Backyard Marsh in San Francisco
A landscape architect in San Francisco harnesses an underground water source to create a lush marshland in his own backyard.
“What makes a Marin County coyote look over the Golden Gate Bridge and say, ‘I’m going over there’?” wondered landscape architect Marcel Wilson, gazing over his backyard garden at the San Francisco Bay and hazy hills beyond. “The pressure to have your own territory.” Coyotes colonize empty parks in the city, but homebound humans are less lucky: A patch of green is hard to come by here, where houses like Wilson’s 1929 Spanish-revival number are built in block-long units and set into hills sliced by tunnels and roads. Meanwhile, the rugged peninsula’s once freewheeling streams have been stuffed into a subterranean ghetto of pipes and storm drains. So when Wilson found a relatively untamed spring bubbling up in a corner of this 1,250-square-foot yard, he bought the house and planned a garden, carving out his own territory on a small scale.