I always love a good small yard. Smaller yards create interesting challenges because you need to make every inch of the space functional. It is actually quite a fun endeavor.

Before: For this townhouse yard, their house had been beautifully remodeled and decorated but they were not real sure what to do with the outdoor space. They had two little kids so they wanted to be able to have a safe place for the kids to play.

Design: I really wanted the outside to blend with the inside. The home was so cozy that it was important to make the outside have the same feeling. We chose a beautiful fireplace as the focal point that could be seen from the inside living room area. This really helped draw the eye outside to create a feeling of a much larger space. A mix of hardscape materials (poured concrete & synthetic grass) create dimension and usability to the space. A seating wall running the whole property not only serves to raise up the plants to add a cozy element but also allowed more sitting space (more friends can visit).

After: This was such a fun transformation. My clients are so happy with the end result and I love hearing from them how much they love it. It just shows you how a small yard can still be beautiful, inviting and functional.

Community is so important to me. I love being able to share the wealth that comes from my garden. It was a joy for our family to share our bounty with our neighbors. Our neighbors have shared pictures of the lemon bread, lemon bars, lemonade and all sorts of lemon flavored foods that our neighbors have made with the lemons we gave them. It has been so fun to see that our little gift of lemons was able to create joy in others. I hope as you plan your garden you can rethink how much more your garden can become.

When I visit a client's yard for the first time, I always get excited about the potential of the outdoor space. So many ideas swirl in my head but it starts becoming a full picture once I work with my clients and get to know them. I love delving into their wants,needs and style. That is when it really starts getting fun. For this project, my client had beautifully remodeled the inside of her home. Being an interior designer, she had impeccable taste and everything inside was designed in a modern California casual style. Her house was comfy, serene, and curated with a laid back coastal vibe. It was a home that you want to come over for a visit and feel so comfortable to hang out all afternoon and into the evening.

Before: The backyard was going to need an overhaul to

match the inside. Initially the yard was uninspiring with no where to entertain. The kids somewhat used the yard but the sloping grass made it hard to play on. There was also an odd

After: I terraced the back hill to level out the lower yard. Using a mix of retaining wall materials I mimicked the curated feeling inside the home. The patio and lawns were done in clean rectangular shapes to add a modern clean feel. To provide entertaining space, I made the main patio sizable to hold a good size table as well as the BBQ. The patio's rectangular stonework in shades of grey/blue gives the patio an elegant touch that blends seamlessly with the interior finishes. After guests eat, they can now travel out over stepping stones to the cozy entertaining space with comfortable couches and a warm fire pit for evening relaxation. Traveling to this raised seating area also shows how big the yard really was. To add additional privacy, I strategically placed arbors to help provide additional intimacy to the entertaining area. The arbors will eventually become covered in sweet smelling jasmine that my clients will enjoy when they roast marshmallows over the fire in the evenings. It will become a space that they can create family memories for years to come and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.

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Secret Garden Landscapes is a residential landscape design company serving clients in the San Francisco East Bay area.

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