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Peninsula People Feb 2018

Garden of stone by

Garden of stone by Stephanie Cartozian Photos by Tony LaBruno An aerial view of the Herbrandsons’ final work of art, which encompassed a few stops and starts along the way. (Photo by Carlo Zanella, DHP Multimedia) After collecting stones and boulders for more than two decades, Dean Herbrandson and wife Kara finally found something to do with them Dean and Kara Herbrandson celebrating Dean’s 50th birthday on Flag Day, when the backyard landscaping was only a few months old. (Photo by Adam, Treasured Moments Photography) Dean Herbrandson had a penchant for collecting boulders and for decades scouted the hill to uncover just the right ones. For what? He did not know. But he credits his wife Kara for her infinite patience as he had these enormous monoliths dumped off for years on their Malaga Cove driveway and in their side yard. “I used to drive my pickup truck around as far back as the 2000, collecting stones as big as I could lift. I wouldn’t stop until the truck almost bottomed out,” Dean said. Later, he would bid on even larger stones, some fossilized with whale vertebrae and other sea creatures, or plant material. He would bid against contractors and architects for the most awesome earthly specimens. “I was into these rocks for about $10,000 and still hadn’t ascertained how to utilize them.” All along he assumed the rocks would be cut and made into something like stepping stones, but he later learned that PV stone doesn’t peel back like an onion, but is like chalk and disintegrates when cut. This discovery led to new concepts on how to proceed with his treasure trove. Herbrandson graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in mechanical engineering. He builds drone engines. Herbrandson Engines is based in Lawndale and specializes in designing and manufacturing drone mechanisms for military use. His father Dale started the business. “At work he’s Dale and at home, he’s dad,” Herbrandson said. In the ‘70s, his dad built a 2 cylinder engine that had very good vibration resistance. This was a crucial enhancement to previous drone models because his drones could hold a camera without vibrating, enabling them to take sharper photos. His drones were used for reconnaissance during the Vietnam War and the Gulf Wars. 30 PeninsulaFebruary 2018

The custom designed fire pit has inverted sides so that guests can cozy up close to the fire on cool evenings. Backyard quandary Dean and Kara’s 1950s Spanish style Malaga Cove home is across the street from the Malaga Cove Library on Via Pinale, where the outdoor summer concerts are held June through September. The previous owners had raised their family there and wanted another family to enjoy what they had. Other contenders included contractors who wanted to raze the property and turn it into a behemoth. The Herbrandsons won the sellers’ hearts and minds with their plan to raise their family there. After the home was purchased they made improvements to the electrical system, foundation and plumbing. “When we looked at the house, there was a lamp in every corner because none of the light switches worked,” Dean said. The backyard was dirt with winding stone walls that were uneven and in disrepair. “In the backyard, you couldn't get out of your own way to see over the roofline and what was layed out before you. There’s the ocean and Malibu, King Palms and these idyllic concerts in the park, but we couldn’t see any of it,” Dean said. “We started putting chairs on top of trash cans trying to get some height in the back to see what laid before us and how high we had to go to see it.” The idea for creating a usable outdoor environment started to take hold. When Dean and Kara were dating, they found they both enjoyed the outdoors and often went on garden tours. Originally, they hired some high profile landscape architects to help them design their dream outdoor environment, but quotes ranged upwards of $650,000 to accomplish their rough plan. To create a patio environment with poured cement or concrete blocks required casans, per the city regulations. When the first contractor went down 12 feet, he hit bedrock. To continue with the project, they were going to have to go down another 12 feet into the bedrock with multiple casans, which made their plan cost-prohibitive. The project sat dormant for two years. “Our son would take his dirt bike in the backyard and gun it, to the chagrin of our neighbors. We knew we had to find other footing to proceed.” The couple has two sons, Brett, 21, and Erik, 17. John Feldman, of Ecocentrix Landscape Architecture, came through with some solutions. Instead of using cement, they brought in stone imported from India that was hand cut onsite and layed down in a terraced pattern, maintaining lots of little enclave gardens and places to enjoy varying van- These weighty stepping stones imported from India, lead up to a bistro lighted perch that’s high enough to view concerts in Malaga Park, the ocean, Malibu and neighboring parklands. February 2018Peninsula 31