On a tiki beach in Carlsbad

Convert your backyard into a beach

Robb Green's passion for the tropics started young. He fell in love with the landscape and culture of Hawaii when he visited the islands as a child with his parents. Now, with the help of landscape designer Greg Vasilieff, he has recreated that atmosphere in his Carlsbad, California, backyard to share with wife Barbara Tuppa and daughter Laura.

Instead of creating a canopy over the entire backyard, as Greg Asbagh did, Green confined his tropical plants to the edges of his property and an island bed near the patio, leaving a section of lawn in the center as a play space for Laura and the family's two dogs.

The perimeter planting of palms and timber bamboo provides a windscreen that keeps temperatures mild at his inland property. "Since these plants grew and filled in, we've never had frost," he says. But the openness of his yard allows for plenty of sun, enabling Green to put more emphasis on flowers. Ginger lily ( Hedychium), shell ginger ( Alpinia), and spiral ginger ( Costus) thrive, as do plumerias and passion vines.

Tikis, hidden among the foliage and presiding over the yard's own sandy beach, are the finishing touch. Green carved them himself. "With them here, now I can pretend I'm at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (a national historic park on the Big Island), one of my favorite spots in the world," he says.

DESIGN: Greg Vasilieff, Western Gardens Landscaping, Carlsbad, CA (760/720-1459)