Fremont: Back Yard Meadow Oasis

Designer: Michael Thilgen, Four Dimensions Landscape
Location: Fremont, California
Sunset Zone: 17

This home's front and back yards had large expanses of water-intensive turf. By replacing much of the lawn with native meadow grasses, Michael Thilgen preserves the yard's usable open space while adding more intimate spaces and layering plantings to create more interesting views from inside the home. Two large oaks anchor the front yard, framing the house and path to the entry.

Phasing Tip: With a large property, it's not always possible to do everything at once. It may be necessary to stagger — or phase — your project. Michael recommends a couple strategies. You can divide and conquer — for example, do the back yard this year and front yard next year. Another option is to do all major work in the first year (like grading, building walls, and sheet-mulching the lawn), and follow up with planting and irrigation the next year. For more ideas on phasing, see the Bay-Friendly Gardening Guide.

About the Designer: Michael Thilgen is one of the original supporters of Bay-Friendly and has been Bay-Friendly Qualified since 2007. His firm Four Dimensions works fluently in many landscape styles, and provides design/build services. California native gardens evoke the spectacular beauty of this land, and improve local habitat quality. Cottage gardens feature casual meandering paths, gentle steps, and an abundance of colorful Mediterranean flowers. Formal gardens include handsome stone patios, elegant fountains, and gracious plantings.