Coyote Free Front Yard Garden Sanctuary

Recent renovations to this Mediterranean style residence, nestled along a heavily trafficked corridor in the Los Angeles Outpost Estates, devastated the landscape and left the home exposed to the heavily trafficked street. The client desired an urban refuge from their busy professional lives and priority interests involved creating privacy from the street, finding ways to subdue the traffic noise, creating easy access across the property, stopping coyote intruders, minimizing maintenance, water use and runoff in the landscape. The imaginative design talents of Design Buchanan at Sacred Garden Designs resulted in a new vision for this property which showcases the creative use of space, materials and sustainable strategies to address erosion, water conservation, environmental noise, soil integrity, ecology and predators for the health and wellbeing of all who venture into this garden sanctuary. Denise focused her attention to the details of creating visual interest along the landscape walkways and the careful placement of plant combinations and the relocation of the water feature which allowed the user to unwind, explore and experience much needed solace from the outside world.

The construction crew at Sacred Garden Designs graded the property to ensure a gradual flow of water over permeable surfaces with any additional runoff directed to a dry river bed to reuse runoff and keep water on the property. Malibu boulders and stabilized decomposed granite were integrated into a California-Mediterranean plant palette including Lavender, Rosemary, Irises, Verbena, Iceberg roses, Osteospermum, New Zealand Flax, Sages and Buddleia. Denise ensured that all planting areas were infused with amended and organic soil mixes designed specifically to enhance soil recovery. Fifteen gallon hedge plants of evergreen flowering Ligustrum japonicum texanum were planted two feet on center for fast privacy. A permeable walkway of Bluestone Multicolor Flagstone pavers were installed in a curvilinear path and flats of Dymondia margaretae were planted between the pavers. The Rain Bird ESP-SMTe smart irrigation control system was installed and precision nozzles were used on the irrigation heads which used less water to reach the radii of conventional nozzles. A large recirculating urn fountain was relocated to the south of the property for better visibility. It was installed to overflow into a circular bed of beige colored Colorado pebbles which then providing a visual link across the flagstone path, creating a dry river bed which encircled the existing Redwood tree.



The landscape at the back of this Hollywood Hills home in the Los Angeles Outpost Estates, was steeply sloped, unusable, susceptible to erosion and vulnerable to coyote hideaways and visits. The client also wanted to find a solution to the predator coyotes that jumped the fence and almost ran off with one of their pet dogs.

Sacred Garden Designs started on pruning and selectively lacing all the trees on the property to minimize coyote hiding places and encourage wide visibility.

An existing pool and waterfall were removed from the 1400 sq.ft. lower back yard. Client desired more play space for the children and dogs and an easily maintained surface that could withstand heavy traffic. An extremely dense Tacoma synthetic turf was installed for ease of maintenance and to create a lush look. The turf blades were triple reinforced into the backing making it extremely resistant to pull force motion and thus less lose blades to clean up. The backing of the turf was perforated for easy drainage and biodegradable pet infill was installed for pet odor protection. The turf was lead free and free of dioxin emissions or other heavy metals, providing no harmful environmental effects.

To create more usable space in the back yard, Sacred Garden Designs removed approximately 70 cubic yards of soil from the hillside to create terraces. A portion of the soil removed from the hillside was used to fill the hole left by the existing pool. A curvilinear four foot wide promenade was created and compacted with base material and stabilized decomposed granite. A secure bender board edge anchored the lower edge. A four foot height retaining wall was built on the upper side of the hillside and clad with El Dorado Barley Architectural stone. A trench filled with gravel and rock was installed behind the wall containing a perforated pipe which directed excess water from the hillside, under the walkway into the lower planting area.

Malibu Boulders were strategically placed along the decomposed granite path and also inserted into the Stepstone premade concrete caps on the wall. Malibu boulders with natural occurring flat areas were used as seating boulders. The boulders, weighing approximately one thousand pounds each, were strategically clustered at both ends of the decomposed granite walkway creating natural gathering spaces. As soil was removed from the hillside to create a level patio and walkway, the perimeter wall footing was exposed. Raised planters made of stacked Bluestone Multicolor Flagstone were built incorporating the seating boulders into the planters to create a small comfortable area to sit and contemplate. The raised planters were backfilled with organic planting mix and planted with New Zealand Flax and Star jasmine.

Although over one foot of soil was removed from around the roots of an existing Pepper tree, to create the new terrace, the client wanted to keep the tree so Sacred Garden Designs installed a concrete seating wall around the pepper tree and backfilled with a nitrified soil mix. To create continuity of materials, Bluestone Multicolor Flagstone was installed as the patio around the existing pepper tree and decomposed granite was installed between the pavers. To accentuate the back patio and muffle noise from the neighbors, an Andalusia fountain was located along the north wall which required over 110 linear feet of trenching and electrical piping to install a GFCI outlet. A separate valve was also installed to create a low flow, self-filling fountain.

The family pets were exposed to vigilant coyotes in the area so instead of setting traps or poisons, to prevent coyote intrusion into the yard, Sacred Garden Designs installed safe, humane, aluminum ribbed, maintenance-free Coyote Rollers on top of the block walls. The unobtrusive integration of these coyote repelling solutions provided a safe space for the owner’s pets to roam freely in their new backyard. The Principal of Sacred Garden Designs, Denise Buchanan, plays a key role in plant selection and placement on each job to ensure the right plant provides the intended use and experience for the space. As such star jasmine was threaded along wire cables to decorate the bare white perimeter walls and the remaining hillside planters were planted with a harmonious mix of New Zealand Flax, Pride of Madeira, Rockrose, Agave, Sages, Aloe, Osteospermum, Hesperaloe, Lantana and Crape myrtle which created vital microclimates for bird habitat throughout the landscape. Bark mulch was added to retain moisture and minimize weed growth on the upper planters and deeply rooted flats of Myoporum parvifolium were planted to retain the soil on the steepest parts of the slope. Within four months the entire landscape was transformed into an urban sanctuary which provided a refuge for birds and insects and an environment that continues to contribute to the health and wellbeing of all who venture into the garden space.


LOCATION: Los Angeles, Hollywood Hills, California


LILA 2024 Sponsor