The Green Scene In The News – 2008

Scott Cohen won two major landscape design awards in 2008.

  • On March 13, he won 7 landscape design awards at the Western Pool and Spa Show.
  • On July 11, Pool and Spa News honored his Kirschner project as a Masters of Design award winner.

The Green Scene’s projects are frequently published in national books and magazines and Web sites such as Scott Cohen also regularly contributes his expertise in accompanying articles and on

The Green Scene in Landscape Management, Dec. 2008

Our Weintraub residence was featured in the Project Portfolio in the December issue of Landscape Contractor.

New York transplants want to live the California dream.

Project Requirements

  • Budget range: $200,000
  • Provide a place to entertain Incorporate both water and fire features

Project Specifics

  • Update hardscape
  • Update both front and back yards
  • Work hands-on with client

Designed by Scott Cohen

The Green Scene specializes in hardscapes, lighting, woodwork and waterscapes. Cohen recently taught two seminars during the Backyard Living Expo in Las Vegas last month. For more information about Cohen, see “Winners: The Green Scene,” in LM’s March issue.

The pool is plastered in a mix of blue and black 3M Colorquartz with a white plaster base. Black glass tiles with an iridescent quality accent the waterline and blend with the slate coping. The clients gutted the interior and turned the house into a contemporary showplace, and wanted a landscape with similar clean, elegant lines.

The client found a stainless-steel tile that was incorporated into the outdoor kitchen backsplash and on a recessed panel in the counter walls. It tied in well with the steel weirs that spill from the spa and back of the pool. The outdoor kitchen was completely remodeled and was constructed with polished cast concrete countertops.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Green Scene!

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 it self.” 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.

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.

The Green Scene in Landscape Management, Dec. 2008

by Rebecca Robledo

When faced with unusually small yards, a little finesse is all it takes to expand the space.

Picture opposite ends of a pulley, where one side rises while the other falls. The relationship between clients’ backyards and their expectations often follows this model — as square footage shrinks, plans grow more elaborate.

But once customers realize the constraints that exist, they’re not unreasonable. So sacrifices are made to accommodate the basics, some of which can never be compromised.

For instance, the yard always should contain at least two “rooms”, be functional and include some eye candy for good measure. And it must feel spacious.

Here, two industry experts reveal some tried-and-true tips for designing to small spaces without forgoing the essentials.

Think Courtyard

When arranging a small backyard to feel as if it has everything, consider an alternative approach.

“In courtyard or atrium-style designing, we’re surrounding you with plants and water,” says Scott Cohen, garden artisan and owner of The Green Scene Landscaping in Canoga Park, CA. “You’re not just having patio-to-water-to-grass.”

Whenever possible, Cohen tries to avoid lawn entirely.

“We’ll use ground covers and flower beds instead, just to reduce maintenance,” he says. “If you’re not going to have a decent size lawn, what’s the point of doing all that extra work?

Any tall items also should remain along the yard’s perimeter. While big water features and fireplaces serve as effective dividers in larger yards, they’re often just obstructions in smaller spaces.

Use Space-Saving Dividers

There will always be challenges to achieving the effect of multiple rooms. What if you can’t fit walls, large water features, or other space-killers to break up the plot?

The answer: Look for low-lying alternatives. Long, narrow sprawling pools and water features are an ideal choice. With the reflective quality of water, it makes everything look larger,” Cohen says.

“It’s like putting a mirror on the ground or a mirror in a room. If you put fire on the backside so it’s reflecting across the water, it makes the whole feature look much larger.”

Streams and runnels make nice alternatives as well because both can wrap around the back of the house. Clients now can see water through every window facing the backyard.

“If you have water that’s connecting from one side of the yard to the other, it can stretch the feel of the space,” Cohen says. You may also divide space using different deck materials for each area. For example, pavers could mark one section while stamped concrete denotes another. Stepping stones and groundcover can help break up hardscape so it doesn’t feel monolithic.

Feel free to experiment. On one project, Cohen thought placing a covered patio flush against the house was too stifling. So he moved it to the corner of the yard.

