Deck Details: Before and After

 Sometimes it's hard for me to remember what this place looked like when we purchased it three years ago 
because so much has changed...

but we wanted the house to remain a simple ranch house
 and not something contrived and silly;
that is also the case with the landscaping
 The latest project involving the evolution of the landscape design is the addition of this really large deck which runs the entire length of the back of the house 
 It gives us an additional 1800 square feet of outdoor living space
 which we so needed.
The weather here is really mild for much of the year and being outside is part of the experience of living in the country

The deck has a simple railing 
which mimics the ranch fencing 
which surrounds many of the planters
 and the gravel driveway and entries 
 This is the rear of the house "before" with an enclosed porch...
when we first started thinking about what we wanted for this property in terms of surfaces we never thought about decking.... but now those two large oak trees are nestled in the center of the big redwood deck!
 This area is now the English rose 
Parterre garden area

Designing and constructing landscaping on a property this large 
with this many large protected trees is difficult...and I really believe that it takes years for a yard to mature and grow into a great landscape

There is a wonderful article in this months Veranda about Molly Chappellet and her amazing garden in the Napa Valley

If you have the magazine, read it!

I embrace her philosophy about listening to the land
 and not having some grand design that needs to be followed to the letter 
 Living on a property with 20 plus, 300 year old oak trees is really really feel like the custodian of something wonderful and spiritual, but it's also a lot of work
 We have an arborist here about twice each year to inspect the trees,
 to trim and lace out the dead stuff

We take great care to water correctly too
because the oaks can die very quickly with water at the bases

 The two trees in the photo above were barely visible when we first saw this house.
It was a mess of over grown shrubs and ivy...
Now the oaks are healthy and clean
with the veggie beds, lavender garden and lawn surrounding them

another "before" with the dry patchy grass and weird patios, 
but it sure seemed like  it had potential to us....

a decking project this size is pretty time consuming 
and takes a good layout 
especially trying to include two huge trees into the plan

 it also takes a ton of lumber!

and finally
 here is how we delt with the trees coming through the decking...I was thinking of just a simple cut out of some sort buy my contractor came up with this
clean hexagon trim idea 

 the railing floats on the inside of the deck,
 so there are no visible bolts or screws

 I added a nice over sized landing on an angle for pots and flowers and it really helps to invite you to come on up and sit under the trees...

 the west corner of the lot has yet to be worked on but
 we have some ideas for this nice sunny spot and there is a gorgeous huge oak in that corner...actually one of my favorites on the property

this weekend we plan to work in the garden
and hopefully we will take some time
to listen to the land

happy gardening

  1. Beautiful. Great use of space and building around those great trees. Glad to hear you are enjoying it already since the weather has been mild.

  2. An amazing transformation! Your deck is another room for your darling home.

  3. Hi Kelley, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy your posts! You do, truly, listen to your land. Is it possible that you could come listen to mine? Landscape designers want to do too much. We have been listening for a L O N G time now and our hardscape need a lot of work! If only I had unlimited funds and a more knowledgeable 'helper!'
    You do inspire me!
    xoxo, Chris

  4. Absolutely lovely! I adore all the white fencing everywhere, too, it makes the property look so amazing!

    I so agree with listening to the property when landscaping. In my last home, I landscaped an acre and a half and took pains to make sure it all looked like it could have been put there by nature. It works so much better than a contrived, ultra manicured look!


  5. Your love of your land and your garden shines through Kelley, and your dialogue with it has created lovely spaces. Do you know the Arab saying, if you want to be happy for a lifetime, make a garden? (I think marry a wife came second).

  6. Wholly $&*! Kelley! It looks absolutely amazing :D The new exterior color just pops now with all of your gorgeous green thumbing...LOVE.
    Also, you two are amazing for preserving one of California's most precious ancestors....our OAKS! So many people dont even care about them and actually *gasp* cut them down for building :( They are glorious and beautiful and look so elegant and happy in your garden.


  7. The trees are amazing, and it is wonderful how you have worked everything around it should be with such a gift of nature. I envy your weather! In the south here it is either feast or famine...and the weather is so confusing...36 here one morning this past week, and 90 predicted for tomorrow. Our plants are surely confused too!

  8. The porch transformation really opens up your back yard and the trees are gorgeous. Your back yard has such a tranquil fluidity that invites one to be languorous. Question, one tree just out side your porch area has stones around it, what type of stones are they? I have an azure maple just off my stone patio and I'm looking for a ground cover other than mulch, which attaches itself to the fur of my golden. I love the stone look.


  9. Beautiful! I love the idea of taking what your land has to offer and working with it to make something you love. That whole process and the evolution of it make a great before and after story and give you so many great memories as you enjoy it for years to come!

  10. Kelley I too think you need to listen to the land and let it tell you which way to go with the landscaping. We have such a blank slate here that sometimes it's overwhelming to try and figure out what to do with it, but we are slowly trying to formulate a plan. Your yard and deck are just beautiful. I love the hex pattern and railing on the deck, and the stones around each tree are such a wonderful touch. I hope you have a wonderful weekend working out in your gorgeous garden!


  11. Kelley a beautiful plan for the deck and landscaping. Bravo for working around the trees!

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  12. That deck is gorgeous...such an impressive yard. I am enjoying nature in Mammoth. There's snow on the peaks and the flower bulbs are sprouting everywhere...lots of fresh, mountain air. Such a difference from our little patches of earth on Lido. Enjoy your weekend.

