Liveroof Completion

The construction of the Liveroof installment is now complete, and we’re very happy with the results! We’ve also poured the mexican pebble around the fire pit and in the drainage channels around the site. After touring the site last Friday, we thought we’d share some photos we took around sunset.


This shot of the pavilion rooftop shows the decking that leads to the firepit and the ocean in the distance. The sun shining off of the pavilion’s copper plate roofing (on the left) creates a great contrast with the Leymus grass below.


The mexican pebble has been poured along the wooden borders and the drip-system irrigation has been laid out.



Down near the retention pond, the mexican pebble lines the concrete ‘diving board’. The colors of the mexican pebble, concrete, black mulch, and surrounding bamboo work really nicely together in this area.

Also lining the fire-pit on the ground level, the pebble pops the vibrant red inside of the installation. Can’t wait to see it lit!

Finally, we view the pavilion & Liveroof installation from the backyard patio. Once all of the lighting is in place, this view will dramatically change from night to day.


Garden Pavilion: Live Roof Install


The time has arrived, the long awaited install of the Live Roof in Shell Beach has begun. Almost near completion, the modular system has taken about a week and a half to complete due to the complicated design of the rooftop.





The pre-vegetated palettes of grasses and sedum’s arrived from Native Sons and have to be craned up to the rooftop. Gardens by Gabriel, an installation company, has been working hard all week to install our Live Roof design. The module system should make it fairly easy to install the plant material, one by one palettes are placed together like a puzzle. However, many of the rectangular palettes did not fit into the intricate design of this project. The irregular angles created by the roof and deck edges force the installation team to precisely cut most pieces to fit into their desired location.



Overlaid with a carpet of sedum, the slanted portion of the roof juts out into the horizon. Trickling down the roofs back, the pool of grey sedum runs through the spine of green sedum. The contrasting height and color of these sedum create a visually enticing, 3-dimensional space on a previously flat roof.





The grasses surround and soften the edges of the deck. They sway with the coastal winds, mimicking the motion of the waves in the distance. At varying locations sedum also flank the edges of the deck, creating a seamless transition from the deck to the grasses. As these grasses grow and fill in, their height will enclose the space into an outdoor room.


Garden Pavilion, Shell Beach


When a multi-faceted conceptual design is pieced together through implementation, each transition between each individual facet become distinct and recognizable. Currently in the process of construction, our garden pavilion project has already transformed into a fluid, interconnected space housing a variety of uses. The transitions between social & intimate aspects of the design have strayed away from its rigid norm, instead becoming a part of the cohesive whole. We’ve focused on connecting the interior & exterior views offered by the space’s surroundings while keeping the clients’ privacy intact.

On June 2nd we explored the site and took some photos to showcase its stage in the construction process.


After entering through the side gate, the path changes direction and orients itself towards the pavilion. On the right, the ascending tiers & stairway to the house patio are complete while the succulents begin to grow; on the left, the bocce ball court is reaching its final stage of construction. Straight ahead, the pavilion is nearing completion & the openness through the interior is becoming apparent.


The space directly before the pavilion entrance houses a more private zone, surrounded with high-rise walls and a unique firepit installation. Here the contrast between the surrounding vegetation and the warm grey hardscaping will be a distinct differentiation over time.


The vibrant orange/red recycled glass in the firepit contrast with the warm grey exterior & surrounding walls. Its distinct shape is mimicked throughout the site, which becomes more apparent as we continue through the pavilion and take advantage of the rooftop views. One of the subtle aspects of design that tie each space together are the drainage channels viewable on the pavement. Filled with aggregate, these channels drain through the entire site, continue through the interior of the pavilion, and collect in the retention zone pictured below.


Located behind the pavilion, this secluded retention basin collects all of the on-sight drainage. The surrounding bamboo offers a softened border to the area & will gradually seclude the zone as they grow. The patio – only accessible through the pavilion – will be private with a view towards the bamboo and grass lined retention basin, offering an outdoor space for privacy and tranquility.


Climbing up the stairs to the pavilion, the amazing view of the ocean becomes the main focus. Walking towards the rooftop patio, the openness of the space becomes more apparent and reconnects the space with its natural environment. The patio invites you to recline back with a cocktail and enjoy the vast, clear view of the ocean, concurrently being surrounded by the vibrant green living roof around the patio.


