Designers are in awe of Denise Richards’ lush backyard - and explain how to create your own private oasis

There is an effortless beauty to Denise Richards’ wild backyard. Here designers tell us what is the appeal of a reclaimed-by-nature style space and how to recreate it.

Denise Richards on the red carpet in an orange dress
(Image credit: Alamy)

It is a right of passage as a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills that you have a beautiful home and Denise Richards is no exception. And yet, it is the lush backyard backing out from her new home office that, far from the neatly landscaped space you might imagine from the actress, goes to show that a backyard that feels like it is being handed back to the elements can be the most beautiful spectacle.

Denise, star of Wild Things and Starship Troopers, shared a video with her 1.6 million Instagram followers of her putting out water for local wildlife during the LA heatwave and it wasn’t just her benevolence we noted. Her backyard features potted flowers and leafy plants as tall as the actress herself covering most of the space, with plants climbing the sloped perimeters of the space. Overall the backyard gives the impression that Mother Nature has reclaimed the space although our on-hand designers tell us there is much skill in curating a backyard which looks so beautifully wild as Denise’s.

Artem Kropovinsky, Founder of Arsight, tells us ‘Denise's yard feels calm and naturally beautiful. The different heights catch your attention and make the space interesting. It's a blend of careful planning and nature's wild side.’

This careful planning involves choosing plants which work well together visually, work in the environment and its climate, and that can be maintained easily throughout the year. Kropovinsky says ‘the garden has both evergreen and seasonal plants. The evergreens keep it green all year, while the seasonal ones change colors with time. Together, they create a lively and balanced view.’ 

Pick the right perrenials

Jenny Kozena of the eponymous interiors brand based in Los Angeles picks out particular plants that work well in Denise’s yard. ‘I usually work with landscape architects and gardeners but it looks like she’s working with plants that are particularly accustomed to the Californian climate,’ Kozena says. 

‘She has pink and purple bougainvillea, a fantastic plant that grows beautifully in Southern California. Its vibrant color is an eye-catcher and works beautifully as a backdrop. It looks like she also has birds of paradise and on the ground a white, gardenia bush, although you may want to confirm with your local garden nursery. They work together to create a panel of perennials that will maintain visual interest throughout the year.’ 

lush tropical backyard with palm trees for privacy and modern seating

(Image credit: Daniel Nolan Design)

Adding height is also a key factor in creating such an enveloping space, especially for a celebrity or anyone who wishes to feel like their backyard is an escape from the rest of the world. Liza Kuhn Eyssell of Liza Kuhn Interiors LLC in New Jersey praises the variation of plants Denise chooses, saying: ‘Tall greenery transforms a garden from straightforward outdoor space to exterior room. Towering trees and dense shrubbery become living walls that create a sense of coziness, privacy, and interiority.’ 

The consideration of height also helps to conceal the non-naturally occurring elements of the yard. ‘The height of the bougainvillea and giant bird of paradise draws your eye upwards and in doing so, helps you take in the beautiful surrounding natural landscape and it also helps to disguise the fence between them and blend the built environment and natural environment more harmoniously, says Kozena.

Rocks are important too

rocks with plants in a border

(Image credit: Alexander Tolstykh/Alamy Stock Photo)

The rocks that viewers can see Denise climb in her Instagram post are not only a practical feature used to reach the top of the backyard, but also an unusual yet pleasing visual element. Kozena commends Denise’s rocks saying ‘she opted for a plantable option to have greenery going up the hill and to continue blending the built environment better with nature. The curved shape and sand color is a cute play that reiterates the hill landscape!’

Though Denise’s garden may look overwhelming for those looking to curate a backyard as successful as hers, it can be simplified with the expertise of our designers. Kuhn Eyssell tells us: ‘If you’re looking to design a garden that feels natural and unforced, you’ll want to incorporate plants that are native to the landscape. It’s also important to design for five, ten, twenty years out, visualizing it when the vegetation has grown in and plants have reached their full size.’

And consider your climate

Meanwhile Kozena says considering climate is key to a backyard which features as many plant variants as Denise’s. ‘Always consider native plants first, you want to choose plants that are going to thrive and make your garden feel full of life rather than need extreme amounts of care and still look like they are struggling,’ Kozena explains. ‘If you are using perennials, choose ones with different bloom times if you want to enjoy flowering throughout the year.’ 

Consider also how much time you are willing to invest into working on the space, especially if you are new to yardwork and may want to focus on a low maintenance garden. ‘Remember to think about sun and water needs. Although it looks natural, it still needs regular care to stay healthy and beautiful,’ Kropovinsky reminds us. 

Importantly, don’t forget to embrace the undone beauty of a backyard like Denise’s. Kuhn Eyssell points out ‘its slight overgrowth and beautiful messiness make it feel as if you could have stumbled upon it in a nature reserve or park, as if it was planted by Mother Nature herself’ and she couldn’t be more right.

Plants to buy for a garden like Denise's

Katie is a freelance lifestyle writer who has recently finished an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London. Before writing for Livingetc, Katie has gained bylines with The Caterer and The Telegraph and has interned at several lifestyle magazines including Grazia and Red. When not scrolling through Pinterest for interior design inspiration, Katie can be found writing about women's issues, trying out new beauty trends for her blog or seeing a West End show.