  13. Kelley,
    I don't think that there I've ever seen a more beautiful space. Is there anything you can't do?

  14. What an amazing transformation. Having done a few renovations in my life, I am fascinated to see the evolution. You both had a beautiful vision for this home, and obviously you work very hard to keep it looking picture perfect.

  15. This has been an amazing trip I have watched you travel. I love that you listen to the land, it tells us a lot, albeit hearing it can sometimes be hard. As a Gardener myself you inspire me. Sometimes when I'm not feeling as well as I need to be to go outside and tend to my gardens, I look to you for inspiration. Looking at all of your hard work makes me get some giddy up in my giddy up and go, haha... Thanks!

    Cindy Sue

  16. Your yard looks beautiful in photos - I can't imagine it must be in real life!!!

  17. Stunning stunning trees...and love how your deck wraps around the massive trunks! You live in a paradise, girl!

  18. Thank you for following this landscaping journey!
    The rocks around the base of the trees are just medium sized stones that you can buy at a stone supplier. They get delivered in really large wire baskets and need to be moved around with a fork lift. The rocks protect the root system of the oak trees because you can't plant around the trunks and they also happen to look pretty. The deck project took about 3 weeks with 3 it was a bit of a project but it seems like it has always been there!

    Have a wonderful weekend

    xx kelley

  19. Awesome! Absolutely awesome! thank you for making me smile on this Saturday morn! I, too, am a tree lover and living in the deep south, those old oaks are like family to us. We also built a yard sitting area AROUND a 200 yr old oak and pray everyday that it will stay with us forever and on into our children's futures. Everytime the wind blows hard, I hold my breath. Because of the horrible summer we had last yr...heat and drought...we lost over 10 huge trees from our propery, one of them being my "swing tree" where I picnicked with my children and where I rock my grandchildren. It broke my heart. But mother nature had different ideas for us and we found another tree to hang my swing from!! lemme go find my post about that ...
    You have done such a beautiful job with your landscaping! Looks like a divine place of important in our days now!! And SO happy to know that others love their trees as I love mine!

  20. Kelley in three years you have done an amazing transformation. I can imagine after a hard days works sitting on the wonderful deck admiring your hard work is the end of a perfect day, happy weekend, Kathysue

  21. What an incredible job you've done. I have a feeling even the earth thanks you for the time and thought you have put into the landscape physically and spiritually. I absolutely love the plant stand in your second photo. The craggily appearance of the bottom wood is so beautiful and organic. I love peeking in on your blog and being inspired! I'm off to Ireland for the month of May. I will not often have internet access as I'm going to a remote area but, when I do I will check in!

  22. Your wonderful post is food for the soul! What a fabulous garden area you have created with your deck and plantings. And the grandfather oaks! Truly blessed :)

  23. I am so glad you are being so careful with your oaks. I live not far from you in Montecito; and am so fortunate to have many oaks.

    Our arborist told us not to put stones at the base of our oaks because it trapped moisture and could cause oak root fungus! He also told us not any lawn under the whole canopy! (we have no lawn at all). I wonder?????

    He said the only thing to put at the base of oaks is "oak leaf mulch" which just means when the leaves fall; (which they do all year!) we rake them over to the bases of the trees.

    I Love your deck!!!

  24. Your home looks like a work of art! It looks like something out of a Home & Garden magazine. I can only hope that my gardens look as beautiful as yours. Great job with the deck, it looks absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing these photos. It gives me so much inspiration, and motivation, to get my home looking like yours. Congrats on your beautiful home! Xoxo ~ AnnaMaria

  25. Everything looks so beautiful! What a fabulous deck, and yard.I love all your landscapinKathy

  26. Wow! Has it been three years, already? I absolutely LOVE the trees coming through the deck floor. I pray they never die... just gorgeous. Nothing beats old oaks.

  27. Kelley,
    Love the deck and the clever way the carpenter built around the trees. You've done such an amazing job so far. You don't live in your Ojai house full time, right? How do you keep the garden watered when you're not there, auto sprinklers? What about the pots. It looks so peaceful and calm there, I'd bet you guys look forward to the day when this is your full time home!

  28. The deck is fantastic!! The trees look like they are saying "thank you for saving us" with the their posture! NICE job - make sure you schedule in some time to enjoy the new deck!!

  29. Amazing! You really are listening to the land and creating something wonderful, improving your property properly! Love those oaks!

  30. We just bought a "farm" outside of Austin and your Ojai place is an inspiration for our projects there.
    I love what you've done with the landscaping, the decks, the use of the rocks, etc..and I can relate to how you feel about being the "caretaker" of large trees.....
    looks beautiful!

  31. I've had a property with 12 ancient oaks for the past 55 years and several arborists have given me the same advice as penelopebianchi stated above. Please take a look at this link to the Atherton Tree Committee's website.

  32. I am happy to see this kind of creative work, which make the garden more elegant and these designs are looking very beautiful.
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  33. Lovely flowers, Kelley. They’re like jewels to your deck. Despite its simple design and railings, your creativity and taste in nature made up for it. I absolutely love that tree in the middle! It was such a bright idea not to cut it and leave it as an accessory on your deck. Jesse @

  34. Landscaping is a form of art that is expressed in an entirely unique way. With your deck, I'm even more impressed with the effort it must have taken for you guys to finish everything! Furthermore, consulting arborists on the state of your trees is a really good idea; trees, like everything else, need to be checked up once in a while! Happy landscaping and I hope you guys got a sense of fulfilment from this!
    Billy Quaid @

  35. thank you for sharing...wonderful place

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