“It becomes kind of a destination point,” he says. I think the yard feels larger as a result, rather than feeling closed in.”

Similar features can create the sensation of journeying from one space to the next. Long, winding walkways are out. But small bridges that cross sprawling streams or moats provide passage from one sitting area to another. Or you may choose to outfit the water element with floating stepping-stones.

Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.

Wherever possible, convert one element into many. You can create additional seating by raising a pool or spa by 18 inches.

Whaley covered patio with pond and firepit

Another trick is to extend the outdoor kitchen to accommodate extra counter space, or even a lower level dining table. Here you’ll need 2 feet of clearance to move the chairs in and out.

Whenever possible, design patio cover posts so they go straight through countertops. The patio cover post is going to block the flow of traffic,” Cohen says. “When I’m designing a yard like that, I’ll typically have the post go through the counter. Otherwise, I’d need to leave 3 feet clear around and kind of post just for traffic flow.”

Also consider incorporating the property wall. You could place the outdoor kitchen on the perimeter, and use the wall as a backsplash.

Soften The Walls

Few things shrink a space quicker than heavy, daunting barriers along the edges. Instead, open up the area by softening the walls as much as possible.

Some designers favor vines. When used to cover walls, they help surround guests with greenery rather than barricades.

Portions of the wall can be converted into space-saving focal points by installing wall-mounted water features or fire features. These help break up the barrier, and offer the benefits of moving water and fire without eating up any space.

Use Strategic Lighting

At night, multi layered lighting often adds depth to a backyard. This is especially helpful in tight spaces. Select and highlight points at the farthest reaches of the yard to create a sense of expansiveness.

Backlighting may create a glow around a tree, or graze a wall to bring out its texture. Place a bright light behind a feature with a striking outline — a favorite tree or plant — to create a dramatic silhouette.

If you light only those things that are focal points close to the house, the yard looks smaller,” Cohen says.

"Build Your Own Concrete Bridge"

By Kathleen Buckner From Ponds Magazine, Winter 2008

If you want a project that adds value and function to your water garden, consider building a concrete pond bridge. These features perform double duty, adding architectural interest and connecting one point of your backyard water garden to another.

Bridges can be constructed as simple 2″ x 4″ wood decking to an elaborate 12′ long, stamped, arched concrete structure. For weekend warriors who want to save money and enjoy the benefit of a long-lasting product, a concrete pond bridge might be the answer.

Choosing concrete over wood provides many advantages, according to Scott Cohen, Garden Artisan at the Green Scene, a Los Angeles-based landscape design and construction firm. “There are no splinters and relatively no maintenance,” he said. “Concrete can handle a lot more weight load and foot traffic. You can build down lights (recessed lights) or step lights upside down in your concrete form, which can’t be done in wood.”

Time Commitment

While three men might be able to build a concrete bridge in a day, Cohen recommended using a weekend time frame and doing some planning before picking up the tools. “Having the weekend would allow more time to measure and remeasure again,” he said. “Because concrete is a time-sensitive project, you need to make sure that all the prep work is done, with forms in place and double-checking your levels. It’s even more critical with a concrete bridge to measure twice and pour once.”

A skilled residential homeowner can build a concrete bridge, Cohen said, but he recommended that all do-it-yourselfers try a couple of stones first to hone their techniques before taking on a full-size bridge.

Ponder This…

When designing your bridge, take into consideration the lay of the land.

Choose a size and look that compliments your existing pond environment. Proper bridge placement can improve transition and flow throughout your garden.

Scott Cohen says consider how much traffic flow the garden will receive before choosing the bridge width. “Typical residential gardens require a bridge 3 to 4 feet wide for base traffic,” he said. “If you have larger parties and need comfortable passing space, then use a minimum width of 5 feet. For a bridge to look proportionate, consider that the wider you make it, the longer it needs to be.”

Setting Constraints

A concrete pond bridge takes extra time due to the setting required. Concrete takes 30 minutes to 3 hours to set, depending on the elements, Cohen said.

