Backyard Sports Court, Putting Green, and More–Los Gatos Landscape Design
Updated: Oct 5, 2022
At Water and Earth, we do a little bit of everything. From maximizing small spaces, to creating custom, luxury pools, to solving your toughest outdoor design dilemmas. So every time a client comes to us with a unique request, we get a little bit excited. In today’s landscape design challenge, we revisit a Los Gatos project that included a backyard tennis and sports court, right alongside a more traditional pool and covered living space.
With designs like this, the challenge is to incorporate every element without losing sight of the functionality and aesthetic thread of the design. For these homeowners, the space went through many iterations and small tweaks. In the end, the final space was a beautiful, modern backyard with entertainment opportunities abound.
But before any land was broken or final designs were presented, we started the way we always do–with 2D design concepts.
We typically approach all of our projects with the same series of introductory steps. We have a long discussion with the homeowners about what they want and need from their space. After all of the important information has been gathered, we hit the drawing board and come back to present two distinct design concepts.
From there, we talk through each 2D rendering with the client, determining what is working, what isn’t working, and what needs to change. Once we have settled on a direction, we will either jump into 3D renderings, or in this case, present an additional “Concept C” design to show how the applied changes will impact the space.
The first design we presented, Concept A, can be seen above. Starting from the right side of the space, the clients walk out of their home onto an elevated paver patio, inlaid with a new luxury spa. This spa overflows into a custom pool, which is separated from the tanning deck by a water feature.
Stepping right off the pool deck, the clients find themselves on large concrete pavers, which transport them to the edge of the property, into a cozy nook with room for seating and a new gas fire pit. Below the fire pit, the paver patio extends in a long arm, and is covered by a large pergola for shade and comfort. From here, the clients can step along a series of pavers back onto the patio and down the stairs to the left side of the space, or around to the gated dog run hidden alongside the home.
The second half of the design houses the custom sports court, and a large amount of green lawn space. To provide some more organic lines and visual interest to this functional area, curved planter beds provide a buffer between the sport court, and a custom backyard putting green. To access the front of the home, the clients can step off of the sports court, and follow a paver pathway around toward the garage.
For Concept B, many of the key elements remain. However, what was eclectic and organic in the first direction has been exchanged for a more streamlined, geometric design. The homeowners still step out onto a raised patio. However, in this direction the steppers bisecting the patio and the pool have been elongated, creating more separation and pushing the pool back along the perimeter of the property.
The spa, which previously was contained by the patio, has now been integrated into the pool itself. Where the covered patio was in Concept A, vegetable beds have been placed. The covered patio has shifted upward into the right corner, and now incorporates the firepit.
Along the left side of the space, much remains the same. Lawn space is plenty. Landscaping lines the perimeter of the property and shade trees create cool space to relax. The sports court is still set in the same place. However, the vegetable beds have been removed and replaced by an angular paver path that cuts a clean line for a custom, geometric putting green.
After reviewing both design directions, the homeowners preferred the minimized simplicity of Concept B. However, they wanted to find a way to maximize usable space. To achieve this, we did one more round of 2D revisions, and came back to present a third, refined direction.
Revised “Concept C”
After talking with the homeowners, we came back to present a Concept C design, seen above. The left side of the yard has remained nearly identical to the one seen in the second design. However, the right side of the space has notable changed. The wide steppers that divide the pool and the patio have been minimized. Instead, the square footage of the patio has increased, creating more usable outdoor living space.
In place of vegetable beds, a fire pit is now nestled into a floor of deconstructed granite. These changes allowed for more entertainment space, and additional separation of functions. There are now multiple areas where guests can hang out and chat, all without feeling too isolated from the rest of the property .
Typically a project will go through one comprehensive set of 3D renderings before making minor tweaks and moving directly to the final stages of approval. However, as with the 2D design concepts, this client input drove this design to complete two sets of revisions.
