A shallow stream neatly bisects the backyard and cascades over a stone wall into a pool. Kangaroo paw adds a touch of drama to a soothing palette of olive and gray-green succulents.
To visually connect the backyard to the front, Smith faced the existing block wall with flagstone and added a second, higher retaining wall along the back property line. "Bringing in an additional level always makes a garden more interesting," he says.
A shallow water channel divides the garden neatly in half, echoing the front yard's symmetry. The water bubbles up from a bowl, spills into a small, circular pool, disappears under stone, reappears as a narrow rivulet, then continues flowing down to a wall, where it spills into a reservoir hidden under the new deck. (See more inspiring fountains)
To accentuate the runnel, some flagstones along it were positioned bottom side up. "The flip side of the stones are sometimes darker," Smith explains. "And with Lincoln Multi, this is especially pronounced."
Senecio and snow-in-summer edge the channel. Mexican weeping bamboo and Pittosporum tenuifolium add screening and soften the perimeters.
Despite its inherent drama, the garden has a calming effect. "There is a Zen-like feel to it," Smith says. But it's California all the way.