The Green Scene In The News - 2006 and Earlier

Casual Upscale Backyard Project Profile from

This home was featured in the September/October 2006 issue of Homes of Color, HGTV,'s Aquatic Playspace, "Geometric Wonder" in Signature Pools and Spas, "Front Yards..." in USA Today,, Sizzling Outdoor Kitchens on HGTV, in the book Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens, the April 2007 issue of Signature Pools and Outdoors Magazine, Luxury Pools Fall 2007, in the book Picture Perfect Pools, Signature Pools and Outdoors Jan 2008, in a new book called Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces, Aqua Magazine Sept. 2008, HGTV's Elegant Outdoor Showers, Your Home and Lifestyle, August 2010, and Backyard Solutions 2011.

The Green Scene Mazaheri Project

HGTV and the media have chosen the Mazaheri swimming pool, zero-edge spa, outdoor fireplace, and fiber optic wine bottle barbecue outdoor kitchen counter, time and time again as their favorite Scott Cohen project!

It has by far been featured in more magazines, television shows, and books than any other outdoor living space he has ever designed. This home has been featured on in The Life Outdoors and Dining Outdoors, Landscape Design Build Magazine's article "Love, War & Landscape Design", "Fiber-Optic Wine Bottles Light Up Concrete Countertop" on, Signature Pools and Outdoors Magazine, Builder News Magazine March 2007, Fired Arts and Crafts March 2007, Signature Pools and Outdoors April 2007, Pool and Spa News, June 4, 2007, from House to Home Summer 2007, Architectural West July/Aug. 2007, Backyards Go Green in the Alameda Sun, Nashville Home and Garden, June 2007, Pool and Spa News Sept 2007, American Dream Homes Fall 2007, Picture Perfect Pools (book), Concrete Decor Feb. 2008, Concrete Expressions, Spring 2008, Landscape Management, March 2008, Ecological Home Ideas, Spring 2008, Pond and Garden Lifestyles, Mar./April 2008, in a book called Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces, Westlake Magazine's June/July issue, Pool and Spa Living Nov 2008, Masonry magazine October 2008, the cover of the World Of Concrete 2010 brochure and Concrete Decor January 2011.

Barbeque Your Holiday Turkey
Starting a New California Tradition

Canoga Park, CA. (November 2005) - The holidays are here. This often strikes fear in the hearts of even Martha Stewart types. And for those of us who aren't of such fine organizational and culinary stature, it can downright drop us in our tracks. But take heart, for we live in Southern California-we're laid back-and we can cook outdoors.

Outdoor cooking in November? Yes, as a matter of fact, it's a lovely 78 degrees right now. (Hence our high property taxes.) A light sweater is all you'll need in the evening to step outside to your outdoor barbeque and cook center. Not to mention, you'll avoid ending a wonderful evening with family and friends with a huge mess in the kitchen.

 Cooking a turkey on the barbeque is easy," says Scott Cohen, Supervising Designer at The Green Scene. "It's especially great for entertaining because the cook isn't a slave to the kitchen. The turkey practically cooks itself." Cohen should know a thing or two about barbeques. He built about 40 of them this year. "The real secret is in the proper equipment. With a gas grill you don't have to keep adding more charcoal and the temperature is

Move over Martha, here's how it's done. Start with a 10 to 12-pound turkey that has thawed for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Remove the giblets and the pop-up thermometer and wash inside and out. Marinate for at least 8 hours (or overnight) in a mixture of water, salt, Worcestershire or soy sauce and magical herbs. Drain, dry and brush with olive oil. Do not stuff. For extra flavor, try placing fresh sage and rosemary under the skin. Preheat the grill to 220 to 250 degrees, and then mount the turkey on the rotisserie. Add smoked wood chips for a smoky flavor if your grill has a smoking tray attachment. Keep the lid closed except to baste the turkey with its juices about once an hour. Test for doneness by moving the drumstick. If it moves freely from the turkey, you're good to go. Or use a meat thermometer in the breast. It should read at least 180 degrees.

