Phoenix Home and Garden – February 2011

Age for a Unified Landscape that Merges Plants with Outdoor Living Areas: Landscapes in Phoenix can offer many things, from resortlike pools to ammenity-rich alfresco spaces. But not many properties offer virtually unrestricted views of Camelback Mountain. So, when landscape designers Larry and Peggy De La Garza first saw this lot, it got their creative juices flowing.

The De La Garzas started working on the project eight years ago, when the property was purchased by homeowners who wanted a transitional desert garden that accentuated the mountain views. Accomplishing these goals was a multistep process that involved blending softscape and hardscape designs to devise a unified layout. “We work together as a team,” Peggy De La Garza explains of her collaboration with husband Larry. “Plants without the proper hardscape do not have the same flow.”

In the backyard, this approach was achieved through a series of elevation changes, patio spaces and desert plantings. De La Garza notes that the main seating areas were sited to face Camelback Mountain, while subtle elevation changes in the garden highlight specimen-size cacti and succulents. A pool and cascading waterfall are situated between a dining ramada and a covered patio with a fireplace and barbecue nook. A flagstone path uniting these areas with the garden winds among green lawns, potted containers, and beds filled with blooming annuals.

The design team utilized a similar plan in the front yard. Here, an array of desert vegetation, including prickly pear cacti, ironwood trees, banana yuccas and coral fountain plants, is tucked among large boulders, creating a natural setting. In the entry courtyard, a boulder-strewn water feature spills into a reflecting pool that appears to flow under the house.

A few years ago, a new homeowner purchased the lot and asked the De La Garzas to freshen up the landscape with a lusher look. This was achieved by adding flora with a tropical feel, such as palm trees. The landscape designers blended the new vegetation with existing plants to create a seamless composition.

De La Garza notes that the property easily transitioned to accommodate the wishes of a new owner because the design incorporates complementary softscapes and hardscapes that have a natural flow. “The pool, water feature, elevation changes and raised beds make the plant material stand out perfectly,” she states. “One without the other would not have had the same impact.”

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