From a dying front yard to a horticultural wonder

“Contemporary, casual, and colorful” defines this Southern California garden filled with succulents and grasses. The textures are gorgeous, the foliage fabulous, noted one juror.

Designer Nicole Lopez, who owns the home with her partner, David Mota, turned what used to be a drab, lifeless front yard with a dying lawn into a horticultural wonder. For the front walk, she “splurged,” purchasing 2- by 2-foot beige flagstone steppingstones. But for the patio off of the new bedroom door, she broke up her old concrete driveway and laid it out in a random pattern. Inset into the concrete on the edge of the patio is a plastic-lined pond now filled with fish and aquatic plants, thanks to surprise additions from neighbors.

Favoring a “high-style, low-maintenance garden,” Lopez chose tough plants with interesting leaf color and foliage patterns. As a native Californian, she was particularly drawn to plants that define Southern California gardening, such as agaves, bush anemones, cycads, and New Zealand flax. Her neighbors are equally charmed by the handsome garden that reflects the area’s easygoing lifestyle. “People often pull up in their cars and tell me how much they like the garden,” says Lopez.

DESIGNER: Nicole Lopez, Nicole Lopez Landscape Design, Santa Monica (310/998-1975)

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