Cooking a barbeque style turkey is far more like the feast of the original Thanksgiving. Our forefathers didn't have the luxury of convection ovens. The modem outdoor cook center maximizes cooking ease and simplicity without sacrificing the flavor or the appearance of a golden brown, juicy holiday turkey.

Nightscaping: Award Winning Outdoor Designer
Shares the Magic and Mystery of Outdoor Lighting

by Elizabeth Lexau in the Sept./Oct. 2006 issue of Homes Of Color Magazine" Soft outdoor lighting in a dark environment is nothing short of magic. It provides a warm, inviting ambiance that beckons us further into a scene. It creates mood, romance, and drama. It adds interest and intrigue to any setting. A growing number of homeowners are capturing this magic in their backyards through "nightscaping," one of the hottest trends in home landscaping today. "Garden lighting is one of the most important aspects of landscaping, yet it's often overlooked," says Scott Cohen, supervising landscape designer of The Green Scene, a Los Angeles based outdoor design and construction firm.

Cohen, an award-winning designer whose work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, on Home and Garden Television, and in numerous other national media, is known for his unique artistic use of outdoor lighting, color, and texture in the landscape. In Cohen's landscapes, outdoor countertops embellished with recycled wine bottles come alive with shimmering color when illuminated from below with fiber-optics. In his swimming pools, cascading waterfalls and fountains send streams of white light into the pool where it dances on the surface like scattered diamonds.

While these are some examples of the aesthetic appeal of outdoor lighting, Cohen also emphasizes the practical side of using light in outdoor design. "People invest a great deal in their landscapes but these days many homeowners don't have a chance to use their yards until after dark. At night, the only elements you see are those that you accent with light. With little extra cost, outdoor lighting can give you much more enjoyment out of your landscape."

Local Gardens Should Deer-Proof Plants -
Published in The Acorn on Nov. 23, 2006

Deer have huge appetites and eat just about anything they can reach, according to The Green Scene, a design and build landscape firm in Canoga Park, which offers a list of plants that will not tempt deer to dine in the garden.

For foliage try acacia, boxwood, cypress, cedar, pine, spruce, palms and heavenly bamboo. Flowering shrubs and perennials include lantana, lion's tail, blue hibiscus, butterfly bush, bottle brush, wild lilac, princess flower, yarrow, lily of the nile, snow in summer, coneflower, daylily, candytuft, lily turf and monkey flower.

Deer resistant annuals include calendula, impatiens, pincushion flower, Canterbury bell, and California poppy. There are several deer resistant varieties that can also add Christmas color to the garden. Holly, pyracantha and viburnum will provide a display of red berries. Classic poinsettia can be grown outdoors in frost free areas. White ageratum planted in masses will look like snowdrifts, according to The Green Scene.

Love, War, and Landscape Design

By Brian Albright Published in Landscape Design/Build Sept. 1, 2006

Landscape Design/Build Landscape designer Scott Cohen can still remember a time when he didn't fully grasp the marital politics that are sometimes involved in a landscaping project, and what it could cost him. "It isn't something we've always been good at," says Cohen, president and supervising designer at The Green Scene. "I remember one project, years ago, where we were hired by the husband. He told us everything they wanted, but we never met the wife. As we began the project, it turned into a nightmare, because it wasn't anything that she wanted." Mid-project negotiations between husband and wife resulted in major changes. "We ended up having to go back to step one," says Cohen. "It was a $150,000 job that should have been profitable, but it was an absolute nightmare because both people were not involved in the project from the beginning."

