Marian and Mark Rasmussen engaged ROCHE+ROCHE Landscape Architecture to help them carry the Asian-contemporary theme of their recently remodeled Sonoma ranch house out into the garden. The unused 34’ x 50’ rear yard has been transformed into an Asian-inspired retreat with sheltered seating area, fire pit, water feature and lush plantings of native and adapted Asian plantings.
Key to the concept were a series of concrete blocks that provide visual order and retain soil, form the fire pit and water feature, and provide casual seating. ROCHE+ROCHE worked with local artisan John Lamos to create twenty custom concrete blocks of identical dimensions, each with their own individual character, finish and color mix. The blocks were originally envisioned as cast-in-place or formed and placed, but labor and weight considerations led to the creation of hollow blocks, impervious to weather and sturdy enough to stand on, but light enough to be moved into place by hand.
The recirculating fountain, made of two blocks with hemispherical impressions, adds the soothing sound of moving water, creates an interesting focal point, and provides bathing and drinking water for local birds. The gas fire pit is formed of several blocks at different heights, which can be used as seating, footrests or serving surfaces.
A cedar and corrugated steel shelter fabricated by local master carpenter Ken Morita echoes Asian elements of the remodeled residence, and provides refuge from sun or rain.
California native and adapted Asian plant selections including Japanese Maple, Red Twig Dogwood, Japanese Anemone, Coral Bells, Rush and Mondo Grass create a lush but water-wise border, and cast intriguing shadows on the concrete blocks and slate paving.
Landscape construction: Bertotti Landscaping, Inc.
Carpentry: Morita Construction Co.
Concrete block fabrication: John M. Lamos
Photos: Eileen Roche Photography