How do you want to use the garden? Will you be entertaining? Do you have young children that need space to run and structures to climb? Maybe you want to incorporate a vegetable garden or a spa or pool. Make a list of the many ways you'd like to use the garden. Then as your budget allows, you can pare back to the essential features you can't live without.

One of the best ways to get families out into the garden is with fire pits and fireplaces. This Menlo Park fire pit was designed by California artist Jason Weiler.

Late fall evenings beside the fire…what a wonderful way to transition to winter!

How will your garden function? As an outdoor kitchen? Play area for the kids? In this garden, a Palo Alto family creates an outdoor living room complete with a fireplace.

Even a spot for the family camper can be beautiful!

The owner in this Moraga home wanted to hide the retaining wall wherever possible. We came up with the idea to create this bench from stacked flagstone. I covered a large patch of the retaining wall and matched the pathways in another part of the garden. At a recent family gathering, everyone spent some time on the bench. It was a real hit!

This young family added a private patio outside their newly remodeled kitchen for alfresco dining.

Creating privacy for Mom and Dad was important to these homeowners in San Ramon. To achieve more privacy we enclosed the master bedroom patio with this arbor and lattice. Rosa 'Sally Holmes' is such a vigorous grower, that it will eventually fill the arbor and lattice in no time.