As any landscape designer (or any other residential contractor, for that matter) knows, there can be big differences between what men and women want out of a home improvement project. And pity the poor contractor caught between warring spouses in the midst of an expensive landscape redesign. As Cohen says, while most of his work goes into the design, he spends a good deal of time "being a marriage counselor. "Navigating the stormy waters of someone else's relationship is usually not on the list of services offered by most landscape firms, but for a project to be both successful and profitable, designers must learn how to mediate in these awkward situations. Men and women may want different things out of a design, and one person in the relationship may care more about the project than the other. Cost can also be more of a sticking point for one spouse than the other. It's important early on for the designer to find common ground, listen to everyone's concerns, and propose solutions. Women tend to prefer perennial flowers, while men tend to prefer more grass in a landscape. "I think a lot of times people go into the initial meeting thinking they feel the same way. 'We always agree on things' - They'll say that in the beginning," says Cohen. "They think they see eye to eye, but as we delve into the details and get into dividing the space in the yard, breaking it into outdoor rooms, and how we're going to use it for entertaining, we find that there are some strong feelings and differences in how they want to use the yard, what's important to them and where the dollars go." He said, she said Although each couple is different, Cohen says that there are particular yard and patio features that men and women tend to favor. "I can sit down with a couple and I know going into the meeting what the husband is going to want, and what the wife is going to want, for the most part," he says. "Men and women come to meeting with different images in their heads. My job is to get to the same page."

Based on his experience, Cohen says that women tend to focus more on ambience and visual impact, while men are more concerned with the size of their, uh, barbeques.

"When we're designing for couples, we often find ourselves in the middle of a tug-of-war," Cohen says. Bruck also sees some gender differences among her clients, noting that men tend to want more grass, while women prefer more perennial flower beds. "I have a hard time digging up people's lawns when a man is involved," she says. But whatever they're looking for in a design, make sure both parties are present during the initial planning meetings, and get them on the same page for the project moves forward. "Sometimes one person will have very hard time understanding the value of the other person's wishes," says Judy De Pue, APLD, owner of New Vistas Landscaping in Goshen, IN. "They will usually agree on the basic shape and form, but not always. Sometimes if it gets difficult enough, I will actually say, 'I think at this point you folks need to work through this a little bit more before we resume the planning.'"

Making both spouses feel included is extremely important. "Sometimes a husband will come in and say, 'It's OK, I know what my wife wants; don't worry about it.' That meeting is an absolute waste of time," says Cohen, noting that women make most of the financial decisions in most households. (According to many statistics, even though women on average earn less than men in the U.S., they control 80% to 85% of household spending.)

Bruck leans on her own experiences with contractors in her work. "My husband and I have a way of bickering in front of contractors, I've noticed," she says. "If we have a cabinet maker or somebody coming over, we end up going against each other and we don't form a united front. I do value when a contractor just listens to us. My job as a designer is to go back to the drawing board and make everybody happy. It's a challenge."

Making It Work

 Landscape designs, large and small, go more smoothly when married couples are jointly consulted. One way to keep these disagreements from killing the whole project is to identify who is the decision maker in the household. "That's not necessarily the person who makes the appointment," says De Pue, who adds that it's important during the planning meetings to make eye contact with the clients, and make everyone feel involved. The designer also has to appear neutral, so that one spouse won't feel outnumbered. "Make sure both sides feel they were heard, and their opinions were taken into consideration," says Cohen. "Otherwise, you don't earn the job." "My advice is to let them play out the disagreement in full without saying anything," says Bruck. "When they are completely finished, make a general statement like, 'I'm sure I could make you both happy.' Listen to everything they are both saying.

It will offer you a clue as to where they're coming from, why they're disagreeing, and who needs to be bowed down to a little bit more." "Be patient with people's differences, and try to help then find points of agreement," says De Pue. She cites one project where the wife wanted an open design for parties around a log cabin, while the husband wanted the home to be hidden and sheltered by trees. De Pue came up with a design that incorporated an open lawn flanked by 14-ft.-tall spruces to provide privacy. A little levity doesn't hurt, either. Cohen takes his clients through a detailed design questionnaire before starting a project, and says that usually things go pretty smoothly. For bickering clients, Cohen has designed another document. "It's a tongue-in-cheek thing," he says. "I have a typewritten letter that describes the difference between landscape design and marriage counseling, and how we bill differently for those services. Marriage counseling obviously costs a lot more."

Concrete Ideas - Hayes Project
in The Daily News: Aug. 26, 2006

This home was featured in the June 2006 HGTV Decorating Newsletter on, the article "Not Your Average Contractor" in Landscape Construction Magazine, "Concrete Ideas" in The Daily News, and in the article "Top 10 Plants To Use Around Swimming Pools" in the July/Aug. '08 issue of Southwest Trees and Turf.

