Tag Archives: drought-tollerent

No-Mow Grass – Is It Real?


I know it sounds too good to be true, but no-mow grass is real. In fact, it’s been around since the 1930s, came to market in the ‘60s, but with improved cultivars it’s only been the last few years that no-mow has become popular. This has come about due to the demand for low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally friendly ground covers. I can attest that it’s for real, an excellent alternative for the usual residential grasses, as I am currently planting it in several of my residential landscaping design projects.

The Fineleaf Fescue Species

The “fineleaf fescue” species is the grass of choice among “grassy” ground covers for slopes, median strips, golf course roughs, cemeteries, and for industrial, commercial and residential landscapes. There are four distinct species, and any number of commercial varieties have been developed for specific growing areas of California and for different amounts of sun and water.

Is It Really Grass?

When I suggest no-mow, the usual question I get from clients is, “Is it real grass?” Yes, it’s real grass, reaches 2 to 6 inches and grows sideways for a clean and uniform look. Once the seeds have taken hold and the turf is established, it will provide a beautiful looking lawn that requires very little maintenance!

But as there are a number of seed varieties, tailored for specific climates, irrigation, sun and use, I suggest you contact a knowledgeable professional before you proceed to rip out your existing lawn and replace it with no-mow.


Although no-mow fineleaf fescues require less water than typical mowed lawns, to survive in California they must be irrigated during the summer months. Irrigation may be stopped after the first significant rain of the fall-winter season and should be restarted only after the chance of further rain disappears in spring.


The recommended mowing height for fineleaf fescue lawns is 2 ½ inches. Mowing every 2 to 3 weeks is usually sufficient. Left unmowed, the grass will grow to a height of 6 to 12 inches, with most leaves drooping to one side or the other. It’s important to keep the grass from growing near or around landscape trees and shrubs. Tall, dense grass abutting trees and shrubs may provide a thick layer of continuously moist mulch that can promote fungus and crown rot. To prevent disease, keep grass at least 2 feet from tree trunks or shrubs.


One advantage of a no-mow fineleaf fescue lawn is that it needs less nutrition than usual grasses. If the soil is highly fertile, a no-mow lawn may never need to be fertilized. On average soils, the lawn may need no more than 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year. The best time to fertilize is October, before the rain arrives.

Sod vs. Seed

Because no-mow fineleaf fescue has extremely slow seed germination and seedling growth, this creates a challenge for weed control at early stages of turf establishment. There are many options to deal with the weed control and eradication, which your nursery or landscape consultant can advise you on.

However, now that producers are offering fineleaf fescue sod, in the long run, sod may be a better economic choice over seeding, considering weed infestation, seedling disease and seed wash out, all of which can affect seedling establishment.

References: No-Mow Fineleaf Fescue Grasses for California Urban Landscapes, Alternatives To Lawns


The Monthly Gardner – March


March and April are the ideal times to get your garden planted. This includes most summer annuals and perennials, warm-season and cool-season lawns, some cool-season and warm-season vegetables, and almost all permanent garden plants, such as trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines. But I would hold off planting tropicals for a couple of months until the weather warms up. So get in gear and get your garden in shape!

And since there is so much that needs to be done, here is list of things you should consider:

Purchase & Plant:

  • Drought-resistant plants
  • Trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers
  • Flowerbeds with warm-season flowers
  • Perennials
  • Tigridias, gladioli, tuberous begonias
  • Cuttings: herbaceous and softwood
  • Citrus, avocado and macadamia trees
  • Fuchsias from cuttings
  • Lawns
  • Summer vegetables plus green beans, potatoes, artichokes, tomatoes, culinary hers and edible flowers

Trim, Prune, Mow, Divide:

  • Prune begonias, cannas, ginger, ivy, pyracantha and Sprenger fern
  • Dethatch warm-season lawns
  • Deadhead annual and perennial flowers
  • Tie into knots the floppy leaves of bulbs until they turn brown
  • Prune camellias, tropical hibiscus and epidendrum
  • Pinch fuchsias to make them bushy
  • Propagate bamboo
  • Mow all grass lawns


  • Citrus trees, avocado trees and macadamia trees
  • Fuchsias
  • Ornamental trees, bushes, lawns and ground covers
  • Container-grown flowers with liquid fertilizer
  • Cool season flowers if growth slows
  • Roses
  • All lawns
  • Treat blue hydrangeas with aluminum sulfate.

