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How a Studio City couple tamed a wickedly sloped hillside

May 17, 2010 |  7:00 am

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Architect Jeffrey Tohl's backyard has had several incarnations in the last 16 years: a grass yard in the shape of a Fender guitar, then a space dedicated to the kids complete with jungle gym, treehouse and a sandpit surrounded by a tricycle path. Now, the final metamorphosis — an outdoor living room and multilevel garden — may be laid at the feet of Maggie, the family's 4-year-old Airedale.

"They're natural diggers," Tohl says. "Pretty soon after we got her, the lawn was full of holes and all the plantings were destroyed. All we were missing was the old abandoned car up on blocks."

To accommodate the new family member, Tohl needed to reconsider the Studio City yard. Besides, the kids had outgrown their play area, and he and his wife, TV director Ellen Pressman, had always wanted an "adult place" to entertain friends outdoors and a Jacuzzi to sink into after a long day — all on a steeply sloped site.

To see how they made it all fit, keep reading the rest of this story on architect Jeffrey Tohl's backyard here, or click to our photo gallery, which shows the garden from all different angles -- flat and steep alike.

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-- Barbara Thornburg

Photos: Maggie, a 4-year-old Airedale enjoys the latest incarnation of her backyard. Credit: Val Riolo.

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