Common Scents: Fragrance in the Garden

by Mary Barnhill Published in Landscape Design/Build August 2006

 In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, fewer and fewer of us are taking the time to stop and smell the roses. I keep that in mind each and every time I design a landscape for one of my busy customers. Sometimes I wonder if after all our creativity and hard work that they will ever find time to enjoy their new back yard living space! So, to entice them out of house and into the garden, we plant several varieties of fragrant plants in key areas. It’s one of the ways we help to create a respite in their own backyard.

“Aromatherapy" is a recognized practice and one of the latest trends in landscape design. We select specific plants with a particular fragrance to inspire a desired mood for our clients, and homeowners can do the same thing in their own yards. For example, you can create an atmosphere that is calming and soothing with plants like Ever-Blooming Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides ‘Vetchii’) or Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). For rejuvenation the scents of Peppermint Geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) are invigorating. To create a nostalgic, homey feeling try French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) used in perfume making or Common Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) that smells just like vanilla. If it’s romance, you’re after, what woman will be able to resist the indulgent scent of Chocolate Geranium (Pelargonium ssp.) or Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)? The heady scents of Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa), a bulb also used in the making of perfume, Arabian Jasmine (Jasminium sambac) and Night Blooming Jasmine are downright intoxicating!

Fragrance can serve a more practical use as well. We always design landscapes in a functional utility area then screen any unpleasant orders, such as trash cans, with a hedge of Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) or we surround the area with aromatic vines like Angel Wing Jasmine (Jasminium laurifolium nitidum), Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) or fast-growing Pink Jasmine (Jasminium polyanthum.)

Adding fragrance to the garden is as easy as a trip to the nursery to sniff out your favorite scents. The important thing for success and happy, thriving plants is to be sure to get the right plant for the right place. Observe how much sun or shade is in the area to be planted and what kind of water the plant will receive. Regular feeding will promote faster growth and more sweet-smelling blooms.

There are so many choices and so very many ways to use scented plants. There are shrubs, vines, annuals, perennials and even trees that smell good. Just don’t forget to include the classic symbol of the fragrance garden—the Rose. And be sure to take a minute every day to stop and...well, you know.

"Vanishing Edge Pond" - Paramesh Project
from the August 2006 issue of Water Garden News

This property features a vanishing edge pond with a waterfall, adjacent to an outdoor kitchen. A maintenance free concrete patio and bridge have been impression to look just like wood, under an open shade wood pavilion, located in Moorpark, CA.

This home was featured in Pool and Spa News, Water Garden News, and HGTV Gardening: Water Features for Any Budget the Get Out, Way Out! Special on HGTV and Landscape and Hardscape Construction Magazine Feb. 2009, and Water Garden News Aug./Sept. 2010

"Italian Design" in Signature Pools and Spas' - Tuscan Luxury
Second Annual Design Awards Issue 2006

This home was featured in the article "Not Your Average Contractor" in Landscape Construction magazine, Selecting Outdoor Kitchen Flooring and Poolside Chatter, in the new book Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens, Hearth and Home magazine, Westlake Magazine, Signature Pools And Spas' 2nd Annual Design Awards Issue, the April 2007 issue of Signature Pools and Outdoors magazine, Luxury Pools Fall 2007, and in 2 new books: Picture Perfect Pools and Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces, the summer 2008 issue of Signature Pools and Outdoors, Great Backyards 2011, and Backyard Solutions 2011.

The Backyard Battle of the Sexes - Speyer Project

By Scott Cohen, special to

This home's swimming pool and outdoor kitchen was featured in the articles Libation Sensations, Shaken, Not Stirred, Not Your Average Contractor, in the magazine Popular Ceramics, the HGTV special Big Splash, the new books Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens and Picture-Perfect Pools, Valley Magazine March/April 2008, and in a new book called Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces.

As an outdoor designer, I frequently work with couples who run into snags when they’re trying to create a backyard, they can both be happy with and enjoy. Sometimes the sparks really fly. That’s because men and women often discover that their wish lists are worlds apart.

