Tag Archives: California Landscape

7 Excellent Screening Hedges/Trees

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Ficus Nitida
Ficus Nitida

Ficus Nitida and Ficus Benjamina are not the solution.

Whenever a client asks about installing a hedge they’re usually thinking of planting a row using Ficus Nitida (Retusa) or Benjamina.  They have been Southern California’s “go to” trees for privacy hedges for decades, but there are a number of reasons to pass them by. They can be very invasive and their roots grow close to the surface, damaging sidewalks. While they grow fast, they need frequent trimming and are not drought-toelerant. They require a substantial amount of water to establish and a moderate amount once established.

What follows is information on seven excellent hedges provided by the  North Park Nursery. If you’re thinking about adding a hedge and are concerned about how it will behave and how much water it will consume, here is valuable information about the best plant material for the job.

Best Screening Trees

What makes the the perfect screening shrub? The answer to this question may vary depending on the individual, but. generally, the desirable characteristics are as follows:

  • Between 15 and 20 feet tall.
  • Evergreen and dense.
  • Tolerant of full sun.
  • Fast-growing.
  • Low maintenance, particularly low water use.
  • Non-invasive.

Podocarpus, fern pine, yew pine, yellow wood, Japanese yew

Podocarpus-Screening-Hedge
Podocarpus-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Podocarpus sp.
Height: 50 to 100 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low to moderate
Description: One of the tallest trees on this list, we love podocarpus because it is an extremely resilient, fast-growing tree that is tolerant of full sun and low water. It can also stand part shade and holds up against windy, salty, coastal conditions. In addition, it responds well to pruning and shearing, meaning it can be managed at any height and made into a formal hedge. Of course, you can always choose to leave these trees in their natural form for a more organic appearance. There are a few varieties to choose from, including P. henkelii, which has long, slender and drooping leaves, P. gracilior, with fern-like foliage and P. gracilior, which has pine-like foliage and can be found in a variety called ‘Icee Blue,’ which has fabulous steel blue coloration.

Pittosporum, kohuhu, ‘Silver Sheen’

Pittosporum-Tenuifolium-Screening-Hedge
Pittosporum-Tenuifolium-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Podocarpus tenuifolium
Height: 20 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low
Description: Pittosporum tenuifolium is a drought-tolerant New Zealand native that makes an excellent screening shrub here in Southern California. It tolerates full to part sun and can be either sheared into a more dense formal hedge or allowed to assume a natural, upright and wispy form. The most popular cultivar for use in home landscaping is ‘Silver Sheen,’ named for the grey-green tops and white undersides of its small leaves, which appear to flicker when caught in a breeze. The dark stems on this variety make it a striking choice indeed. Other varieties include ‘Gold Star,’ ‘Gold Sheen,’ ‘Marjorie Channon’ and ‘Irene Patterson,’ which come in different shades of green, variegated or otherwise, with bright red to deep black stems.

California Bayberry, California Wax Myrtle, Pacific Wax Myrtle

Pacific-Wax-Myrtle-Screening-Hedge
Pacific-Wax-Myrtle-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Myrica californica
Height: 15 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description: A shrub native to the West Coast from Washington to Southern California, it has slightly fragrant, evergreen leaves. Best used along the coast, it is tolerant of sandy, loamy and clay soils, high winds and salt spray, making it an excellent windbreak along the coast. Needs some protection from sun and supplemental water when used further inland. Beautiful natural form, does not tolerate shearing.

Privet, wax leaf privet

Ligustrum-Texanum-Screening-Hedge
Ligustrum-Texanum-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Ligustrum japonicum ‘Texanum’
Height: 8 to 10 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description:  Many gardeners are averse to planting privet because it has a reputation as being invasive and aggressive. However, in spite of these characteristics it makes an almost perfect hedge: fast growing, dense, evergreen foliage, tolerant of shearing with profuse white flowers. We recommend choosing the cultivar ‘Texanum,’ which is a less aggressive variety that only grows to half the size of the species. Will .ppreciate supplemental watering during the warmer months.

Spartan juniper

Juniper-Spartan-Screening-Hedge
Juniper-Spartan-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’
Height: 10 to 15 ft
Sun: Full sun
Water: Low
Description: There are many species of vertical-growing juniper that make excellent wind breaks and privacy screens. ‘Spartan’ is a cultivar we love for its moderate height, vertical form and rich green foliage. It is very responsive to pruning, and tolerant of heat, cold, wind and drought. Requires very little maintenance once established. Other similar choices are Juniper ‘Skyrocket’ and Cupressus sempervirens ‘Tiny Tower.’

