Garden Photo of the Day

A Designer’s Garden

A professional landscape designer creates paradise at her own home

Today’s photos come from Deb Evans:

I live in the Sacramento foothills of Shingle Springs (elevation 1600). I am in Zone 8/9 with heavy clay soil, many native stones, and very large stones and boulders. When we moved here 5 -1/2 years ago, we were delighted to get a large 3/4-acre lot with great potential for the home itself and, most important to me, the landscape.

I am a lifetime gardener and studied landscape design with Rob Littlepage. Debby Evans Garden Design was my business of 10 years, until I stepped away from designing and installations to consult and to mentor students working with Rob.

When purchased, our lot had many scrub oaks, diseased live oaks, with only a handful of them healthy. We removed over 100 trees, which broke my heart. Many grew arched over our home and were at risk of damaging it. Flooding was a problem for us when heavy rains carried runoff that came directly to our home. So I designed dry creek beds throughout, in specific locations to catch the runoff and direct it to a seasonal creek.


Improved drainage and capture of runoff water from rains as well as privacy were my goals for this area along one side of our driveway, adjacent to half an acre we left for future renovation. A dry creek bed of native stone and a thick planting of ornamental shrubs and trees achieved those goals.

We replaced a chain link fence and opened this tight area between our neighbor. A second dry creek bed supports disbursement of rain water from the top of our lot, along with more shrubs for screening. Using the neighbor’s chain link fence to support the Carolina Jassamine (Gelsemium sempervirens, Zones 6–9) vine, in two short years we achieved the privacy we planned outside the master bedroom.

Using the “bones” of an outdated composite deck, we installed railings at the legal height and added lighting that carries through the new stairs.

Down the steps from the deck, the path leads past a raised bed faced with blue rock down to a welcoming solar-heated pool with native rocks.

Street view of crushed granite pathway, giving visitors a meandering access to front door.

Path along the pool.

A massive, moss-covered boulder serves as a focal point in the garden.

This dry creek bed is not just a visual feature; it helps manage runoff during heavy rains.

Plantings around the pool.

View Comments


  1. flowerladydi 05/03/2018

    Just lovely Deb!! I absolutely love your front yard!!,, You did a phenomenal job!, great dry beds,, and aesthetically so nice as well as functional! Love your lighting in the pics too, especially the 2nd shot.,Great moss covered boulder against the pink blossoms!! beautiful work!!!

  2. Maggieat11 05/03/2018

    Great job addressing/tackling/overcoming the issues that affected your property! It looks great. I love the privacy you have captured and appreciate the overall inviting ambiance you have created. Thanks for sharing!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/03/2018

    I bet you make a great garden mentor, Deb, since you have walked the walk of solving real life property/yard problems...dealing with the difficult decisions of taking down trees and what to do about rain run-off. I love the multi colored tones and textures of your indigenous rocks...they are like giant jewels.

  4. Musette1 05/03/2018

    Great Wavy Gravy! What an amazing garden - and such creative and beautiful ways to integrate necessary infrastructure!

    And those amazing rocks!

  5. cheryl_c 05/03/2018

    Hi, Debby, So many things I admire about your gardens and yard, I don't know where to start! I love that your front walk meanders for a reason - that slope to the right of it makes the curving walkway appear intuitive rather than a designer's trick. I am inspired by your dry creek beds - I don't need them for drainage issues but for aesthetics in a badly sloped area. I also wonder how your boulders at the edge of your swimming pool are anchored - we went for that look to edge a sidewalk, and the rocks have all loosened and become unstable over the years - any suggestions? Thanks so much, and I'm so pleased that so many of your pictures were displayed!

  6. Sunshine111 05/03/2018

    Excellent Deb! You’re such an inspiration to us all.

  7. sheila_schultz 05/03/2018

    Form and function certainly equals natural beauty on your property, Deb. You have done a masterful job solving your run-off issues in such a way that looks as if those stones were always there. Lovely!

  8. Chris_N 05/03/2018

    What a treat to look at this morning. You've accomplished a lot in 5 1/2 years. Love the giant moss covered boulder.

  9. btucker9675 05/03/2018

    When can we all come for a vacation? : )
    What a wonderful oasis you have created - your hard work was worth it!

  10. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/04/2018

    Oh, wow! Love every bit of it!

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