Tag Archives: increase value of real estate

Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather
27drought-web-combo-master675
The fountain has been turned off and the pool drained in front of Compton City Hall. But in upscale Cowan Heights, homeowners shower their lush lawns and top off pools and koi ponds. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Here is a important article dealing with our drought from The New York Times, dated April 26, 2015, by Adam Nagourney  and Jack Healey. It contrasts the disparity of water use in two Southern California cities (one rich and the other working class). It’s clear that this is a complicated issues but it’s also a moral one, given what we all are facing .

It, however,  doesn’t deal with the fact that it’s not just about using water or not using water but recognizing that, as I’ve described in my previous post See Our Drought As A New Beginning, we live in a region of  Southern California known as Chaparral and we should deal with our landscape in ways that recognize our climate’s limitations. There are many choices available to us to be both water wise and have an attractive landscape that acknowledges the world we live in and the future we face.

COMPTON, Calif. — Alysia Thomas, a stay-at-home mother in this working-class city, tells her children to skip a bath on days when they do not play outside; that holds down the water bill. Lillian Barrera, a housekeeper who travels 25 miles to clean homes in Beverly Hills, serves dinner to her family on paper plates for much the same reason. In the fourth year of a severe drought, conservation is a fine thing, but in this Southern California community, saving water means saving money.

The challenge of California’s drought is starkly different in Cowan Heights, a lush oasis of wealth and comfort 30 miles east of here. That is where Peter L. Himber, a pediatric neurologist, has decided to stop watering the gently sloping hillside that he spent $100,000 to turn into a green California paradise, seeding it with a carpet of rich native grass and installing a sprinkler system fit for a golf course. But that is also where homeowners like John Sears, a retired food-company executive, bristle with defiance at the prospect of mandatory cuts in water use.

“This is a high fire-risk area,” Mr. Sears said. “If we cut back 35 percent and all these homes just let everything go, what’s green will turn brown. Tell me how the fire risk will increase.”

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. The daily water consumption rate was 572.4 gallons per person in Cowan Heights from July through September 2014, the hot and dry summer months California used to calculate community-by-community water rationing orders; it was 63.6 gallons per person in Compton during that same period.

Now, California is trying to turn that dynamic on its head, forcing the state’s biggest water users, which include some of the wealthiest communities, to bear the brunt of the statewide 25 percent cut in urban water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown. Cowan Heights is facing a 36 percent cut in its water use, compared with 8 percent for Compton.

Other wealthy communities that must cut 36 percent include Beverly Hills and Hillsborough, a luxury town in Silicon Valley. Along with Compton, other less wealthy communities facing more modest cuts include Inglewood, which has been told to reduce its water consumption by 12 percent over what it was in 2013.

The looming question now, with drought regulations set to be adopted next month, is whether conservation tools being championed by this state — $10,000-a-day fines for water agencies, higher prices for bigger water users or even, in the most extreme cases, a reduction in water supplies — will be effective with wealthy homeowners. Since their lawns are more often than not tended to by gardeners, they may have little idea just how much water they use.

27drought-web01-articleLarge
Gail Lord in her garden in Cowan Heights, which is facing a 36 percent cut in its water use.CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

As it is, the legality of conservation — the practice of charging higher water rates to people who consume more for big water use — came under question when a court ruled that a tiered-pricing system used by an Orange County city ran afoul of the State Constitution and sent it back to allow the city to try to bring it into compliance.

“The wealthy use more water, electricity and natural gas than anyone else,” said Stephanie Pincetl, the director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They have bigger properties. They are less price sensitive. So if you can afford it, you use it.”

“Then it becomes a moral question,” she said. “But lots of wealthy people don’t pay their own bills, so they don’t know what the water costs.”

To read this article in full please Click Here!

A Landscape To Grow With

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Firepit-Kitchen-Pizza-OvenAs you can see from the “Before” picture below, the landscaping of this home’s back yard was, except for the pool, water feature and deck, non-existent!

Before

before

A blank slate is actually better for me as the designer because I don’t have to deal with a lot of existing and unwanted hardscape and/or plant material. With the removal of the palm trees and few other plants, we were ready to proceed with creating what my clients’ desired.

And what they had requested was an environment that was suitable for a great deal of entertaining as well as a place for them, their dog and their anticipated family to grow up in and enjoy. It also needed to be easy to maintain and be as drought-tolerant as possible.

The Kitchen

kitchen

There were two elements that were essential for the design. The first was an outdoor kitchen with a lot of counter space, a barbecue and stove, a pizza oven, a sink with running water, a counter to sit at and a roof that cantilevered out over the seating area, which was to match the existing, but refinished, wooden deck.

