C California Style

In this Hancock Park garden, a steel trellis provides shade and a living space that can be heated and lit with LED lights.
In Santa Monica, Shrader accented a 1940s-era home with Japanese maples and boxwood globes, he says, "to create a very simple but pleasing feel."
An inviting firepit is a useful focal point.
Scott Shrader
Gray brick was reclaimed from China and layered in a herringbone pattern.
The Hancock Park project's gravel garden was planted in a Mediterranean palette.
An outdoor room, protected from the elements.

The Hard Life

by intern

L.A. landscape architect Scott Shrader leaves the grass behind.

It does seem a bit ironic that in sunny Southern California, landscape architect Scott Shrader’s signature backyard boasts not a single blade of grass. While his sustainable terrains represent a trend gaining momentum statewide, Shrader, who earned his master’s degree in landscape architecture and trained with John T. Lyle of the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, is far from new to all of this. (Lyle, a former Cal Poly Pomona landscape architecture professor, was a 1970s pioneer of available renewable resources.) He credits another mentor- instructor for his encyclopedic knowledge of plants that are native to and compatible with the CA climate; Bob Perry penned the 2010 bible Landscape Plants for California Gardens. “Don’t trust any landscaper who hasn’t heard of it,” he says.

In a state where year-round al fresco entertaining is virtually de rigueur, Shrader’s talent is the outdoor room—one complete with the ideal amount of shade, often with trellises supporting heating and LED dimming. Because he’s also a licensed landscape contractor, multilayered outdoor spaces are as stunning as they are responsible. His reliance on permeable gravel and stones in lieu of lawns encourages drainage and prevents runoff. To that end, he utilizes unique appointments that otherwise would have been tossed aside at a construction zone. Century- old pavers, for example, have been reclaimed from a Guate- malan plaza, while antique bricks of the perfect gray hue are reintroduced in a herringbone pattern.

Environmentally sensitive restrictions in native plantings and hardscaping does have its tonal challenges. Shrader recalls a prospective client who requested one particular color story. “My practice is different than interior design. I mean, Mother Nature’s palette is not unlimited!” That said, he’s experimenting beyond his go-tos (like versatile dwarf olive trees). Shrader recently completed a Santa Monica garden that offers an East Coast sensibility, thanks in part to a new- found favorite: the coral bark Japanese maple. “The morphing colors of the bark and leaves offer a palette beyond green, white and purple—and a change of season.” shraderdesign.com.

By Andrea Stanford.
PHOTOS: Mark Adams Pictures.