Alluring Outdoor Environments

Summer in San Diego brings sun-drenched afternoons and evenings cooled by gentle ocean breezes. No wonder it’s considered peak season for backyard enthusiasts, from the greenest-thumbed gardeners to the masters of barbeque. It’s also the perfect time to spruce up your al fresco areas for optimum outdoor living.

“I like to think of the parallel of one’s landscape to one’s closet,” says Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella Landscape Development. “When you have a solid classic design — what I call the “bones” — you can update your look with a few key pieces.”

For a classic style, Jarvis suggests planting olives, giant birds of paradise, cypress, Indian hawthorn, white roses, lavender, and citrus tree accents. To stay on trend, weave in potted succulents, citrus espaliers, garden art (“real art, not little red elves!”), reclaimed materials, and accent fabrics.

“And every yard needs a water element,” Jarvis adds emphatically. “The feature transforms your area. And the sound is so relaxing that it truly maximizes your outdoor experience.”

Also popular with Terra Bella clients are custom “scent gardens” that Jarvis bases on their favorite fragrances, a concept he says was inspired by luxury fragrance brand Jo Malone. “Scent gardens are an amazing place to enjoy your morning latte and read your iPad news.”

Like most landscape experts in Southern California, Coy Thompson, lead designer at CT Designs, holds succulents in high regard. “They’re hardy and beautiful,” he says. “They can survive in the harshest warm climate and drought tolerance means very little maintenance. As a San Diego native, I’m surprised that they’re just beginning to make their mark!”

For a truly standout landscape, Thompson recommends a “combination of contrasting textures and colors as well as contemporary and old-fashioned aesthetics.” Consider incorporating vertical walls, whether a self-watering system with edibles or Wooly Pockets filled with florals and ferns. Charming containers — think birdbaths, baskets, and concrete bowls — also add a dash of panache to any outdoor scene.

No landscape is complete without ample places to lounge. Be sure to add comfy seating in both sunny spots and shady. If you already have high-quality all-season furniture, freshen it up by reupholstering with this season’s most stylish outdoor-friendly fabrics. Or, take a cue from Juli Risner, owner of Encinitas” Grounded, who is moved by the many cool modern rocking chairs on the market right now. Available in daring colors and sleek lines, they’re not your granny’s fusty porch rockers.

A gorgeously designed garden lures all kinds of desirable guests. Ed Gauss, a gardening consultant at Armstrong Garden Centers, says the right plants will attract birds and butterflies in droves. Hummingbirds adore drought-resistant grevillea, while butterflies go aflutter for asclepias tuberosa, also known as butterfly weed. “Butterflies have a homing instinct,” says Gauss. “They’ll return year after year.”

At Armstrong, Gauss says sales of edibles are through the roof, as more and more people discover the pleasure of planting organic fruits, veggies, and herbs. It’s hard work, sure, but you can celebrate your summer bounty with a fabulous garden-to-grill dinner for all your friends. No BBQ? No problem. At many outdoor centers, you can now buy a built-in look for a lot less, with easy-to-move models in all shapes and sizes that can be configured to fit any space.

With outdoor living this incredible, you might never go inside again.   Annamaria Stephens