A Driveway Is Transformed Into a Gardener’s Multi-Use Retreat
The compact and neglected space becomes a spot for gardening, grilling, dining, and more.
When my wife and I finally got around to re-landscaping our 1922 Spanish-style bungalow in Los Angeles, we did what many space-challenged Angelenos do: reimagined the unused back half of our driveway. It’s a classic SoCal bungalow move. Why park in your driveway when you can play in it? Over the years, it has served our family well, as a toy and tricycle repository when the kids were little, an outdoor weight room when the kids were bigger, and a spot for random acts of improvisational wood-fired cooking. Occasionally, we would even park a car in it. But with the kids grown and the functional-if-a-bit-meh swath of concrete not getting much use, we wanted the driveway to become a multipurpose space where we could garden, grill, dine, and just hang out.
Working with David Godshall of landscape architecture firm Terremoto, David Newsom of The Wild Yards Project, and paint consultant Teresa Grow of Madison and Grow, we collectively arrived at a revived space where we can cook, snip branches for arrangements, read, sip wine, and just do that indoor-outdoor thing we all love so much here in the West. This little corner of our yard is one small part of a bigger transformation I’ll be writing about in the future, but suffice to say it’s become a favorite unexpected outdoor “bonus room” that we use on a daily basis.
When it came to choosing furniture and other objects, we didn’t want a prescribed “look” from a brand. So, to slot seamlessly into what we’d assembled over the years, we selected a few timeless pieces from several collections by Terra Outdoor Living, which allowed us to create task- and leisure-oriented zones that are distinct yet work as a cohesive whole. We accessorized with garden tools that actually look cool and used a mix of new and vintage pots and planters. Here’s a look at a small space that now gives back in a big way.
With a sturdy teak top and handsome lines, the Terra Outdoor Living Madera dining table ($3,560) with golden teak top does double duty as an entertaining space, gardening station, and sprawling desk. The Belvedere backless benches ($515) keep the lines svelte and clean. Charcoal plays well with the low-key, plant-friendly color palette.
Not only is the Big Green Egg XL ($1,399) capable of reaching a blazing 800°F for pizzas and for dropping super slow and low for brisket, its organic shape and handsome green are right at home next to succulents in vintage pots in a verdant garden. Morning glory vines trained on wires will eventually grow into a single expanse of green wall.
Plant Material is my go-to spot for cool garden gear like Japanese Kamaki pruning shears ($35), the excellent Wonderground journal, and, of course, plants! Ceramic tile coasters are a cool collab between California makers Block Shop Textiles and Fireclay Tile ($70).
Chic Garden Tools
I like to have garden tools good looking enough to leave out when guests came over, which is why Elephant’s Standard Golden Spade ($55) has become, well, the gold standard in my arsenal. The handsome Arco Valet ($129) is made of marine-grade steel and keeps any hose looking neat and coiled. Angel City Lumber, which transforms local L.A. trees into exquisite wood suitable for high-end furniture and construction, makes these amazing little table/stools they call Chonks ($250) out of sanded and oiled reclaimed blue gum eucalyptus and pine.
Terra’s Woodside Adirondack chairs ($798) can be moved to find the perfect shady (or sunny) spot. Modernica’s Case Study Ceramics Arroyo planters ($285 for large, $99 for small) with plinth in pebble are modernist homes for some of our succulent collection.