Green Homes for Sale - Joshua Tree, California Green Home

Joshua Tree, California — Green Home For Sale

The Boulder House was designed to look as if it emerged from the desert floor. A giant boulder forms one side, contemporary steel and glass form the other side, with panoramic desert views.

Listing ID: 19007

  • Green Home
Asking Price (USD) $1,350,000
Annual Property Tax $350
Annual Utility Cost $2,500
Home Area 1,700 sq ft
Bedrooms 2
Bathrooms 2
Total Property Area 2.5 acres
Year Built 2009

Property Description

The Joshua Tree Boulder House proves imagination is still alive and well. Every inch of this 1700 square foot, 2-bed / 2-bath home is intentional, and every design element is deliberate. This magical creation sits on 2.5 acres in Joshua Tree, California.
The house is the brainchild of W. Garett Carlson, ASLA, a licensed landscape architect for more than 30 years ( His landscape designs grace Hollywood’s recently remodelled Sunset Marquis Hotel, as well as the gardens of celebrities such as Jack Nicholson, Goldie Hawn, Johnny Depp, Blake Edwards, and more.
Having studied architecture as well as landscape architecture, designing a house has been a long-held ambition for Garett Carlson. His concept for the Boulder House came from ‘imagining what the house would look like if it emerged from the ground.’ The house is at one with the land in such a way that it is almost invisible as you approach it.
With Joshua Tree National Park almost on the doorstep, inspiration for the Boulder House is obvious. “Joshua Tree has some of the most fascinating boulder shapes anywhere in the world,” explains Carlson. Painstakingly built formations of faux boulders appear to rise from the desert floor embracing and sheltering the west side of the house, and providing welcome shade from the late day heat.
The house was built with sustainability in mind, using an intriguing palette of metal, wood, concrete and glass to create a peaceful modern living space where traditional boundaries are dismissed. Ten-foot high, custom-made floor-to-ceiling pocket glass doors open to create a 40 feet wide expanse that connects the living area to the landscape. A fire pit to one side of the patio, and a water feature on the other side are both set within boulders to further enhance the experience. This is indoor/outdoor living at its best.
The roof of the house provides insulation in a novel way: up to 18” of soil covers the sloping roof, planted with a wide variety of native California wild flowers and grasses. Seen from above, the roof appears to be a part of its desert landscape. Structural steel I-beams support the 250,000 lb load, designed to withstand a 10-point earthquake (and a weight of up to 350,000 lb). The roof has a 3’ pitch: 11’ on the east side, which also creates the space for the wall to wall 10’ sliding glass doors – down to 8’ on the west side. The pitch also allows the roof garden to drain.
The giant faux boulder on the west side, and the boulders used in the landscaping around the fire pit and water feature, have all been meticulously created by Gil Arilveeg’s rockwork. Made from steel rebar, wire mesh, and several layers of concrete, a fine latex skin is placed over the final layer, then peeled away to reveal a surface that is so authentically rock-like that it’s hard to believe they are not as nature intended.
Corrugated steel siding on the house and the garage is the highest gauge and quality available. The corrugated steel acts as additional insulation to the house - - due to its texture, the air flows over the indentations. This material was treated with a corrosive liquid to get the desired color, and then sealed with fixative to prevent any further rusting or discoloration. Carlson explains, “I wanted the steel to be as integrated into the desert landscape as the boulders.
The entry gates were designed by Garrett Carlson to resemble a mountain range, see from afar. When closed they have three-dimensional look. The sketch was taken to a nearby ironworker, who scanned the drawing into the computer and laser-cut the ½” steel plates to order. They were then given the same treatment as the corrugated steel siding.
The landscaping is designed to look as natural as possible. “I love it when people see one of my projects and think that it’s been like that forever, when in fact the landscaping was created only weeks or months before.” Naturally Carlson has selected drought-tolerant plants and trees. Altogether he has planted 450 trees on the two and a half acres, including local pines, mesquites, Arizona ash, and cypress trees, all provided from Growest Nursery in Riverside.
The 1,000+ shrubs were all brought in from Glendale, Arizona, which is home to one of the biggest desert plant specialists in the USA, Mountain States Nursery. Drip irrigation has been installed around the house.

