Craftsman-inspired front yard in Carmichael, CA (design by Chris Corbett)

Last Friday I showed you a fenced entry courtyard designed by Chris Corbett. After we were done photographing that project, we drove to the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael to see another front yard redesign. This one has a larger scope. In addition to the hardscape and planting scheme, Chris also gave the front of the house a Craftsman-inspired makeover to tie everything together.


There had been another Lavandula × intermedia ‘Grosso’ on the left but it died, leaving a noticeable gap

The two elements that jumped out at me were the quartzite flagstone path to the front door as well as the amazing lavenders (Lavandula × intermedia ‘Grosso’). It was starting to drizzle soon after we arrived, and the rain gave the flagstone a metallic sheen. (No rain in Davis that day, though.)


When I take photos for myself, I let me eyes lead me and I ignore everything that doesn’t “speak” to me. On this project my approach was different since I was trying to cover all the angles Chris wanted for his portfolio. I frequently asked Chris for his input, and I ended up focusing on details like close-ups of the stonework and the river-rock retaining wall. Chris also prefers tighter shots whereas I tend towards wider views. It was fascinating cooperating with the person responsible for the design, especially since he had a very good idea of how he wanted it to be captured.



The quartzite flagstone is a superb choice, especially in conjunction with the river-rock accents.





We couldn’t have picked a better day to photograph this project. The light was completely even and made the colors of the lavender pop.




The river rock used in this low wall is local; the American River runs on the other side of the levee behind the house.


This house is in an established neighborhood still dominated by sometimes expansive front lawns. What grass is left after the redesign seamlessly connects this property to the neighbor’s, which is all turf. Getting rid of the lawn altogether would have created a fairly jarring transition, so I understand the design choice Chris and the homeowners made here,



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The path in the two photos above connects the driveway/garage with the main walkway to the front door. It, too, is made of quartzite flagstone.



Creeping thyme as filler between the flagstone pieces


The woodwork in front of the house is a great addition, giving the 1970s (?) rambler a Craftsman touch.


The effect is particularly impressive standing at the front door and looking out toward the street.




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A few surprising botanical treasures were waiting off to the side:


Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) in bloom (left) and the most beautiful specimen of giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) I’ve ever seen in our area


Blueberries, and tasty ones to boot! Local nurseries have been pushing blueberries for years, but they rarely thrive around here.

And finally a quartet of rain chain photos. With a gentle drizzle falling for the first thirty minutes we were there, we got to see them in action. I had certainly not expected this when I got up that morning!

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OK, I was going to end this post without saying anything about the lack of succulents, but I just can’t help myself. Take a look at these low flat-topped pillars next to the steps near the street:


They’re positively crying out for potted agaves!


Just saying!


  1. The river-rock walls are beautifully done, and what a great thing to use the local stone. 'Provence' is a wonderful lavender, but yes those flat column tops need potted somethings--something that will stand up to the summer heat. Your photos came out great!

  2. Potted succulents would be perfect indeed, especially the type that Denise usually features on her blog on some of the properties at Long Beach. And of course at par with that are yours too :)

  3. This is another attractive design. I'm in love with that lavender, which is much more floriferous than the varieties I've chosen for my own garden. They're going on next fall's planting list!

  4. Yes! Potted agaves for sure. Did you tell Chris?

  5. What beautiful shots of the house (I am the homeowner, so I may be slightly partial). Quick correction: the lavender variety is Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso' not 'Provence'. This is the type of lavender that French perfume houses use, due to its amazing scent. This variety grows more compact, with wispy spires, which is why we chose it. We agree that Chris did a spectacular job with bringing our vision to life. He is a pro in every sense, and a joy to have as a contractor.

    1. Thank you! It's easy to take good photos of something that is beautiful to begin with :-).

      Thank you for the correction. I have no idea why I thought it was 'Provence'. Your 'Grosso' is displayed to perfection.


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