Kathy’s Design for Her Son’s Los Angeles Garden

Kathy Sandel, a retired garden designer in California, has shared her former (Kathy’s Calabasas Garden) and current (Kathy’s Garden Transformation in Sacramento) home gardens, and today she’s sharing pictures of the garden she designed and installed for her son in Los Angeles.

My son had purchased a remodeled Mediterranean-style home that needed a garden refurbishment both front and rear. I went with a mix of various drought-tolerant plants and succulents—plants that demand little care but have a strong architecture. Everything is on drip irrigation.

Looking through the gate shows the architecture of the home and teases with some of the sculptural, succulent plants used in the garden design.

small garden bed with colorful foliage plantsBeautiful foliate comes from a redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’, Zones 5–9), with colorful coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides, Zones 10–11 or as an annual) around the base. The coleus will do well during the warmer months and can be replaced with heuchera or another option in the colder months.

small ornamental grasses and shrubs around patioMore bright foliage comes from Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9), and purple heart (Tradescantia pallida, Zones 7–10) softens the lines of the walls and walkways.

two containers of agave at home entranceTwo stunning, sculptural agaves flank this entrance.

close up of purple succulent in terracotta potIn a climate like Los Angeles’s, with minimal rainfall, succulents are great, easy-care choices.

small garden bed and container plantings around paved patioIn-ground beds and container plantings work together to bring softness and life to this mostly paved area.

small garden bed surrounded by hedges with ground covers and grasses The ground cover here is dymondia (Dymondia margaretae, Zones 9–11), which will fill in and serve as a good alternative to a traditional grass lawn in this warm, dry climate, as it is extremely drought tolerant. A red barberry (Berberis thunbergii, Zones 4–8) provides long-lasting foliage color.

formal stone fountain at edge of gardenA formal fountain brings the sound of moving water to the garden and matches the architecture of the home.

small stone path leading from door to patioChanges from the formal paving to the newly planted dymondia help define different moods for different parts of the garden.

We’ll be back to see more of this little garden tomorrow.


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