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7 Outdoor Design Ideas

For some, the Great Outdoors might mean rugged mountains, untrammeled forests, or wide-open plains. The residents of these seven homes managed to carve out their own great outdoor retreats—a sunken fire pit, built-in slide, contemplative koi pond, and family-friendly patio, among others.

The first thing landscape designer Laura Cooper asked residents Juan Devis and Laura Purdy was to recall childhood gardens and outdoor play. In that spirit, she designed their backyard. Near the Barragan-inspired house Cooper clustered lush, big-leafed plants like philodendron, purple heart, and flowering canna. Farther out, vegetable gardens sprout in raised beds, and thyme and mint thrive beneath citrus trees. Native California silver wild rye and matilija poppies bind the slope, bordering the low “snake wall” that winds around the yard, narrowly ducking beneath a big ficus tree with just enough clearance for a sprinting kid. Wide stadium steps connect the garden levels, turning the steep hillside into amphitheater seating.

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