Category Archives: Work in Progress

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

Current Project- Rox Pro Stone Veneer

We are working on a wood fence replacement for a project in Mill Valley. Instead of replacing the existing lattice wood fence with a traditional fence, we are installing a wood framed wall with stone veneer. The choice of veneer was important, because of the construction, full sized stone veneer could not be used. As a solution, we are using Rox Pro stone veneer, which is precut and glued into panels. This allows for easy installation, with a natural stone quality that manufactured concrete stone doesn’t have.


Current Project- Tiburon Bluestone

Here is a construction progress photo for a bluestone patio on a current project in Tiburon. Bluestone is typically imported from Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where it is used as the most frequent paving stone in the landscape. It has a great color, which ranges from blues and grays to highlights of purples and browns, and good durability.

This patio is of Select Blue grade, which has only blue and gray tones with no browns. This irregular installation is much like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Pieces are cut and fit together to create a patio with nice consistent grout joints and an organic overall character.



Select Blue Irregular Bluestone Patio

Current Project- Mill Valley: Hardwood Cladding

Here are some progress images from a project currently under construction in Mill Valley. We are in process of putting up hardwood cladding over an existing concrete retaining wall. The cladding will be integrated to replace an existing railing on top of the wall and help transform the patio area under construction to minimize the visual impact of the retaining wall.


Concrete Wall Before Wood Installation

brw2.JPGHardwood Cladding Being Installed on Framing Over Wall

Completed Project- Tiburon

We are
working on finishing up this hilltop project in Tiburon. This was a large
project that involved dramatically reshaping the existing landscape to improve
the great views of San Francisco
and Belvedere. We also created a cohesive style that flowed well with the
architecture of the residence. To accomplish this, large segmental block retaining walls were constructed capped with custom railings to expand the yard space. This then provided an envelope for a side terrace with outdoor fireplace, and connecting flagstone patios.


Flagstone Patio with View to Belvedere Lagoon and San Francisco

ptb2.JPGFlagstone Patio and Seat wall with connecting Flagstone Path

ptb3.JPGStained Redwood Side Gate

ptb4.JPGCustom Redwood and Metal Mesh Panel Railing

ptb5.JPGSide Terrace with Indian Sandstone and Stucco Walls capped with Flagstone

ptb6.JPGPlantings and Railing- Vines have been planted and over time will create green fence panels

ptb7.JPGLawn area with Dwarf Olive Hedge

Technology Dispatches from the Jobsite

At times advancing technology does not live up to its billing. Instead of saving time and making things easier, it often seems that the newest and latest gadget just wastes the time it saves getting through the bugs and make the device work correctly.

One good exception, mobile technology, has revolutionized the construction industry in terms of basic communications. The bells and whistles are pretty fun too. We are currently working on a larger construction project with a webcam mounted for the construction site. We can check in on project progress, never leaving our desk. This is especially handy for projects where clients travel frequently.

Another nice advance is good quality cameras on mobile phones. All of our foreman have phones with cameras, allowing for progress pictures to be sent back to the office instantly.

Below- Images from Current projects from Cell Phone Camera and Construction Webcam





Current Project- Stone Slab Steps

Here are construction images from a current project in Tiburon. We are installing large stone slabs to provide stair access down a hillside. These slabs can be a bit of a challenge because of their size and weight. We use equipment to get them near the installation area. Then it’s old fashion leverage and strength to move and set the slabs in place because of the steepness of the hillside. These slabs are also a challenge because of their natural variation. To get consistant stairs and riser heights we have to chip and hone the stone on-site to get them to fit together properly. The result however, is a distinct and natural looking staircase.




Current Project- Tiburon Clean up

From a current project in Tiburon, where we are clearing out an old concrete
patio and trees to prepare for a new stone patio and retaining walls. The
removal of the vegetation helped open up a great view.