The second required ingredient was a fire pit surrounded by a large seating area.

The Fire Pit

fire-pit-2

Between the fire pit and the kitchen lay the existing deck. I used it as the axis of these two elements with the pool creating the third aspect of a triangle that visually tied all three elements together.

The Pool and The Deck

deck-pool

By creating a clearly defined entertainment area, it left the remaining yard to be landscaped as a separate entity.

The Landscape

landscape

Keeping in mind the desire to create a drought-tolerant landscape, the remaining yard was divided into a small area of grass (for the dog and the children-to-be) with the remaining property covered with pea gravel.

To help define the area, serve as backdrop for the entertainment area and provide a view from inside the house, three full-grown olive trees were craned in and planted.

Illumination and Irrigation

landscape-lights

Additional seating was provided at various spots along the graveled area and the trees and property were illuminated with low voltage lamps and spot lights. A drip irrigation system was installed through out.

The Pizza Oven

pizza-oven

While the re-designed landscape has received high marks from both friends and neighbors, the one thing the husband loves above all else is his pizza oven, which, I am told, is in continual use!

Backyard Magic – Creating Cozy Comfort

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

cashmere-before

Project Objective

The objective of this landscape design project was to take a small, unattractive 50s backyard and make it more attractive and functional. This included updating it to the 21st century with a living area, dining area and barbecue, but also using scale and imagination to make it appear larger than it actually is.

Cashmere-1

Work Done

We began expanding the existing space by altering the shape of the low brick wall to provide more space and to raise it to chair height, providing additional seating. Old trees and unattractive shrubs were removed and replaced with plant material that reflected the color scheme (selected to accent the gray house) of white, green and burgundy.

Cashmere-3

The water feature was enlarged with more stone to give a more natural look and enhanced with a larger pump to increase its water flow. The plants surrounding it were replaced with ones that helped focus the eye and make it appear natural to the site.

A retaining wall was installed to account for difference in elevation between the neighbors’ property and my client’s and the dilapidated wooden fence was replaced with tongue and grove fencing, painted to match the house.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Add A Stream To Your Drought-Tolerant Landscape

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

House-w_streamThe New Normal

As California’s drought continues with no end in sight, I have had a substantial increase in client interest in turning front and back yards into drought-tolerant or Xeriscape landscapes.

The reason for this is obvious; it saves an enormous amount of water since grass can easily consume over half a gallon of water per square foot every time you water. To put that into perspective, a 100′ x 100′ lawn uses 6,230 gallons of water every time your sprinkler heads pup up. In addition to saving water and saving the cost of all of that water, it saves substantially on the amount of time and energy needed to maintain the landscape – no grass to cut and most native and drought-tolerant plants require little or no maintenance.

But What Will It Look Like?

This is the question every client asks after they acknowledge the importance of saving water. My answer is to tell them that drought-tolerant, Xeriscape landscaping has been done for centuries all along the Mediterranean, although it wasn’t called that; it was just the way folks created gardens when there was very little available water. And the gardens of the Costa Del Sol, the South of France, the Italian Riviera, and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and Greece are filled with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the in the world and with nary a blade of grass in sight.

Add A Stream – Wet or Dry

There are a number of ways to turn a grassy front and/or back yard into a stunning drought-tolerant garden. Any well-designed landscape takes into the consideration the confirmation of the property and the architecture of the structure. It’s not just about ripping out the grass and sticking plants in the ground.

If you have the space and a little elevation, a stream can be created that can turn a boring piece of property into a stunning garden.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Pergolas For Summer Shade

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

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

A suggestion for the New Year: Replace Your Parkway!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather
Parkway-grass
Parkway with grass – water consumer

Since 2014 is upon us, I thought I might offer a suggestion for the New Year that could save you money, improve your property’s “curb appeal” and help bend the curve of Southern California’s water usage downwards by just a tad, and given our ever vanishing water supply … every tad does count!

It involves taking a look at one of the most obvious but most overlooked pieces of property on every block—that strip of land that lies between the street and the walkway, known as the “Parkway.”

The parkway and walkway together make up the sidewalk, which is part of the public right-of-way. But that doesn’t mean it’s the city’s responsibility for it’s maintenance. The adjacent property owner is responsible for maintaining all of the parkway except the street trees, which are maintained by the city: responsible (we hope) for their planting, trimming and removal.

WHY ARE PARKWAYS IMPORTANT?

