Tag Archives: los angeles landscape consultant

California’s Drought-Stricken Elite Trade Lawns for Luxury Cactuses

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Malibu California, Landscape Design & Photograph: Garden of Eva Landscape Design Group

Last week I was interviewed  by Patrick Clark of BloombergBusiness regarding how California’s drought was affecting the landscape’s of the affluent and what, if anything, they were doing to deal with it. I thought you might be interested in reading what he reported. I’ve highlighted my quote. Here is his article from BloombergBusiness of April 21, 2015.

A drought gives rise to high-end landscape design that favors stylish succulents

James Burnett, a landscape architect hired to build a public garden on a 15-acre tract of the Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., dug his heels in the desert sand. His client, Leonore Annenberg wanted a lush, English-style garden that would flow seamlessly into the water-hog golf course at which she and her late husband, the publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg, had hosted such political and entertainment luminaries as Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan. “We convinced her that it would be better to build something that would be sustainable and practical and a model for a new approach to gardening in the Sonoran Desert,” Burnett says.

The designer’s intransigence put the Annenberg garden ahead of the emerging fashion for low-moisture, naturalistic landscaping on luxurious properties. Burnett embraced aloe, a spiky, flowering succulent that’s a favorite of hummingbirds, and he planted barrel cactus by the hundred. “I wanted to take a van Gogh approach to painting the desert,” Burnett said. The gardens, which opened in 2012, do look lush, thanks to 53,000 desert-native plants that flourish, despite using only 20 percent of the water allowed by local law. Three years later, drought-tolerant landscape design is blooming across the state.

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Cacti at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

As California’s water shortage grows more severe and local governments enact increasingly stringent conservation policies, homeowners across the state are reimagining their lawns. Conservation-minded designers have championed permeable walkways that allow any rainfall to be absorbed, as well as fruit-bearing trees that offer an edible bounty in return for the water spent. Others have opted for fescue and buffalo grass instead of thirstier varieties, or even artificial turf that requires no water at all.

Succulents, in particular, are enjoying a moment in the sun as landscaper designers turn to the fleshy, water-retaining category of plant for bursts of color: campfire crassula , pink echeveria, and a kind of euphorbia called sticks on fire. “It wasn’t so long ago that I would go scouting gardens and people would say, ‘I hate succulents,’” says Debra Lee Baldwin, author of Succulents Simplified and additional books on the subject. “Now people are coming to me and asking about them by their Latin names.”

The enthusiasm has helped drive business for designers like Eva Knoppel of the Los Angeles-based design shop, Garden of Eva Landscape Design Group, which is receiving 10 calls a day from homeowners who want to cut their water bills. Nurseries such as the California Cactus Center, a Pasadena business that specializes in succulents, also report rising sales. Altman Plants, a Vista (Calif.)-based horticulturalist, even opened an online cactus shop to keep up with drought-driven demand.

Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown Jr. ordered water agencies to cut usage by 25 percent and called for 50 million square feet of grass lawns to be replaced with drought-tolerant installations. Cities, meanwhile, are offering both stick and carrot to curtail water use. Los Angeles will pay residents up to $3.75 per square foot of lawn they pull up, a policy that has eliminated 15 million sq. ft. of grass since 2009. Santa Monica fines residents for watering lawns during daytime hours or allowing water to run off onto sidewalks and driveways.

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Landscape Design & Photograph: Garden of Eva Landscape Design Group

Modern houses with spare architectural design happen to look sharp with water-efficient plants. “About 50 percent of the projects we see under construction are going in the direction of a modular, modernistic style that happens to lend itself to drought-tolerant landscaping,” says Brad Fowles, a landscape designer in Moorpark, Calif. At one of his current work sites in Pacific Palisades, an upscale neighborhood of Los Angeles, Fowles says he ripped up rose gardens and a grass lawn to replace them a wood deck, barbecue area, and poured concrete planters filled with agave americana, sedum, and a flowering succulent called peruviana.

Not everyone is rushing in. “High-end clients with finer homes are not always concerned with the cost of water or being water-efficient,” says Sandra Giarde, executive director of the California Landscape Contractors Association. Even as local governments have implemented penalties for excessive water use, many wealthy homeowners simply opt to pay the fines.

At the other end of the spectrum, cost-conscious residents have installed barren lawns to maximize savings, particularly in cities that pay residents to replace grass lawns with drought-tolerant materials. Glimmering succulents and Mediterranean bushes qualify for the landscaping payments—as do plain old rocks and dirt.

The government payouts have lured some landscapers into the practice of turf arbitrage, replacing grass lawns for the right to collect their customers’ rebates. “They give you a front yard that is so bleak, basically a bunch of chunky rocks and a few carelessly chosen plants frozen in a grid,” says Ivette Soler, a garden designer and the author of The Edible Front Yard. “The more I see these kinds of yards go up, the more I see the character of the city starting to diminish.”

The costs of planting a beautiful, drought-tolerant garden, on the other hand, can quickly add up. Jeanne Meadow, a retired pharmaceutical executive, began replacing a grass lawn around her 4,500-sq.-ft. San Diego County home in 2009. Today, she lives surrounded by thousands of succulents, including 15-ft.-tall aloe trees and tiny senecio serpens. Any cost savings on the water that once went into her lawn have been spent several times over on cactuses. “There’s no real calculation,” she says. “I had an understanding that we were living in a desert and importing water. I said: ‘Let’s see what these plants can do.’ It turns out, they’re really pretty magical if you know what you’re doing.