Water (when there isn’t sufficient rain)

  • All garden plants according to their needs
  • Fuchsias
  • Roses
  • Spring-flowering bulbs
  • Don’t let azaleas dry out

Control of Pests, Diseases & Weeds

  • Control slugs and snails
  • Check roses for pests and diseases
  • Control cutworms
  • Pull weeds
  • Spray cycads for scale
  • Control giant whitefly

Do Something Special

  • Plant herbs in a window box or garden

If you want to know more about what to do in the garden in March, check out Pat Welsh’s “Southern California Gardening – A Month-by-Month Guide, from which the majority of this information was excerpted, or Google, “Southern California Gardening March.”


Saucy Succulents Exposed


I hoped the title might get your attention because succulents are a wonderful and extremely eco-friendly addition to any garden or planter, and, if you don’t already, you should know more about them.

Besides creating colorful planters, as you will see by these photographs, I have included a couple of shots of a front yard I designed using nothing but succulents.

While ripping out a lawn and planting succulents does require a certain up-front expense, in the long run you can save thousands of dollars in water bills, many man-hours of tending, as well as tens of thousands of gallons of water – a great savings for both your pocketbook and environment.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News


PERCH LA – Building A Garden In The Sky


Sitting on the north side of Pershing Square in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Perch is a bar and rooftop French bistro that occupies the top three floors of 448 S. Hill Street. With wrap-around patios on its 15th and 16th floors, it offers views of Bunker Hill to the north, Pershing Square to the south and to the east, the backside of the signs for both the Rosslyn and the New Million Dollar hotels.
It came into existence because local real estate developer and property owner, Jeffrey Fish, had completed a massive five-year retrofitting of this historic 13-story building and decided to increase its height by an additional three stories. He wanted the occupant of these additional stories to be a restaurant and selected Den Haan and Rachel Thomas, of “The Must” and “Coly’s Stromboli, to create, as Fish put it, “I didn’t want it to be a club, and I didn’t want it to be some pretentious place that’s hip for a second. I wanted it to be a downtown institution.”
How do you build a garden in the sky?
I joined the project during the final stages of the restaurant’s construction. The landscape architect, Mark David Levine, had already created the design and it was up to me to take those designs and make them real. It was at this intersection of design and reality that things became a bit complicated.

To continue reading … Eva’s Note & News


A California Shade Garden


I know the idea of writing about shade gardening while our temperature has been double digit may seem a bit oxymoronic, but what better time to contemplate a cool, shaded garden than during the middle of a heat wave.

Yes There Is Shade In Southern California

If you have native oak trees you can improve their health by planting native plants underneath them, the same thing is true for other mature, large wide-canopied trees that provide shade. And when I say shade, I don’t mean the kind that you get under your porch, I mean there must be some light for the plants to photosynthesize.

California Natives That Grow In Full Shade

These descriptions and photographs come from Las Pilitas Nursery, which specializes in growing and selling native California plants and is an amazing resource for anyone interested in native and drought tolerant gardening or anything to do with California plants and wildlife. Check them out if you want to build a native California garden or just love looking at California’s wonderful flora.

Here a few of the plants you can grow in California shade:

California Ginger

California Ginger is a charming little perennial with a slight spicy smell and heart-shaped. The flower is the best thing about this plant there are three petals with 1 to 2 inch spur-like projection. The inside is white with a red center. The flowers are about 0.5 to 1 inch wide. It is native in the redwood forest and yellow pine forest so it may need a little moisture.

California Pipe Vine

California Pipe Vine, also known as California Dutchman’s Pipe, it is a deciduous vine with one inch purple striped pipe-shaped flowers. Pipe vine likes part-shade and regular water. This California native vine has become fairly drought tolerant with time and seems to grow ok with Salvia spathacea, hummingbird sage on north slopes or under live oaks. This grows in shade in the central Sierras in moist places and the associated plants are Tellima, Heuchera micrantha and Umbellularia californica.

