Get ideas from a small garden inspired by its surroundings
A small garden crowded with shrubs leaves no room for outdoor living―and turns its back on the view.
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)
Framed by windows and a vine-covered wall and outfitted with all-weather furniture, the patio closest to the house functions as an extension of the indoor living room.
Green up the walls with vines. Here, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) its foliage turning yellow, orange, and wine red, covers an otherwise bland wall. The clinging deciduous vine drops its leaves in winter, and thrives in shade and sun.
Streamline your pots by planting a single dwarf shrub in a shapely contemporary container–the best choice for a tight space. This variegated hebe grows in a shallow, gunmetal gray 15-inch-wide ceramic pot.
Finish a shrub border by nestling in a container or bowl that matches the nearby wall's hues, like this water-filled stone birdbath.
Choose small trees as accents, such as this 'Sango Kaku' Japanese maple. Other low-growing maples include 'Mikawa Yatsubasa' (3 to 5 feet tall), whose green leaves turn yellow-orange in autumn; 'Butterfly'(to 7 feet tall), with small bluish green leaves edged in white; and 'Ever Red', a 7-foot-tall mound with weeping branches and finely dissected leaves that turn crimson in fall. Filtered shade is best for all.