Lastly, a view towards the transforming design strengthens the feeling of fluidity between each outdoor space. The terraced concrete tiers glide up towards the house and back down towards the bocci ball court, and the drainage channels seamlessly stretch through the edges of each zone and strengthen their connectivity. Over the next few weeks, the hardscape construction will near completion & continue to define the space’s conceptual character.

We’ll continue to keep you updated with the pavilion project & other projects we’re working on. Thank you for your interest in JGS Designs!

Living Roofs

We are in the midst of designing a roof deck on top of a garden pavilion in Shell Beach. This isn’t an ordinary garden pavilion. Architect Richard LeGros has designed a structure that has stretched what the owners thought was possible on the site. Outdoor living space has been exponentially multiplied, and the landscape design is the catalyst that ties the house and pavilion structure together.

The roof of the pavilion will have a roof deck and gas fire pit. Surrounding the deck will be grasses and succulents that are planted in a ‘LiveRoof’ modular system.

Our local wholesale nursery, Native Sons, specializes in such systems, so Jeffrey and I stopped by to see their growing grounds and gather inspiration.

Below are some examples of what they have growing. Love the large sweeps of sedums, and that soft edge of the grasses.  (First image shown is an early rendering of the roof deck.)

How Can You Use Recycled Material in Your Garden?

Video link below: Interview by Lisa Quinn at the San Francisco Flower Garden Show.

The display demonstrates the creativity behind our design firm. Object that are normally discarded can be transformed into works of art.

It is not everyday we get challenged to think so creatively and “out of the box.” We can hardly wait for an opportunity to stretch our imaginations again!

How Can You Use Recycled Material in Your Garden?

San Francisco Flower Garden Show a Success!

The Garden display “Pi R Squared” was awarded the Golden Gate Cup “Best in Show” and received a SHOW RECORD of an additional 6 recognition awards, including: Garden Conservancy Award, American Society of Landscape Architects Award, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society Award, Pacific Horticulture Award, Sunset Magazine Western Living Award, and Gold Medal for garden creation.

Pi R Squared had been in the dream and design stage for the past 6 months, but on March 17 we hired a 26 foot Uhaul truck from San Luis Obispo to San Mateo. Packing the truck required precision. Pipe fit tightly within pipe, and any open gap was carefully packed with plant material from Succulent Gardens, picked up in Castroville.

The next 4 days we worked tirelessly from 8 am to 8+ at night laying out the pipe, fitting the steel, shoveling the gravel, lifting large specimen aloes with forklifts into  place, and tediously planting grasses and laying out rings. We could not have done it on our own. Special thanks to Alexander Cegelski, Paul Morabito, and Lance Cornwall for their much needed man-power!

Final touches came together Tuesday when the judging was to take place.

Tuesday evening was the opening Gala for Garden Creators.  After signing in, I walked straight over to the wine table and picked up something nice to drink. Jeffrey tapped my on the back and with big smile preceded to give me a high-five, “Did you see the awards?”……at that moment looking over his shoulder I notice the 6 stands of awards placed in front of our garden.  I couldn’t believe I went for the wine before even looking to see what we had won! Later that evening, Kay Estey, the show producer, announced a first time in history direct tie for Best-in-Show. We had tied with The Garden Route and Filoli, something we were actually excited about.

We had developed quite the camaraderie with Rich from The Garden Route. He had the magic timing of showing up to our booth every time we opened up a beer or bottle of wine.

The next 5 days were madness. Doors opened at 10 Wednesday morning, and a stampede of women with trolly carts instantly inundated our garden space. Questions started flying, “what are these round things”, “what are these metal things used for?”, “Where can I by this/that?”.  I repeated the same lines so many times, describing the drain pipes, metal gaskets, and dutch tub, that it still circles through my dreams at night.

I don’t mean to imply that women with trolly carts were the only ones at the show. There was a wide range of people, and quite the contingency from the central coast! It was also great to meet the authors of so many gardening books we have in our office and use on a daily basis. The garden show offered us an excellent opportunity to introduce ourselves face to face to some of these individuals and organizations who would otherwise not have given us the time of day, including those organizations who gave us the awards.