Parkway-sustainable
Parkway with succulents – water conserver

Parkways are important to individual property owner and the city as a whole for the following reasons:

  • Parkways enhance the visual quality of the city.
  • Parkways improve the curb appeal of your home, potentially increasing its value.
  • Parkways provide soil volume that street trees need to grow into healthy, mature trees that provide shade, consume carbon and provide other environmental and health benefits
  • Parkways help collect storm water and irrigation runoff and return it to the groundwater table.
  • Parkways provide a buffer between pedestrians on the walkway and cars in the street

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Best Landscape Designers in Los Angeles

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

I was both stunned and thrilled when I was notified that CBS Los Angeles, as part of their Latest Best of LA series, had chosen me and my company as one of five Best Landscape Designers in LA.

It may not be an Emmy or an Oscar but it is nice to be recognized for what you love to do! So, if you’ll allow me this moment in the sun—because that’s it … that’s all you get—I’ll be back down in the dirt tomorrow.

The following is part of the article, if you’d like to read it in its entirety, click here.

Best Landscape Designers in LA – June 15, 2013

A recent survey sponsored by a national landscaping trade association known as PLANET revealed a rising trend among consumers increasing their investments on outdoor living spaces, including patios, decks, walkways and other specialized services such as lighting and irrigation systems

Surprisingly, it’s mostly digitally-connected homeworkers under the age of 35 who are placing priority on outdoor entertainment areas. Most Los Angeles homeowners hire a professional landscaper because they either don’t have proper landscaping equipment or because they simply lack the know-how to do their own landscaping. Luckily, some of the best landscapers are based in Los Angeles.

Garden of Eva Landscape Design Group

Garden of Eva Landscape Design

Described as the Julia Child of Los Angeles landscape design, Eva Knoppel and the Garden of Eva Landscape Design Group comes highly recommended for her experience, integrity and Eco-friendly, low-maintenance gardens.

This full-service landscaping design and maintenance company has built more than 100 gardens in both commercial and residential areas. Knoppel is most known for her work creating a “garden in the sky” at LA’s Perch rooftop bar and lounge.

Related: Building A Garden In The Sky.

 

A Sunset Plaza Makeover

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Once Upon A Time …

High in the Hollywood Hills, above Sunset Plaza, an international film producer and his family had grown tired of the mundane landscaping surrounding their home and decided it was time to produce a “Makeover.” So the film producer Googled “Los Angeles Landscape Designer” and, lo and behold, up popped my website. Well, he loved what he saw and gave me a call. We met and we chatted and chatted and chatted some more and I came up with a plan and … so it began.

And we began by ripping out the back yard, but for the swimming pool, and creating a series of descending concrete terraces. When completed, these terraces will include a wall of water, a fire place, a seating area, a barbecue pit and it will all be surrounded by a number of full grown trees that frame and enclose the property.

Over the years, I’ve often been asked what it takes to bring full-grown trees onto a property, and as this makeover provides a “teachable moment”, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to show you exactly what’s involved. And what’s involved is neither easy nor inexpensive!

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

The Value of Your Front Lawn

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Along with April showers comes National Landscape Architecture MonthEarth Day – celebrated on April 22 and on April 26, the birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the designer ofNew York’s Central ParkBrooklyn’s Prospect Park, thegrounds of the U.S. Capitol and many other extraordinary gardens and parks though out our country. So, I thought April would be the perfect month to consider “The Value of Your Front Yard“.

I wrote about the added value of landscaping to real estate in last September’s Eva’s Notes & News, “Does Landscaping Add Value To Your Home. However, it’s worth repeating that,

“Your front yard is the face of your property. Not only does it greet you every day, it’s the first thing potential buyers see should you ever decided to put your home on the market. Therefore, ‘curb appeal,‘ isn’t just a real estate catch phrase, it’s a reality. According any number of studies, a well landscape property can increase it’s sale price from 7% – 15%.”

On the website, About.com LandscapingDavid Beaulieu, its author, makes a very important point when considering doing any kind of substantial work on your landscape:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Does Landscaping Add Value To Your Home?

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

This is the one question that I am forever being asked by both my current clients, whenever they’re considering a make over, as well as prospective ones, who have just bought a house and want to re-landscape or have children or a dog and need to reconsider their environment.

It’s also a very valid question because landscaping can be a substantial investment and it makes financial sense to know if that investment may pay off in the event the home is ever put on the market.

I recently read an interesting article at Buzzle.com that examines these considerations so I thought I would share their POV with you. What follows is a truncated and personalized version of that article.  For the complete version please check out their website above.

What the Experts Say

According to Buzzle’s experts, a well-maintained landscape in the front and backyard will add 15% to the selling price. Also, well-landscaped homes sell 5 times faster than any other home.

To continue reading … Eva’s Note & News