Pro Portfolio: A sustainable garden makeover, with outdoor living top of mind

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Every Monday we post a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer. This week we focus on landscape design:

Project: Remodel of a 1,500-square-foot garden

Location: West Los Angeles

Design: Ania Lejman, ALD Landscape Design Build


Designer’s description: This garden has been redesigned to have spaces for lounging, dining, entertaining and even growing vegetables. The main objective was to create as much living space as possible and to incorporate sustainable, water-wise gardens.

The front entry concrete patio was extended and doubled in size to accommodate a seating area and water feature. Small patio trees were preserved during the remodel to maintain a sense of privacy -- notably a Southwestern native acacia that provides a canopy of shade and is home to hummingbirds and finches.

In the backyard, a 100-year-old prolifically fruiting avocado tree posed a major challenge. The tree’s roots were buckling the old concrete slab patio. We lightened the load of the tree by removing select branches, adding low-voltage lighting to highlight its beautiful structure and replacing the concrete with permeable gravel. We added a generously sized corner built-in seating area and a gas-fed cast iron fire bowl for warmth. The space feels cozy and is a favorite retreat where owners can lounge after an outdoor dinner with friends.

Two dreary garage walls were painted in fresh hues of persimmon and cilantro, above. For more photos and details, keep reading ...

A rickety chain-link fence was replaced with a clean, low stucco wall topped by a wood trellis. Instead of the old, oddly placed front gate, a new entrance sits at the corner of the lot.

Because the house is adjacent to a busy elementary school, the owners wanted the newly expanded front patio to retain some privacy while still allowing them to see and greet their neighbors.

The low-lying front landscape is a mix of drought-tolerant native plants and succulents.

Built-in benches provide more seating in front.

A ‘before’ photograph, taken from the backyard looking toward the front, shows the once-neglected side yard before the makeover. Stairs to the kitchen are hidden behind a bush.

Those kitchen stairs were extended out and widened to include built-in herb planters.

Another ‘before’ photo shows the side yard leading to the rear portion of the garden.

And now: The once muddy side garden was redesigned with flagstone and decomposed granite. Inside the gate ...

... the walkway is lined with a sweep of steely-blue Leymus grass and rosemary, and it’s anchored with dwarf citrus trees.

The clients felt the rear yard was essentially a dark, wasted space, so they pruned the 100-year old avocado tree and added the built-in seating and fire bowl. Permeable gravel gives the roots more room. Another area includes a built-in gas barbecue built alongside an existing raised concrete patio.


An awkward Pasadena home remodeled

Shipping container house near Joshua Tree

Architect Barbara Bestor’s ‘floating bungalow’

Pacific Palisades indoor-outdoor

Jonathan Fong, crazy for color

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Rick Valdivia and Jack Coyier

Pro Portfolio appears on this blog every Monday. Submit projects to

Follow future installments by bookmarking L.A. at Home or joining our Facebook page dedicated to California home design.