Picturesque Garden Entrance

Designer Margie Grace created this stunning garden area after a garage renovation consumed the home's front yard, leaving a less-than-desirable mark on the entrance.
Garden Stone Bench

Garden Stone Bench

A stone bench curves to provide comfy seating.

Photo by: Margie Grace

Margie Grace

By: Barbara Ballinger
From: Margie Grace

The motor court’s walls were draped with vines and big pots were arranged with sculptural plantings. Huge olive trees soften the bright motor court without eliminating any parking space.

What were the main items on the owners' wish list?

“Help! My husband just put a parking lot in my front yard!” Those were the first words out of the client’s mouth. Construction on a new garage, carport, drive, and parking area was complete—our task was to transform the grounds into a garden and a home once again. Beyond her wish to have her garden back, the client’s only request was a specific color palette and “some fruit trees.”

Moutainview Garden Entrance

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Touch of Texture

Fresh patterns add pops of texture to the garden seating.

Welcome Shade

Tall, lush plant life creates a sense of privacy within the garden area.

Wildflower Palette

Gorgeous wildflowers add natural color bursts.

Garden Party

A stone bench curves to provide comfy seating.

Take a Break

Relax in style on the garden's vibrant orange chaise lounge.

What was the single largest issue you wanted to address?

Although the client’s wish list was small, a site walk revealed a lot of needs. Access to the front door had been cut off by construction--a clear approach to the entry was needed. The gate to a private walled side patio adjacent to the parking area seemed the most likely place to find the front door—access to this area needed to be restricted without making the space dark and stale. The only approach to the house was through the parking area, so it needed to be beautified!

What was your biggest obstacle in this space?

The panoramic view of the mountains from the front yard was stunning – what was needed was a sitting area from which to enjoy it. But the yard sloped too violently for this. Some grading to level the area was needed. The view from the house was beautiful, except for the parking area – screening was needed. The existing veranda fought with the house. It needed something to wed it to the structure. The glare and heat off the paving was harsh. This needed to be remediated. Finally, the client was a collector. There was fabulous statuary, furniture, and pottery to pull from, but it was displayed haphazardly–appropriate presentation and editing was needed.

How does the end result match up with your original vision?

We were able to execute the design we planned for, but the end result transformed the space even more than we expected. A bubbling water element and an exotic gateway create a mood for entering that house, where you feel miles away from the road and driveway surrounding the garden.

What surprised you the most about the project?

We were surprised to find how much wildlife re-entered the garden once it was separated from the parking. We have found quail nests, butterflies, doves and squirrels love the new habitat. It was a great little reminder to plant for the pollinators and provide a healthy habitat within our developed surroundings.

What are the “hidden gems” in your plan?

Varied sizes of smooth pebbles create a finished, artistic element to the edges of the planting beds. Our method is to use several bags of each size; start with the largest in distinct piles and add each consecutive size to mimic a natural creek bed. Additionally, Margie spends extra time at the end of each project selecting plants, sculptures and pottery to tie the whole design together.

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Margie Grace

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Grace Design Associates, Inc. 3010 Paseo Tranquillo Santa Barbara, CA 93105 805-687-3569