Santa Barbara Landscaping for the California Bungalow


santa barbara landscaperResidential Landscaping Project for a Santa Barbara Bungalow

Many people are aware that Santa Barbara’s uptown area is famous for its beautiful Victorian homes. But did you know that Santa Barbara is also known for the Arts and Crafts era architectural style known as the California Bungalow? At Down To Earth Landscapes, Inc. we love to take on projects that challenge us to restore a residence to its former brilliance, and we recently had the privilege of doing this with a California Bungalow home. Here are some thoughts from the Bungalow.

Landscaping for  the California Bungalow in Santa Barbara

The challenge of the landscaper working on a project such as this is to install details that respect the architectural style while still offering landscaping that offer  ease and comfort. The ultimate in fun for Santa Barbara landscape designers like us!

I began with doing some research regarding landscaping in the year the home was built which was 1918. This home was built toward the end of World War I, a time of exhaustion and optimism for Americans. Many who moved out to California during this period came from the east and brought the image of California as a fresh start with them. Landscapes from this period therefore combine east coast form with west coast ease. Lawns are the focal point in these landscapes. In a move that fused both old and new, we installed a new lawn comprised of a newer, tougher hybrid sod that remains green all year long. This lawn framed the planter beds and was edged with 4 in thick cut stone—commonly used during that area—for an elegant, finished look.

We filled the planter bed with the kinds of plant materials that were commonly used in the era and for the type of landscape prized by those who lived in the bungalow. We used an older and more traditional form of hydrangea followed by roses hybridized by the English rose breeder David Austen valued for the intense fragrance. Then we planted red coral-bells, a favorite of my grandmother Buell who was a Santa Barbara native from the bungalow era. Dwarf plum daylilies—low maintenance and colorful and yellow carpet roses completed the planter beds. We also installed dwarf lavender—traditional harbingers of love and luck—along the front walk.

History and Impact of the California  Bungalow and it’s Influence in Santa Barbara

This style of residence, most commonly built in Southern California from approximately 1910 to 1939 might be considered as the manifestation of cultural shifts in priority during the Modernist period.

The bungalow actually traces its origins to the province of Bengal. The etymological root of the word bungalow arises from the Hindi word bangla or house in Bengali style. The style was adapted by the British and was then popularized in California. Many architectural historians credit the earliest California Bungalow style to architect A. Page Brown in the early 1890s. However, it seems that this style was actually part of a school, rather than simply a stylistic signature of one person. One of the earliest bungalows was built for the novelist Jack London in San Francisco in the latter part of the 1870s.

The bungalow became popular in Southern California because it met the needs of changing times in which the lower middle class were moving from apartments to private houses in great numbers. Bungalows were modest and inexpensive, but still boasted many of the architectural details found in the Victorian homes of the mid-late 19th century.

The historical areas of Santa Barbara are often staggered, one street full of Victorian homes and the next filled with bungalows. They have become iconic in Santa Barbara. The represent an era when Santa Barbara’s connection with Hollywood’s “dream factory” was even more pronounced than it is today. They evoke the golden age of Hollywood, and Santa Barbara’s participation with that. With their cozy, comfortable rooms and informal structure, has captured the fancy of many an architectural renovator in Santa Barbara in recent years.

If you have a historical site you’d live to renovate, our Santa Barbara landscaping company would be happy to help you enhance its past architectural legacy with a fresh and vibrant garden.



  1. Kristen says:

    Hi Bruce! We love our new front yard. Thanks to you and your crew for all of your time, effort, and continued advice! Best, Kristen

  2. Aaron Lichtanski says:

    I have seen Down to Earth Landscape’s work and it is by far a superior company offering high quality work paired with excellent customer service. Hats off!

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