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Morgan Hill Landscape Design Challenge – Basketball Court, Spa, Custom Fireplace

In today’s landscape design challenge, we visit a completed project in the Morgan Hill area. These homeowners were looking to turn a blank canvas into a modern backyard getaway, complete with all of the bells and whistles on their wishlist. From unique touches like a backyard basketball half court to a timeless custom pool, this backyard checks every box and looks great doing it.

Introducing The Space

This Morgan Hill home offered us the opportunity to work with a completely blank canvas. This is always a nice opportunity, as many times we find ourselves pricing out demos and undoing work done by previous contractors. As you can see below, this yard is completely bare and gives us a lot of space to work with.

the original yard is empty and looks like a dirt lot. this view looks back toward the home from the Morgan hill property's back corner

Looking back at the home from the other angle, you see the back entrance as well as the large overhang that provides a perfect opportunity for covered outdoor seating. With this amount of space, the homeowners were looking to maximize function for every member of their family and dedicate more area to recreational features. 

looking at the bare yard from the back corner of the property line in Morgan hill neighborhood of California

This property also contained a small side yard. The homeowners hoped to finish this small space with hardscaping to connect the front and backyard areas, and were open to ideas such as raised planters as well. 

the unfinished side yard at the side of the home

After discussing the client’s wishlist, we hit the drawing boards and came back to present two distinct design directions. 

2D Renderings

While everyone is excited about 3D renderings, we are careful not to skip good old pen and paper. Sure, they aren’t as flashy as what the computer can create, but 2D renderings remain a critical part of our design process with clients. Seeing the designs in this form first allows the design to feel more plastic and open to change. This allows clients to give feedback more freely, without feeling trapped in a fully formed, digitized version of their new backyard. 

Below are the design renderings and final revision for this Morgan Hill landscape design project.

Concept A

Featured below is the first design concept, Concept A.

concept a 2d rendering landscape design Morgan hill California

Starting at the bottom of the rendering, you see a gate that guides you from the front yard space into the backyard. Walking down a new concrete walkway, you are flanked on one side by a large, angular lawn, and camouflage equipment on the other. At the end of the walkway, you step out into the large space. To your left is the brand new basketball half court, or sport court, divided from the lawn by a series of raised planters. 

Moving right into the center of the space is the new paver patio, which wraps around the brand new custom pool and integrated spa. The custom pool is finished with a tanning shelf and water feature wall at the back of the property. From the pool, you can step left and find yourself under the new covered living area. Beneath the cover is the home’s outdoor kitchen and bar, complete with grilling stations and a sink. The dining area between the kitchen and the home nests under a canopy of twinkling string lights. 

Finishing the backyard is more green space. A large strip of lawn hugs the far side of the property, and leads you onto the walkway carrying the homeowners back toward the front of the house. 

Concept B

The next design concept, or Concept B, is featured below. This design features many of the same key attributes as the first, but the layout has been significantly changed. 

concept b 2d rendering landscape design

As in Concept A, the homeowners step from the front yard through a gate and into the backyard space. But instead of stepping onto a walkway bordered by lawn, the new path is instead flanked by a series of raised planter beds. 

Where the sport court or basketball half court was placed, the new pool is positioned. The spa is no longer fully integrated into the pool but set up at a higher, adjacent elevation so that the joined edge functions as a water feature wall. The tanning shield is also repositioned to huge the back property line. 

Stepping out of the pool and onto the new patio, the covered kitchen space is now located in the center of the yard. Many of the features here remain the same, but the dining space has been moved from the open patio to beneath the home’s built-in overhang, creating all-weather dining space. At the far corner of the lot is now the basketball sport court, which joined with the walkway to bring you around to the front yard.

Revised Renderings

After seeing both versions, the clients were excited about the direction the project was heading, but wanted to see a final option that removed the sports court and opted for more lawn space. Here, the large lawn sprawls across the bottom of the design and opens up onto the new paver patio. The pergola is centered, as in Concept B, while a large concrete stepper walkway leads the clients across the space and directly into their new pool and spa. 

