Form & Function: Cultivating Creativity


Jarrod Baumann’s out-there thinking takes gardens to the next level

In Los Gatos, Baumann created a modern parterre that includes a water feature and emphasizes color and texture.

IN A REGION KNOWN for innovation, it’s no surprise that San Francisco-based Jarrod Baumann is revered and in demand. “I’ve had clients who’ve trusted me and allowed me to do all kinds of crazy things,” says the founder of Zeterre Landscape Architecture, which has “developed a reputation for being that firm that you go to if you want something unusual.”

Indeed, since launching in 2006, pushing boundaries has become a specialty. For a client in Los Altos Hills, the living gate that slides open was a first for Baumann. With succulents planted on both sides of the teak gate, some of the challenges included the weight and the irrigation system. Elsewhere on the property, Baumann devised a striking triple-tiered pool that cascades down a hillside.

Deep burgundy Heuchera and creeping thyme populate a travertine zipper path in Los Altos Hills.

“With almost every single one of our projects, there’s something that I’ve always wanted to do that I finally get to do,” says Baumann, 39. Growing up on a ranch in Catheys Valley, Calif., he collected plants and had a garden with more than 200 species. By age 12, he was tearing out pages from magazines that one day his assistant would scan and add to his ever-expanding ideas folder. After studying landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, his childhood hobby morphed into a career.

A desert oasis in Palm Springs.

For the 2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, he created a parterre, a type of garden that dates back to 15th-century France—perfect for a residence modeled after Versailles’ Petit Trianon. Baumann used artificial turf and crushed granite to compose a garden that is classical in form yet has a contemporary edge. He previously proved that a parterre can also work beautifully in a modern setting when he conjured a checkerboard lawn in Los Gatos that is an abstract take on the tree of life.

Clean design that harmonizes perfectly with the sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay.

No matter the aesthetic, a common thread runs through Baumann’s portfolio. “I try to entice the users of the garden to interact with it,” he says, noting that water features add sound, flowers can be fragrant and soft plants beckon to be touched. “A really good garden stimulates all of your senses.” And, according to Baumann, a really good landscape architect tailors to the client: “You should have a garden and a plant palette that are unlike any of your friends’ because your garden should be an expression of who you are.” – Anh-Minh Le

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