The gardens of Val Verde significantly helped redefine early 20th century west coast regional landscape design aesthetics. Val Verde's original designer, architect Bertram Goodhue, laid out simple, austere architecture and grounds for the 17.4–acre site, but the staid terraces became the masterpiece commission of landscape architect Lockwood de Forest, Jr. De Forest used geometric form innovatively, replacing traditional lawns with mirror-like reflecting pools and designing mammoth colonnades for effect. Val Verde is a rare surviving example of de Forest’s unique approach: a dramatic setting for sculpture, simple details, and theatrical effects achieved almost entirely with plants.
This garden is now acknowledged as a masterwork of the Mediterranean style. The area’s complicated social history is in part preserved at Val Verde, where a third generation of Mexican-American gardeners has earned their positions through family and apprenticeship to care for the gardens. Val Verde was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.