Before: Concrete MeltdownMichael and Christy French moved into their Californian ranch-style home a couple of years ago and promptly remodeled the house. They ran out of inspiration when it came to the garden, however, and the space is tired and rundown. Host Matt James creates a drought-tolerant garden featuring paving, decking and native Californian plants.
An overwhelming expanse of concrete combined with the lack of grass plagues this tired backyard. The homeowners want to take advantage of the yard's large space to host dinner parties of up to 20 people. They also want a low-maintenance retreat where they can unwind at the end of the workday and enjoy the cool Los Angeles weather. With the exception of a healthy lemon tree, Matt has a blank canvas to work with to create his masterpiece in this backyard. The new garden will be the perfect blend of a retreat with entertaining space.
The Plan: Redefining the SpaceThe new plan takes advantage of the large existing patio and gives it an update with new pavers. A wooden deck with a simple copper water feature creates a focal point and extends the entertaining area further into one corner of the yard. A flagstone pathway meanders through fragrant, colorful plants.
After: Low-Maintenance RetreatNatural materials soften the once desolate landscape. Drought-tolerant plantings feature California natives and Mediterranean herbs arranged in a naturalistic design. Gravel used as a mulch gives the space an arid, desert look to complement the low-water-use plan. Terra-cotta containers planted with French lavender, a copper bowl water feature, new cedar deck and benches and gravel mulch accentuate the natural earth tones of the sandstone patio pavers. Sandstone tiles laid in a checker board pattern give the concrete patio a new, organic look, while a meandering flagstone path leads to the rest of the yard.
After: Waterwise GardenWaterwise plantings are an obvious choice for the low-maintenance landscape the homeowners wanted. Australian willow (Geijera parviflora), yarrow, lavender and geraniums add flowers, fragrance and texture to the space. California natives, such as California lilac (Ceanothus 'Dark Star') and clover (Trifolium repens), are already adapted to the low-water landscape of the western United States and make an excellent addition to the drought tolerant plantings used here. Christy wanted herbs to use in cooking, so Matt has included Mediterranean plants, such as sage, oregano and rosemary, also valued for their low-water and low-maintenance requirements.