Free plan: A garden of outdoor rooms

A designer shares her secrets for creating a cool backyard getaway

Made in the shade
Marion Brenner

Made in the shade

When your garden's got a cool out-door dining room, a shaded retreat, and a lush entertainment courtyard, taking a summer vacation can be as simple as stepping out your own back door.

That's the idea behind landscape designer Patricia Wagner's plot in San Leandro, California. "I was asking a lot of my garden," says Wagner, who wanted outdoor spots to work, relax, and host intimate dinners as well as large, lively parties. Her garden took just three weeks from design to completion ― "I knew what I needed," she says ― and she fit everything in by dividing her 1,500-square-foot backyard into a series of rooms that flow easily into one another.

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