Hardscaping is a vibrant area in which Casa di Terra has come to play, co-creating with clients the unique space that surrounds the home to provide functional and aesthetic outdoor living spaces and gardens. Working together with the client and in some cases architects, landscape architects and native plant specialists, we investigate the existing features and constraints of a site, such as climate exposures and terrain, as well as desired features such as small ponds or waterfalls, trails, raised garden beds, rock walls, sunken small outbuildings, etc.

This has been an exciting arena as it really allows clients to have creative design ideas come to life around their house in a way that serves them, sometimes in ways that their house cannot. We create small organically flowing walls of rock or ferrocement for example, leading to a garden shaped like a mandala; faux madrone trees made from ferrocement holding up a shade arbor; a hidden waterfall seen only from an inside hallway window; a wine cave with an entry that resembles a flower's calix; a hidden, mortared rock grotto area with outdoor fireplace.... When needed we work with an engineer to assure that all structural requirements are met. With new techniques, 25 years of experience, and a lot of imagination there are many possibilities.

 

in-process gallery:

 

wine cellar in progress

wine cellar in progress

ferrocement 'wheel wall' emerges

ferrocement 'wheel wall' emerges

patio, planter, rock wall

patio, planter, rock wall

slipform-example

slipform-example

Mandala garden1

Mandala garden1

Faux manzanita in process

Faux manzanita in process

curvy-walls-inprocess

curvy-walls-inprocess

claymodel2

claymodel2

StampedPatio-inprocess.jpg

StampedPatio-inprocess.jpg

RockStuccoWall-2.jpg

RockStuccoWall-2.jpg

site design & creative process

The fun part is dreaming it up. Casa di Terra assists clients in this creative process with materials research, analysis of soil stability, drainage and other aspects, and model creation. We may make detailed drawings to help clients work out ideas, or create a 3D clay model to get a more accurate spacial sense of how the ideas will work; these can help 'flesh out' proximities and envision the end result.

ferroCement

FerroCement is a composite of materials that allows building small scale walls and sculpting benches and other objects with far less cement and far more flexibility compared to standard concrete. It consists of a thin layer of cementatious mortar which binds to an armature of metal mesh material, which is often covering an additional wire or rebar structure. Ferrocement is sometimes called thin shell and was at one time a popular material for boatbuilding.

 

The beauty of ferrocement is in its strength and creative applicability. It is economical, fireproof, and has a very broad range of applications, from built-into-hillside-storage nooks, to faux bois firewood shelters, cisterns, wine cellars, decorative walls, benches and figures, etc. In addition to the our ferrocement projects below, you may want to browse the highly whimsical, delightfully creative work at the Flying Concrete website, which showcases the work of a ferrocement artisan in Mexico with whom Zach has studied.

cool retreats & grottos

 

Having a secluded and quiet place to get away can be very valuable. Casa di Terra has created several unique grottos, courtyards and wine cellars. They may include water features, planters, arbors, nooks and benches, stratified rock walls, small arched rock bridges, or outdoor fireplaces.

stonework

There is something warm and nostalgic about a carefully crafted rock wall. It can add a weathered old-world feel or meld seamlessly into a spanish-style courtyard. In addition to beautiful stonemasonry Zach has created whimsy and function in his rockwork, adding nooks, gargoyles, or a dragon head to disguise an old culvert pipe, for example.

In addition to traditional types of mortared rock walls, we also do low drystack walls and formed mortared walls, where forms are used to support stone, mortared together and reinforced with rebar and concrete in the back, saving a considerable amount of time. Our clients enjoy these sturdy longlasting features as a permanent part of their landscape.

wine cellar entry with wood storage

wine cellar entry with wood storage

wine cellar in progress

wine cellar in progress

garden beds with plant impressions

garden beds with plant impressions

waterfall w/faux manzanita trellis

waterfall w/faux manzanita trellis

Curved ferrocement wall

Curved ferrocement wall

gardenpatio1.jpg

gardenpatio1.jpg

Garden-Flagstone.jpg

Garden-Flagstone.jpg

backyard waterfall

backyard waterfall

rumi dome

rumi dome

backyard terrace

backyard terrace

sandusky bridge

sandusky bridge

rock emerges

rock emerges

backyard waterfall2

backyard waterfall2

view of waterfall from inside house

view of waterfall from inside house

shaded patio

shaded patio

stone wall, patio in process

stone wall, patio in process

backyard pond

backyard pond

PatioWaterfall.jpg

PatioWaterfall.jpg

faux flagstone

faux flagstone

patio, planter, rock wall

patio, planter, rock wall

rockwall-closeup

rockwall-closeup

courtyard-niche

courtyard-niche

courtyard stairs

courtyard stairs

rock+wood bridge

rock+wood bridge

backyard walkway

backyard walkway

slipform-example

slipform-example

Mandala garden1

Mandala garden1

bench

bench

Amphitheater

Amphitheater

CurvedRailingRamp

CurvedRailingRamp

backyardpath3

backyardpath3

faux-flagstonetexture

faux-flagstonetexture

lookingout-fromcellar

lookingout-fromcellar

ferroCement woodshed

ferroCement woodshed

little S bridge

little S bridge

backyard2-after.jpg

backyard2-after.jpg

arched-entry.jpg

arched-entry.jpg

bkyardbridges2

bkyardbridges2

arbor+planters

arbor+planters

courtyard.jpg

courtyard.jpg

rockworkdoor.jpg

rockworkdoor.jpg

ncrockwork1.jpg

ncrockwork1.jpg