The far side of the yard provides built-in tanning space on the large pool deck, and features the same, long walkway leading homeowners around to the front of the home. 

the final revised 2d design for this Morgan hill landscape design challenge

After seeing this final design direction, the homeowners were excited to move forward with minor changes that will be seen in the next step, the 3D renderings. 

3D Renderings

Though the homeowner’s were content with the layout of the final revision, they decided that they definitely did want to retain the sport court or basketball court in the final version of the design. 

Seen below, the sports court takes the place of the large lawn space. Walking through the gate into the backyard, the clients step along the new paver walkway, past grass and camouflage air conditioning units, and onto the new basketball court. From here, they can turn and enter the rest of the backyard living space. 

a rendering of the basketball half court or sport court

Moving further into the yard, the homeowners step from the patio onto a long, concrete stepper walkway. The central area of the space is finished with the new, custom covered kitchen and bar. The custom cover is fitted with steel beams, a cedar ceiling, and a built in privacy screen at the edge of the lot. 

the covered living area and patio pavers. outdoor dining space is seen

Past the outdoor kitchen space is the new pool and spa. Below, you can see how the spa, while in the footprint of the pool, is elevated to create a sleek separation of space. Both the pool and spa feature overflow edges, and overlook the water feature wall at the back of the yard.

the pool and spa in 3d rendering a water feature wall is at the back of the frame the whole yard is finished with colorful native plantings

Looking to the far side of the yard is a seating nook. A long,wooden seat wall wraps around the new, custom gas fireplace. All around the yard are colorful native plantings and trees that add depth, texture, and color to the space. Straddling the fence are three privacy panels to add additional visual interest and style to the property’s fence line.

a look at the proposed fire pit and decorative privacy panels

Finally, moving around to the far side of the home is the long walkway. Here, raised planters are placed in a long line to create a more efficient use of a simple space. 

a rendered look at the side yard and raised planting beds

After viewing these 3D renders, the homeowners were fully onboard, and construction began. When the dust settled, these clients were left with a modern backyard living space with fun for the whole family.

The Final Space

When construction wrapped, the owners of this Morgan Hill home were left with a backyard that offered everything from recreation space, to a perfect place to relax and unwind. In the far corner of the yard, the large sport court or basketball half court sprang to life. Providing room to practice free throws or get a work out in, the blue adds a pop of color while the built in court markers keep this space fully functional for a game of pick up basketball. 

the new backyard basketball court sport court

Looking out from the basketball court, you get a great view of the rest of the yard. The geometric paver patio huge the long concrete stepper walkway that leads the homeowners across their new backyard. Seen below is the new covered outdoor kitchen and bar. Recessed lighting, steel finishes, and a privacy screen turn what might have been a typical pergola into a custom covered living experience. Below, a waterfall edge bar looks over the new grill and sink.

the final covered living space with recessed lighting and a privacy screen. an outdoor kitchen and bar is beneath

Next to the new covered kitchen is, of course, the pool. During construction the homeowners decided they wanted to make a few final tweaks to the design, which can be seen here. The previously raised spa is  now integrated into the pool. Where the water feature wall once spanned the perimeter of the yard, a new, luxury gas fireplace has been built.

a close up of the new outdoor fireplace finished with white concrete and red brickwork

Despite the adjustments, the pool has retained the shallow tanning bed and adopted built-in umbrellas for pool goers to relax beneath. You can see below how the warm glow of the outdoor fireplaces adds incredible ambience, while also creating another space for family and friends to gather.

the new pool deck looking over the integrated spa and custom pool

One of the most beautiful parts of the final fireplace design is the contrast in materials. A modern, white, seamless exterior allows the organic brick to really pop when the fire is lit. A large lip of patio space means that there is plenty of room for anyone to pull up a chair and warm their hands by the fire.

the finished custom pool and spa overlooking the outdoor gas fireplace in this Morgan hill landscape design

Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find the right fit for a backyard. Luckily, Water and Earth is

committed to working with clients to create their dream space through collaboration. Feedback from homeowners is what creates the perfect backyard living space for each project we work on, and this Morgan Hill landscape design challenge was no exception. 

For more design transformations like this one, visit the Water and Earth blog. To see what we’re working on day to day, or for design inspiration of your own, follow us on Instagram.

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