For men, the emphasis is often on fun, action and entertainment. Bigger is usually better, especially when it comes to their barbecues. For women, cozy, relaxing and intimate are often the ground rules for just about everything from water features to outdoor fireplaces. While a man might want a screaming sound system, a huge barbecue and a gushing waterfall, the woman of the house might prefer a cozy fireplace, soft night lighting and fragrant plantings. Of course, sometimes there’s a reversal and the woman want a party yard and the man wants a tranquil retreat. In either case, there are those sparks to manage.

Diverse pictures of the ideal backyard can sometimes bring out the worst in us, just as they do in interior design. But with a little understanding, knowledge of available options and some good old-fashioned give-and-take, you and your partner can plan a backyard that brings you together instead of one that drives you apart.

Hayes Project

From the June 2006 HGTV Decorating Newsletter

"Pools, spas, living rooms, party palaces—when it comes to outdoor spaces that rock, nobody does it better than designer/artist Scott Cohen..."

This home was featured in the June 2006 HGTV Decorating Newsletter on, the article "Not Your Average Contractor" in Landscape Construction Magazine, "Concrete Ideas" in The Daily News, and in the article "Top 10 Plants To Use Around Swimming Pools" in the July/Aug. '08 issue of Southwest Trees and Turf.

"Add a Little Night Light-Magic To Your Yard"

Ventura County Star May 26, 2006

 This home was featured in the new book Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens, the Ventura County Star, the September/October 2006 issue of Homes of Color, the March 2007 issue of Fired Arts and Crafts, the Summer 2007 issue of from House to Home, HGTV's Sizzling Outdoor Kitchens, Nashville Home and Garden, June 2007, the book Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces, Sept. 2008, Concrete Decor print version (left), the cover of their online newsletter (right), and WaterShapes July/August 2010.

Scott Cohen says:

"This project was a remodel backyard with a pool. Water cascades from copper weir spillways over custom glass mosaic tiles. The sheer cascades and medallion spillways are backlit with fiber-optics to light up the night scene. A color changing wheel on the fiber-optic illuminator allows for a rainbow of color options. The outdoor fireplace anchors the space behind the Spa and creates the perfect romantic ambiance for planning your next "Staycation"!"

"Not Your Average Contractor"
The Green Scene in Landscape Construction

Landscape Construction Magazine March 2006

"As an artist, Scott Cohen has a leg up on most design/build contractors. His creative eye has not only given him an excellent design sense, it has also enabled him to grow his company to 65 employees in just 10 years. He's built a business on a reputation, and a reputation on originality."

"...a Cohen landscape will often have one-of-a-kind features that make it stand out even among the other upscale yards of the Los Angeles area. You might see a clay sculpture in a hardscape, a wine bottle wall, a concrete table lit from below by fiber optics, or stamped and stained driveways and patios of many colors."

"...Among the unusual features built by The Green Scene are a wrought iron pergola roof that spouts a stream of water virtually out of nowhere, concrete countertops embedded with different colors of glass that are lit from beneath with hundreds of fiber optic cables, and a spa with a wall of wine bottles spewing water on bathers. The Green Scene works a lot in concrete because it is both creative and stable. Its concrete countertops, driveways, step, and fountains are cast on site."

"Excellence In Craftsmanship" - Reines Project

 Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine January 2006

This home was featured in the article Backyard Battle of The Sexes in Architechtural West Magazine, in the article Excellence In Craftsmanship in Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine, the July 2006 issue of Decorating Spaces, Landscape Design Build Magazine's article Focus On Water Features, the May 2007 issue of Palm Springs Life, and in a new book called Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces.

True Colors
Decorative staining gives new life to concrete

June 2003

With curb appeal becoming a more sophisticated art, homeowners are looking for ways to brighten up concrete driveways and patios and help them withstand the elements. It's no wonder they're turning to the exciting process of tinting and etching tired, old concrete or boring new concrete-easily but dramatically transforming the look of their homes in a cost-effective way. "Our craftsman look at the concrete as a palate on which to create a work of art," says Scott Cohen, Garden Artisan at The Green Scene. Concrete tinting and etching runs about $4 per square foot-about half the cost of demolition and pouring of new concrete. And with a variety of rich colors and literally thousands of etching designs available, this process can be customized to blend with the design of any home or business. The Green Scene has been working with decorative concrete since 1996 and has cultivated something of a specialty in the market. "The staining is a relatively complicated process which can result in permanent mistakes", says Cohen. "It's crucial that it is executed by someone with an artistic eye and a scientific approach to detail."

