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Garden Photo of the Day

From Lawn to Beautiful Garden

By Kim Charles

Isotomia, in front, white salvia's, iceberg roses on arbor and curly clematis. Lilac trees to the right along with a cercis tree. Further, is a large stone bird bath that gives the birds a place to enjoy. Going for a mostly white look. Rhodies, white oak hydrangea, three azaleas, nemesia and grevilla.

Ines Malardino has swapped lawn space for rewarding gardens.

"We live in San Mateo, CA and re-landscaped 2015 to remove two lawn areas. Love my garden, it brings me joy."

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Avalanche clematis climbing up to the arbor over the garage.

Tulip magnolia, hydrangea and foxglove.

Potted azalea at the front door.

Alyssum, hydrangea, and rhodies overlooking the Monterey pine trees.

Boxwood topiary, alyssum, diascia, ferns and a weeping cherry tree.

Decomposed granite is replacing the lawn at rear garden with flagstone. Carix, abutilons, philadelphias, rhodendrons, cercis, and akebea are near the fence. A hammock hangs from a large olive tree at the left, along with salvias and 3 potted box woods.

A flagstone patio sits in front of the Koi pond with potato vines on two trellises at new fence at the rear. Potted sweet flag sits in front of the three podocarpus trees at the rear of the pond. Akebea grows along the fence to the left with both a green and blood red maple tree. There is a stone bench to the left facing the pond to sit and watch the Koi….a zen garden.

View Comments


  1. Dvngardener 05/05/2017

    I love all the bird houses! I put them in my garden spaces too. You have done a great job of eliminating lawn!

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Life is so much easier and the outlook is always lovely.

  2. User avater
    JaninaG 05/05/2017

    Looks beautiful, thank you, especially love the angel/fairy garden part, rocks etc Blessings

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Same to you... :)

  3. Cenepk10 05/05/2017

    Wow !!! Ya'll have been busy ! Beautiful!!!

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      I know, right? Thanks...

  4. LaurelEm 05/05/2017

    It is impossible for me to imagine this as lawn. You did a fabulous job with it.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you! added more brick work as well.

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 05/05/2017

    Wonderful job. I'm sure your getting plenty of joy from your hard work of lawn conversion. Love all of your stones and stonework.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you., yes, so loving just walking around, feeding the birds, and then the Koi, manicuring and dead heading things :)

  6. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 05/05/2017

    Your somewhat newly installed plant material seems to be doing great under your care, Ines. Being a joy filled gardener is one of the magic ingredients that makes a garden thrive. I'm curious what the variety of the particularly tall ferns are in picture #6 if you happen to know. It looks likes one I grow that is called Royal fern or Osmunda regalis.

    1. user-6536305 05/05/2017

      My best guess is Blechnum spicant Deer Fern. Can reach 2 ft tall.

      1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

        Think it is a tassel fern, had to cut many fronds as it was covering the azaleas and snapdragons, had to let the sunshine in.

    2. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      I kept the tags on the multitude of plants purchased. Tassel ferns, but it states on the web it grows 2 x 2 feet. I have so many of them and that one is huge. i looked it up though: Polystichum
      From Wikipedia:
      Polystichum is a genus of about 260 species of ferns with a cosmopolitan distribution. The highest diversity is in eastern Asia, with about 120 species in China alone; the region from Mexico to Brazil has nearly 100 additional species; Africa (17 species), North America (15 species), and Europe (5 species) have much lower diversity. Polystichum species are terrestrial or rock-dwelling ferns of warm-temperate and montane-tropical regions (a few species grow in alpine regions).

      1. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 05/09/2017

        Well, your telling me it's a tassel fern is fun news to me since I had just purchased a tassel fern last week. Now, I'm excited for a few years in the future when it gets bigger. Thanks for the identification.

        1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

          My pleasure, something to look forward to... :)

  7. Annek 05/05/2017

    How much more fascinating is this beautiful garden than grass. I enjoyed your plant diversity and combos. Well done

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you... so many of the plants I use propagate well. I love that...

  8. user-4691082 05/05/2017

    I've always loved podocarpus...you are so fortunate to be able to grow it. I'm not sure what Diascia is! Is your alyssum hardy for you? I'll go back over your photos a couple of times to take it all in! Thanks for sharing!

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Looked this up for you:
      Diascia is a genus of around 70 species of herbaceous annual and perennial flowering plants of the family Scrophulariaceae, native to southern Africa, including South Africa, Lesotho and neighbouring areas. Wikipedia
      Scientific name: Diascia
      Higher classification: Hemimerideae
      Rank: Genus

      Yes, the alyssum is really happy and I mix it with bacopa that just trails along beautifully and the nemesia. Love using angelonia as well.

      1. user-4691082 05/09/2017

        Thanks Ines!

  9. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/05/2017

    Love the pic with the Boxwood topiary, alyssum, diascia, ferns and weeping cherry tree. I need to steal your idea.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Please do! Imitation is the best compliment they say.

