Category Archives: Before & After

Novato Country Garden Revisited

I recently stopped by an install in Novato that we completed in 2020. In fact, this job was interrupted by the March 2020 pandemic shutdown and then the final details were completed two months later as restrictions were eased.

We completely re-did this front entry and side yard. One of the focal points was a huge enclosed vegetable garden that utilized ten large galvanized planters. In the past 3 years the garden has really filled in. The client’s green thumb shows as the boxes are bursting with veggies and flowers. A dry stream bed has completely knitted in with ornamental grasses and perennial color. See this garden when it was just installed.

Three Years After Installation

Completed Project- Novato Front Yard

This project in Novato near Marin Country Club took an older landscape with overgrown elements and transformed it into a modern spatially efficient new space. The existing front yard suffered without an entry way to front, an old driveway, and failing retaining walls in the back yard. We installed new floating concrete steps for the entry, replaced the driveway with new Calstone pavers and installed a new block wall to open utility space in the side yard. The result was a clean and thorough make over.

Post Installation Video

Before and After Images

East Petaluma Back Yard Reboot

This project in Petaluma was an update of an older back yard in need of a facelift to make it more usable and replace some tired elements.

We installed a new porcelain bluestone patio, overlaid bluestone over existing concrete paths and steps, installed a new lawn with subsurface irrigation, built two large redwood planter boxes, and installed accent lighting and a fountain.

We had a great experience working with Michael and his team at O’Connell Landscape. We engaged O’Connell Landscape to renovate our front and backyard and couldn’t recommend the Company enough. From the outset, Michael’s approach was organized and detailed with proposal, planning, and execution. We appreciated his communication cadence and found the whole process to be very transparent. Michael’s crew were easy to work with and we appreciated their attention to detail. The final product far exceeded our expectations. We would work again with O’Connell Landscape in a heartbeat.

-Leah Blue, Petaluma

Completed Landscape- Cotati Paver Patio

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!
-Darin, Cotati

Completed Landscape- San Rafael Eichler Back Yard

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.

-Dru Parker, San Rafael

Post Installation Video

Post Installation Images


Completed Project- West Petaluma Back Yard

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.

-Robin Matsumoto, Petaluma

2 Years After Installation

Before Photo and Post Installation

Completed Project- Petaluma Modern Front Yard

We took this existing small front yard in Midtown Petaluma and redeveloped it to create a modern courtyard design. Elements included a stained horizontal board fence, bluestone stepping stones with steel edging and Mexican pebbles, and low water use plantings and succulents. The result was a dramatic front yard make-over.

Completed Project- Petaluma Mediterranean Back Yard

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.

Jayne D.


1 Year After Completion

Before & After Construction

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 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

Post Installation Video- 2020

Post Installation Images

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

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


Completed Project- Kentfield

We started from scratch on this Kentfield back yard, with a complete removal of the unusable existing yard. The client wanted a back yard that would be a kid friendly play space, while at the same time good for entertaining. In its place we installed a new patio area, kid friendly synthetic turf and a new seating area. These elements were tied together with integrated perimeter plantings. See below for the before picture and after photos following installation.



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.

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

Revisiting a Modern Garden

Here are a few images from a very modern garden we did for an Eichler home in Lucas Valley. The colors and textures of the plantings have filled in nicely and given a great a great compliment to the residence. These images are take about a year after the garden was planted.


View of the Back Yard where we installed a concrete patio, seat walls, and plantings

srcl2.JPGView of the front yard- Concrete Path with accents and plantings featuring Blue Fescue, Berkeley Sedge, New Zealand Flax and Mexican Fan Palm

srcl3.JPGThe planting design used California and Mediterranean plants to create interesting foliage and texture differences throughout the garden.

Concrete Patio Renevation- Before & After

We are working on this commercial project for a Pool Courtyard in San Rafael. As part of the renovation we are expanding the existing patio space, installing a new gas fireplace and a central wood trellis. Below are images from before and after the courtyard transformation as the concrete has just been poured-

DSC_8107 (Custom).JPG

Before Construction- The existing configuration of fencing and patios resulted in a cut up space that was not usable and didn’t flow well

DSCN1096 (Custom).JPG

The existing planters were cut out, new rebar installed and prepared for pouring

DSCN1129 (Custom).JPG

Concrete has been installed. This photo was taking right after installation. The concrete will dry to a closer match to the existing concrete. The result is a much more open and usable space.

sgc.JPGConcrete has been exposed with an acid wash and pressure wash and the concrete has had a chance to dry.
The result is a close match to the existing patio.