5 Ways to Transform Your Landscape From Boring To Beautiful

You'll be inspired by these dramatic before and after photos, along with tips that can help you create the yard you've always dreamed of.

Lawrence Karol Current Digital, Home & Design, Real Estate

An "after" photo of this rearrangment project that required a couple hundred 15-gallon pots.

The Backyard PS, located in North Palm Springs, aims to solve all of your outdoor landscaping needs: They have a shop for people looking to purchase succulents, cactus, and collectible pottery and decor, as well as a planted area that serves as a showcase for their landscape design company

Bret Baughman and his husband, Brian, created The Backyard PS shop and then partnered with Erik Munoz, who has had a landscape business, EJM Landscape, in the valley for over 12 years.

Baughman shares before-and-after photos of some of their favorite projects.


Before: "This client had a property filled with mature specimens—many probably planted when the house was built in 1960—but with very random placements, says Baughman. The challenge, then, was for his team to work with what was here.


Rearrangment after (top photo): They brought in a couple hundred 15-gallon pots, dug up all of the smaller items and set them to the side, cleared the property, and then began composing. "Because of the organic nature of the composition process, we couldn’t know what would transpire until we had everything laid out," he adds. "So, this was a very collaborative process between us and the client, and that was one of the most satisfying aspects of the project." He also designed and constructed the fire feature.

New construction

Before: This project definitely deserved a personal touch: It's the home Baughman and his husband, Brian, designed and built for themselves near the mountains in Palm Springs Little Tuscany neighborhood. This is also the first project he did with his now business partner, landscaper Erik Munoz. "There was a completely open palette," says Baughman. "As many of the boulders were to sit within the concrete decking, they had to be placed precisely before the concrete was poured.

New Construction after No. 1: Because the home was near the mountain, there were a massive number of boulders which were used as sculpture throughout the property. "So, the focus of this project was on the boulders," says Baughman.


"We used the variegated agave (green and yellow) to play off the roundness of the rocks; the Mexican fenceposts to compliment them with their verticality; and the brittlebush (silver leaves behind the rocks) to reference the indigenous growth on the mountain above. I refer to this style of composition as Harnessed Wilderness."


New Construction after #2: Another view of Baughman's tranquil backyard.

Hidden frey

Before: Between the house, swimming pool, and tennis court, the most defining feature of this property was poured concrete. "Hence, this project was all about compositions of plantings in pots," says Baughman. "Also, this was a show house for Modernism Week and the potted plantings had to be installed in a very tight timeframe between the finish of construction and the promotional party on opening night.

After: To maximize visual dramatic effect in such a large open space, the potted plantings were placed in tight compositions at the major crossings of foot traffic. Baughman says he went for "maximum graphic and architectural effect" by playing off the shapes of the plants against the white stuccoed walls.


He accomplished this with the use of, "Giant opuntia paddles, linear branches of the pencil cactus tree (the shape of which we create from bushes), splaying blades of the blue agave, and the ‘Pineapple Affect' trimming of the small agave with its towering flower, which happens only once in its lifetime."

Midcentury apartment house

Before: Here, Baughman's focus was on creating a low water landscape that was stylized, yet not too ‘"desert-y" to compliment the modernist concrete grille facade of this midcentury building.


After: The plantings for the building needed to reflect its urbane aesthetic. "Cactus and our ‘Harnessed Wilderness’ had to be set aside in favor of softer specimens to reference back to plantings that would have originally been used in this type of building in the midcentury era, but still address the current need for low water scapes," says Baughman. "Delicate leaves and flowers of the Mexican bird of paradise (dormant in back row), and the graceful plumes of the red yuccas and desert spoons make for shapes that soften against the facade."

The Backyard PS Shop and Landscape Showcase

Before: "This project was unique in that the space had to serve two complimentary uses: A shop for succulents, cactus, and collectible pottery and decor, as well as a showcase for our landscape design company," says Baughman.


After: "Everything was brought in—from the dirt for the hill, to the date palm, and the rest of the plantings and accessories," says Baughman. The space now encompasses The Backyard PS shop, as well as their landscape design division, EJM Landscape.

The Backyard PS, Inc., 1345 North Palm Canyon, Palm Springs,, 760-409-8954,