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Teryl Ciarlo’s 5 Keys to Designing Your Perfect Garden
This landscape designer to the stars shares her tips for what to consider to craft a garden that works for you.

When landscape designer, Teryl Ciarlo first spotted a 1930’s cottage in Brentwood, she was drawn to its “old tradition charm and the big, beautiful yard.” As she surveyed the grounds surrounding the shingled cottage, she envisioned a profusion of boxwood globes, climbing roses, fruit trees, and a vegetable garden, all executed with organic gardening techniques. She also saw how the lines between the interiors of the cottage and the gardens could overlap: “As a landscape designer, I enjoy indoor to outdoor living,” she says. And Teryl knows how to create an A-list space. Just ask her high profile clients like Jessica Alba.


The hanging globe lanterns are from Inner Gardens. “They are so magical and give a beautiful glow at night,” Teryl says. To create visual interest, she mixed together a variety of plants, including boxwood, ficus, and pittosporum. “They make a statement together,” she says.
A white picket fence and climbing rose bushes are quintessential to a traditional garden.

As she renovated the cottage and gardens, she implemented this mindset, setting up tables and lighting in the gardens, bringing fresh flowers into her home, and often leaving the doors open to blur the distinctions between the cottage and its land. This intermingling—a bit of outdoors indoors and vice versa–enlivens every aspect of both the cottage and its accompanying gardens.

What are the key things to consider when planning or refreshing your outdoors space to add style and function? Here’s her top 5 list:

1. Light it up. “I use strings of lights and hanging lanterns,” Teryl says. “They add such a magical feel to the yard at night.”

2. Furniture is key. “I have a variety of seating areas,” Teryl says. Different types of seating—from benches to chairs—keeps things visually interesting.

3. Use color. Teryl incorporates blue and white throughout her garden via gardening stools and planters. It gives an elegant touch.

4. Think about the ground. From gravel to grass to brick, Teryl’s garden features a variety of landscaping materials that section off the different areas of her yard in a natural way.

5. Hone your style. “My style is influenced by my grandmother,” Teryl says. “I inherited my green thumb from her.” Teryl’s traditional style is seen in her love of symmetry and timeless elements. Figure out your design influences and implement them cohesively throughout your landscape.

This shady spot is a restorative place to sit and sip lemonade made from Teryl’s Pink Lemonade tree or a cocktail garnished with one of her Meyer lemons. Teryl has several blue and white gardening stools and she keeps them outside at all times for a pop of color. Her favorite garden shops for furniture?  Grandin Road  or Rooms and Gardens.
Teryl’s blue and white garden palette extends to her well appointed garden furniture.   She loves using blue and white pieces like a hanging lantern to tie in with her blue hydrangeas.
When guests come to visit, they are often greeted by a tabletop adorned in cool blue tones. “I usually set my table like this for dinner parties,” Terly says. She uses a mix of china from Anthropologie  and Erin Lauder Collection for William and Sonoma Home.

The profusion of trees creates the feel of a leafy ceiling over this table and chairs, giving a sense of shelter and natural beauty.
When life hands you lemons, you make drinks!  Teryl grows Meyer and Pink Lemonade trees and frequently uses the lemons for both décor and drinks. “The Meyer lemons are great to use in cocktails,” she says.
A raised vegetable box yields a feast of organic veggies from Teryl’s yard. “The box is made from untreated cedar wood from an eco-friendly source,” she says. “It sits on top of gravel and is surrounded by large rosemary bushes.”

Read the full house tour of Teryl Ciarlo’s 1930s cottage in our April issue of Cottages & Bungalows on newsstands now. You can also order your copy or get an instant download here.

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