“Setting depends on the temperature, humidity and sun and shade exposure,” he said. “If you’re dealing with a hot day, then cover your pour with a tarp so that it doesn’t accelerate the set off. You don’t want to get the concrete too hard. The reverse of that is if it is cold, there are accelerators that you can use to speed up the process. Once set, you can add decorative elements (such as chemical stains or a sponge run across the board with different shades of color).”

Also, consider waiting a week before you walk across your bridge. “Concrete doubles in strength every day for the first seven days,” Cohen said. “We recommend seven days pass before you have foot traffic across it.”

Building a concrete bridge can be completed in a weekend, but include qualified helpers and have a clear plan in place before starting the clock. Otherwise, this could turn into a multi-weekend project.

The Green Scene Weintraub Remodel Project

Total Landscape Care October 2008 features Scott Cohen’s Weintraub project; contemporary landscape and pool remodel with a custom fireplace and outdoor kitchen in Calabasas, CA

This contemporary spa, fireplace, and kitchen were featured in Hearth and Home Aug. 2008 and Total Landscape Care, October 2008, Landscape Management Dec 2008, Pool and Spa News’ Backyard Style supplement spring 2009, Spaces Magazine March/April 2010, Landscape Architect July 2010, WaterShapes July/August 2010, and Landscape Architect June 2011.

Scott Cohen won a design award for this project for Best Pool and Spa Remodel at the 2009 Western Pool & Spa Design Contest and a GAVA Award at the 2010 Las Vegas Pool and Spa Expo for this project.

Scott Cohen says:

“When the Weintraubs bought this house, they knew the backyard would have to be completely redone. Although contemporary for the time it was built in the 1970s, in the present time it felt more like ‘Star Wars’. The home-owners wanted a fire feature, waterfalls and an outdoor kitchen. Bruce Weintraub was very involved in the selection of unique materials to capture the look he was after, working closely with me on the general layout and structural details. Together we created a contemporary showplace complete with fireplace, outdoor kitchen, polished stone counters, walk-across-water features, and stainless-steel sheer cascades. The pool is plastered in a mix of blue and black 3M Colorquartz with a white plaster base. Black glass tiles with an iridescent quality accent the waterline and blend beautifully with the slate coping. Mr. Weintraub found a terrific stainless-steel tile that we used on the outdoor kitchen backsplash and on a recessed panel in the counter walls. The stainless steel tied in perfectly with the steel weirs that spill from the spa and back of the pool.”

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 firescaping 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.

Concrete Decor magazine, Sept/Oct 2008

The Green Scene, by David Searls

It could be said that Scott Cohen never really grew up. Or, to put a more positive spin on it, he’s one of the delightful few who have manage to put a grown-up face to the pursuits that filled their childhood – and earn an excellent living in the process.” “When I was a kid, I was forever sketching and playing with Lego blocks”, he says. Today, I’m doing the same thing.”

Cohen, 41, is president and supervising designer of The Green Scene, an outdoor landscape and design firm based in Los Angeles, but with a national audience.” The firm’s appeal is coast-to-coast in part because of Cohen’s multiple appearances on popular HGTV television shows such as Landscaper’s Challenge, Get Out, Way Out!, and Designing For The Sexes. Next spring, Cohen will appear in 5 new episodes of Get Out, Way Out!.

In talking with him, it’s easy to figure out why a cable TV audience takes to him. He chats easily, laughs freely, and modestly credits his clients and associates for enabling him to create the ponds, fountains, outdoor kitchens, sculptures, swimming pool bars, and other elements that the comfort loving homeowner “must have” and with which he’s enthralled clients for the last two decades.

A lot of his work is in concrete. “No maintenance, no splinters, and I can do anything I want with it,” he explains.

On his web site, cohen refers to one of his design approaches as “over-the-top resort style”, which seems playfully appropriate. His multiple award-winning Johnston project, for instance, featured a swim-up bar, two outdoor kitchens, a 900-square foot pavilion dining room, a full bathroom, and two outdoor-friendly LCD screen televisions.

