Solution: Remove the clutter, build in clean lines, then direct the eye outward.
The strategy: Clear away crowded plantings and elevate the patio at the rear of this small San Francisco garden owned by Bob Gain and Gene Ogden. Then define the 25- by 50-foot space with low walls, which double as seating during parties and eliminate the need for extra furniture. Add a 15-foot-long pond as a lean focal point and pave the area with complementary buff-colored gravel. Finally, confine a low border to the garden’s perimeter, using mostly easy-care shrubs and small trees that frame rather than block the fantastic view.
Design Beth Mullins, Growsgreen Landscape Design, San Francisco (growsgreen.com or 415/336-9829)
Construction Rock & Rose Landscapes, San Francisco (rockandrose.com or 415/824-3458)