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Backyard Metamorphosis

Michael Galli, Metamorphosis Landscape Design and Construction

For this 3- 1/2 month-long San Francisco project, the contractor used more than three tons of Arizona flagstone and 20 cubic yards of concrete. The contractor wired in low-voltage 24-watt Kitcher lighting in the planter box to illuminate the multi-colored plant material. The planter's inset lights are Illuminarire. Workers wired 15 300-watt and five 600-watt transformers to power the lighting system. Irrigation for the area comes via Rainbird 6-inch zero pop-up sprinklers.

Located in San Francisco, this 1910 country Victorian-style home challenged Metamorphosis Landscape to build an idyllic outdoor living area to create a calming atmosphere for the over-worked homeowners.

Taking less than four months to complete, the project features more than three tons of Arizona flagstone and 20 cubic yards of concrete. All the hardscape areas feature a poured-concrete base, except for under the hot tub. The clients asked for (and received) a rear garden to serve as an oasis from their work-a-day worlds. Five 100-year old redwoods grow in a semi-circle, around which the contractor designed and built the outdoor living patio area. The company installed a hot tub in the center of the trees, and to enhance privacy, they planted coral bark Japanese maples (acer palmatum 'sango kaku') between the redwoods. Then, workers planted ferns and other woodland plants to create a lush fern grotto.


The 25x50 foot patio area features a poured concrete base, on top of which the company laid down the Arizona flagstone hardscape. Workers planted abutilon brush and Chinese lantern plants to complement the hardscape area. The contractor plumbed the redwood pergola for the misters as well as for low-voltage Vista BR2250 lights with built-in junction boxes to down-light the sitting area. For cooling, they installed 20 FogCo misters, which are run from a single pump.

Front Entrance

At the front of the residence, the contractor built a curved Tiger River stone walk leading to an India cashmere slate porch with the limestone bull-nose trim.

They further upgraded the driveway with colored concrete. For security and ambiance, they wired in low-voltage lighting scones, which were integrated into the stucco wall. There are two layers of plantings, including small dogwood trees (cornus alba 'sibirica') by the sidewalk that hides the main front window. They also planted a dwarf Japanese maple (acer palmatum dissectum), dwarf hydrangea, and a serpentine cedar (cedrus pendula) bed in front of the window.

To protect the tree roots of the home's five 100-year-old trees, the Metamorphosis Landscape Design used DG base under the hot tub area in lieu of concrete. To soften the area they planted more abutilon plant material and then the lighting crew installed an LED lighting strip light under the spa steps. Above the spa, they ran aircraft cabling between the trees to position the low-voltage hanging lantern fixture. Before pouring the patio slab, they installed conduit and ran 220-volt electrical to power the spa.

Outdoor Dining Nook

For the outside dining area, the contractor installed more than 14x14 feet of China lilac mist slate set in a Victorian compound pattern with a trim of Brazilian pink slate tile. Custom sconces with a phoenix pattern provide a soft lighting effect.


For the patio hardscape, workers installed Arizona flagstone and built a planter box from cinder block, which was covered in flagstone as well. The company built the Redwood pergola, and then added an outdoor air conditioning system via misters for the patio and spa area. They complemented the hardscape with a plant palette that features weeping tree roes, azaeas, and Carolina cherry trees (prunus caroliniana).

Workers built the planter 18 inches high using cinder block, which was then covered with Arizona flagstone. To install the inset lights, they built sections of the wall around wadded newspaper, and then rotohammered away the empty cells to run conduit and cavities for the inset lights. After installing the lights and conduit, they filled in the remaining areas with concrete. It took workers 1- 1/2 hours to install each of the lights.


Both the redwoods and the maples were up-lit with low-voltage lighting, while the redwoods feature down-lights to illuminate the spa area. All the lighting is independently controlled and dimmable.

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October 15, 2019, 10:26 pm PDT

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