Another job included a concrete and crushed-glass bar fed by 500 fiber optic cables so that the countertop changes colors and glows at night. What could be more fun than that? “I thought it might be too disco,” Cohen admits. “But it’s not. It’s very subtle.”

For yet another client, he designed and installed a zero-edge spa, and yet another project included a seven foot mermaid water fountain sculpted by Cohen with his rather shapely client serving as model. Talk about your atypical nine-to-five.

Castaway Adventure

The Fernandez project gives a little bit of insight into the Cohen method, if there is such a thing. The clients were a young family with several kids under the age of 12.

“I started doing sketches as I toured their property, and I came up with a Robinson Crusoe/Lost backyard theme”, Cohen recalls.

There’d be a pool with stamped concrete dining patio “dock”, a 20-foot long water slide over a hidden cave, an outdoor kitchen with a concrete counter hand seeded with seashells, a sand pit, a putting green, and, arguably the centerpiece. a “shipwrecked” boat formed from concrete that serves as a spa with 12 water jets.

As if the concept itself didn’t have enough pizzazz, Cohen sold the idea to the client family with a dash of Hollywood. “I brought them pirate costumes and had them wear eye patches,” he says with a chuckle.

There’s no way he would have needed such a swashbuckling back story to sell the zany theme, but that’s part of the appeal for Cohen. If he doesn’t seem fully grown-up in his approach, it bears mentioning that he started on his well-landscaped career path when he was just 15.

An assist from Google

Cohen’s web site,, grabs the attention of 12,000 unique visitors a month. Besides giving him global distribution of his project portfolio, the digital age has changed how Cohen does business in other ways.

“With Google satellite maps and digital photos, I can start serving clients right from my office,” he says. For instance, he can offer design consultation by phone. Buy an hour of Cohen’s time, and he’ll have a bird’s eye view of your property up on his screen while he’s talking you through initial concepts.

The Internet also acts as a sales tool for thousands of his ready-to-use landscape designs, available at

Cohen says that he’s worked with a number of film stars and other celebrities, but he won’t name names. Instead, as diplomatically as possible, he offers the opinion that the layers of aides and assistants keep him too far removed from this particular class of client. he prefers the eyeball-to-eyeball way of doing business, tossing ideas back and forth like a frisbee.

If Cohen has any kind of firm design philosophy at all – besides his gleeful “go for it” attitude – it’s the idea that people want pockets of entertainment activity rather than vast, open spaces. “My approach is to break an area into separate rooms, just like we all tend to cluster into small groups at a party.”

Backyards Getting Greener

By Elizabeth Lexau

This article was published in Architectural West Sept./Oct. 2007, Southwest Trees and Turf October 2007, Green Homebuilder, Fall 2007 (pg 56), Westlake Magazine June/July 2008, the summer 2008 issue of Signature Pools and Outdoors, and Masonry magazine October 2008.

Eco-friendly landscape design becoming the new, hip thing for homeowners

Today’s homeowners are more environmentally savvy than ever before and one place this interest is really blossoming is in the home landscape. “More homeowners want yards that are not only beautiful and comfortable, but eco-friendly as well,” said Scott Cohen, president and supervising designer for The Green Scene, an award-winning California-based outdoor design and construction firm.

Cohen is known for using the garden to showcase unique designs that put Recycled Items, particularly wine bottles, to beautiful use. Shimmering wine bottle waterfalls, multi-colored mosaics of glittering broken glass, and outdoor kitchen counters constructed of hundreds of recycled bottles are just a few of his signature pieces.

Although these pieces are gorgeous works of art, they also represent Cohen’s respect for the environment. “The Green Scene is more than just a name,” said Cohen. “We’re always looking for creative and practical ways to do the right thing.”

There are many ways to weave environmentally friendly elements to your backyard, from the initial design, to the building process, to the products you use. With a little planning and imagination you can have a backyard that you, your family, and Mother Nature will love.

