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Cool enough for ferns and Modesto.

Cool enough for ferns and people . . . in Modesto

Growing ferns in a west-facing yard in California's Central Valley may sound like an impossible task, but in the lattice-covered courtyard at Diane and Bob Duncan's Modesto house, ferns thrive in a lush, tropical-looking area. The 14-foot-tall outdoor room shades the Duncans' delicate plants and helps cool their house on baking-hot days.

The U-shaped house wraps around three sides of the 30- by 44-foot courtyard; sliding-glass doors and windows connect interior rooms to the space. Originally, a 6-foot-wide post-and-beam structure defined the courtyard's perimeter, but it provided little protection from afternoon sun. To create shade, the Duncans decided to cover the entire area with lattice.

A 6-by-6 post rises from the center of the former lawn area and supports a network of 4-by-6 beams that radiate from a square compression ring at the peak. Rows of 2-by-4s overlay the beams and in turn support the lattice of 1-by-2s spaced 2 inches apart.

A misting system built into the overhead structure waters the area. In summer, the automatic spray runs four or five times daily, 3 to 7 minutes each time. The mist also helps cool the house when open doors and windows admit the damp air.

Circular pads of exposed aggregate define walkways and seating areas in the courtyard, but most of it consists of planting beds for baby's tears and several varieties of ferns. For a lusher look, large fern baskets hang from the sturdy frame running along the surrounding walkway.

Photo: Airy overhead structure shades ferns and rooms facing courtyard. Walkways around planting area and circular pads within it are exposed aggregate. Wisteria atop lattice near pool (below) provides extra summer shade

Photo: Mist from overhead watering system shimmers in morning light. Gray PVC pipes blend with framework
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1986
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