On sun-drenched Sundays, Norm and Lynn Ginsburg's Encinitas backyard resonates with birdsong, the clink of ice cubes in tall glasses of lemonade, and the gentle thwack of mallets hitting wooden croquet balls through a series of wickets. That's because the garden, with a 1,200-square-foot lawn flanking the back patio, "is a great place to relax, entertain, and let children run around," Norm says. Croquet, he notes, is the perfect game because anyone can play it regardless of age, strength, or skill level. "We try to lose to the kids," he adds with a smile.
To ease the way for croquet balls, Norm cuts the lawn, a 'Tifgreen' hybrid Bermuda grass, with a gas- powered reel mower set at 1 inch. His secret to beautiful turf is to keep it watered and fed (with a 16-0-0 fertilizer, applied once a month per label directions).
Framing the lawn is a perennial border filled with flowers in soft shades of purple, pink, and yellow. The plants are positioned for a layered effect ― lowest ones in the foreground, tallest ones in back. The planting includes 'Apple Blossom' penstemon; 'Butterfly Blue' pincushion flowers; bush morning glory; yellow daylilies; kangaroo paws ( Anigozanthos 'Pink Joey'); pink mallow ( Lavatera 'Barnsley'); and tall, deep blue Salvia 'Indigo Spires'.