The old lawn had broken sprinklers, hadn’t been maintained, and was too big for the back yard. We developed a design to reduce the lawn size, install more efficient spray heads, and incorporate a seating area and low maintenance, low water use plantings for half the lawn area.


pl1.JPGAfter Lawn Tear Out

Synthetic Lawns & Play Space Installations

We are just working on finishing up a couple of projects in San Rafael and Mill Valley that incorporate play friendly synthetic turf with play structures and basketball courts. The owners of both projects have small children and wanted to create a safe and low maintenance outdoor play space for their kids.

In Mill Valley we installed a synthetic lawn with a play structure surrounded by rubber mulch. The rubber mulch is one of the most absorbent materials for play structures, which worked well in the compact space of the play area and the play tower and slide and this project.

lmv.jpgIn San Rafael we installed a play grade synthetic turf with a premium mat backing for better fall absorption. The turf we used here was also denser and incorporated dead thatch yarn making it look much more realistic. We incorporated the lawn with a concrete patio and basketball court. The basketball court featured an adjustable hoop with tempered glass backboard that we installed.


Denser synthetic turf has more fibers, requiring less maintenance. Premium backing provides more cushioning and better feel.

Current Project- Napa Outdoor Kitchen

Here is an updated photo of an outdoor kitchen project we have been working on in Napa. We have just installed this Viking gas grill with warming drawer. Viking makes great outdoor components, and their cabinets are a refined way to create outdoor storage spaces.

Leading to and from and the patio space are these beautiful cedar gates made by Wil Matthews over at Woodcraft Marin. His garden woodwork is some of the finest that we have seen.

Current Project- Napa

Here is a progress image from a large tile patio we are in process of installing for this Napa backyard renovation. The material itself is a unique product from Tile & Stone Concepts in San Rafael, which is custom cast concrete from molds and then colored. The advantage to this custom product is that it can be manipulated in a variety of sizes and applications and color can be custom tuned to the project color palette.


Current Project- Fireplace & Outdoor Kitchen

Here is a current project in Napa for an outdoor fireplace and kitchen that is in construction. The design for this project really opened up a small backyard and brought the detailing and richness that was present inside the house to the landscape for a great outdoor living space.


The outdoor kitchen countertop partially completed- angle iron steel reinforces the countertop to be installed.


Layout of the outdoor kitchen counters and integrated Rumford Fireplace. The color coat of stucco and finish detailing have yet to be installed. See below for the design development details for the fireplace.

Current Project- Mill Valley

Here is some current work on concrete paths and retaining wills for a project in Mill Valley. We are working on the garden for this recently remodeled modern home.

mvc3.JPGRetaining curb wall and concrete rebar before concrete has been poured

mvc2.JPGWalkway and retaining curb wall poured. The color of new concrete starts out dark and rich and fades as it cures.


Layout of concrete walkways and stairs in context with the house. We used a colored concrete here to contrast with the house stucco color and coordinate with the Ipe wood accents.

Spring Projects

Spring is a busy time around here, sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in spring work. Here are some of the projects we have been working on so far this spring:


ppt2.JPGHere is an update to project we completed in the fall, we planted a second round of spring plantings for a full, lush garden. The garden in Tiburon featured a roof garden with great views to San Francisco

Here is another update to a project we have been working on. This pool courtyard in San Rafael was completely redone, with a new concrete dining area, shade arbor and see-through gas fireplace.

Current Project- Pool Courtyard

We are getting close to finishing up this pool courtyard project in San Rafael. Pictured below are an accent water feature, a large wood trellis with masonry pillars and a dual sided gas fireplace. The space is almost ready for outdoor use as we come into spring.


Basalt Bowl Water Feature

Trellis and Fireplace

Current Project- San Rafael Bluestone Patio

Here is a current project that we are wrapping up in San Rafael. It features a large bluestone patio set in sand. The seams in between the stones will be planted with low creeping Thyme groundcover. Patios set in sand can give a different design look than patios set on concrete. They also allow for future flexibility as the shape of the patio can be fairly easily changed by moving stones. These bluestone pieces are 2″ in thickness and set on a compacted baserock subsurface, providing good stability. Having stones of good size (these are 2′ x2′), thickness, and with proper base preparation is crucial to having a patio that will be stable over the long term.


Water Feature and Ipe Fencing

We are working on wrapping up this project in Mill Valley that features a granite water wall and Ipe Fencing. Because of the challenging nature of the site topography, the 1,500 pound polished granite fountain piece had to be installed with a forklift and hoist arrangement to lower it into place.


Updated image of finished installed water wall

mvw.JPGThe Ipe fencing for the project consists of two types of fencing- a wall cladding over an existing concrete retaining wall and a solid Ipe privacy fence. The Ipe has been treated with a hardwood stain to bring out its natural color.


Current Projects

Here are some photos from a couple of current projects- one in Mill Valley and one in Tiburon that are in progress.


Tiburon Project- Sod has just been installed for this roof garden. The turf area goes over the top of the pool cabana below


Mill Valley Project- Bluestone is being installed on the concrete steps that lead from a new patio area that will also receive bluestone treatment.

Tiburon Project- Edging and Planting

We are continuing to make progress on this project in Tiburon despite a little rainy weather. Pictured below is an image of a garden pathway edged with Aluminum edging, which will receive a final finishing layer of pathway gravel. The second image shows a planting bed that has been laid out for planting plan approval prior to installation.


Garden Roof Top

Here is an image from a current project in Tiburon. We are working on the finishing touches preparing for this roof garden. For the project a new pool house was constructed and integrated into the terrain to minimize visual impact from the house. We are in the process of starting our preparation for a lawn and plantings that will be installed on top of the pool house’s waterproofed roof.


A special waterproofing layer/roof garden system is installed to prepare for this garden roof


Current Project Mill Valley

Here’s an update from a project in Mill Valley. We have completed a section of the stone veneer I mentioned in this previous post. In the second image we are working on the drainage system and backfill for a retaining wall that is going to create a patio space for the small side yard of this hillside home.

Rox Stone Veneer with a Bluestone Cap

fcmv.JPGPreparing Drainage behind a CMU Retaining Wall