April is National Lawn and Garden Month — because let’s face it, it’s time we all headed outside to enjoy the nice spring weather and the rebirth of all things green. If you’re feeling that your garden at home could use a little dressing up, follow these simple guidelines from Stephen Block, founder and owner of Inner Gardens, a Los Angeles-based firm that provides landscape design services and sophisticated garden accessories and furniture to affluent homeowners and celebrities. 

Tip #1: Plant What You Love 

“The garden is for your enjoyment,” advises Block. “Plant with your heart and your passion.”

Tip #2: When in Doubt, Go Native

“Most of my gardens tend to be more green Italian style gardens: layered textures, tone-on-tone, lots of green and gray,” says Block. “My gardens also tend to be naturally drought-tolerant. But I’ve always just planted things that I love.”

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If you want plants that bloom at all times of the year, Block says you want a “structured garden” and “it would take careful study to accomplish.” Instead, he advises, go native. He prefers  Mediterranean plant material such as rosemary, lavender, Arabian Lilac since “it blooms a couple times of year” and Euphorbias that bloom in the spring. That way, “there’s always something going on in the garden, but it’s not by design.”

Tip #3: Keep Scale in Mind 

“I like things big, grand and substantial,” says Block. “It’s not about color, it’s about scale and proportion.” 

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Tip #4: Consider Your Architecture and Interiors 

“To me, the garden is dictated by the architecture, vis-a-vis the interiors,” notes Block. “We’re always severely conscious of the architecture of the home, and to the interiors, because both speak to the client.” 

He says it gets tricky when the client is creating a home that goes against the grain of the architecture. “I just did a garden recently that was a Paul Williams home,” he recalls. “It was a challenge to give the client what they wanted, which was a modern garden. I had to really meld two types of design. But fortunately, our modern gardens are very lush and full. They’re not what you’d expect from a modern garden.”

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Tip #5: Mix in Garden Objects as Jewelry 

Don’t be afraid to set out beautiful planters and antiques to make your garden a conversation piece. Block’s growing collection at Inner Gardens — one of the most enviable and largest in the country — includes everything from $5,000 antique French terra-cotta pots to $18,000 19th century French statuaries. “I say it’s like jewelry for the garden,” he says. “These objects make the house shine.”