The color is actually "burned" into the concrete by means of an acid chemical stain available in a variety of colors-patinas, blues, browns, tan, black and coffee. The Green Scene uses special tools to etch the concrete with decorative shapes and patterns. "We've done everything from simulating flagstone to creating a ten-foot sun dial,' says Cohen. "Recently we used Cheerios soaked in acid to create darker rings of color and create depth to the staining. The possibilities are endless." Examples of decorative concrete surround The Green Scene Design Center to lend inspiration, although staff artisans work with clients to create a unique look for each home. A final seal coat is applied after the color has cured to protect against oil stains and overall wear. "The durability is incredible, which is why concrete tinting has become more popular in shopping centers and retail stores," says Cohen. "It maintains its beauty in spite of heavy foot traffic." Concrete etching and staining on existing concrete can be completed in about a week, while new concrete takes closer to a month to fully cure, says Cohen. The color develops in part due to sun and water exposure and the mineral makeup of the original poured concrete, which is why Cohen recommends doing a test stain on the actual concrete well in advance. 'The very nature of this process ensures that all clients get a look uniquely suited to their individual homes," says Cohen.

Showing Their Spirits - Weinberg Project
Wine Lovers Spotlight Their Hobby in Outdoor BBQ Counter

May 2003

 This home was featured in the articles Showing Their Spirits, Not Your Average Contractor, featured in the new book Ultimate Outdoor Kitchens, published Aug. 28, 2006, in Sizzling Outdoor Kitchens in Nashville Home and Garden, June 2007, in Ecological Home Ideas, Spring 2008, and in a new book called Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces.

Canoga Park, CA. (May 2003)-Outdoor entertaining has come a long way from kettle barbecues and inflatable pools. People are designing their yards with the same regard to aesthetic appeal and functionality that they seek inside their homes. That's why Green Scene Landscape supervising designer Scott Cohen spends time getting to know his clients and their lifestyles to translate their wishes into very personalized designs.

"On my initial design consultations, I always ask clients about their hobbies, collections and travels. It gives me better insight into how they are going to use the yard and what kinds of designs will appeal to them," Cohen says. During one such meeting with clients Joel and Lisa Weinberg in Simi Valley, CA, Cohen discovered that the husband and wife are avid wine enthusiasts who often hold wine-tasting parties at their home.

"The decorative nature of wine bottles made them a natural accent for the patio design," Cohen says. He created a u-shaped barbecue counter with a four-burner grill and built-in refrigerator topped with a cast-in place concrete counter. Over 330 wine bottles (provided by wine distributor PRP Wine International, Inc.) were used to create four kaleidoscopic panels in the front of bar, back-lit with over 500 fiber optic cables.

When planning to use the wine bottles within the counter design, Cohen carefully researched the structural integrity of the bottles. "Working with our structural engineer, we developed a standard weight load for an average wine bottle. They are actually quite strong-just about equal to building with the glass blocks typically used in glass wall construction," he says.

Cohen also found that different colored bottles had different lighting requirements-one cable was sufficient for white wine bottles, while darker glass required more cables. "The effect, especially at night, is really quite spectacular," Cohen says. "The clients were able to showcase their love of wine in way that added to the beauty of their home in a very dramatic way."

To further accentuate the wine theme of the entertainment area, Cohen, a trained ceramic artisan, hand-painted four-inch tiles with a grapevine pattern to go around the perimeter of the counter area. The project also included an 8' x 10' in-ground spa with 25 relaxing hydrotherapy jets. Cohen created a faux rock waterfall that creates warm massage when it cascades into the spa. The rock was stained and painted to mimic the colors of the local natural stone, accented by the colorful plantings throughout the yard. The complete project costs were about $80,000.

