The Designer
Katharine Webster
Katharine Webster, MLA
San Francisco

What the judges thought: The look is simple yet sophisticated. A variety of natural colors and textures create visual interest from every angle.

Out of the dust: After a home remodel left her backyard looking like a pile of rubble, a San Francisco homeowner turned to Katharine Webster, landscape architect and lead designer on the project, to make it something more. “The client asked us to create an urban oasis for her and her teenage son,” Webster says. The designer needed to include a spa, outdoor shower and space for planting in a very small lot. Before work could begin, the yard needed to be graded, cleaned, and terraced. When conceiving the design, she considered how the spa area would appear from the upper levels of the house, where it would be very visible.

Star of the show: The spa, set into an Ipe deck, is a central feature in the yard, functionally and visually. Terraced planters, concrete walls, steel edging and softscape between stone pavers enhance the appeal. For the garden, Webster used perennials such as lavender, along with boxwood and the client’s existing cactus collection. “Gardens do not need to be tricky,” she says. “They really need strong composition overlaid with great texture and color.” The space suits mother and son.“There is actually nothing better than having an outdoor space create new pastimes ... in everyday living,” Webster says.