Before & After: A gloomy lawn becomes an enchanted garden that slashes the water bill

Bigger was not better for one L.A. family’s expansive, but isolated, front lawn — so they turned it into an enchanted garden for kids and parents alike.

“We loved the house when we bought it,” said David Zabel of their 1920 Hancock Park home, but “the front yard was always very disjointed and disconnected from the house. It wasn’t particularly beautiful.”

A sea of turf grass — about 3,000 square feet — backed up to a wall of overgrown trees that hid the home from view. The yard was inaccessible from the house, and the house was uninviting from the curb.

“At night, it was very dark and a little gloomy, and of course it used a lot of water to keep it looking decent,” he said. Worse still, visitors had to walk up the driveway to get to the front door, which the Zabels considered inconvenient and unsafe.

The family wanted to reclaim the space, make it more usable and inviting, and less thirsty, but couldn’t conceive how to do it. Then they saw a similar yard transformed by landscape designer Nick Dean; they called him in and didn’t look back.

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