Case Studies: The Landscape Design Process

Catlin Landscape Architecture is involved in the landscape design process from conceptualization through completion of a project so the end result — pool landscaping, water features, outdoor kitchens, hardscape, etc. — fits together seamlessly.

All landscape designers follow a similar process path: client meetings and site inspections, preparation and display of visualizations to get client and/or permit approval, and communication with architects and contractors. Catlin Landscape Architecture is unique in this landscape design process in a number of ways, including my creativity and how I present visuals to clients. The landscape architecture projects shown below are case studies in both the visuals used during the landscape design process and the creative solutions presented by Catlin Landscape Architecture.

Inspired Landscape Architecture, Napa Valley, CA

inspriation for a Napa Valley landscape designElements of a residential landscape design are often highly personal and inspired by a client's hobby, lifestyle, or location. In this case the inspiration was an antique grape press, a perfect choice in Napa. This wasn't just any grape press, it was a family heirloom with sentimental value. The client requested that it be used as an integral part of the landscape design. My solution — use the grape press in a fountain. The water bubbles up through the center of the wood staves, dribbles over the top, without wetting the wood, into a catch basin originally intended for grape juice, then cascades into a pool below. The grape press is placed between two pillars, each with their own water feature. The fountain is the focal point from the home's kitchen and from the driveway courtyard.

Napa Valley landscape archtecture water feature
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Sketches of the landscape design were used to design the plumbing, mechanics, and the water effect, as well as to design a custom fabricated "umbrella". See the complete landscape design makeover...

Grilling and Entertaining in Comfort — Outdoor Kitchen and Pool Arbor, San Rafael, CA

outdoor kitchen shady pergolaImagine entertaining family and friends poolside, the smells from the grill whetting your appetite as you watch the fun from the comfort of your outdoor kitchen under a shady arbor. That's what this San Rafael, CA landscape design is all about — a comfortable place to grill and be closer to the action. The remodeled outdoor grill is now suitable for hot summer days: shaded and near the pool. The remodeled outdoor kitchen has another plus: it's situated to encourage conversation — guests can be seated facing the outdoor "grillmaster" — while discouraging too many chefs in the kitchen. The client also requested a shady area near the outdoor kitchen for lounging and eating.

arbor landscape archtecture CAD rendering
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One of the considerations during the landscape design process was how to keep the arbors' supporting pillars out of the way. The client didn't want unsightly and unsafe pillars in the pool area. The solution: steel beams bridge the spans, so fewer load-bearing pillars were needed. Decorative wood beams sit above the steel and cast shade below. During the landscape design process, CAD renderings were used to show how foot traffic would flow unobstructed, and by viewing multiple angles, to demonstrate the arbors would provide ample shade.

Water Feature and Sculpture Softens Hardscaping, Mill Valley, CA

Granite Water Sculpture, Mill Valley, CASmall space, big challenge. That was the case in this Mill Valley, CA landscape design where every square foot counted. The client’s outdoor patio area is adjacent to a steep driveway. For safety reasons and to improve the view, a water feature topped by a granite sculpture now stands between the patio and driveway. The custom salt-and-pepper granite sculpture above the water feature was hand-done by a master mason. It creates a focal point — welcoming the homeowners and visitors upon arrival; the symmetrical reverse is a beautiful patio backdrop. The landscape design plans called for a semi-circular bluestone edge around the fountain to double as additional patio seating. Wall niches with lights are built into the ledgestone veneer wall and a gas flame in the sculpture make for pleasant outdoor evenings.

water feature landscape design sketch
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The client’s home was also being remodeled and I worked closely with the architect during the landscape design process to ensure that the landscape design flowed seamlessly with the home's exterior. The concept for the water feature was envisioned during a brainstorming meeting with the architect when he suggested that a circular element would fit in with his design. The pool contractor was consulted early, and throughout the landscape design process, to review the plans with respect to mechanical and electrical systems: plumbing, water proofing, pumps, and filters.

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