In my previous post, I described the first 3 ingredients to creating your most inviting outdoor living space:
1. Dream it; 2. determine your needs and assign physical space requirements to each element; 3. define your style.
Here now are the remaining three steps to make this happen:
4. Draw up a plan for your home landscape design (or get professional landscape design help)
- I pictured a low water landscape breathing peace and beauty, brimming with color and plant life. The garden would be laid out around two main paved areas reminiscent of Spanish/Mexican courtyards.
- Benches would offer seating to take a drink or finger food, to enjoy the many colors or to feel the comfortable atmosphere and peaceful mood of the garden.
- One area would invite more for quiet sitting and contemplation of a fountain ;
- The other area, closest to Rachel’s kitchen, would be the main food serving area. Here two benches would form a square for people to mingle, with room for side tables that Rachel could bring in if she had more trays than she wanted to place directly on the benches.
- A walkway would be connecting these spaces, and their layout would be following the shape of the house (its walls were slightly curved outwards); the new pavement would be placed directly adjacent to the existing patio to allow people comfortable access to all areas of the garden.
- Doing this suggested either a similar or a completely different pavement…
- The benches would allow me to introduce more colors into the garden: They would be in complementary colors to each other, to the perimeter walls that I’d also paint, and to an additional, purely ornamental wall that I would use as “room divider”, “weight” and upright element in the garden.
- This wall, in the shape of an undulating wave, would complement and contrast a water feature that would be the focal point of the quieter sitting area.
Rachel was very excited about the first draft of this backyard landscape design and approved all of it.
She was most thrilled about the idea of applying paint to all of the walls, the perimeter wall included.
And she loved the fountain idea which consisted of two stone slabs, mounted one on top of the other at differing angles, with a central core from which water would run over both stones.
For the new pavement we opted for grey concrete with an acid wash finish (which brings out the sand aggregate in the mix). This seemed the most elegant and cost-effective material that would harmonize with the existing grey concrete. (In the photo outlines of the future design elements are drawn onto the ground to help fine-tune their shape and dimensions, and to help the homeowner visualize the future look of the garden. It also shows how all plants have been removed except for the fruit trees and the Pine Tree in the opposite corner.)
And so the final design came together very quickly. After a soil test we chose a mix of some “Southwestern” plants with some other ones that like it here in Leucadia, too: Rock Purslane Calandrinia spectabilis, Aloe ‘Red Hot Chili Pepper’, Red Yucca Hesperaloe parviflora, Aeonium ‘Cabernet’ and Crassula ‘Campfire, to name a few’; more drought resistant plants such as Sundrops Calylophus drummondii and Penstemon Margarita BoP; the “bones” and structure of this low water landscape would be provided by the shrubs ‘Goldstar’ Yellow Bells Tecoma stans stans ‘Goldstar’ and Dwarf Variegated Myrtle Myrtus communis variegata compacta, to which Rachel added a favorite of hers, a Yellow Mexican Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia gilliesii. We placed another shade tree to shade the reading nook (Crape Myrtle “Centennial Spirit” Lagerstroemia x hybrids), over at the other end of the garden; its orange-red color will be a nice color teaser when in bloom. Ornamental grasses add a light and airy, even dreamy character to the plantings. Here we used Hairy Awn Mulhly Muhlenbergia capillaris, Golden Variegated Sweet Flag Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, and Blue Oat Grass Helictotrichon sempervirens.
Purple Bougainvilleas drape a post-and-wire-trellis in two critical places to raise the privacy screen around the perimeter but leave a window to view the ocean.
To the colors of the plants those of the walls would be a permanent contrast, stimulus and harmonious “compliment” . We chose Orange for the perimeter wall; “Violet Majesty” purple for the seatwalls; and Chartreuse/lime for the curved wall across from the fountain.
Sitting in the sun with Rachel recently on one of the colorful benches, and enjoying a sweet breakfast Danish (a “prop” left-over from staging her garden for the photo shoot), she remarked on how much she loves her garden now, and how she marvels at discovering, every morning when she comes outside to visit it, another plant in bloom or just colorful on its own.
At that moment a bee was visiting a rock purslane flower right behind her shoulder, and as I was pointing the bee out to her she hardly moved away and said she loved how so many of them are now visiting her garden. This is what she had dreamt of, and she’s learning to take care of the plants and delight in them any moment she can.
This backyard landscape design was faithfully executed by San Diego Landscaper Mark Sterk/Columbine Landscape Inc.