The stunning Mediterranean-style home built by Dennis and Cheryl Fernandez takes full advantage of its hilltop location overlooking Edna Valley.
From the long sweeping drive leading up to the house, to the two-tiered patio fronting a wall of windows across the back; it’s all about the view.
To design a landscape worthy of that setting, the couple selected a landscape architect to design a plan for their nearly 2-acre property, hired a landscape gardener to do the installation, and gradually incorporated changes over about 18 months.
They planted 50 olive trees, as well as several arbutus, jacaranda and hundreds of blooming shrubs and flowerbeds on the hillsides. And they installed drip irrigation throughout to keep it all watered efficiently.
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“And then things started dying,” Cheryl said.
Root-eating voles killed off the lantana planted along the driveway. Some plants withered in drying afternoon winds, while others perished from lack of water due to plugged drip emitters and still more succumbed to ravenous rabbits and deer.
That was more than 11 years ago, and the Fernandezes, both Saratoga transplants, have learned a few things since then.
“We started doing things over and learned a lot from trial and error,” Dennis said.
First, they disposed of dead and dying plants. Then they dealt with the scant 5 inches of soil over bedrock in the front yard by putting in raised flowerbeds filled with top soil, where plants now flourish. Dennis Fernandez solved the clogged emitter problem by attaching filters that help prevent hard water deposits such as calcium and magnesium from building up in the irrigation system.
Removing overgrown shrubs reduced constant trimming. And when it came to replanting, the home’s Mediterranean roots became the basis for new drought-tolerant plant selections.
“We wanted things that survived,” Cheryl said.
Plants that proved successful include Italian cypress, alstroemeria and bougainvillea, as well as daylilies, heliotrope and hibiscus. Also featured are lantana, rosemary and potted roses, plus Cheryl’s favorite – lots of red geraniums.
Four years ago, the Fernandezes made one more significant change — replacing the patio fire pit with a large stone fireplace flanked by wind-blocking glass, so they can more comfortably enjoy their amazing views and now-thriving landscape. They completed it just in time to celebrate their youngest son’s 40th birthday, Dennis said.
The landscape now reflects the couple’s vision – a lovely setting for a gracious home that’s perfect for entertaining family and friends.
Install raised beds to solve poor soil and drainage issues. To address the problem of shallow soils over bedrock on their back hillside, the Fernandezes jackhammered planting holes and refilled with soil.
Avoid overplanting. That will prevent plants from becoming overcrowded.
Put the right plant in the right place. If something’s not working, change it or move it.