Strategic Planning

Using the right plantings in the right places is a great way to start. “Properly selected trees offer a low energy way to provide a comfortable environment indoors and out,” said Cohen. “Deciduous trees on the west or south side of your house will help control both your summer and winter energy costs. They’ll shade your home in summer and then lose their leaves in winter to let the sun shine in.

A vine-covered pergola for an outdoor room is another low energy way to keep cool. “People often consider installing a solid roof over an outdoor sitting area to provide shade,” said Cohen. “However, they don’t realize that a living roof does the job much more effectively. Plants actually help cool their surroundings through a process known as transpiration. In hot weather, they release water through their leaves. This helps cool the plants along with the people nearby.”

Cohen prefers deciduous flowering vines like wisteria for these living roofs. Because it loses its leaves, a wisteria-covered roof can adapt to the changing seasons, something a solid roof can’t do. It also adds an intoxicating fragrance to a cool outdoor haven.

Recycling at Every Level

Finding new uses for old resources is one of the easiest ways to integrate environmentally friendly design into your backyard. From striking garden art like Cohen’s wine bottle water features, to functional elements made with unique construction materials, gardens provide a wonderful opportunity to create usable spaces from materials that would otherwise have to be hauled away.

“Recycling can be incorporated into just about every aspect of landscape installation,” said Cohen. “For example, when we remove an old concrete patio or driveway we don’t bring it to a landfill. Instead, we take it to a company that processes it into a substitute for crushed stone, which we then use for a variety of purposes in the landscape. We also use recycled mulch made from shredded urban forest products. We even recycle the plastic containers from new plants. There are so many ways to use old stuff.”

Water wise Landscaping

Water conscious design is one of the most important steps you can take toward an eco-friendly backyard. “Studies repeatedly show that most landscapes are vastly over-watered,” said Cohen. “This doesn’t only waste money, it also sends one of our most valuable resources right down the drain. A little planning and the right products can have a huge impact.”

One way to save is to group plantings with similar water requirements together and create different irrigation zones that meet varying needs. “If you put the lawn on one zone, thirsty plants on another zone and drought-tolerant plants on a different zone, you can water each at different rates,” said Cohen. “If you don’t, you’ll usually end up over-watering many plants while trying to meet the needs of the thirstiest few.”

Many of today’s irrigation controllers use the latest technology to include highly efficient water-saving features. “Some can be programmed to communicate with local weather stations,” said Cohen. “They automatically adjust the watering schedule based on current weather and rainfall in the area.” Using low volume sprinklers on the lawn and drip systems in your flower beds can also help. These products are designed to deliver smaller amounts of water at rates tailored to specific plant needs. Because they don’t apply water faster than plants absorb it, they promote lush plant growth with minimal runoff.

Aqua magazine's Sept. 2008 Cover

Our Johnston Project is on the cover of Aqua magazine’s Sept. 2008 issue. On the inside, 4 1/2 pages of expert advice from Scott Cohen about creating effective outdoor living spaces, and more Green Scene project photos.

This home was featured in the Daily News, Splash Magazine, on the HGTV show Get Out, Way Out!, Signature Pools and Outdoors Summer 2007, Luxury Pools Fall 2007, Concrete Expressions Spring 2008, Valley Magazine, March/April 2008, the cover of Aqua, Sept. 2008, Concrete Decor Sept. 2008, WaterShapes July/August 2010, and a Sunbrite TV advertisement.

Get Out, Way Out!
Episode HGOUT-105

Elegant Spanish Pavilion

The Johnston family wanted an over-the-top outdoor living space that would resemble the Spanish style they fell in love with while traveling. To meet all their entertaining needs, designer Scott Cohen installs two kitchen areas, a pavilion dining room, a full bathroom, swim-up bar and two weather-proof flat screen television sets. The finished yard has charming fountains and a great view which reminds the Johnstons of the old country, yet with modern touches for convenience.

