Completed Project- Small Petaluma Back Yard

This home in Adobe Creek next to the golf course had a small back yard with lawn that was unusable. We designed a new plan to better use the space with custom vegetable boxes and secondary brick patio. A bluestone pathway and low maintenance colorful plantings fill out the landscape.

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



From the Drawing Board- Sonoma Concept Plan

This project near the main square in Sonoma focuses on transitioning a back yard from a lawn and small deck to a larger more open layout with no lawn. A deck/porch with wrap around steps, central patio, garden paths and vegetable boxes highlight the design in the back yard. In the front yard a new driveway and entry walkway feature new materials and bluestone accents.

Conceptual Front and Back Yard Plan
Conceptual Front and Back Yard Plan

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


From the Drawing Board- West Petaluma Landscape

Here are some conceptual drawings from a project we are working on in Petaluma. The design focuses on an overhaul of the front and rear yard, creating new usable rear patio and synthetic lawn spaces. In the front a new picket fence provides definition, while a revised entry path and porch will change the whole look of the front yard.

West Petaluma Front and Rear Yard Design
West Petaluma Front and Rear Yard Design

Houzz ideabook for the project:


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!



From the Drawing Board- Terraced Tiburon Back Yard

This design for a project in Tiburon took an small existing patio an underutilized hillside and transforms it into a large usable patio space with numerous amenities. There is a sequence of spaces from dining, cooking and entertainment space at the main patio, to a bocce court and seating deck at the upper hillside to take advantage of views of San Pablo Bay.

Conceptual Layout and Planting Massing Plan for a Project in Tiburon, CA
Conceptual Layout and Planting Massing Plan for a Project in Tiburon, CA

The Beautiful Natives of Salt Point SP

Nestled into the Northern end of the Sonoma Coast, Salt Point State Park is showcase of unique geology and stunning native plants. On a winding trail above bluffs of Franciscan melange and wind and salt pocked rock outcrops, are beautiful showcases of Buckwheats, native Plantains, and icy colored silver-blue California Poppies. Each bend in the trail reveals a new treat, from plains of false Dandelion to Dudleyas clinging to the jutting boulders in host of vertical gardens. While the coastal walk is the main draw this time of year, there a multiple areas to be explored, with the Pigmy Forrest, open grassland and Rhododendron  Preserve offering nice hikes on the other side of highway.

Pick an early weekend morning to head-up the coast and beat the traffic on Hwy 1 and you won’t be disappointed. See more photos in our Facebook gallery of our recent trip.



Completed Project Petaluma

This large corner lot in Petaluma needed a complete makeover in the front and back. Colorful low maintenance plantings, accent boulders and gravel mulch were installed to give a new character to the front yard. While in the back yard a new shade arbor, paver patio, flagstone pathway and matching plantings, and gravel mulch were installed to complete the landscape.

Our Portfolios on Houzz

For those not familiar with Houzz, it’s a home design website with lots of good images of high end projects both inside and out. We have loaded our full portfolio on Houzz, and use its Ideabook feature to show clients precedent images and examples of our work. It’s a great collaborative tool and free to join.



From the Drawing Board- Petaluma Planting Plan

This project in Petaluma situated on a large corner lot was more or less a clean slate after the initial clean-up. The front yard layout focused on a low maintenance installation featuring grasses and flowering perennials, accented with Sonoma Fieldstone boulders and Trinity Gravel Mulch. The back yard, which is still in design development, has a series of linked spaces and patios, with a more formal planting layout.

Front and Back Yard Planting Plan Layout for Large Corner Lot
Front and Back Yard Planting Plan Layout for Large Corner Lot
New Plantings, Boulders and Gravel Mulch
New Plantings, Boulders and Gravel Mulch

Completed Project- Petaluma

We are working on finishing up this project in Petaluma, a re-landscaping of a back yard and pool deck. The old layout was not very usable with a small lawn; the design incorporated a new dry laid bluestone patio, fencing and gate upgrades, new plantings, and a resurfacing of an older cracking concrete pool deck.

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

Corten Steel- A Modern Look to Retaining Walls

On a recent project we were discussing using Corten steel wall to create and interesting modern look for an Eichler home. Corten is a really visually interesting material- a special type of steel than forms a layer of rust and gives a unique look for landscape art and retaining walls. It’s expensive, but can make a great accent for modern gardens or in areas where the thin look of a steel sheet provides design interest.

Browse Home Office Products on Houzz- For Example:

Here are some great ideas on Corten walls from Houzz, which is wonderful place to look for precedent images and inspiration

A Professional Quality Portfolio Builder

We just purchased a new Nikon digital camera for our office to shoot our projects (and of course as a fun toy).

The quality is amazing, and the wait is over. A professional quality camera (one that would have been the finest available at many thousands of dollars just a few years ago) is available with a couple of lenses for around $800. We picked up a Nikon D3200 DSLR.

Resist the temptation to upgrade to something more expensive. Unless you are going to shoot weddings on the weekends on the side, or paper your office in 24″x36″ photos, you don’t need fancier features or more pixels. The camera will just be outdated in a year or two anyway.

For more of my shots, see my new photo blog– done as a lark to get me to take more and better photos.

Dr. Seuss, your plant is ready

Low Voltage Lighting- Another Dimension to the Landscape

Low voltage landscape lighting is one of the most impactful accent features to give that wow factor to your garden. With the newest generation of LED fixtures, there are more options than ever for lighting paths, trees, wall and steps.

Our clients consistently comment that adding lights brought depth to the garden at night and the feel of the landscape inside.

Our favorite lighting manufacturers are those with professional grade landscape lines- FX Luminere, Vista Lighting and SPJ Lighting.

This shot from in front of our office shows our sign (lit from above) with Icelandic poppies in the foreground.

As an aside we just got a new Nikon D3200 digital SLR for our office, which captured the shot above. We were early adopters of DSLRs with an old Nikon D100, and there is no comparison with the newest cameras. The image quality and quality in low light (as shown in the hand held shot above) is amazing. The auto mode on the camera is pretty impressive as well for those who want great quality, but be able to point and shoot.

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

Petaluma Front Yard Makeover

This project in Petaluma was in need of some help, with a large cracked asphalt driveway and a front yard that was being dominated by Juniper. We removed the old driveway and an RV parking area and installed a new stamped concrete parking surface and entry pathways. The junipers were removed and replaced with low maintenance groundcovers and grasses. Lastly, the old nondescript drainage at the front of the property was regraded with boulders, cobblestone and California native Juncus patens.





O’Connell Landscape Featured Projects on Houzz

Houzz is a great website for high quality images for inspiration, to explore materials, or just window shop at some beautiful landscapes and homes.

Here’s a slideshow of some of our featured projects on Houzz


2012 CLCA Awards- Kentfield Judges Award

This Kentfield project  won the judges award at this year’s California Landscape Contractors Association  North Coast Chapter awards. One of the three top recognitions awarded for all projects, the Judges Award is singled out be the judges as an excellent entry across all categories of installation and maintenance entries in the North Bay.

The project was designed by Bradanini and Associates, Gaetani Construction was the general contractor.

See the video below for an interactive overview of the project.

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

Kentfield Tiered Putting Green

This large synthetic turf putting green for a project in Kentfield featured two distinct tiers and varied hole locations to create a visually interesting and challenging green.
One of the keys for creating a more interesting green is soften the edges with plantings and create a varied fringe area, so that the green is not just bordered by a uniform fringe.
We worked with Jim Bradanini and Associates for the design and placement of the green and 1st Impressions Greens for the installation.