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A Landscape Designer’s Own Outdoor Retreat is a Slice of Heaven

Landscape designer Peggy De La Garza’s home garden is awash with color. “I call this a layered look,” she says of the varied heights, hues and textures. Among the plantings: Robellini and sago palms, variegated flax, scarlet geraniums, iceberg roses and bougainvillea.

A landscape designer’s own outdoor retreat is a slice of heaven.

By Lauren Tyda | Photography by Art Holeman

Perched in the hills of North Phoenix is landscape designer Peggy De La Garza’s personal pocket of paradise —a sensuous symphony of color and greenery that gives way to scenic vistas of the Valley below.

On a particularly breezy day, light shimmers through the canopy of Medjool date palms as the wind combs through the fronds. Blooms dapple the landscape on the ground, in pots and hanging planters. 

Brilliant purple bougainvillea flow harmoniously into a rich blanket of crimson geraniums that surround a trickling fountain. “Feng shui plays a large part in my design decisions,” says De La Garza, referencing the ancient Chinese art of positioning objects to achieve a balance of energy. “Placing the color red at the base of the fountain channels positive chi.”  

The Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner is the first to admit that she knew nothing about horticulture until she met her husband, Larry, who owned a landscape business. “I couldn’t even identify a common pothos houseplant before I knew Larry,” she laughs. “Working side-by-side with him ignited my love for design and desert plants.”

“It’s never complete. I’m always adding to it according to the season or what I like at the moment.” 

—Peggy De La Garza, landscape designer

1. De La Garza makes generous use of planters for showcasing bright blooms. 2. Spire blue salvia.

After 44 years in the business, the designer has earned a sterling reputation for her bold use of color and ability to craft hybrid landscapes replete with annuals, perennials, subtropical plantings and desert natives. “I blend East coast with the West,” she states, referencing her roots as a former Virginia resident. “It’s like a collage—I can blend flowers with cactus and cactus with palms, and it all comes together beautifully.”

1. Japananese blueberry columnars conceal the faux turf lawn, where De La Garza’s five dogs like to play. 2. De La Garza chose scarlet geraniums for the base of the fountain to align with feng shui principles. Red symbolizes prosperity, wellness and luck. Water features are believed to channel positive energy back to the home and its inhabitants.

Varying heights and textures creates dynamic visual interest and makes the vibrant vignettes feel less structured and more organic. “I don’t really like anything too manicured,” she remarks. “I layer the plants, which creates a more natural look.”

In front, boulders and steps build elevation and create a natural terrace leading up to the home. A retaining wall and palms and shrubs build a cloak of privacy. In the backyard, De La Garza uses Japanese blueberry columnars, which create a wall of greenery while shielding the yard from a view of neighboring homes. “I made sure we can still see the mountains in the distance,” she says. “It’s the perfect peekaboo view.”

While it seems as though De La Garza has achieved backyard bliss, she is not ready to put down her trowel. “It’s never complete. I’m always adding to it according to the season or what I like at the moment. But when I look out from my bedroom in the morning, I think ‘Oh my God. I’m so lucky to wake up to this.’ The only thing missing is the ocean on the horizon.”

Landscape designer: Peggy De La Garza, Trademark Landscape Inc..
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