Bamboo

Alphonse-Karr-Bamboo-Screening-Hedge
Alphonse-Karr-Bamboo-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Bambusa sp.
Height: 15 to 30 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Moderate
Description: Bamboo is an excellent choice for a fast-growing, tall privacy screen with a tropical look. We recommend choosing clumping varieties that will not invade the rest of your yard – a favorite is the cultivar ‘Alphonse Karr,’ which has beautiful golden yellow stems and can be maintained at whatever height you desire with occasional pruning. Note that bamboo is a messy plant and tends to drop lots of leaves.

Bay laurel, sweet bay

Laurus-Nobilis-Screening-Hedge
Laurus-Nobilis-Screening-Hedge

Scientific Name: Laurus nobilis
Height: 15 to 25 ft
Sun: Part shade to full sun
Water: Low
Description: Similar in appearance to privet but lacking flowers, bay laurel is a slower-growing, less-aggressive shrub that can be sheared into a formal hedge and is tolerant of full sun and low water. Very low maintenance and can be allowed to assume its natural form for an organic look.

Fall & Winter Garden Color

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WinterGardenOne of the advantages of Southern California over the North and the East, is that our mild winters make it possible to plant and grow year-round. Fall is not only a time for garden maintenance and preparation of the soil for spring planting; it is the time to plant for winter and early spring harvests and blooms.

Clients have asked about adding color to their gardens, patios and balconies, so here are a list of 17 winter-blooming plants that offer a range of colors and structure that should do the trick.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

CalendulaDaisy-like calendula provides easy color from late fall through spring in mild-winter climates, and are long lasting in a vase. Choose classic orange and bright yellow, or opt for subtler shades of apricot, cream, and soft yellow.

Branching plants are 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 1½ feet wide and look great as masses of color or in a container.

Calendula plants take full sun and moderate water. They will tolerate many soils as long as they have good drainage. Remove the spent flowers to prolong bloom.

Candytuft (Iberis)

candytuft-iberis-lCandytuft plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide; their narrow, shiny dark green leaves look great all year.

Pure white flower clusters are carried on stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Choose ‘Alexander’s White’ (pictured), ‘Autumnale’, or ‘Autumn Snow; they bloom in spring and again in fall.

Plants thrive in full sun or part shade and regular water. Candytuft needs well-drained soil and should be sheared ightly after bloom to stimulate new growth.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Pergolas For Summer Shade

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Encino-10There is nothing quite as relaxing as sipping a gin and tonic (or your favorite beverage) with friends, sitting in the shade of a vine-covered pergola, on a late summer’s afternoon. I have just completed the construction of two pergolas that are designed for this very purpose, although it may take several years before their vines provide the requisite shade.

During their construction, one of my clients asked me where the term “pergola” came from. I wasn’t sure; I said, “I believe it’s Italian but I’ll check and let you know.” I did and found a lot of very interesting information not only about the derivation of the name “pergola” but where the design was first used and how it has evolved over time.

I was right with my guess as to pergola’s derivation; it comes from the Late Latin word “Pergula,” which refers to a projecting eave; and the English term was borrowed from the Italian “pergola,” which means “a close walk of boughs.”.

According to Wikipedia, a pergola, arbor, or arbour is a garden feature forming a shaded walkway, passageway, or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars that usually support crossbeams and a sturdy open lattice. As a type of gazebo, it may also be an extension of a building or serve as protection for an open terrace.

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Plant Hardiness Zone Maps – Southern California

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USDA_Zone_Map_CA_SOne of the many services the US Department of Agriculture provides are Plant Hardiness Zonal Maps.

These maps include: state, region and country and come in a variety of resolutions from 72 ppi for viewing on a screen to 300 ppi for high quality printing. They also provide interactive maps that can tell you what the plant hardiness is for your particular zip code and audio for the hearing impaired.

Whether you’re just curious to know what plants can live in your neck of the woods or someone who is planning on putting in a vegetable garden or a residential or commercial landscape, this is an invaluable resource that you might want to check out before you start purchasing plants or digging holes in your garden – and don’t forget to  included it in your gardening bookmark file.

Knowledge is power, particularly in plant selection.  Here is where all this valuable information resides: USDA Agricultural Resource Service

“But tho’ an old man, I am but a young gardner.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

Garden of Eva Handouts on Landscape Design, Water Conservation & Drought Tolerant Plant Selection

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Malibu_11On May 13th I was pleased to speak at  the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association on sustainable (“Green”) landscape design and the use of drought-tolerant, Mediterranean and native California species in designing a beautiful yet sustainable landscape. There were approximately 75 people in the audience and a number had questions about plant selection and how to better use water.

