What better way to spend more time outside than to create a peaceful and functional outdoor space? Designing the backyard of your dreams might seem intimidating, but once you have a grasp on what you like and how you’ll best use the space, you’ll be well on your way.

Neighborhood Showroom in Monrovia, CA

So where to start? We turned to Tilly, a landscape company that breaks down the landscape design process into easy, manageable steps. Their founder, Blythe Yost, offers her essential ‘getting started’ tips to transform your space.

Neighborhood Showroom in Tarzana, CA

Walk around the block

Check out your neighbors’ yards because chances are they will have things that grow well in your area. Take note of what you like (and don’t like). Colors, growth patterns, height, sharp edges — all of these details can help you define the look and style you’re going for. This will also inform what thrives locally, and thus has a better chance of survival.

Neighborhood Showroom in Woodland Hills, CA

Observe how you live in your home

Ask yourself: Which rooms get the most use? What are you doing there? What do they offer that you’d like to transfer outdoors and/or what don’t they provide you’d like to get from your outdoor space?

Neighborhood Showroom in Santa Clarita, CA

Plan first. Plant second.

Have a game plan before you start dropping plants into the yard. Consider your overall investment budget: time and money. How much maintenance are you able and willing to perform? Are you planning to hire professionals, or do it all yourself? Do you want to redo your patio or build a pergola?

Once you have an idea of what’s realistic for you, and your day-to-day life, you can start to pick plantlife and projects that make the most sense for your space, budget, and goals.

For the urban dweller: Invest in planters.

If you have limited outdoor space, a la big city living, planters are your friend. If you want plants to survive during the winter, line your planters with bubble wrap for insulation before potting them.

Neighborhood Showroom in Hermosa Beach, CA

Be sure pots have good drainage — holes aren’t always enough, you might need shims (a thin piece of tapered material used to fill small gaps or spaces) to lift the planter off the ground to allow water to flow freely.

Neighborhood Showroom in Raleigh, NC

Get creative with your neighbors.

Do you have a common area that overlaps? Is there a place (perhaps a roof deck) you can carve out that can help create green space? Lots of urban dwellers create outdoor spaces that include vegetables and herbs, vertical gardens, and entertaining areas that welcome plants. Just be sure you know which types of plants will survive given light exposure, climate, etc.

Neighborhood Showroom in Tribeca in New York City, NY

Plant novices, meet Gardenuity.

We’ve recently discovered a great resource in Gardenuity, who curates and delivers customized garden plants to your home based on your needs, location and the season. It’s the perfect solve for the less plant-savvy to incorporate edible gardens into their space.

Lastly, take Tilly’s garden style quiz.

This tool, a remote version of the typical at-home visit, helps homeowners and Tilly’s design team understand the client’s personal style. It’s social distancing–safe, and super fun.

Neighborhood Showroom in Redondo Beach, CA

Want to know more about working with Tilly?

Tilly’s intent is to understand the whole person, not just the yard, and to make sure the design fits the client’s goals, needs, and natural landscape. Interested? Find out more here.