My Great Outdoors: Steve's Zen Backyard

My Great Outdoors: Steve's Zen Backyard

Rebecca Orlov
Jun 15, 2009

Name: Steve Prestemon

Location: Venice, CA

Type of space: Outdoor living area

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: I did the yard in three stages with a contractor.

Stage one was demo and reorienting the driveway so it didn't jut into the middle of the back yard. Also, I removed all the existing plants, front and back, except the large trees and yuccas. I then planted the first set of giant timber bamboo and hedge golden bamboo to create privacy and rebuilt the walkway with Iron Wood. This is also when I built the front fence and the Zen rock garden. I have tried many plants, even rocks, in front of the fence at the street, but the Korean clumping grass was the most successful (and people don't use the grass as projectiles like the rocks!). The moss was picked out by my landscaper, its two types Irish and Scoth, as well as the black Mondo Grass - and I used the papyrus and horsetail as accents. After the jump, check out the next two stages.

How did you create it? Stage two was lighting. I have about 30 uplights accenting the different plants and features and this really makes the night more dramatic and makes the outdoor more usable. I actually prefer my outdoors at night.

Stage three was the pouring of the cement patio, the additional walkway, and the hanging of the sails over the living areas. I like the sails because it makes it feel like a "room" and a bit more intimate. I also added more Timber Bamboo and the bamboo fencing to make it seem more like a "compound".

One other thing I also do is whenever I buy an orchid and its flowers fall off, I stick the plant up in the branches of one of the trees outside. Then once a year I get another blooming plant in the yard I don't have to take care of year round.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? The rocks and boulders for the Zen Garden I bought from a local Santa Monica company, Bourget Brothers, where you can walk around their lot and pick out the boulders that you want. The pebbles are 3/8" Yosemite - not that easy to Zen rake in patterns - if i were to do it over I would have picked smaller pebbles. I have 2 Zen rakes - one I made myself and the second is a wooden golf sand trap rake I ordered from a company called Cheesebrough. (

The moss, mondo grass and other plants like the Elephant Ear and horsetail were bought locally at Rolling Green in Culver City. FYI, Horsetail is extremely invasive - be forewarned. That is where I also bought the stone planters.The Bamboo my contractor found at a nursery half way to San Diego. The outdoor furniture is Brown/Jordan (now discontinued) which I bought at Berk's in Santa Monica, and Modernica which I bought at their store in Los Angeles. ( ( The Shade Sails are Coolaroo from Backyard city ( and the hardware was from Custom Shade Sails. ( The Bamboo fencing was from Cali Bamboo ( and the fountain is from Stone Forest in Santa Fe. (

Check out the full house tour of Steve's bungalow right here.


Images: Rebecca Orlov

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