This colorful garden was installed in a day
A Garden in a Day
Norman A. Plate

SIZE: 12 by 18 feet

TIME: 1 week to plan, 1 day to install

COST: $750 (see cost breakdown)

Like a canvas awaiting a painter’s brush, Linda and Rich Peters’s barren courtyard fronting their home in San Mateo, California, cried out for color and life. Knowing that weeds would pop up if they didn’t plant quickly, the Peterses were thrilled when friends from Sunset’s garden staff offered to help design and plant a low-maintenance garden with flowers and a small lawn.

Sunset’s test garden coordinator Bud Stuckey took measurements and designed the garden; then he calculated the number of plants and amount of turf grass sod it would require. The whole garden–lawn and all–was installed by two people in a single day.

Before: Small front-yard space enclosed on two sides by walls, on the other two sides by the house, is a blank slate with hard clay soil.

After: Closely spaced annuals, mature perennials (from 1-gallon cans), and shrubs (from 5-gallon cans) give the gently curving flower beds an established look.

(numerals indicate number of plants)


A. Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’, 3

B. Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’, 4

C. Chrysanthemum frutescens ‘Summer Beauty’, 1

D. Dahlberg daisy, 3

E. Delphinium (pink and purple), 4

F. ‘Eureka’ lemon, 1

G. Fountain grass, 2

H. Mexican bush sage, 1

I. Nemesia ‘Blue Bird’, 18

J. Penstemon ‘Utah Mix’, 1

K. Petunia ‘Ultra Plum’, 24 (grouped)

L. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Goldilocks’, 2

M. Rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’, 2

N. Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’, 2

O. Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’,

P. Sedum telephium ‘Carmen’, 2

Q. Sweet alyssum (white and rosy purple), 12

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