Learn how to turn an empty patch into an outdoor retreat you never want to leave
After long days of working in the Test Garden, all we wanted was a spot to put down our shovels and put up our feet. So when we saw the outdoor retreats designed by father-daughter duo Eric and Leslie McKenna—spots that practically demand you sit down with a cold drink—we invited the team to Sunset headquarters.
The McKennas, who frequently work with recycled materials, drove up to our campus in a truck filled with old wooden boards and windows. Over the next two weeks, the team built a structure in a plot measuring just 18 square feet, planting the area with herbs, citrus, and golden grasses. When the glass from some of the windows broke in transit, Leslie improvised, turning the frame into a trellis for an akebia vine.
Once the furnishings went in, the area became our favorite refuge on hot days. We weren’t the only ones: Visitors often lingered there snapping pictures, and one couple hired the McKennas to create an almost identical structure in their own yard.
Design: McKenna Landscape, Los Gatos, CA; mckennalandscape.com.