ISSUE 84  |  Summer Gardens in the City

A City Garden With a Spectacular View

August 08, 2013 7:00 PM

BY Julie Chai

When Kim Potter and Bob Miller gaze out the windows of their San Francisco home, they see a spectacular cityscape–and when they peer down into their own backyard, they’re treated to an equally beautiful scene. Once a weed-filled plot, the garden is as striking to look at as it is to be in, thanks to a close collaboration with garden designer Beth Mullins, owner of Growsgreen Landscape Design (a member of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory).

I’ve seen many of Mullins’ gardens, and she really has a knack for transforming small spaces, whether the end goal is a place to lounge, entertain, or wander. For Potter and Miller, she created seating areas, a low-maintenance design, and a plan with drought-tolerant plants that looks good all year.

Photographs by MB Maher.


Above: The clients wanted a clean, architectural style, and Beth’s strong graphic design stands out when viewed from the home’s main floor. Buff-colored gravel adds warmth and is permeable; excess water and rainfall stay on the property.

Above: Bob Miller, who welds as a hobby, made metal raised beds to contain plants. The couple found a matching triangular planter at a local warehouse sale. Sculptural and spiky plants, including many succulents and grasses, fill the beds and soften the garden’s angles.


Above: A patio at the rear of the garden is designed for gatherings. The couple loves Midcentury modern design; they found Bertoia chairs and the white chaise in the distance on eBay.


Above: Mullins designed planting holes in the concrete steps and filled them with black mondo grass to add whimsy to the paving.


Above: Bamboo fencing covers the stairwell as well as the fence on two sides of the yard.


Above: An L-shaped planter is filled with spiky bronze cordyline, deep burgundy ‘Zwartkop’ aeonium, and blue fescue.

Want more ideas for small urban gardens? Find inspiration from these landscapes by Scott Lewis and Alma Hecht.