Inside,the floor’s surface was ground smooth (a several-day process), then sprayed with dyes to create a natural-looking surface. The floor was then polished and waxed to create a rich patina.
The ceiling is tongue and groove Douglas fir, with several layers of dark stain and varnish to create a deep shine that subtly reflects the finish of the floor.
The kitchen features custom built dark wood and glass cabinets and state-of-the-art appliances: a Viking range, a low-energy LG refrigerator, an under-counter microwave, and a wine cooler refrigerator built in to the island. Glass mosaic backsplashes and Caesarstone countertops complement the stainless steel appliances.
Bathrooms have custom cabinetry, Caesarstone counters. The master bathroom features a deep soaker tub surrounded by blue glass tile.
Custom closet – off the master bedroom, a walk-in closet features custom shelving and drawers to maximize the space.
The house is wired for WiFi, sound, etc.; water comes from the city water supply.
For further information, call Garett Carlson on 310 858 7355, or email:

What makes your home a Green or Healthy Home?

The house was built with sustainability in mind, using metal, wood, concrete and glass.
The roof of the house provides insulation with up to 18” of soil covering the sloping roof, planted with a wide variety of native California wild flowers and grasses.
Corrugated steel siding on the house and the garage is the highest gauge and quality available, also providing insulation (see below).

The floor of the house is 14” thick - due to the low-energy heating and cooling system incorporated into it. Made from a system of pods arranged in a grid and sandwiched between two layers of concrete, cool or warm air is released into the house via a series of floor vents for air circulation. During cold spells in the high desert climate, the floor feels comfortably warm on bare feet. In summer heat, the floor is refreshingly cool. Energy saving estimates for the system show a 40% reduction in energy use.

Faux boulders shelter the west side of the house, providing welcome shade and insulation from the late day heat. The corrugated steel siding acts as additional insulation to the house: due to its texture, the air flows over the indentations.
There is also 6” 2lb insulation foam in the walls and 10” insulation in the ceiling.
Doors and Windows: all double pane ‘low-E’ – tinted glass, by Fleetwood. Commercial grade, steel, and all custom made.

Appliances: all high-end, low energy.
Toilets: European style, low-flow.
On-demand water heating system.

Landscape: All drought tolerant, native plants, shrubs, and trees

Neighborhood Description

The house is located in an area to the north of the town of Joshua Tree, at the end of a paved road. The house has panoramic, open views of the surrounding desert: this is the area where the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. The owner has bought several adjacent parcels of land, amounting to more than 30 acres. This house and the surrounding land back up to the natural rock formations that are a common part of the landscape. Although there are other houses in the vicinity, they are not easily visible from this property.

Market Area

Joshua Tree is famous for several reasons: 1) The Joshua Trees themselves, strange-looking yuccas that can grow to 40 feet and are unique to this area of southern California. 2) The 800,000 acre Joshua Tree National Park with its fascinating exposed granite monoliths that attract visitors from around the world. 3) Joshua Tree was made famous by the band U2, who stayed and recorded in the town to create their legendary album, 'The Joshua Tree'. The town was already an enclave of musicians and artists, and this community continues to grow in popularity, with its own music festival, and an eclectic mix of art galleries, antique and curio stores, cafes and design shops.

School District

Morongo Unified School District


Home Type or Land

Single Family - Single Level

Location of Home or Land


Elevation of Home


Building Details

Air Quality

Agriculture in Area No
Industry in Area No
Air Pollution in Area No
Pesticide Free Yes
Fragrance Free Yes
Cleaned with Green Products Yes

Interior Environment

Heating System Electric Radiant
Cooling System Other
Ventilation System Part of Cooling System
Whole House Fan
Whole House Filtration Other
Whole House Vacuum No

Energy & Water

Energy System Municipal Energy
Water System Municipal
Wastewater System Municipal

Construction Information

Construction Type Masonry/Concrete
Steel Framing
Exterior Finish Metal
Interior Finish Cement Plaster
Wood - Solid
Interior Paint Low VOC
Floor Material Concrete
Roof Material Earth
Window Material Metal Dual Glazed
Insulation Material Urethane Foam

Garage / Car Port

Garage / Carport Yes
Garage Type Detached
Number of Cars 2
Garage Area 400 sqft