After 5 days of the show we were once again hit with the reality of having to tear it all down and pack it away.  What took 4 days to build managed to be torn down in a single day (14.5 Hours).  Tuesday morning we were driving home to Los Osos to once again unload plants and pipe. Wednesday the boys hopped back in the truck and drove a large portion of our display down to PORCH in Carpinteria. Thursday, Tom and I spent all day recreating the display to fit the new garden space.

If you did not get a chance to see the display at the show, by all means, take a trip to Carpinteria, and visit the lovely ladies at PORCH.

We cannot thank our sponsors enough. Especially DKal Engineering for all the pipe scrap. This garden would have been an impossibility without them. The amazing plant material donated by Native Sons Nursery and Succulent Gardens. Those plants receive some serious abuse at the garden shows, and we are so grateful for the leniency of these nurseries when the plants were returned in a sometimes damaged state.

A special thank you goes out to Mike Silva, the right-hand-man for Travis Jecker. Mike pulled together all our metal work in a days time, after receiving news that Travis had incurred a serious injury and was in the ER. Mike works like a maniac under pressure, and we look forward to working with him and Travis on future projects.

Lastly, we cannot begin to thank Bob and Cary Woll enough. Bob and Cary were a previous client of ours in Los Osos, and had recently moved back to San Mateo where Cary was born and raised. He father had died and left her with the house, which they are now lovingly restoring. Jeffrey organized a trade of our services for accommodations. We could not have paid to have better accommodation with better food. Bob baked fresh artisan bread on a daily basis that we would eat with breakfast while sipping on our cappuccinos. Diner was never a disappointment. From a barbecued cold-smoked salmon, to a veal stew on the coldest of days, we relaxed everynight in their home with a glass of wine and food that makes Martha Stewart seam hokey. These two made our long days feel worth it.

How did we get so lucky to work with such great people? We are hoping this garden show proves itself fruitful, and brings in some fun new projects for this year, not just for our benefit, but for all those who help to support us as well.

Thanks again to EVERYONE who made this a success!

DKAL Engineering

API Designs

Komodo Kamado

Native Sons Nursery

Succulent Gardens Nursery

San Marcos Growers


BK Lighting

Paul Morabito and Lance Cornwall

Travis Jecker

Environmental Molding Concepts

Villa Creek Winery


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Lecture

Come to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden THIS friday March 4th. Jeffrey will be giving a lecture on the importance of maintaining a regional style. A subject pertinent for anyone living on the central coast. The Lecture costs $10 and all proceeds go to the support of the botanic garden.

Feel free to come early and check out the gardens. Spring is just around the corner and the natives are just beginning to push their new growth.

Hope we see you there!

DIG Book Signing and Lecture

Thank you Cara and Will at DIG for hosting the book signing and lecture.

For all of those in the Santa Cruz area make sure to stop by the DIG garden store and nursery for a great selection of plants, garden art, and unique decorating accessories.

Sunset Plugs our Book on Fresh Dirt

After purchasing a copy of our new book Senior Garden Writer for Sunset Magazine, Sharon Cohoon promptly posted a blog to inform readers.


Sharon summarizes the intent of Jeffery’s work in just a couple sentences,


“What Sunset writers and editors especially love about Smith’s gardens is that they look so at home amid their surroundings.  Not pretending to be in Martha’s Vineyard or Tuscany or Andalusia.  Instead they celebrate where they are — the glorious West.”


Check out the Post HERE.


We are extremely pleased to announce the release of our first book:

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

A  Collection of  Residential  Landscape  Designs

This book is a photographic presentation of some of our best projects and highlights a portion of the work that we have been fortunate enough to provide to our wonderful clients over the past few years.  We would love for you to come celebrate with us at our official book

release party with a lecture to follow by Jeffrey on Landscape

Regionalism.  We are very proud of the work that we do here at JGS and are excited to share these projects with everyone. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, October 23 and join us at PORCH in Carpinteria, CA for the event.

Drinks and Small Bites will be provided from 5-7 pm.

We hope to see you there!