Hillside hideaway

Lauren Bonar Swezey

Shelly Coglizer's backyard in Lafayette wasn't large enough to accommodate the garden she wanted. So she moved a pool fence back about 25 feet to make room for new planting beds, then hired landscape designer Freeland Tanner to reclaim an overgrown hillside.

Tanner cleared the slope of blackberries and ivy, then set a series of large steps into it to provide access to the slope's top. There, he built an outdoor room where Shelly and her husband, Bill, can relax and enjoy views across the garden below. The goal was to create a destination at the end of an adventure, he says.

A steel arbor frames the cozy hilltop sitting area, while a rattan swing dangles from the arching frame. Nearby, a trickling fountain provides water music. A hillside adds a third dimension to the garden, Tanner explains. If you're lucky enough to have one, use it.

Design: Freeland Tanner, Proscape Landscape Design, Yountville (707/226-2540)