The Best Urban Garden winner in our Considered Design Awards is Alexandra Tasker Marx, a landscape architect with her own firm who spent a decade renovating her garden to suit her family's outdoor needs in the heart of LA.
Tasker Marx wanted to transform a small lot around her bungalow into an outdoor space that was both usable and meaningful. With her husband, small child, and two dogs to consider, the designer set out to create space for playing, entertaining, and relaxing. She needed it to be low maintenance as well as safe and secure for children and dogs. Bit by bit, Tasker Marx devised discrete outdoor living spaces, including a flagstone patio. She lined the driveway with a mosaic of concrete pavers, added a low stuccoed perimeter wall that tidily divides home from street, and overhauled the plant life with hearty selections.
As for the "meaning" she desired, Tasker Marx and her husband, Peter Marx, share some parallel lines in their individual histories that they like to celebrate. For instance, both spent childhood summers riverside staying with extended family, Alexandra on the St. Lawrence in Ontario, Peter on the St. Croix in Minnesota. The wooden "dock" walkway that runs up the middle of the yard with a "river" of stones next to it serves as a structure for the overall garden, and a salute to the past.
Memories of visits to the beach as kids, Peter in his native LA, Alexandra on Long Island, are referenced in the tall grasses that grow along the front of the house. And the years that each of them spent living and traveling in Italy inspired their choice of olive and lemon trees in the backyard and sage throughout the garden. The result is a vibrant and easy to care for urban sanctuary.
Above: The back patio is made of Arizona flagstone. A many weekend labor of love, the wall bordering the garden was built by Marx's husband out of stuccoed concrete block. (Tasker Marx calls it "The Great Wall of Peter.")
Above: Olive trees with a ground cover of Mexican beach pebbles. The trees are Swan Hill Fruitless Olives, but Tasker Marx reports that, to her surprise, they ended up producing fruit.
Above: A view of the redwood "dock" that runs the length of the garden next to the outdoor dining space.
Above: A river of pebbles edges a play lawn for the dogs.
Above: Small lemon trees are lined up along the back wall.
Above: The revamped driveway is made of interlocking pavers in two shades of gray. A venerable pepper tree shades the house.
Above: Tasker Marx introduced a stuccoed perimeter wall and mini fruitless olive shrubs in the front.
Above: A view through the ipe wood gate of a poured-in-place concrete path to the main entrance.
Above: An entryway through the stucco wall, which unobtrusively adds privacy.
Above: A "before" view of the backyard, predating "The Great Wall of Peter" and the flagstone patio.
Photo by Peter Marx.
Above: The yard before Tasker Marx's interventions. Check out more of her work at Alexandra Tasker Marx Landscape Architect.
Photo by Peter Marx.
See all five winners of the Gardenista Considered Design Awards and look for their profiles publishing this week.