With travel plans on pause, every square inch of our outdoor spaces is suddenly brimming with potential: A windowsill herb patch! A balcony mini jungle! A backyard farmers market! Gestalten’s new book, Gardens of Eden, explores the many possibilities of sustainable landscaping. Here, in an excerpt from the book, discover the environmentally friendly planting secrets of Lauri Kranz, garden designer to the stars.
Lauri Kranz’s return to gardening came unexpectedly in her adult life. Though she fondly remembers gardening as a young girl with her father, when sunflowers were towering above her head, she didn’t return to the activity until an opportunity to volunteer at her son’s school brought her back to the earth. Since then, Kranz has created a thriving business—and practice—helping clients and schools create nourishing, bountiful, and beautiful gardens with her project Edible Gardens LA.
Her approach to gardening—aesthetically driven, functional, and a bit wild—has caught the attention of a very notable list of clients. Recording artist Katy Perry, actors Adam Scott and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and many others have looked to her philosophy and expertise for their own backyard oases.
“Every time I see Lauri, I come away feeling nourished,” her client Maya Rudolph confesses. “Her superpower is her warmth and her ease that makes any conversation about your garden feel empowering. She is a grounding force that strips away any gardening intimidation and makes you feel strong, capable, and joyful.”
It’s exactly that joyful approach that Kranz hopes to spread throughout her work. “I would like people to feel a sense of freedom, deep connection, and joy,” she says. “Lots of people come to me specifically because they want to be more connected to the land beneath their feet and to the food they eat. Then they discover how beautiful it is. I believe a garden should feed all our senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.”
While Kranz focuses on the productive garden, creating designs and plans that yield abundant fruits and vegetables for Los Angeles’s year-round growing potential, she’s also mindful of the beauty inherent in productive-yield planting. “Perfect rows of plants make me nervous; I like to plant as nature would, inviting serendipity. I like surprises, as if a bird dropped a seed and a wonderful flower bloomed in an unexpected place.”
When beginning work on a new garden, Kranz begins by looking at the prospective site and asking a few questions with her clients. First, is there enough sunlight? Next, she works with clients to think through what the objectives of the garden are. She asks: “Do you want to grow all the food you will eat or supplement what you bring into your home from the store? Are there specific treasures—like heirloom tomatoes—you really want to grow? How much time do you want to spend caring for your garden?”
Kranz then creates garden designs that are specific to the landscape, site, and client—and all with a reverence for the land. She prioritizes soil health and longevity. As a result, she only plants using organic materials, which she believes produce more beautiful and productive results. She omits any harmful pesticides, commercial fertilizers, or rodenticides to keep the cycles of life intact. “We need our predators; they are vital to the balance of nature and must be protected,” she explains. “I garden by first doing no harm.”
Words by Abbye Churchill, Gardens of Eden, Gestalten 2020.