Scott Cohen says:

“This project literally is “over the top”, as the 900 square foot pavilion shades a portion of the swimming pool. There are 4 sheer decent water spillways fed with fiber-optic light bars underneath. A telescoping fountain centered in the Baja sun shelf is a focal point from the main house and fun for the children too. The 16ft swim-up bar and outdoor kitchen counters were constructed using cast in place recycled glass and concrete, then polished with granite finishing tools. Custom tile mosaics accent the raised bond beam of the swimming pool. Designed with entertaining in mind, the project includes 12 outdoor speakers, 2 mist systems, and 2 outdoor TV sets. This was a fun project to design and build as our crews were followed from start to finish by HGTV’s Get Out, Way Out! program.”

The Blues Backyard Project

The Freimann project is on the cover of the Pool and Spa News Backyard Retailer, August 2008.

Scott Cohen won a design award for Best Water Feature for this project at the Western Pool & Spa Design Contest 2009 and also for Best Swimming Pool and Spa Combination at the Western Pool & Spa Design Contest 2008.

Featured on the cover of Pool and Spa News’ Backyard Retailer, August 2008, Lawn and Landscape’s Oct. 2009 “Adopt A Neighborhood” article, Total Landscape Care June 2011, and Backyard Solutions 2011.

Scott Cohen says:

Pool and Spa Living Nov 08 - 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.

The Best Plants To Use Around Swimming Pools

by Mary Barnhill

This article was published in the July/August 2008 issue of Southwest Trees and Turf.

Creating a beautiful garden oasis around a swimming pool has several interesting challenges. You want plantings to be colorful and lush, reflecting the ambience of the water they surround, but you don’t want litter to blow into the swimming pool, causing frequent maintenance that requires a lot of hand skimming and filter cleaning. For these reasons, The Green Scene selects varieties of plants that satisfy the need for cleanliness and are also luxuriant, colorful and look great around a swimming pool.

There are many varieties of plants that satisfy the need for cleanliness and are also luxuriant, colorful and look great around a swimming pool. A tropical plant pallet is ideal for e enhancing the relaxed feel of the swimming pool area and decking. Palm trees like the Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffianum) gently sway in the breeze and create a light, filtered shade below. The shorter Pigmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) and the Sago Palm (Cycas revolute) are perfect specimens for adding interest. With its ultra-long stems with hairy green pom-poms, the Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) also provides interest and a good background to other tropical plants like Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), Fortnight Lily (Dietes vegeta) and the classic plant associated with Hawaii, the Hibiscus (Hibiscus chinensis).

Not only perfect for a tropical setting, the following plants can readily cross over into other design schemes, adding foundation and clean, brilliant color with their foliage instead of their flowers. Red Tip Photinia (Photinia fraseri) and Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), which is not a real bamboo nor invasive, both add a rusty red to the garden and both make a good background or screen. A dwarf variety (N. domestica ‘Nana Compacta’) can be used as a border plant or even as a groundcover. Golden Euonymus (Euonymus japonica ‘Aureo-variegata’) and Gold Dust Plant (Acuba japonica) brighten up the planting with yellow variegated foliage. The strappy leaves of New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) comes in a variety of colors, as do many types of grasses.

There are lots of smaller perennials (plants that do not die after flowering) that can add plenty of continuous color without creating a mess. As the flowers die off, they stay on the plant until clipped off, keeping them out of the swimming pool. Day Lily (Hemerocalis hybrid), Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus Africanas) and the dwarf version ‘Peter Pan’, Alstroemaria and Sea Lavender (Limonium perezii) will all perform well with minimum maintenance. Seasonal color annuals get the job done too. Pansy, Lobelia, Marigold, Blue Salvia and many others can liven up a space with fast growing, bright color without dropping their petals, allowing you to spend your time relaxing by the swimming pool instead of cleaning it!

Excerpts from the article Light The Night in
Ponds Magazine Fall 2008

by Somyr Perry

As Americans spend longer hours at work to pay bills, many people find fewer opportunities to see their homes or yards until after dark, said Scott Cohen of Los Angeles based landscape design and construction firm The Green Scene. Culturally, we work more hours and get home later,” Cohen said. “Lighting allows you to paint the landscape with light — highlight the positive features of a landscape while leaving less desirable features in the dark.”

