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Backyard haiku: how to create a serene space for outdoor living.

AN OUTDOOR ROOM for rest and relaxation is what Ping Ho and her husband, Loren Bloch, hoped for when they decided to make over their Southern California garden. "We wanted to see a green backdrop from every window and feel like we were in the woods," Ho says.

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Landscape designer and contractor Maria DeLuca gave the couple the serene backyard of their dreams by melding graceful plantings (a soft meadow, a supple screen of clumping bamboo) with weightier elements, such as craggy boulders that edge their way toward a small pool. The result is contemporary yet timeless--a restful garden rich with inspiring details.

DESIGN Maria DeLuca, DeLuca Landscape Design, Culver City, CA (delucalandscapedesign.com or 310/559-1072)

PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVEN A. GUNTHER

RELATED ARTICLE: Do it yourself

NATURAL TRANQUILIZERS

What gives a garden serenity? An expert mix of hardscape with softscape--or a delicate balance of feminine yin and masculine yang, as homeowner Ping Ho and landscape designer Maria DeLuca prefer to think of it. Low-key manmade elements such as water features and firepits help too. Simple furnishings that encourage you to use the garden rather than merely view it are another key addition.

Fireside seating

Warmth encourages a family to use a patio year-round. Because of this firepit's low profile--set into the seat wall and with only a discreet flame--it doesn't overwhelm the garden's peaceful mood.

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Absence of clutter

Clean-lined furniture complements the spare dining patio, whose pebble-embedded concrete resembles the raked sand of Japanese meditation gardens.

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Spots of color

Although flower and foliage hues are generally muted and relaxing, a few bright splashes, such as this magenta daylily, entice you deeper into the garden for a closer look.

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Solo spaces

A chunky stone bench in a no-mow meadow of creeping red fescue forms a quiet, pastoral retreat with views of the plantings and patio.

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Soft textures

California sycamore trees and fescue temper the striking lines of the driveway (made up of alternating strips of pebbles and concrete).

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Blurred boundaries

Inside the front door, a stone slab seems to pass through a window to hang over a pool. The illusion is created by two stones, one inside, one out.

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*BROWSE MORE BEAUTIFUL BACKYARDS: sunset.com/outdoorrooms
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Title Annotation:Design
Author:Cohoon, Sharon
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2008
Words:384
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