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Sustainable Design for Your Garden

Incorporate recycled materials and resource-minded practices for a stylish, earth-friendly retreat


From Sunset

Incorporating earth-friendly elements

In Bob Buchbinder and Lynn Pearson’s San Francisco backyard, gently curving paths link several stylish spaces—indoor, outdoor, and in between. Many of the materials are recycled; most of the plants need little in the way of care or even water.


Rescued shed

To some eyes, this weathered structure would have been a teardown. With new windows and wiring, though, it’s now a backyard getaway.


Low-water plants

Easy-care honey bush (Melianthus major) and a potted Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Saligna Aurea’) flank a small bench.


Salvaged stone

The 16-foot-diameter patio is made of granite remnants—mostly dumpster finds—mixed with metal sewer caps and bricks.


Found firepit

A 28-inch-diameter metal wok, turned into a wood-burning fire bowl, sits on a steel base made by one of the homeowners.


Living roof

An arbor of recycled copper pipes, covered with passion vines, shades the nearly hidden dining area.


Permeable paving

In the arbor-shaded dining area, Salmon Bay–colored pebbles let water seep into the ground rather than run off the property.


Wildlife-friendly fountain

This recirculating fountain provides fresh water for the butterflies and wild parrots that visit. Elegia capensis grows at left.
Design, Garden

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