I suspected these topics might generate a lot of interest, so I prepared two handouts to provide more information than I could possibly communicate in the 15 minutes I had to speak. I also included a landscaping design check list, which is very helpful if you’re considering doing any work.

I thought it would be a good idea to make these handouts available to anyone who stopped by, so here are their links.

Lanscape Design Checklist

Water Conservation Information

Drought Tolerant Plant Selection

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to my website and newsletters:

 

 

Voted “Best of Houzz In Customer Satisfaction” for 2014

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Remodeling and Home Design

I was recently notified that I had been voted “Best of Houzz in Customer Satisfaction” for Los Angeles in 2014. The Best Of Houzz award is determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Winners receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home and landscape design professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

I am honored to be included in this group of top-rated professionals as Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of home building, remodeling and landscape design – empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision.

I, personally, use Houzz as a resource to see what other landscape designers are doing and the choices they make in dealing with a whole range of landscaping-design considerations. It is also an excellent resource for finding furniture, lighting and accessories.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home and landscape remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes and gardens from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to landscaping your home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and landscape design professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design and landscaping database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality. For more information, visit www.houzz.com

My Houzz

If you’d like to check out my Houzz page and see a considerable number of landscapes I’ve designed and to read client reviews, here is the link: http://www.houzz.com/pro/eknoppel.

Vegetable Planting Guide

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To go along with my last blog, Planning A Vegetable Garden, here is an excellent vegetable planting guide from Grangetto’s Farm and Garden Supply. The table lists the recommended times to sow vegetable seeds for our typical Southern California climate. If you’d like to get the guide in a PDF downloadable format to have as a reference, please click here.

Given the dire state of California’s water and how seriously it is impacting all of the farmers, the cost of produce will most like rise, and, given the drought’s seriousness and projected long-term duration, probably by a considerable amount. Creating your on “Victory Garden” would be one way to help save on your grocery bill. While California may be running out of water, what it has in abundance is sunshine.

VeggiePlantingGuide

Monthly Planting List

Here is a month-by-month planting guide through August:

January:

Plant in the ground: lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, celeriac, radishes, spinach,
Plant in containers: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, (these last two can be started now, but they would have been better started earlier – their production will be reduced by the coming warmer weather), peas, fava beans, lentils, garbanzo beans

February:

Plant in the ground: lettuce (and other salad greens), carrots, beets parsnips, radishes, spinach, purple beans,
Plant in containers: early tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, summer squash

March:

Plant in the ground: purple beans, lettuce, radishes, purple beans, beets, radishes, spinach, set out plants of basil, early tomatoes, later in the month, sow early sweet corn,
Plant in containers: tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, all squash,

April

Plant in the ground: beans of all colors, lettuce, radishes, beets, spinach, set out plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, you can start planting all corn now
Plant in containers: tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons & squash, okra,

May:

Plant in the ground: all basil, eggplant, all melons and all squash (including cucumbers, set out plants of same and all tomatoes, eggplants and peppers) green and yellow beans and all the dried beans; corn too, if you have room
Plant in containers: As in April, but it’s getting late – peppers, eggplants and basil are still OK to start, but it’s getting late, did I say it was getting late?

June:

Plant in the ground: all the above, but it’s getting late… you can still get a crop, but it will be cut shorter by any early cool weather; the last of the corn can go in early in the month
Plant in containers: after starting pumpkin seeds, take a nap

July:

Plant in the ground only out of necessity – extreme necessity
Plant in containers: continue napping

August:

Plant in the ground: nothing if you can avoid it
Plant in containers: towards the end of the month, in a shaded location, the first of the winter veggies can be started, cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard, fava beans, leeks, shallots, onions…

 

 

Planning A Vegetable Garden

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Vegetable Garden Planning for BeginnersI’ve just had a request from a client to replace a chunk of her back yard (all grass requiring a lot of water) with a vegetable garden. She decided that if she has to pay for water she might as well as get a return on her investment. I thought other folks might be interested in getting a return on their monthly LADWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) contribution so here is a primer from The Old Farmer’s Almanack on Vegetable Garden Planning for Beginners.

Smaller Is Better

If you’re a beginner vegetable gardener, here are basics on vegetable garden planning: site selection, plot size, which vegetables to grow, and other gardening tips.

Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!

One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.