Product Trends

These lighting suggestions also help showcase ponds, water gardens, or container ponds that may get lost in the dark. “I look to different types of lighting to create effective, soft ambient light that accent features of the structure,” Cohen said. “Spotlights are very economical for trees and structures, and inexpensive egg lights work great for fountains and water features. With ponds (however) I light to use a light fixture that creates a glowing effect rather than a spotlight. I am a big fan of ambient lighting where you don’t see the fixtures.”

One way to achieve soft glowing light in a water feature is by using submersible lights. Cohen said the movement of the light through the water can be relaxing. He also said people without a large body of water still have options for creating that moving water look with a product new to the market. “The Ripple Light (made by the Ripple Lighting Co.) is a low-voltage light with a Petri-type lens that has water in it and replicates the light moving through water,” Cohen said. The light can be mounted against all or underneath trees for the special effect.

Homeowners want a distinctive look in their outdoor lighting as well as energy efficiency. There is greater demand for energy-saving bulbs, Cohen said, which manufacturers are stepping up to provide. “LED (light emission diode) bulbs are brighter, come in more colors, and consume less energy than ever before,” he said.

Fire and Light

“Fire features (for patios) are rapidly growing in popularity for the warmth and the lighting,” Cohen said. The light from the fire is absolutely mesmerizing, and the subtle dancing of the flames forces you to relax.” Built-in fireplaces, stand-alone fire pits and chimeneas represent just a few options for adding fire lighting to a backyard. There are fire features for every budget, Cohen said, and built in fire pits with a remote control are very popular among his high-end clients, as are firepits featuring crushed recycled glass instead of traditional lava rocks.

Cohen said safety is of high concern when installing a fire feature. “From a safety standpoint, I like to see nonmetal fire pits,” he said, because metal tends to get very hot. Cohen also recommended considering prevailing winds when designing a fire feature. Prevailing winds show the most common direction that wind blows through an area. Wind can move the fire in different directions and cause problems for surrounding foliage or even people walking by the fire.

Preparing For Autumn

Fall is the best time to install landscape lighting, Cohen said. He suggested getting design ideas from design websites such as and They both feature ready to use design ideas that visitors may browse for free. “Find two or three designs that you like, and you can Email them to your contractor to get estimates,” he said, “or you can just build it yourself”. Ideas Newsletter 5/20/08 # 1 in the Top 10:
10 Beautiful Backyard Designs1

The Green Scene Kirschner Project Profile

Winner of the Western Pool & Spa Show 30th Annual Design Award Contest:

BRONZE: Best Design Swimming Pool and Spa Combination, March 13, 2008

Winner of Pool and Spa News’ Masters of Design 2008

This home was also featured on the HGTV show Get Out, Way Out!, in Ponds USA and Water Gardens 2008, Total Landscape Care January 2008, Aqua Magazine Sept. 2008, the cover of Pool and Spa News’ 2009 Industry Events Calendar, and Water Garden News Aug./Sept. 2010.

Get Out, Way Out!
Episode HGOUT-107
Tuscan Opulence Backyard

David and Liz Kirschner are starting from scratch with a newly-built home in a barren lot next to their daughter and her new husband. They love traveling the world, collecting beautiful pieces from different countries, and would like to bring a romantic old world feel as well as other European touches to their back yard. In addition, they want top of the line outdoor kitchen appliances and an infinity swimming pool for the grandkids that are on the way. Check our HGTV page for air times.

Scott Cohen says:

“Tuscan Opulence is what HGTV called this project. The goal was to create the feeling of a romantic getaway in Tuscany. This couple is constantly holding hands and agreeable on nearly all subjects. Quite different than the “battle of the sexes” that I often find myself mediating. The project is broken down into different outdoor rooms and includes an outdoor kitchen, shaded dining patio, stone fireplace living room, side contemplation garden, view deck, sun-deck and fireplace plateau.”

