1. The "doorway" appears in the form of a simple arbor. Two vertical posts are erected on substantial pedestals. The header beams are aligned with the roof, giving the structure the ideal scale. A few trellis-like crossbeams lend interest and invite a vine to climb their heights. Approaching this structure, you know exactly where to go. You can see the ultimate destination — a conversation and sitting area in the garden.
2. The "flooring" is nicely aligned with the opening in the arbor, with the addition of an extra row of square pavers to form a graphic 3-by-6 tile grid. This treatment is both path and patio, inviting the addition of furniture for a variety of purposes.
3. The trio of planters helps soften the home's intense white exterior and engages any pedestrians who stroll by. Three identical bowls, filled with interesting, textural plants and displayed on dramatic concrete cubes, give this space a distinct point of view.
Welcome to my foyer!
For example, this set of eight raised beds, beautifully constructed from ipe or similar hardwood lumber, has details like mitered corners and smooth hardware, making them suitable for youngsters who want to stand at the edge and harvest carrots or radishes to their hearts’ content. And the capped walls are wide enough to double as seating — handy for someone with physical limitations.
Mostly I admire this side kitchen garden for its attractive design, functional spacing (there’s room for a wheelbarrow between the raised beds) and the excellent proportions that hold their own with the scale of the home.
See how to make a raised garden bed
The crushed rock is a versatile solution, doubling as both flooring and path material. It's also simple to rearrange this seating, move the pots around and bring in a few stools to accommodate a larger party.
The long, narrow dimensions of this outdoor play court line up perfectly at the side garden's outer edge. Notice the clean lines and fine details — the constructed box that holds the boccie ball court is finished with the same weathered steel used in four very modern weathered-steel planter boxes.
Imagine how many lovely evenings have taken place here. You're enclosed by a densely planted border, which creates a sensory experience of scents and sounds. Candles flicker in the lanterns. Wineglasses clink, and laughter fills the air. Who wants to spend time inside when this is the alternative?
The "carpet" of different square and rectangular pavers is laid on a bed of contrasting crushed rock. The random-looking (but probably quite carefully arranged) pattern creates a dynamic energy that moves the eye through this space and makes coming here a treat.
Another reason this design is so successful is the light hand with which it is accessorized: The furnishings and plants are classically simple, with one material (teak) and one color (parrot orange). Nice work!
The L-shaped banquette to the right provides seating for lots of people and doubles as a low wall that divides the courtyard from the dining area. The bar/cooking area faces the party (a nice way to keep the chef engaged with guests). I love the thoughtful addition of twin pendant lights suspended from the arbor to illuminate the food-prep area and the large mirror at the back, hung on the outside wall to reflect light and greenery into the space.
Now, what's for dinner?
• The stone wall provides protection and scale. It is comparable to the height of an interior wall, relating nicely to both the furniture proportions and any people who occupy the area.
• The overhead arbor is fabricated of metal, creating a simple grid that uses large openings to reveal the sky. Vines cover parts of this durable arbor, but that's OK, because they too provide protection.
• The seating is just right: two cushioned benches and a low coffee table with a huge surface for plants, wineglasses or even dinner plates. And the low-maintenance flooring is suitable for keeping the table and chair legs stable.
• Finally, what really makes this space luxurious is the planting plan. Textures are lush and varied. The foliage billows to partially obscure the seating area. It's almost possible to disappear within — and who wouldn't want to?
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Turn Your Side Yard Into a Glorious Garden Room