Noe Valley, also known as Stroller Town by some, is an upscale neighborhood in central San Francisco. Wide sidewalks, its own strips of shops, and an eclectic style of homes makes it a curiosity and a pleasure to walk through.
It’s a mixture of homes, both large and small. From multi-million dollar mansions to 6-figure homes, there’s something for everyone. Rumor has it, even Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame lives here somewhere.
In July of 2015, we were called to Elizabeth Street, on the northern side of Noe Valley. The client wanted to update her backyard, and it wasn’t a small project. At the time, it wasn’t a very esthetic landscape.
The client’s home has a modern interior design, and felt like the outside just didn’t match up. We agreed; the landscape definitely needed an upgrade.
You’ll notice in the picture above that there were some existing retaining walls and fencing, but it was an eyesore. We started there, with fencing on three sides.
We wanted to make sure the surroundings were something the client and any guests would enjoy looking at. We used very high quality 1”x4” tongue and groove clear Western Cedar to cover the old concrete retaining walls.
Tongue and groove type paneling allows for the individual boards to sit flush against the other. Using stainless staples and fastening the horizontally allowed us to provide a clean, staple-free look, as the staples were hidden in the grooves.
Next the client wanted a bluestone patio using Connecticut Full Range tiles. This is a classic stone that provides a beautiful mix of colors. All natural hues, the Full Range contains blue, gray, brown, green and lilac, which allows an endless number of possibilities in patterns.
For this part of the landscaping project, we had to pour a 4” concrete pad as a foundation, then go back and use thin set to mortar the tiles onto the pad.
Captured in this picture is the blueprint for the patio in the upper right corner. We choose a 3-piece pattern of 12”x12”, 12”x24” and 24”x24”, which provided a nice geometrical design.
The client also wanted veneer stone panels on the existing retaining walls, as well as a fire pit and new artificial turf. The existing concrete retaining wall was uneven, so we leveled it and used Blue Creek stone panels as a veneer on part of the wall. We capped the veneer with 1”-1½” bluestone. This created a great backdrop to showcase the client’s new, modern landscape.
As you can see in the picture below, the landscape now has bright, new artificial turf. The turf is S Blade 90 – a very heavy duty turf -, heavy enough to stand up to the wear and tear of the client’s 100 pound lab.
The fire pit in the center of the patio was actually made with concrete. However, while concrete can handle heat without melting, it may crack – and we want this to last a good, long time.
With that in mind, we lined the inside of the fire pit with fire clay to stand up to the heat. (See image below) Fire clay is resistant to high temperatures, and can withstand heat of 2,759 Fahrenheit (1,515 Celsius) or more. It’s doubtful that the fire pit will get that hot, but if she wants to bake pottery in it, it will be ready for the challenge.
To top it off, we added an LED light to the lip of the cap piece, and veneered the outside with matching stone. We installed stainless trays to the fence with succulents planted inside. Above the trays are copper downlights. Between the downlights on the walls and the lighting on the cap stones, the patio will be well-lit at night.
And the finished landscaping project! It took us two weeks and was a lot of work, but we’re extremely happy with the result.