How to use Pinterest to define your garden style

pinterest as a design tool

Until recently, my gardening style could be defined as ‘short attention span’ or ‘easily distracted.’ Every time I read a garden book or magazine, saw a new garden, or even stopped by the nursery, I’d end up going off in some new direction. And it showed in my garden. Impulse buys awkwardly placed, clashing containers, Asian style in one corner, English in the other, high maintenance planting schemes gone awry.

Pinterest has been huge for me. At first, I pinned everything I liked. As the novelty wore off and I became more selective, I noticed my boards were telling me something. Now, I can look at my Garden board (or my Clothes board) and see a fairly consistent look, and a garden design tool to boot.

If you want to use your Pinterest board as a design guide vs. simply inspiration, here are some guidelines:

  1. Impose limits. Your garden is full of limits: size, climate, soil, budget. Use those to focus.
  2. Pin what you can afford. I don’t have thousands of dollars for furniture or fountains, tens of thousands of dollars for new hardscaping, or a vast country estate.
  3. Pin a garden that’s out of your reach, IF there is an idea, plant, or element that is within your reach.
  4. Pin what grows in your climate. I live in the bay area, so technically I can grow almost anything. But it literally does not rain from May to October, so California natives or Mediterranean climate plants are the way to go around here.
  5. Pin what grows in your soil. I love desert gardens. But I am far too lazy to amend my heavy clay soil.
  6. Pin plants and gardens at the level of maintenance you can handle. For me that means no English perennial borders, intensive pruning, or containers that need daily watering.
  7. Pin only those images you truly love, the ones you can’t stop looking at. You may not gain as many followers that way, but you will see your style emerge pretty quickly.


Easy flower arrangement: one cool flower in one cool vase

simple flowers

There’s nothing prettier, or easier, than a single bloom in a small vase. These were spotted at Vanilla Moon Bakery on a cupcake outing with my daughter. A small, squat white vase with a single spider mum placed on each dark wood table. This shows off the beauty of the flower more than a full arrangement and is more budget friendly if you buy your cut flowers. Which I would in this case: I love spider mums but I don’t think they’re a plant for a lazy gardener.

Containers in the garden border

container in a garden border

I love this. It’s so stunning and it has to be the easiest care garden ever. The plantings could not be simpler, and then you have a gorgeous weathered stone planter filled with succulents set right into the border. Garden minimalism that would work beautifully in a traditional or modern garden.

A garden for lazy gardeners at Filoli

low maintenance garden

Filoli is kind of known for those formal English style gardens, but there are plenty of ideas for us lazy gardeners, too. Everything in this border is low maintenance and drought tolerant. No deadheading, pruning, or cutting things back. And the foliage mix here is so good that even after most things are done blooming, the garden is still totally stunning.

low maintenance garden

Repetition of purple-black shrubs as a transition between the trees and the low growing perennials at the front of the border.

black and silver

Black and silver. Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). In a smaller space you could use Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This was growing all over the place. It just flows in around everything and gives you a low dense mass of green with the most intense blue flowers.

More useful stuff:

Designing with fall color

designing with fall color

The bay area is not exactly known for fall color and that’s what makes this entry drive so striking. Most of the trees around here are evergreen. And then here is a matched pair of maples, intentionally smaller than the other trees, so that they are in proportion to the gate, and more importantly so that they turn blazing, glowing red in the fall against a quiet backdrop of greens. You could get whiplash driving by this house. I finally took a picture after all these years so I could stop obsessing about it.

designing with fall color

No words.



Succulents in vintage wood crates

succulents in wood crate

Here is a beautiful way to display succulents: fill a vintage wood crate with a variety of succulents in small pots (spotted at Emily Joubert Home and Garden). This would also make a pretty holiday display, filled with small pots of lavender and rosemary. Indoors, you could line the bottom of the crate with a plastic tray.

succulents in wood crate