Tucson vista garden

Take full advantage of scenic views in a hillside backyard

Tucson vista garden

The vanishing-edge pool creates the illusion that it could slip from its moorings and glide away.

Steven Gunther

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Good views shouldn't go to waste. This Tucson property is blessed with two: a panorama of desert and mountains in one direction and the lush carpet of a golf course and twinkling city lights in the other. So the owners asked landscape designer Margaret West to create an entertainment patio that would take advantage of both vistas in a space that feels as contemporary as their home, but also evokes a water hole in the wild.

West began by encircling the mounding property with retaining walls to create level space for landscaping and outdoor living areas ― including a patio, pool, spa, fireplace, and barbecue ― and guard against the 5-foot drop.

Atop one wall, she installed a dramatic rusted-steel fence that curves around and cants toward the patio. Though highly decorative, the fence doesn't compete with the larger landscaping beyond it, says West. "It invites you to approach and take a closer look."

Three great ideas from this garden

1. Keep landscaping below eye level. Margaret West used low-growing plants, such as lantana and angelita daisy ( Hymenoxys acaulis), around the entertainment patio so they wouldn't obstruct the view.

To draw the eye toward the view, she planted Texas ranger and Mexican bird of paradise at ground level beyond the fence.


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