When the yard's a blank slate - Los Angeles Times
This is bascially what the previous owners had done to our property in the years before we bought it. They had pictures of the bare dirt and one, scrawny tree that occupied the space when they arrived.
I am a big proponent of gardens over lawns, especially here in LA, so it is heartening to see others with the same idea.
There are quite a few good ideas in the article for softening and enchancing the typical, flat, LA back yard.