Perfecting the Imperfect

Perfecting the Imperfect

Perfecting the Imperfect

Traditional home with uninteresting spaces, unsightly, overgrown landscape and an oversized concrete patio in Santa Cruz Coastal Community.

Mission: Increase the backyard landscape’s usable green space, maintain separation between the patio and lawn for pets, create a water feature focal point and improve the home’s curb appeal.


For this couple, their recent home purchase in Aptos, California gave them quick access to the beach and the coveted coastal lifestyle.

However, the corner home’s curb appeal was in desperate need of a facelift due to an overgrown front garden and the backyard suffered from poorly executed spaces. A stockade fence surrounded the yard with a short white picket fence separating the mostly barren lawn area and raised garden beds from a very large concrete patio.

Perfecting these outdoor spaces would improve the usability of their landscape for them and their pets while also adding beauty and interest.

Along with tiling the home’s front entryway, a concrete walkway and brick patio were replaced with a bluestone paver patio and stepping stones interspersed with ground cover, setting the tone for what would be a more organic, softer landscape. A brick wall surrounding the patio created a courtyard feel adding privacy and greater usability to an otherwise exposed front yard. Fresh plantings soften the expanse from the street to the courtyard wall.

A new decomposed granite path along the street-facing side of the house leads from the front courtyard area to the back providing ease of access and enhancing the coastal feel of the home.

The backyard landscape capitalizes on the existing patio albeit reducing it in size for better scale and allowing for more green space. The picket fence was replaced with an attractive custom powder-coated metal fence painted in green to match the newly installed arbor.

Organically placed stone pavers lead from the patio to the revitalized lawn using drought-tolerant Kurapia ground cover instead of a conventional, high maintenance turf. The raised garden beds were moved to a sunny side yard.

The fountain water feature is backdropped with a custom Cor-Ten steel cut laser panel which acts as a focal point leading the eye to traverse the organically stacked stone retaining wall that spreads the width of the yard and shelters deer-resistant plantings.

“This is the second landscape project Elemental has completed for this client. Their Aptos home was a particularly exciting challenge because the bones of the landscape were there but the prior execution was lackluster. The end result of improving the usability and creating interest using renewed, drought tolerant plantings along with custom features using water, metal, stone, and wood looks outstanding and this home is now a shining star in the neighborhood.”

– Rhadiante Van de Voorde

Looking for a landscape architect in Santa Cruz, California? Contact Elemental Design for a free design consultation.