By relinquishing part of her driveway, Carrie Nimmer solved two problems. The Phoenix landscape designer wanted a private outdoor place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. And she wanted a prettier view from her kitchen window than the strip of concrete driveway and bare wall she was used to seeing. So Nimmer enclosed that section of the driveway with an 8-foot-tall wall and turned the 14- by 14-foot space into an inviting interior courtyard.
Rather than demolishing and removing the driveway, which would have been costly, Nimmer simply covered it. Granite pebbles cover most of the old driveway, transitioning to finer-textured decomposed granite as you near the courtyard. Broad stone slabs placed at the front of the passageway beckon guests to step inside. So do the two imposing Chinese pots planted with silvery blue rosettes of Agave colorata and blond Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima).
Nimmer painted the walls with a neutral brown, a perfect foil for the agave but a shade that also works well with greens, pastels, and fiery colors like the red-flowered crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) in the courtyard. Behind this, an ocotillo screen conceals a passage to Nimmer's home office.
DESIGN: Carrie Nimmer ( 602/254-0300)