With a wish list and a plan, one California couple maximize space and create an outdoor spot that feels just like home.
Photography: Lisa Romerein1 of 6
When Rob Steiner and Susan Heeger (with cairn terrier Molly) gave their California garden a makeover, they created spaces for hanging out and entertaining in addition to growing.
Photography: Lisa Romerein2 of 6
The Dining Area
The dining area is framed by a pergola as a central (party-perfect) destination.
What They Wanted: To eat outside all year.
How They Got It: The couple chose a round, wrought-iron table that never has to come inside. Its easy-to-clean tile top, the color of their 'California Gold' bougainvillea, sets off the squarish pergola and the garden's prevailing greens. Vines were added overhead for shade and keep the side hedges high to block morning and evening wind.
Photography: by Mic hae l A. Hi l l3 of 6
The Garden Plan
A place for everything in the newly designed outdoor space.
Photography: Lisa Romerein4 of 6
The Lounge Area
What They Wanted: A place for reading, napping, and garden-gazing.
How They Got It: The owners splurged on teak chaises longues to turn a pass-through space behind the house into a lounge area. To make the spot inviting, they trained a fragrant star jasmine up one wall and built a fountain into another for sleepy, liquid music. The couple introduced more scent with a rosemary hedge, which, together with a low-growing blue-green dwarf tea tree, separates this area from the larger garden. The garden's relocated pomegranate tree (visible on the right-hand side of this photograph) is gold in fall, flowers orange in spring, and fruits in summer.
Photography: Lisa Romerein5 of 6
What They Wanted: An organic vegetable garden.
How They Got It: The owners used the concrete from their grown-up son's sports court -- the sunniest part of the lot -- to make four raised beds, which are surrounded by gravel paths. They added a fifth, at grade level, along a wall. Conditions here are perfect for growing produce: broccoli, lettuces, peas, okra, eggplants, and tomatoes. For cucumbers and other vines, the owners installed heavy wire landscape grids in two beds and a bamboo tepee in a third. With a door-size opening they cut in their eugenia hedge, they can walk from the beds to the adjoining dining room.
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Photography: Lisa Romerein6 of 6
The Streetside Garden
What They Wanted: An inviting front garden and entryway.
How They Got It: The owners replaced a bland lawn with a deep planting border and a pittosporum hedge. They filled the border with succulents and native Mediterranean shrubs that don't die if they're trampled on. Graptoveria they planted from cuttings has flooded in, while orange African daisies hold their own among blue 'Nova' agave and prickly dyckia. They pumped up the winter drama with vivid burgundy carpets of 'Garnet' oxalis.