Shaken, Not Stirred - Speyer Project
The Green Scene in Pool and Spa News, May 2005

by Rin-rin Yu

 Listen up, James Bond fans. Imagine its dusk and the last glowing rays of the sun are being replaced by the mood lights under the swim-up bar and barbeque counter, as you relax in your own martini glass shaped spa.

That was the idea for one family in Porter Ranch, California after designer Scott Cohen attended a martini party at their home. "These people love martinis," say the president and garden artisan at The Green Scene in Canoga Park, CA.

 The space was a dirt backyard, where a 2' retaining wall had fallen. Cohen built a free form pool finished with blue color quartz. The real challenge though, was shaping the wide cone of the "martini glass" to form a spa.

The spa is a deep well where the water rises to chin level, so the kids can splash around like floating olives. Six jets surround the spa, and a flip of a switch changes the effect from pulsating to rotating so you have a choice of shaken or stirred.

Within the rectangular extension of the spa, four bar stools line the water's edge at a counter. Sheer decent water features also drop into the spa for a relaxing shoulder massage.

Cohen made molds of the owner's martini glasses, as well as real olives, and various wine, gin and scotch bottles. He created porcelain copies of the items to garnish the backsplash of the barbeque.

Don't think that just because the kids are underage, they can't enjoy a martini. Cohen invited the whole family over to hand-paint the olives and decorate their own ceramic tiles. To complete the cocktail party, he found waterproof playing cards with martini and as pert if recipes written on the back.

"It's so much fun", Cohen says. "And the family helped decorate." Eat your heart out, 007.

Pool and Spa News
Masters Of Design: Scott Cohen

A whimsical, yet dramatic, water feature becomes a visual delight to savor.

By Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn July 2004

Garden designer Scott Cohen doesn’t like to do the same thing twice. So when avid wine connoisseurs asked him to mimic the wine bottle-designed barbecue he made for their Simi Valley, Calif., neighbors, Cohen opted to steer the couple in another direction.

Working with 450 wine bottles provided by PRP Wine International Inc., an in-home, wine-tasting distributor, Cohen created a spirited water feature. Back-lit with more than 500 fiberoptic cables, it features three cascading sheets of water that resemble liquid glass flowing into the spa below.

But before executing his design, Cohen wanted to make sure the structural integrity of the bottles supported the 51/2-foot-tall project. “We met with our structural engineer to make sure that the bottles could handle their own weight,” says Cohen, president of The Green Scene Inc. in Canoga Park, Calif. “We found they are just as strong as glass blocks that you use in construction, so it worked out great.”

To support the weight of the glass, Cohen constructed the wall nearly 4 feet to the depth of the spa, with an L-shaped bottom for proper footing. The bottles were then mortared and stacked. “We used the same-sized bottles in a variety of colors,” he says, “and we tried to place them as randomly as possible.”

Different-colored bottles meant different lighting requirements. One or two cables of twinkling lights were sufficient for the clear bottles, while the darker glass required three or more cables. “It’s spectacular to watch the bottles dance,” he says. “It’s like looking at a Christmas tree.”

Securing the cables over a heated spa presented a challenge. “We originally dipped the corks in oil to make it easier to push back into the bottle,” Cohen says. “But when temperatures got warmer, the fluid caused the pressure in the bottle to heat and push the cork out.” Silicone sealer eventually solved that problem.

Cohen, who is a ceramic artist, fashioned 18-by-24-inch porcelain tiles on the left and right pilasters. “I made concrete castings of wine bottles and glasses, and created 3-D tiles,” he says. “Then I cast a frame, and handmade the leaves and grapes.”

For a project that was decidedly drunk with inspiration, Cohen says, “Nobody had any wine during the construction of this job. However, we toasted the end of the project with the homeowners with a wonderful bottle of chardonnay.”

And Other Holiday Garden Fun

Canoga Park, CA. (Nov. 2003) - The arrival of Donner and Blitzen is just around the corner. Once they've landed (with such a clatter), you can bet they're going to be hungry! And Santa is just too busy delivering presents to keep them out of your garden.

