Landscape Design for an Eichler or Mid-Century Modern Home - Before & After

Clients Sharlene and Joel purchased their Upper Lucas Valley Eichler in the summer of 2011.  Over the past couple of years they have completely transformed the landscaping to compliment the clean lines of their home. Since many Marin Modern clients are Eichler homeowners or drawn to modern architecture, I asked Sharlene to share her vision and inspiration for the design.






Sharlene's vision started from the point of view that an Eichler is like an Ikebana - less is more, and empty space is just as important as the flower. The landscape should draw your eye to the architecture. With all of the glass along the back of the home it's important to have something interesting to look at while inside. When done right, the landscape merges the inside and outside into one beautiful space.


The inspiration for her landscape design came from her background in maintenance and taking care of other people's yards for over 15 years. She knew from the outset that she wanted a low maintenance garden, plants that didn't need much pruning, easy to clean hardscape and a green lawn to soften the hardscape.  However, she did not want the maintenance of a real lawn which requires a tremendous amount of water, fertilizing, weeding, raking and mowing to stay lush and healthy.

Phase 1:

I would stop by every few weeks to check on the progress. It was a major remodel and excavation of the exterior.  The lot was "scraped" down to the soil removing the flagstone entrance and pathways, jack hammering up old concrete and removing and giving away plants that cluttered the yard and did not fit into the new design.  The first phase of the project was to install drainage, a new modern fence and create a uniform and smooth surface by pouring a new concrete driveway, front entrance, side walkways and backyard patio. The concrete walkways were designed to keep soil and plants away from the wood siding. This phase was a huge undertaking.


Side Walkway - Before


Side Walkway - After

Phase 2:

Now for the fun part which included designing a focal point, choosing plants, adding color and texture, planting a small area with succulents, using Mexican Pebbles around the new fire pit, creating garden rooms and adding Mexican Pebbles in the planting beds around the windows.

To soften the hardscape and have a "green look-through" when opening the front door, Sharlene added a 14' X 30' rectangle of artificial turf with a feature wall. The feature wall fit nicely into Sharlene's vision for low maintenance while creating a focal point when walking through the front door and looking out to the backyard.  A Crepe Myrtle was planted in front of the feature wall and together they added color, interest and definition between the green "lawn" and the big trees along the backside of the property.


Feature Wall

Keeping with her vision for simplicity, Sharlene carefully and sparingly chose the plants that she is repeating in the front and backyard.  For the hot tub she came up with an ingenious idea for adding texture and giving it a more contemporary look. The hot tub sits on a bed of rocks in a gabion (which means cage), a feature originally designed for use along creeks and highways for erosion control. Sharlene's landscape contractor, David Erdmann, liked her idea for the hot tub so much that he has it as the first photo on his website.  Partnering with Sharlene to make her vision a reality and stay within her budget, David repurposed materials including concrete blocks from excavating the yard to use for the side and front wall. River Rocks were repurposed and used inside the gabion under the hot tub.


Hot Tub Sitting on Bed of Rocks

Time to Enjoy and Entertain:

Integrating the indoor with the outdoor space has created a great party house for Sharlene and Joel to entertain friends and neighbors and where they can enjoy the outdoors from all rooms in the house.

January is a great time to start planning how you want your yard and garden to look and feel.  A landscaping project for an Eichler isn't that much different from any other type of home.  What do you want?  Low maintenance, low water usage, pretty and interesting plants and placement, garden rooms/areas? Get started now.  Spring will be here before you know it!

Whether you're moving in, moving out, moving up or scaling down - Let me be your guide.

Janis Peterson, Realtor,, 415-271-3109 


#1 By Bill at 7/18/2019 3:59 AM

That backyard is simply screaming for a treehouse in those woods.

#2 By Laura Pelleriti at 7/18/2019 3:59 AM

What an amazing transformation. The back yard is tremendous! Excellent idea possibilities. Well done.

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