  10. krissgandier 05/05/2017

    You really have brought Joy To The World with your garden. I love all the hardscaping you have created to help emphasize your gorgeous planted sections. Lots of hard work for the Love of Gardening.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you, thank you. The project started end of January and completed late August.
      Exhausting but worth it.

  11. tennisluv 05/05/2017

    Lovely transformation. You have certainly been busy, but your love of gardening shows in the health of all your plants. Hardscapes are especially and using them to replace lawn is brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      We did have an amazing however overpriced landscaper.
      All those huge pieces of flagstone and huge rocks were a killer for them to carry in.
      As the plants grow, I move them around. Just this weekend had a carix that became too large, removed, cut in half and placed else where.

  12. jenchick17 05/05/2017

    What is ablutions? Do you mean abutilons? I would think in a "Fine Gardening" website, spelling would be checked! Azaeleas? Azaleas? Come on !!!!!

    1. user-7008531 05/05/2017

      If this were a spelling test, she still would have an "A". Look at all the words she spelled correctly! And the garden is a definite A+!

      1. user-3565112 05/05/2017

        An azalea spelled any way would be as pretty. "The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway" Pollen Your third photo with the maganolia,hidraingea,& foxgluv in that setting remind me of that quote. Catty remarks on this gentle & kind site are an abomination up with I will not put.
        Inez, I enjoyed your post, good luck,Joe

        1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

          And I enjoy you as well...

      2. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

        Thank you for being so very sweet, and I do appreciate your kindness.

      3. user-3565112 05/09/2017

        Ms. Smith, I regret sending my earlier post. It was misdirected & not intended to be to be a response to yours. It should not have been sent at all. I apologize to you,Ines, & all the folks who follow this blog.
        Good luck to you & everyone else this season,Joe

        1. user-7008531 05/09/2017

          No problem....I did not think it was a response to my response :) I am thankful for everyone's contributions to this site! Good luck on your gardening as well.

        2. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

          Think nothing of it, it was taken in the right spirit and appreciated. No apologies needed. Wishing you all the best...

  13. Maggieat11 05/05/2017

    Great job! And I love all the ornamentation that you have incorporated in your gardens. A lovely variety of plants. The stonework is also beautiful. The koi pond is wonderful... love the waterfall too!

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you so much.

  14. Jay_Sifford 05/05/2017

    I know first hand how happy removing lawn can make you feel. I ridded myself of lawn about 8 years ago and sold my lawnmower to my neighbor. I felt liberated. Now, in my garden designs, I'm well known for removing lawn. I do, however, make a distinction between a lawn by default and a lawn by design. Lawns can make good pathways as negative space, or utilitarian for dogs and sports. I'm glad, though, that I no longer have any, and you seem to feel the same. Congrats, and happy gardening.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Wow, you design gardens? Cool... We did place lots of isotoma and it has taken off, it is so pretty right now with the little blue flowers. When it gets really tall, I cut it down, not sure if that is what Is supposed to be done.
      The little birds love it which is a delight to watch. It does creep all over however, still love the looks. Just this year we started a gardener but only once a month and that is super also.

  15. NCYarden 05/05/2017

    I fully back your decision. I did the same. Less lawn, more garden - it only makes sense...and a chance to entertain much more interesting plants. Grass can be a good accent, but you don't need a vast swath of such a demanding and relatively boring plant. I love your plant selections and stones. Grow with it. Thank you for sharing.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      :) thank you...

  16. user-6536305 05/05/2017

    Lawn-less beautiful garden and Thanks for sharing! Especially love pond and bird houses.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      :) thank you.

  17. user-7007140 05/05/2017

    I am very interested to learn what you do to keep your non-lawn weed free. I had a large gravel led area in a garden sometime ago - used a propane device to deal with it. Nowadays I am more ethical but I have lawn to deal with. Fortunately I live in the country so don't have to keep it weed free.
    OK Jay - solutions?
    Love all your beautiful plants, trees and flowers. Just all so pretty and relaxing.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      The old lawn area was sprayed with weed killer after all the lawn was removed. A bit after the decomposed gravel with stabilizer (?) was added and tampered down. Occasional small weeds pop up, which i remove with a screwdriver type tool and I have sprayed with white vinegar, sometimes sprinkled baking soda on green mossy areas after the rains. Thank you...

  18. Meelianthus 05/06/2017

    Sorry to be late with this posting Ines but wanted to say how much I enjoyed your gardens. I too have dug up quite a bit of lawn over the years and it allows for so many new beautiful planting areas. Looks like you have filled your new spaces with much charm and artistry. Wonderful plantings. Thank you for sharing.

    1. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

      Thank you so much, I appreciate your input...

  19. inesmalardino 05/09/2017

    The Koi are so beautiful and come when I whistle to feed them. Thank you.

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