Hillside Entry Garden in the Oakland Hills

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TNS Oak Hills entry

When I saw our clients’ house in the Oakland Hills for the first time, I thought of a Raymond Chandler quote about a house in LA situated like a corner pocket on a pool table. This house felt just like that: you drop right into the main entry from the street, down a steep flight of stairs. When you arrive, you discover a gorgeous midcentury house nestled in a lush garden. We reworked the precarious entry to be a gorgeous contemporary concrete stair, and added a custom metal mesh screen, an ipe deck, and built in bench in the entry courtyard. The planting palette is a mix of luminous, sculptural grey-green plants that transform the formerly overlooked space into a showstopper.

The project is currently under construction, we can’t wait to see it completed.




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From Garden to Vineyard at Burbank Ranch


At Burbank Ranch Winery, we worked the transition between garden, vineyard and greater landscape by encircling the house with masses of grasses. Near the house, we planted a mix of evergreen shrubs that echo the distant oaks, like Manzanitas and Little Ollies, and encircled them with ribbons of Nassella tenuissima and Pennisetum spathiolatum. The result is a lovely blur between foreground, middlground and background that makes the clients, and visitors to the soon to be opened on site Winery & Tasting room feel that they are part of the larger glorious landscape of the rolling hills. Photography by Drew Kelly.


TNS steps to vineyard



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Third Nature featured on Best of Houzz

Remodeling and Home Design    Remodeling and Home Design

Thanks again to the folks at Houzz for including us on their “Best of” list for 2015. We are truly grateful to our clients and community for allowing us to do what we love and design gardens that resonate, provide comfort, and respect our environment.

Photos below are from our recently completed project in the Orinda Hills.

Contemporary Shade Garden in the Oakland Hills

Our lovely shade garden for clients in the Oakland Hills features California native plants and strong contemporary lines that play off the lush, lacy, rich textures of the plant material. The hilly landscape provides an opportunity for paths and stairs to lead you to quiet spaces for rest and reflection.


Victorian details emerge: Our renovation project

A mahogany banister and a marble mantle and fireplace were unearthed from under layers and layers (and layers) of paint and gunk in the last weeks at our new house. I am so thrilled that these materials will see the light of day again. Thanks to Builtform Construction and Zack | de Vito for all of the amazing work.

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Burbank Ranch Winery Online

Our landscape design work is featured on the new website for Burbank Ranch. Check it out and buy some amazing wines while you browse!

In 2009 Nicole Kelly and I worked with Fred and Melody to create a landscape around the main house at Burbank Ranch as well as their agricultural manager’s residence. We were inspired and impressed by their love of the regional agricultural landscape, and sought to create spaces that reflected that love and interest.

SF Edwardian – Demo and Reconfiguration

Our design and permitting process is finally done, and now work has begun in earnest at our new (very old) house. While the design moves strive to simplify, the work we are doing is substantial and will be completely transformative.

Most of the change is happening on the back of the house. An old laundry porch (that looked like it was built by drunken prospectors) is being removed, and the random, unaligned aluminum windows are being replaced by wood framed windows.

The existing conditions look a bit like this:

And the proposed elevation:

Above drawings are by Zack | de Vito Architecture & Construction.

Trellis with Cafe Lights on Houzz

They love us on Houzz! We’ve been included in another summertime ideabook on the Houzz homepage. Check it out!

Third Nature Featured on Houzz

Third Nature Studio is happy to announce we were featured in an ideabook on the home page of Houzz about the cooling visual effect of blue plants in the landscape. Check it out.

The project featured was a Los Altos garden in a hot, sunny location. The plant palette suggests lushness with rich greens and blues, but does not include any lawn.

Thanks Houzz!

Lawn Alternatives

It’s not impossible to have an iconic green carpet of grass in California and save a little water. It is really astounding how much water goes into maintaining residential lawns, and there are so many refreshing twists on that old tradition to try.

The images below are from projects I’ve worked on around the Bay Area, a no mow fescue grass at Cavallo Point, myoporum groundcover in Los Altos, and Carex pansa at a residence in San Louis Obispo County.

Another possibility with a traditional turf grass lawn is to give it a clean edge – a metal header, a dg pathway or even a concrete mowband to define a smaller lawn space and make it look a little more refined at the same time.