The epic views of the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains and the seamless landscape design by Doug Hoerr, principal of the Chicago-based landscape architecture firm Hoerr Schaudt, position the property to join the ranks of the city’s iconic houses.
“The first time I saw the house, when it was just a frame on its perch overlooking the valley, it almost looked like a bird of prey,” says Hoerr. “It’s sited on this sliver of plinth on a huge hillside, but you have all of this livability and function.”
...The original plan, according to Hoerr, was to plant a small meadow of wildflowers. Their short-blooming season was a deterrent.
“This space is the first thing you see when you get to the house,” says Hoerr. “I wanted it to feel sculptural and have plants of varying heights, tones, and textures. I’m a huge fan of gravel gardens that have that arid feel. We wanted to make it explorable, create a composition you could walk through, not just a green mass. Trista wanted herbs for the kitchen, too, and gravel gardens are great for those."
The biggest challenge Hoerr faced was dealing with the shallow soil depth. Because so much of the house is buried in the hillside, the landscape areas only have about a foot of soil to plant in. In some areas, it was only 4 inches deep. No plants with a large root ball would work. Succulents and cacti were the answer because their root systems require very little depth.