View to Belvedere and San Francisco

Vegetation and Patio Removal

Mizubachi Water Feature

Here are some installed photos of the black granite Mizubachi Water Feature
from Stone Forest that was just installed for a current project. The 30″ rock
weighed about a ton and had to be set in place with a telescoping forklift and
then leveled for even flow across the stone.

The hookup for this water feature was fairly straight forward- the
recirculating pump has a timer that controls on and off times, a filler valve
connected to the irrigation system to automatically refill the reservoir, and a
bypass valve connected to a drain inlet to empty the reservoir.



Current Project- Larkspur Seeded Aggregate

This project in Larkspur is having seeded aggregate walkways and patios
installed with bluestone accents. The Mexican pebble stone combined with the
bluestone makes a good complementary paving match.

Forming and Rebar for Front Walkways

Forming and Rebar for Rear Patio

Seeded Aggregate Mexican Pebble with Formed Strips for
Bluestone Inserts

Seeded Aggregate Mexican Pebble Patio

Current Project- Arbor

Here is an image of a completed arbor for a current project. This secondary
area was designed as a separate destination away from the house. The painted
heavy timber arbor is tied into stone pillars, surfaced with Sonoma Fieldstone
veneer and capped with bluestone. The back edged of the arbor are enclosed with
seat walls with similar treatment.



Revisited Project- San Rafael

Here are a couple of photographs from a project in San Rafael that was
installed 4 years ago. The project included a front entrance bluestone walkway,
plantings, urn fountain and entrance gate in the front yard. The interior yard
featured a bluestone entryway, lawn, wood retaining wall and railing, and

Entrance Gate, planted with Bougainvillea

Entry Bluestone Walkway and Fountain

Current Project- Novato Intimate Garden

This is a project for a new home in Novato. As is frequently the case, the
residence is on a hillside and the space in the back yard is limited. The design
for this project sought to create a usable back patio space, leaving room for an
Asian themed border planting.

Custom Stone Fountain

Curvilinear colored concrete patio

Creeping Fig vines to help soften the existing retaining wall
and Asian themed plantings with Japanese Forest Grass, Japanese Maple, and
variegated Liriope as featured plantings

Current Project- Novato

We are wrapping up this project in Novato, a renovation of an existing back
yard landscape to create more usable area and better transition spaces. We
pushed the spa and retaining wall back into the hillside to create more space,
planting the back hillside and expanded the lawn and flagstone walkways.

Before- The previous spa configuration, while not
unattractive, created unusable lawn space and cramped the back yard

Before- The flagstone walkway that was existing was cramped by
the lawn and spa configuration

old spa pad was moved from the center of the yard to the edge of the yard,
creating more open usable space. The hillside was planted with groundcovers and
colorful perennials to open up views from the interior and improve on the bare

existing flagstone was matched to tie in a seamless appearance with the old

spa was pushed back into the hillside, creating more usable space within the

Novato Project & Seeded Concrete Finishes

We just finished pouring a concrete walkway and pad for a project in Novato.
The concrete finish we used we a seeded aggregate. There are several different
options for seeded aggregate, both in terms of the stone that is seeded, and the
size of the stone seeded.

Example of stone on pathway we just completed- 3/4″
Red River aggregate

Seeding in progress- stones are broadcast and then
embedded into the surface of the concrete. The concrete is washed away to reveal
the packed stones at the surface.

Seeding completed- 3/8″ smaller Pami Pebble

Example of another aggregate stone- Salmon

Completed Project- Tiburon

Here are some final images from a project we have just completed in Tiburon.
It is interesting to see the pieces fit together, as the landscape was installed
at the same time the custom home construction was being completed.

Flagstone Steps descending from Main Patio Level to

Rear view of the house and landscape

Side Patio, Flagstone Path, Cedar Perimeter Fence,

Rear Lawn and Cable Fence

Front Entry Path, Lawn, and Large Box Mayten Trees

Reverse view of Front Yard