Front Yard and Backyard Makeover in Outer Sunset

BackYard at night with lights

For this project, we moved up to the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco.  This front yard and backyard make-over project encompassed both carpentry, hardscaping, and plants, including:  custom redwood bench, pergola, fire pit, black basalt patio, redwood facing of backyard planter, front yard raised planters, installation of 60+ plants, boulders, auto drip irrigation, and high-end lighting system.

Clearing the Front and Back

For this landscape design and installation project, the backyard and front yard were generally barren.  Only a few overgrown plants existed in both areas.  Since not much was needed to clear the area out, demo was quick and easy.

Front Yard Installation

Completed front yard at night. New landscape on left and right side of concrete walkway. One boulder on each side in front surrounded by Lynn Creek.
Completed front yard at night.

The front yard make-over was fairly straight forward.  The front yard make-over included building two raised planters, plants, and installation of a lighting/irrigation system.

We started by removing a few inches of existing dirt and carefully positioned three hand selected boulders. The area was then properly graded and black basalt pavers were laid for a short walkway to provide quick access.

Due to known gopher intrusion (those pesky critters!), we covered the entire area with gopher wire.  Also, for each plant installed, we ensured that gopher wire covered each of the plant holes so there were no openings for gophers to enter.  

This should be enough (we can only hope!) to thwart these burrowing underground rodents from causing havoc to our client’s new yard.  If you’ve ever been in the Sunset area of San Francisco, you surely must have seen one too many yards taken hostage by these Caddyshack critters! 

Gopher wire installation. Plant holes being covered with gopher wire by worker in blue hoodie. Four plant holes dug out in rectangular area covered with gopher wire.
Gopher wire installation.

Once the gopher wire was in, the selected plants were set and landscape fabric was installed.  Plants such as Purple Majesty Chinese Fringe, Breath of Heaven, Blue Fescue, Mexican Feather Grass, Japanese Garden Juniper, and Fern Pine were installed (not all inclusive).

As this installation proceeded, the raised planters were built with concrete masonry units (CMUs). Once the CMUs were set, they were faced with premium black flat natural stone veneer and capped with black basalt. The black stone veneer complemented the modern asian style of the front landscape.

Front yard raised planter with Fern Pine (Podocarpus Gracillor) planted. Planter is faced with black stone veneer and capped with black basalt.
Front yard raised planter.

The drip irrigation and lighting systems were then installed. And finally, Lynn Creek was laid as ground cover over the open areas.  Front yard makeover was complete!

Backyard Installation

Completed backyard at night at our Outer Sunset, San Francisco project. Three tiered retaining walls on right and left side of stairway leading up to top level patio area. Retaining walls are dimly lit up with plants. Top tier patio area lit up with blue, green, and purple lighting in background behind pergola and bench.
Completed backyard at night

The primary components of the backyard makeover included the custom redwood bench, pergola, and fire pit. In addition to these elements, a black basalt patio, numerous plants, auto drip irrigation, and a high-end lighting system were installed.

Redwood Bench and Pergola Build

Completed redwood bench, pergola, and fire pit at our Outer Sunset, San Francisco project. Black basalt patio.
Completed redwood bench, pergola, and fire pit.

The L-shaped redwood bench was the first major component to be built. First, the bench framing was built and the posts of the pergola went up.

Bench frame being installed at our Outer Sunset, San Francisco project.
Bench frame

Once the frame was installed, redwood planks were added to complete the bench.  We then started installing the individual posts of the pergola. The pergola posts were previously cut and sanded during a rainy day in Paul’s garage, making this installation efficient.

ergola installation in process at Outer Sunset, San Francisco project. Worker on top of pergola installing posts.
Pergola installation

Fire Pit Installation

Beautiful warm glow of the fire pit at night at Outer Sunset, San Francisco project.
Beautiful warm glow of the fire pit at night.

The first step to constructing the fire pit was to add the gas line. While Paul took care of the gas line going up from the house to the fire pit area, our client’s other contractor installed the interior lines going through the house.

Next, using CMUs, we constructed a rectangular fire pit. Once the CMUs were set, the fire pit was faced with the same black natural stone veneer used in the front yard planters and capped with black basalt.  Finally, rolled black lava rock was added to the fire pit. Voila—fire pit was done!

Basalt Patio, Plants, and Irrigation System

As the fire pit was being constructed, the black basalt patio, plants, and irrigation system were also being installed.  

The patio area was first compacted and graded to ensure a proper base. The black basalt pavers were then laid in a subway pattern and the gaps were filled with gray fines.

At least 40 plants were installed along the terraced retaining walls and top level planters. Again, due to the gopher issue in the Sunset district of San Francisco, we covered all areas with gopher wire and each plant was basketed in wire. This made our planting job much more time consuming!

Similar plants that were added to the front were also included in the backyard. In addition to those, pink jasmine was planted next to the pergola for it to eventually creep up and drape around the structure.  Also, a Japanese maple was planted and so was the dramatic weeping blue Atlas cedar!

Weeping blue Atlas cedar serpentine planted at our Outer Sunset, San Francisco project. Stabilized by two bamboo sticks.
Weeping blue Atlas cedar serpentine

The drip irrigation system was then installed, including a Hunter wifi irrigation controller. The gopher wire was covered with landscape fabric and finally covered with bark. 

Lighting System

Backyard at night with FX Luminaire Luxor lighting system. Purple background color behind pergola. Fire pit lit with flames visible in front of redwood bench and pergola.
Backyard with FX Luminaire Luxor lighting system.

During construction, our client decided to upgrade the initially planned lighting system to incorporate the FX Luminaire Luxor controller and components. This high-end lighting system would allow our client to control his outdoor lights via wifi with zones, dimming, and colored lighting capabilities.    

This high-end lighting system definitely elevated the revamped outdoor space to another level! The zoning feature allowed lights to be programmed by area and the dimming feature enabled control of the light illumination. The color component of this system brought in a whole other facet to outdoor lighting.  This feature allowed our client to change the colors for holidays and special events or just different mood lighting.  How cool is that?!

The front yard and backyard makeover project was definitely transformative! Now, our clients have a great front yard to greet them and a warm, inviting backyard to retreat to.

If you’re in need for a make-over of your front yard or backyard, please contact us at Tamate Landscaping. We have over 25 years of transforming overgrown or under utilized yards in San Francisco with many satisfied customers.



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  1. Very nice transformation. We also had to do something similar here in Sacramento. Looking forward to seeing some more great work from you guys!

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