City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

A Place for Mom

Creating a tranquil space right outside your back door

Moms are busy. When they do have some downtime, many just want a nice place to relax. So, why not give them that perfect spot right in their own backyards?

Justin Kopicki, owner of Cal CustomScapes, which serves the greater Ventura and Los Angeles counties, can do just that, and he loves nothing better than creating one-of-a-kind designs for clients. Here, he has a few tips on incorporating specific features for a lovely and calm oasis.

The sound of water can be very relaxing, and for this, Justin likes to install trickling urns.

“They come in a whole bunch of really cool colors, like cobalt blue, brick reds, oranges, and greens,” he says. “And, they can be done in a ton of different styles, from ultra-modern to rustic.” They are also quite easy to install.  

Since many moms can’t take a break until the kids are in bed, sufficient lighting is important.

“Lighting is one of my favorite things to do,” says Justin. “I love soft, unobtrusive lighting, which makes such a big difference in a yard, especially when it’s done right. Whether it's uplighting on a trellis that has roses or vines growing over it or downlighting, there are many different styles you can do.”

He really likes using LED lights, which don’t create glare and can be easily hidden.

“You want to see the effects of the light, not necessarily the light itself. That's an important part in the design and with the fixtures you choose. LED has really come a long way. A lot of people think of LEDs as that blue light, which can look great on modern hardscapes or landscapes, but I mostly like to use warm amber light since it's less harsh, a lot more pleasing to the eye and relaxing. Of course, I do mix them up at times,” Justin says. He designed a yard where the homeowners wanted warm lights, but they also wanted to light up their flagpole with a brighter light.  

It’s a great way to highlight accents, he says, and lights can also be added to a water feature, for a real “wow” effect.

Of course, a backyard for mom has to include flowers, but since they already have enough to take care of, low maintenance plants are key.

“Especially in California, you can install more of a desertscape, but you can blend it too,” says Justin. “One way I do that is by surrounding plantings with stone and installing an irrigation system that is customized to water different plants as needed. It's fun to mix roses with cacti for a really unique look, and it's also nice because you can plan for as little or as much maintenance as you want to do.”

For more ideas, Justin is happy to help formulate a plan.

“Some people know exactly what they want, and others need more help,” he says. “I'll tell people to just rattle off their ideas as a stream of consciousness, and then I design around that. I'm pretty open about this part of the process and it's fun to bounce ideas back and forth until the clients get what they want. That's the fun part about custom work.”

He typically hand draws his designs, adding measures and scales.

“As far as materials, if it's something like a water feature, I can present ideas and certain styles they can pick from, and then I just go from there. I also show them examples of things that I've done in the past.”

To find out more about creating an oasis of tranquility in your backyard, visit