Bush Anemone

Bush Anemone is an evergreen shrub, 6′ by 3′ in the garden. Can be drought tolerant in town, but generally needs regular watering.

Red Stem Dogwood

Red Stem Dogwood is an elegant open shrub with creamy white flower clusters in spring and red stems.

Jack O The Rocks

Jack O The Rocks. grows in full shade but it needs regular water.

Douglas Iris

Douglas Irisis a delicate native iris with purple flowers. It is very drought tolerant in the shade. It likes a little mulch.

Island Alum Root

Island Alum Root is a two foot perennial with 3′ spikes of small pinkish flowers emerging from February to April. Needs part shade to shade.

To discover, learn more or purchase native shade plants check out this wonderful nursery:


Contemporary Landscape Design – What Is It?

Garden Of Eva Contemporary Landscae Design
High in the Hollywood Hills

I am often asked by potential clients, “Do you design contemporary gardens?”

The answer, of course, is yes, not because I want the job – although that might be the case – but because the gardens I create are designed to do two things:

  • express my clients’ needs and
  • reflect or enhance the architecture of the buildings they surround.

I often feel buildings speak to me – not that I’m a “garden whisperer” – but I do take my inspiration from each structure and the stronger the structure’s point of view . . .

Continue reading Eva’s Notes & News



Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem


This year’s California Landscape Contractors Association’s Landscape Industry Show offered, in addition to the usual garden art, nursery stock, turf equipment, fertilizer and lighting, a number of interesting booths and products designed specifically to deal with Southern California’s single most pressing problem – water, or lack there of!

A Smiling Vendor

“Chinatown” or How Water Came To LA

One of my very favorite films is “Chinatown,” not only because it’s brilliantly written, acted and directed, but because it’s based on fact, albeit somewhat fictionalized, and one of its principal characters is LA itself.

Continue Reading January’s Newsletter …


A Drought-Resistant Lawn … Is It Possible?


Here in Southern California the great big beautifully, rolling, grassy lawn is quickly going the way of the dinosaur. It’s not just municipal water regulations growing every more restrictive that’s causing it, but the ever increasing cost of water. In 10 years I predict that the “front lawn” will be but a memory and the lawn mower, if it exists at all, will only be seen on the playing field.

So what’s a gardener or homeowner to do if they want a bit of grass under foot or paw?

While a new form of buffalo grass called UC Verde has been engineered for our southwest climate, there is a problem with it. It does not do at all well in the shade or along the coast where the mornings are foggy or June gloom runs from May till August.

Here are three suggestions that will provide a lawn-like equivalent and allow for rolling around in.

1. Bermudagrass such as “Santa Ana” or “Tifgreen” is very drought-resistant and will stay green along the coast even in winter. It takes no more water than the daisy-like ground cover, gazanias. In a drought it will go brown but it will not die. As for watering, it’s far better to water it longer once a week than more shallowly and for a shorter length of time three times a week.

2. Creeping white yarrow or woolly yarrow (Achillea tomentosa) can be planted as a lawn. Plant seeds in fall and keep the ground damp until they are germinated. It will take a little time to become established but it will eventually make a ferny green mat that is very pleasant to walk on and very durable. The flowers are a bonus and can be taken off after blooms fade with a weed-wacker.

3. Lippia (Phyla nodiflora) is a drought-resistant, low ground cover that takes foot traffic, but it does bear pink flowers in June that bring bees. You can mow them off in June with a lawn mower in order that your dog’s paws won’t get stung. (Bees in the garden don’t sting except when you accidentally step on one or grasp one by mistake.) Or just be careful where you walk during that particular month.

There are also other drought-resistant solutions including eliminating the lawn all together and replacing it with drought-resistant native and Mediterranean plants. The result can be quite beautiful but it’s not ideal for your dog or child to play in.

As I hear of new or reengineered species of drought-resistant grass I will check them out and keep you apprised.

But if you don’t need a lawn for a specific purpose, think seriously about replacing it. It will save you great deal of money and make an enormous water-conservation contribution.