Magazine article Sunset

Backyard Magic; Our In-House Pro Kathleen Brenzel Shows How to Turn Problem Gardens into Great Outdoor Living Spaces

Magazine article Sunset

Backyard Magic; Our In-House Pro Kathleen Brenzel Shows How to Turn Problem Gardens into Great Outdoor Living Spaces

Article excerpt

1 "MY GARDEN IS GLOOMY AND DARK" [much greater than] Brighten it with a mix of vibrant perennials and trees PLANT SUNNY HUES Two tall and feathery locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia'), with yellow-green foliage, and mounds of yellow-flowered calceolarias enliven the mostly green palette. A spiky 'Red Sensation' cordyline and a chocolate-colored 'Black Knight' canna add depth and contrast beside green-leafed cannas and red dahlias.

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TEXTURE THE WALLS Low walls covered with multicolored Montana ledgestone veneer help the plantings pop and echo the hues of the deck's slate pavers (stonedeckwest.com).

KEEP THE FOUNTAIN LIGHT

A rippled glass backdrop prevents the fountain (right) from appearing dark and massive. Water spills down its face to the gravel-covered reservoir and pump, then recirculates. Elephant's ears (Colocasia) grow on either side.

INFO Design: Gary Marsh, Gary Marsh Design, Novato, CA (gary marshdesign.com or 415/897-7623).

Plantings: Tom Henthorne, Henthorne Landscape Design, San Rafael, CA (henthornedesign.com or 415/847-5584).

2 "I HAVE A CRAMPED YARD" [much greater than] Use clean lines and textural foliage to open up a hemmed-in space

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PARE DOWN THE PALETTE Mix foliage plants for texture and punch. Narrow weeping acacia trees, shapely Aloe ferox, and other succulents rise above the bluish Senecio mandraliscae groundcover. Native grape (Visit california) climbs a galvanized steel trellis against one wall.

VARY ELEVATIONS The slightly raised dining terrace (covered with Barstow gold gravel and framed in Cor-ten steel) distinguishes it from surrounding foliage, making the 975-square-foot garden appear larger.

KEEP FURNISHINGS SIMPLE Less is not only necessary in a small space, it's also more dramatic. The clean-lined dining set (marmolradzinerfuniture.com) is of teak and stainless steel. DESIGN Leo Marmol, Marmol Radziner + Associates, Los Angeles (marmol-radziner.com or 310/826-6222)

3 "MY GARDEN IS TOO STEEP TO USE" [much greater than] Tame the slope with terraces and visual tricks

MAKE THE WALLS BOLD Stucco walls create strong horizontal lines that visually compress the slope. …

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