“The all tile swimming pool fans out from the central focal point of the home. In addition to the vanishing edge, I chose to remove the coping from the landscaped side of the swimming pool and spill over both sides. The result is that this swimming pool and spa look like a natural lake. To create the effect, water is carried off via a “runnel” to catch basins inside the planters anchoring both sides of the swimming pool. This eliminated the “slurping” noise problem often associated with perimeter overflow swimming pools.”

“The outdoor kitchen counters are cast in place with recycled bottle glass and then polished with granite finishing tools. The pavilion adjacent to the Spa is constructed of all hand wrought iron scrolls and a custom Styrofoam™ mold of my design.”

“The contemplation garden is surrounded by fragrant flowering vines on custom iron arbors overhead.” Ideas Newsletter 5/20/08 # 5 in the Top 10
Water Features For Any Budget

The Green Scene Paramesh Project

This property features a vanishing edge pond with a waterfall, adjacent to an outdoor kitchen. A maintenance free concrete patio and bridge have been impressioned 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

The Green Scene in Pond and Garden Lifestyle, March/April 2008

The Green Scene Ward Project

This home was featured in the March/April 2008 issue of Pond and Garden Lifestyles and Ponds Magazine, Winter 2008

The Green Scene Brandt Project

This home was featured in Scott Cohen’s Concrete Garden Bridges article in Architectural West Jan./Feb. 2008, Nursery News Jan. 2008, and Pond and Garden Lifestyles, March/April 2008 and Ponds Magazine, Winter 2008.

This large backyard remodel turned a backyard with an outdated swimming pool and fountain into a gorgeous resort style backyard with a large Baja shelf in the swimming pool and a water slide. Nearby is a large dining patio with an outdoor kitchen and custom stone fireplace. A nearby flagstone patio is adjacent to a faux wood concrete bridge that has been stamped and stained to look like wood. It crosses a stream that leads to a large koi pond.

The Green Scene K Wolfson Project

This home was featured in Scott Cohen’s Concrete Garden Bridges article in the Jan./Feb. 2008 issue of Architectural West, in the Ponds & Water Gardens Annual Guide for 2008, in the May 2008 issue of Dog Fancy, in an article titled Petscaping™, Pond and Garden Lifestyles, March/April 2008, and Great Backyards 2011.

Scott Cohen says:

“My goal here was to create an enchanted garden and playhouse for visiting grandchildren. The “dock” is cast concrete, stamped to look like wood. An authentic antique water hand pump serves as the starting point for the streambed that runs through the garden. The pond, stream and waterfall were constructed using skimmer, submersible pump and biological filter. Koi and other colorful fish entertain visitors. Plantings were selected for fragrance and Hummingbird attraction.”

Garner Project

Winner of the Western Pool & Spa Show 30th Annual Design Contest March 13, 2008 BRONZE AWARD: Best Water Feature Design

This home was featured in Scott Cohen’s Concrete Garden Bridges Article Architectural West Jan./Feb. 2008 and Nursery News Jan. 2008 and Pond and Garden Lifestyles, March/April 2008.

Scott Cohen says:

“This custom water feature includes a cast concrete faux draw bridge that has been textured to mimic real wood. ”

The Green Scene in Valley Magazine March/April 2008

Article by Blaise T. Nutter

Valley Magazine’s March/April 2008 issue features an article titled The Backyard Boom, featuring Scott Cohen’s expert advice, plus feedback from one of his clients about their backyard retreat.

For many families in the San Fernando Valley, the easiest way to escape the daily stresses of life is to open the backdoor, go outside, and relax in the yard. This is California, after all, and people want to be outdoors, enjoying the great weather. Long ago, the backyard was the realm of children, with toys, a slide, maybe a pool if they were lucky and a few trees on the boundaries. Today… the backyard is the new vacation spot for the family escape, customized for entertaining.

“We had nothing,” recalls David Speyer of his old backyard in Porter Ranch. It was just dirt- that’s all…So they called family friend Scott Cohen,…whose company The Green Scene had been featured a number of times on HGTV. Like all his customers, Scott began by putting the Speyers through his design questionnaire, which Cohen says is essential…and then he can draw from the information when imaging the perfect backyard entertainment space.