With that in mind, the little garden elves at The Green Scene, an outdoor design and construction firm, offer this list of reindeer-proof plants. Of course, anyone who lives where reindeer (or any other deer) are garden visitors understands that "proof is a relative term-deer have huge appetites and eat just about anything they can reach.

The following plants seem to be their least favorites on the garden menu. For foliage, try Acacia, Boxwood, Cypress, Cedar, Pine, Spruce, Palm and Heavenly Bamboo trees. Showy, yet unappetizing flowering shrubs and perennials include Lantana, Lion's Tail, Blue Hibiscus, Butterfly Bush, Bottle Brush, Wild Lilac, Princess Flower, Yarrow, Lily-of-the-Nile, Snow-in-Summer, Coneflower, Daylily, Candytuft, Lily Turf and Monkey Flower. Annuals are usually a delicacy for Rudolph and his reindeer friends: deer-resistant varieties include Calendula, Impatiens, Pincushion Flower, Canterbury Bell and California Poppy.

There are several deer-resistant varieties that can also add Christmas color to the garden. Holly, Pyracantha and Viburnum will give a colorful display of red berries. Classic Poinsettia can be grown outdoors in frost-free areas. White Ageratum planted in masses will look like snowdrifts under the Christmas lights.

In the Christmas spirit of giving, (if deer are not a worry), add plants with edible winter fruits and berries for our feathered friends. Good choices are Strawberry Tree, Natal Plum, Lowquat, Crabapple and Gooseberry. Most importantly, don't forget to leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus!

Firescaping: Landscaping To Reduce Fire Risk
Fire LA Times Margaretha Broekman

Canoga Park, CA (PRWEB) October 23, 2007 -- Firefighters tell us we can greatly reduce risk of fire disaster by fire scaping homes in hazard areas. "Firescaping, or fire-safe landscaping, consists of the selective removal of existing plants to reduce fuel volume, proper pruning practices, creation of firebreaks in the landscape, and the installation of new fire resistant and fire-retardant plants." Fire retardant plants are those that are less flammable than others, although it should be noted that no plant is fire proof.

The Green Scene specializes in the design and construction of new landscapes for new and existing homes in fire-prone southern California communities such as Calabasas, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, the San Fernando Valley, Porter Ranch, Sylmar, and Valencia. Scott Cohen, The Green Scene's Garden Artisan and Landscape Designer, uses the zone method of firescaping for making landscapes less prone to fire.

In Zone 1, protect the area closest to the house from windblown sparks with low growing shrubs, trees, and lush green lawns." Several good plant choices are Lily of the Nile, Pittosporum, California Fuchsia, and Red-Hot Poker. For groundcovers, we recommend dwarf Pixie Gazanias and Creeping Red Fescue.

Zone 2 should have low growing ground covers and succulents to prevent ground fires from racing to Zone 1. Use colorful drifts of plantings like Dwarf Oleander, Sedum, Jade and Miniature Ice plant (hot pink and purple flowers). Trees are OK if they are watered and spaced a minimum of 15-20 feet apart. Good choices are most Oaks, California Pepper and Guava.

Zone 3 should be a 50 foot area with drought resistant, reduced fuel shrubs like Rock Rose, as well as flowers like Yarrow (mixed colors) and California Poppies, watered well during fire season.

In Zone 4, 150 feet away from the house, concentrate on selective removal, clean-up and pruning rather than new landscape plants. Trim plantings in order to create groups of natives 20 feet apart.

Throughout the landscape, create firebreaks of vegetation-free strips. These can be decorative rock gardens, faux riverbeds or decomposed granite walkways. Sprinkler systems also play a major role in reducing fire risk. A combination of drip systems and low precipitation overhead irrigation will keep plants filled with water and less likely to burn.

"Proper selection, spacing, placement, and care of trees and shrubs in conjunction with firebreaks can save your home from fire", says Cohen.

Mr. Cohen is available by appointment for firescaping consultations. Another resource for landscaping ideas is, a new E-commerce Web site. Fetch-A-Sketch provides homeowners with thousands of vivid illustrations to give their contractors a clear picture of the look they want for their property and present their landscaping ideas using first-class drawings created by today's top designers.