Small Garden Design Tips from Landscape Designer Shirly Bovshow

Learn how to cultivate big style in a small garden with these small garden design tips from landscape designer Shirley Bovshow, who transformed this narrow side yard into a charming passageway.

| March/April 2012

  • Garden designer Shirley Bovshow created a timeless appeal in this narrow passageway with vintage, rusted metal and recycled concrete stepping stones.
    Photo Courtesy Garden World Media
  • Reclaimed concrete surrounded by ‘Elfin’ thyme makes for an eco-friendly, fragrant walkway.
    Photo Courtesy Garden World Media
  • Shirley Bovshow is a co-host of the Discovery Home Channel's makeover show "Garden Police."

As co-host of the Discovery Home Channel’s makeover show Garden Police, Shirley Bovshow sees a lot of lackluster yards. But when she first laid eyes on this formerly barren 10-foot-wide side yard in Los Angeles, she knew she was in for a challenge. A discarded dishwasher took center stage amid several trash cans and storage boxes. Eager to bring functionality and beauty to the wasted space, the new homeowner enlisted Bovshow’s help to revamp it with sustainability and space saving in mind, transforming the underused stretch of land into a charming passageway.

What inspired the small garden design for this space? 

This narrow side yard is part of a landscape project that includes the front and back yards, and its function as a thoroughfare between the two shaped my vision. The design was inspired by my client’s love of natural style, the decomposed granite hiking trails of the Santa Monica Mountains and a timeless, old-world look. I also wanted to deliver a multisensory garden with year-round color, sound, fragrance and movement, along with edible plants.

What are the stepping stones made of? 



They are repurposed pieces of an old patio “curated” from a Dumpster. We mortared smaller pieces together when we ran out of large ones and ordered the rest from a landscape yard at a very affordable price. We planted creeping ‘Elfin’ thyme between each stone, which forms a fragrant carpet on the pathway.

What are some of the site’s other sustainable features? 






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