Fairy Yardmother Landscape Design

by Kathy Oberg, Landscape Designer, Los Angeles, CA.

Thank you for visiting my site. I enjoy bringing you pictures of gardens, plants, and ideas from sunny Southern California. I love sharing after-photos that show how my landscape plans, plant lists and layouts come to life.
As a designer, I use plants to create drama, provide color and form, and compliment the architectural style of your home.
I strive to provide a buffer from sun, street, and neighbors while still fostering connections.
Inspired plant choices and site layout can make any space a success.
I am a Certified Watershed Wise Professional, with techniques to improve soil health and keep more water on your property.
I can help you makeover your patio, paths, planting areas, or entire property. I will consult with you, choose a look you love, and compose a plan and plant list to update your landscape, re-using what you already have wherever we can.
Each project is different because it is about making your space really shine.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Watching A Garden Grow

Three years ago, this was a dry lawn in Echo Park.
I came by recently to see how the plantings were doing after almost 3 years in the ground, and found a riot of forms and color. It's a wonderful space to walk into, and gives so much privacy and lushness, but without too much care or water, and without completely blocking out the neighborhood. It still feels welcoming, but private.

Please take a look at the before pics, the just planted, and present day!



The transformation since newly planted to a few years later, when the plants have grown in, is pretty dramatic! See next two photos for JUST PLANTED vs. GROWN IN:

Monday, September 17, 2018

Side Yard

Sometimes a side yard is an opportunity for an attention grabbing pathway.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Hot Weather

During hot weather, there is nothing like a pool or even a fountain to help make you feel a little cooler.

Silverlake Preview

Finishing up a dramatic transformation! New patio, major clean up, updated fence, paint color on shed, and a new sitting wall, which frames patio and gives a clean finish to Fig Tree planter.



Front slope was informally terraced and planted with a mix of California natives and other climate-appropriate plants:


Six Months After Planting

Saturday, January 27, 2018

South Pasadena Beauty

This beautiful home lacked the hardscape it deserved.

Old block walls without stucco, no entrance from sidewalk, just a small set of steps along the driveway, all made the front yard far less grand than this house deserved. Closer to the house, caps on the walls that did not fit the time period or style were an issue. (See before photo)


Stucco on walls, new entrance from sidewalk with pillars and generous steps. Now the house has the hardscape and landscape it deserves!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mount Washington Transformation

The landscape at this corner house was not working. The hedge along the street decreased visibility at the corner stop sign. People often cut through the yard from back to front because there are no sidewalks. The lawn was struggling, there were old planters along the foundation filled with overgrown plants. The porch and steps were cracked and over sized.




Totally New Landscape, New Paint, New Porch, New Front Door. New Fixtures.




Saturday, November 18, 2017

Before and After Echo Park Hills

Sometimes I'm called into an older yard that hasn't seen a lot of love in years. The soil is dry and dead. Watering system hasn't worked for a while, and no amendments have been brought in for many years. The plants are either long gone or overgrown. Yet there can be something charming and fun there that just needs a little encouragement.

AFTER Newly Planted

Friday, September 15, 2017

Studio City Front Yard

Here's a fun transformation. Their back yard is all pool, so these homeowners really wanted a little lawn area in front where kids and dogs could roll around and play. We came up with this enclosed space, with a fence and trees giving us a nice buffer from the sidewalk and the Western sun.

AFTER Just Planted
We cut through the curved wall so they'd have access to their little lawn from their front patio.
The new color palette is wonderful, too!

New Opening from Patio

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


My Pomegranate Tree

August is the perfect time of year to slow down on gardening and planting in most places, and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Watching fruit ripen is a nice way to spend this hot month.

It's also a good time to plan your garden now for Fall and Winter planting.

The Summer heat brings me inside for plant-related projects. I like to get new houseplants, and this year I even tried Ikebana. Still working on it!

First try at Ikebana

I Love Calatheas

Houseplant Love

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Atwater Village Backyard

Here's a backyard design project that transformed a boring rectangle of dying grass into an inviting space with places to sit and an undulating pathway to get you there. These photos show off how much the garden can grow in less than 2 years.

It was time to ditch the lawn. My clients love colored foliage with interesting textures. They wanted drought-tolerant, easy plantings that bring lots of beneficial insects. I wanted to create a fun way to interact with the space and make it more interesting than a rectangle, so I came up with this design.

AFTER: Just Planted

I organized the space with DG pathways that allow you to meander and spend time in different areas, to find a place to sit and enjoy the bees, trees and flowers.

Things have filled in nicely now. The purple Euphorbias are becoming trees and the Lavender has gone crazy.

One and a half Years After Planting
Now it's time to do a little tweaking. We lost a couple ground covers and a few Blue Fescue, so we need to fill in some open soil here and there. There's also some weeding to do. But 80% of the plants were successful and are looking great.

Here's a detail of the bench with the Achillea next to it last Summer, approximately one year after planting. Those plants are smaller clumps right now, just coming back up for Spring at the time of this post. They will begin to flower again soon, and should flower all through late Spring and Summer, even into Fall.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Los Angeles Lawn Replacement

It's always fun to check in on a project and see how it's grown in a year and a half later.
Here's a former lawn that has turned into a riot of color.



A couple more recent photos:



Thursday, December 1, 2016

Working with Stone

Dry Creek going into DG Pathway

I absolutely love stone! From pea gravel or decomposed granite to 500 lbs boulders, stone is a wonderful material to work with. Stone can be used as the floor of a patio or pathway. It can form a dry creek through the garden. Boulders give children a place to climb and play, and provide a seat for the weary gardener.

I do not love it when gravel is used as a mulch to cover an entire yard with a few plants thrown here and there. In that case, stone is a harsh material that can increase heat and glare.

Lava rock at a mid-century home

When boulders, gravel and flagstone are used artistically in combination with plants and other materials, something magical can happen. Stone adds color, texture, shape and a sense of place to a garden. Chosen wisely, it can help define the style of a landscape and contrast beautifully with plants and architecture.

I choose materials with an eye to the needs of the property and questions of use -- do we need a pathway? a place for rainwater to seep into the ground? But most importantly, I choose materials based on my client's taste.

Here are some recent Fairy Yardmother Designs that show off my clients' style using different sorts of stone for various uses.

Red Sedona Flagstone with colorful pebbles and boulders

Mixing flagstone with pebbles of different sizes in complimentary colors can make for a very pleasing pathway. Large, colorful boulders add interest and play off succulents and red flagstone beautifully.

Boulders with grass-like plants in DG

A less natural "island" of stone inspired by client