Initial 3D Renderings
The first set of revisions brought Concept C to life and allowed the homeowners to get a look at what their finished space could really look like. Not only did they get a chance to see the layout in 3D, but they also could finally visualize the colors, materials, and scale of the design.
Above you can see the dynamic outdoor living space in a detailed 3D render. The large patio space is set above the rest of the backyard, transitioned by a staircase made of steppers. The pool is capped on the far edge by a water wall. In the corner of the property, a custom pergola with inlaid lighting provides day to night entertainment.
This next view, above, shows this patio space from a bird's eye view. Visible here is the fenced in dog run and hidden storage, keeping pool equipment, and utility objects out of the view. Deconstructed granite forms the floor of the fire pit area. A long line of concrete steppers are tripped with grass, allowing the homeowners to step from the patio to any other point in the space.
Moving to the left hand side of the yard, the putting green and sports court has come to life. It’s not every day that we get to design a space that wants to dedicate so much room to recreational features. Finding a way to maintain the aesthetic value while maximizing function was a fun challenge. Here, you can see how a geometrical putting green is interrupted by the corner of a custom sports court. Large trees provide shade throughout the yard.
After seeing this set of renders, the clients were excited about the direction of the backyard, but realized that they actually didn’t love the amount of hardscaping present in the direction. They wanted to find a way to bring back additional green space, as well as some warmer materials. To fix this, we created another set of revised renderings, before settling on a final design.
Revised 3D Renderings
The main changes in the second set of renderings centered around softening the space, and bringing warmth and natural textures and lines back into the design. Large changes were made to the raised patio space, while minor changes can be noted in the left side of the space.
Most of the major changes can be seen in the rendering seen above. The extended paver patio has been scrapped in favor of a large deck off of the back doors of the home. The large space between the new deck and the pool is filled with square concrete steppers, laid among grass. A second, tanning deck can now be seen next to the pool.
The second set of changes were applied to the sporting section of the yard. The harder, geometrical angles of the first set of renders have been replaced by a more traditional, organic layout. This decreases the size of the putting green, and allows it to be uninterrupted by the sports court. Pavers lead homeowners around the space.
Upon seeing this set of renderings, the homeowners felt like the space was solidly headed in the right direction. With just a few additional tweaks, we were able to finalize the design.
The Final Design Concept
The final design concept, seen above in 2D, is very close to the revised renderings. Minor changes include further simplification of the upper area. The concrete steppers, as well as the covered seating and fire pit have been removed entirely to make way for even more lawn space. The pool has come forward once again to allow for a larger tanning deck, complete with stairs down into the rest of the space. Behind the sports court, yet another deck creates continuity in the space.
Once this design was completed and approved, we moved ahead with construction. The result was a final space that was a true reflection of everything our clients were looking for in their dream backyard.
The Finished Space
At the end of the day, the multiple iterations of this Los Gatos landscape design were well worth it to arrive at the final product.
Above, you see an overview of the completed space. The raised deck off the back of the home is mimicked by a long tanning deck behind the pool. Plenty of green space is seen throughout. The lower yard has been transformed, with a widened paver pathway creating an additional patio space off the back of the home. A soccer net turns the lawn into a multipurpose space.
A closer look at the deck space reveals plenty of room for a dining table. A small pergola sits at the far end, covering the new fire pit. This final direction allowed the clients to get everything they wanted out of the yard without losing the green space, and laid back, California feeling they loved.
Part of our job is to make spaces feel equally as beautiful and functional, even when the sun goes down. This is where great outdoor lighting design comes in. Above, you can see an example of how pool lights and spotlights create an after-dark entertainment space.
At the end of the day, Water and Earth is about creating dream outdoor spaces for our clients. This means that collaboration is one of our top priorities. Sometimes homeowners have a feel for exactly what they want from the very beginning of the process. Other times it can take a few rounds of revisions to settle into a space that feels right.
When all is said and done, the effort is worth it. For these clients, the end result was a backyard that has it all, without compromise. From putting greens and tennis courts, to a custom pool and dog run, there’s a little something for everybody.
Explore more completed designs.
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