Story by Sarah Ruppenthal
How do you transform a lackluster yard into the envy of the neighborhood? Planning. Patience. And plenty of elbow grease.
Last fall, Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi Magazine recruited local horticulturist Susi Mastroianni to give its long-overgrown yard a new lease on life. Susi has been working her landscaping magic for nearly two decades and has seen her share of TLC-starved outdoor spaces. So she was unfazed by the then-unusable plot buried under a tangle of scraggly bushes and areca palms. “It was a bit of a jungle,” she laughs.
The first order of business was to delineate the yard; over time, part of it had merged with the driveway. After marking the boundaries, Susi cleared and hauled out seven truckloads of green waste, sparing several shade-giving palms along the fence line. Once she had a blank slate, she sat down to brainstorm a design. The goal was to create a relaxing hangout spot for al fresco lunches, staff meetings, and office celebrations—and keep it as low-maintenance as possible.
“There’s no gardener on site, so it needed to be easy to care for,” she explains.
With that in mind, in lieu of grass, Susi and her team built a no-green-thumb-required brick-paver patio and an adjacent rock garden composed of white-marble chips and pea gravel. Then they filled the yard with hardy plants like mother-in-law’s tongue, burro’s tail, aloe, ti, and peace lilies. Showy impatiens and “Maui Red” ixora shrubs provide pops of color; the vibrant leaves of false eranthemum and water-wise rhoeo add an extra dose of oomph.
To keep things thriving, Susi installed a drip system with a timer connected to an outside spigot. A varnished picnic table (a Facebook Marketplace find), cozy red Adirondack chair, and playful flamingo garden stake were the finishing touches.
The entranceway also received a facelift. Susi power-washed the steppingstones and spruced up the path, lining it with eye-catching bromeliads and large ceramic pots overflowing with cheerful tillandsia (air plants), coleus, anthurium, gardenias, and orchids.
Since its completion in March, MNKO’s glammed-up exterior has caused visitors to do a double take, and staff to sigh contentedly. And everyone agrees it’s a magazine-worthy transformation.
25 S. Kahului Beach Rd., Kahului
808-871-7595 • Info@EYDesignMaui.com
Hawaii Materials Recycling
(sand base for patio)
E. Welakahao Rd., Kīhei
808-856-6231 • HawaiiMaterialsRecycling.com
145 Halekuai St., Kīhei
808-879-9997 • IndolotusImports.com
L C Hauling LLC
(gravel for driveway)
188 Aha‘aina Way, Kīhei
Lowe’s Home Improvement
(marble and pea gravel, Adirondack chair)
214 Ho‘okele St., Kahului
808-872-1920 • Lowes.com
South Maui Gardens
35 Auhana Rd., Kīhei
808-419-6562 • SouthMauiGardens.com
Susi Mastroianni/Garden Creations
PO Box 880660, Pukalani
808-268-9825 • GardenCreationsMaui@mac.com
*Additional plants provided by wholesaler Pukalani Plant Company.