The Very Basics

First, here are some very basic concepts on topics you’ll want to explore further as you become a vegetable gardener extraordinaire:

  • Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8.
  • Know your soil. Most soil can be enriched with compost and be fine for planting, but some soil needs more help. Vegetables must have good, loamy, well-drained soil. Check with your local nursery or local cooperative extension office about free soil test kits so that you can assess your soil type. See our article on preparing soil for planting.
  • Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.
  • Decide between tilling and a raised bed.  If you have poor soil or a bad back, a raised bed built with nonpressure-treated wood offers many benefits. See more about raised garden beds and how to build them.
  • Vegetables need lots of water, at least 1 inch of water a week. See more about when to water vegetables.
  • You’ll need some basic planting tools.  These are the essentials: spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder, and wheelbarrow (or bucket) for moving around mulch or soil. It’s worth paying a bit extra for quality tools.
  • Study those seed catalogs and order early.
  • Check your frost dates. Find first and last frost dates in your area and be alert to your local conditions.

Deciding How Big

A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, planted as suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).

Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.

Suggested Plants for 11 Rows

The vegetables suggested below are common, productive plants but you’ll also want to contract your local cooperative extension to determine what plants grow best in your local area. Think about what you like to eat as well as what’s difficult to find in a grocery store or farmers’ market.

(Note: Link from each vegetable to a free planting and growing guide.)

(Note: If this garden is too large for your needs, you do not have to plant all 11 rows, and you can also make the rows shorter. You can choose the veggies that you’d like to grow!)

When to Plant?

Try our Garden Planner

It’s easy to plan your garden with our Almanac Garden Planner!
This planning tool spaces out your vegetables for you, provides sowing dates, and has many free garden plans for inspiration! Try it for free here.

Related Articles

Other Resources

There are numerous sites that deal with all aspects of this topic, so just search Google or check out these previous blogs: Growing Tomatoes in Southern CaliforniaVegetable Gardens – Good For Your Health & Pocketbook, and Creating Your Own Victory Garden.

 

Water Conservation Can Be Beautiful

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While this is probably not news to most of you, I believe it’s well worth repeating and considering. Last year, 2013 became the driest year on record in California; San Francisco had the least amount of rain since record keeping began during the gold rush of 1849, and here in Southern California, Downtown Los Angeles saw the driest calendar year on record.

Sustainable Water-Wise Garden

We have had virtually no rain this winter (our rainy season) and on January 17, Governor, Jerry Brown, declared a statewide drought emergency. He has urged a voluntary 20% reduction in the use or water saying, “We ought to be ready for a long, continuous, persistent effort including the possibility of drinking-water shortages. I think the drought emphasizes that we do live in an era of limits, that nature has its boundaries.” The department of Water and Power has announced that water rates will be going up and inspectors will soon be on the street checking to see that the thee-day water rationing is being respected and that sprinkler systems are in good working order.

I have written a number of newsletters and blogs about our diminishing water supply with ideas and suggestions on how to deal with it; I even have a page of my website devoted to Sustainable Green Landscape Design. Should you want to read what I’ve had to say over these past three years, here are their links.  There is a lot of valuable information in them on how you can save money and help protect your home from fires, which is also of serious consideration, since the Santa Ana winds are now blowing year round.

Creating A Beautiful, Water-Wise Garden

A drought is a perfect opportunity to change habits by re-conceiving your yard or garden as a landscape that reflects the reality of the environment we now live in.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

A Creative Way to Expand An Existing Terrace

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I have a client that has a beautiful mid-century modern home with a rather small terrace off the living room. The terrace has as it surface, tiles custom designed by the architect. My clients want to substantially expand the terrace but keep the tiles since they are part of the architect’s design and are in remarkably good condition. However, there is no way that I can match the tiles and the cost of having them replicated is not within their budget.

white-steel-pergola-outdoor-house-terrace-design9As I am both a landscape designer and a contractor, I suggested the way to resolve the aesthetic problem of having multiple floor surfaces is to think of that section of the new terrace as the foyer to what is going to become a substantial outdoor living area. As a foyer serves as a transitional area from the out doors into the home, this new foyer will serve in a comparable manner, but in reverse, from the house to the out of doors.

By building a pergola over the old terrace that compliments the architecture of the house, adding a step around its perimeter and lowering the ground level of the expanded terrace, the result will look as though this new addition was what the architect had always intended.

pavers-grassIn order to tie the rest of the terrace to the original, I will use concrete tinted to pick up a dominant color in the tiles. And to integrate the grass of the yard into this new terrace, plant material will be used to band the poured concrete pavers. The pergola of the foyer will be replicated over the dining area and wherever possible, the finishing details of the terrace will compliment but not try to duplicate the mid-century aesthetic of the house.

I want this new addition to feel fresh and have it’s own identity while respecting the beautifully designed home that it abuts.

As the saying goes, when you’re handed lemons, think lemonade.