"I’m just going to deck my entire backyard."
Those were the words I heard while eating Indian takeout at a friend’s house on a Friday night. And of course, I couldn’t help myself.
"What about plants?"
So we walked outside and stood in the middle of his backyard for awhile.
"If you make the deck just a bit smaller, I could add plants all around it. They would soften the edges. Spill out onto the deck. Eventually cover the fence."
He thought about it.
The he called Saturday and said the idea of plants was sounding good to him. He called Sunday and asked how much room I’d need for the plants. He called Monday to have me come over and help determine the outline of the deck. He called Tuesday night to say the deck was done and he was starting on a playhouse for the kids.
I was floored by the speed.
So then it was my turn. I pulled together a mood board to illustrate the overall palette and texture I was thinking for the plants. His wife loves the look of roses, peonies, and all those plants with an unquenchable thirst for water. But she was very receptive to my claims that the same lush feeling can be achieved using plants more suited to our Mediterranean climate.
She bravely approved the mood board and I went to work, using plants that would eventually feel like they were bursting from the borders. Colorful, playful plants that would complement the new playhouse, but also tie-in with the feeling of my friends’ newly remodeled home.
In the six months since, the plants have begun billowing from the edges, creating a free-flowing space that’s both useful and beautiful.
Amy John Headley is a landscape designer based in San Francisco.