 

Beautiful Balconies

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Being a landscape designer, I wind up driving all over greater Los Angeles, and, believe me, seeing how many miles I put on my car ever week, the operative word is greater. But what I’ve  noticed, particularly as I snail along in traffic, is that our city has a great many balconies but so many of those balconies have no color — no life — they are just empty vessels waiting to be filled.

This is so different than what I experience whenever I travel through Europe — particularly through the southern regions along the Mediterranean. There, you can’t go through a village, a town or a city without seeing color dripping from countless window ledges and balconies.

While our weather is certainly similar to Italy, France and Spain, it seems our relationship with nature is not, and I think that’s a shame.  A balcony is a great opportunity to introduce a little nature into your life and beauty to your home. So, here are some really interesting and individually expressed balconies that might inspire you to add to some life to that empty vessel outside your window or even turn it into something spectacular. It’s easy to do, it’s inexpensive and you’ll be amazed at how much happier you’ll feel looking out your window.

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (7)

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Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (2)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas

 

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Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (4) Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (3)

Birmingham Largest Green Wall in U.S. Airport

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When I saw this article in the blog,  Total Landscape Care, I thought, “What a brilliant way to greet passengers coming off a claustrophobic  flight.”

Birmingham Airport Garden-Wall
Birmingham Airport Garden Wall

While I love to travel, I, as I am sure most of you who don’t fly First Class, have come to dread the prospect of getting from here to there shoe-horned into those sardine cans in the sky. And when you do get to where you’re going and join the rest of your cabin mates pouring into the terminal, you’re most often greeted by a noisy, advertising-filled environment you can’t wait to get out of.

I am a great advocate of green walls whether you want to cover a boring piece of concrete or make a statement in your entrance hall. Green walls can be constructed in any number of ways, out of a range of materials and can host a diverse selection of plants.

The Blog

Flowers-Green-WallThe first thing travelers see when they get off of a plane at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, might not be welcoming faces. Instead, they will be greeted with the largest green wall in a U.S. airport.

The 1,400-square-foot living wall, called “Earth, Wind and Water: The Landscape of Alabama,” features 8,000 plants belonging to 60 species indigenous to the state, according to AL.com.

Living-WallDuring the past few years, the airport has undergone several renovations, and the wall goes toward the $201.6 million terminal modernization project. The green wall ties together themes from four regions in Alabama, showing plant life from the North Alabama uplands through the state’s river valleys and farmland to the coast, according to the site.

A few inches thick, the wall is covered with a layer of recycled fabric and an auto-irrigation system. Some of the species include orchids and insect-eating plants.

They also added hybrid pineapples, which will be harvested. The wall will be open to the public this month in Concourse C. 

One Of My Walls

Recently installed, this green wall was designed for full sun and uses a range of drought-tollerent plants. It serves as the visual backdrop for a fountain and  sculpture, helping to focus the eye in what is a large and very bright terrace.

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Los Angeles Office of Homeland Security

 

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

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…

 

 

A suggestion for the New Year: Replace Your Parkway!

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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

Help Save Water and Save Money

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While I have written about the importance of saving water, “Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem”“Water – Water – Everywhere … So Where Did It Go?”, the reality is that this very serious problem threatens Southern California’s very existence and it isn’t going away! In fact, it’s getting worse. And as we are already in “fire season” (“Firewise Your Landscape“) I thought I would bring to your attention some of the money and water-saving programs and approaches currently available.

Water Conservation in Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles recently implemented Phase II of its Water Conservation Ordnance, which requires the following:

Summer Fun

  • Outdoor watering with sprinklers is restricted to three days a week with different watering days assigned to odd-numbered and even-numbered street addresses.
  • Customers with odd-numbered street addresses – ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 – are allowed to use their sprinkler systems on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Customers with even-numbered street addresses – ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 – are allowed to use their sprinkler systems on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
  • Watering with sprinklers is limited to one eight-minute cycle per watering day for non-conserving nozzle sprinkler systems (typical residential system), or two 15-minute cycles per watering day for conserving nozzle sprinkler systems.
  • All outdoor watering is restricted to hours before 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m., regardless of the watering day.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Dwell on Design – LA Convention Center – Saturday (6-22) 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

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8B6EB5BCFB0B77072AEDC6CE2AAD060F_9124973This Saturday, I’ll be at the LA Convention Center offering free consultations on Landscape Design from 1:00- 3:00 p.m. This gathering is sponsored by APLD’s Focus on Design and the magazine Dwell.

So come on down and introduce yourself and learn how you can improve you landscape, garden and home from advice given by one of the five Best Landscape Designers in Los Angeles.

Best Landscape Designers in Los Angeles

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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.

 

Tree Pruning – Part II

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Following up on last month’s post, Tree Pruning – Part I, here are some additional pointers:

When to Prune

prune3The dormant season, late fall or winter, is the best time to prune although dead branches can and should be removed at any time. Pruning during the dormant period minimizes sap loss and subsequent stress to the tree. It also minimizes the risk of fungus infection or insect infestation as both fungi and insects are likely to be in dormancy at the same time as the tree. Finally, in the case of deciduous trees, pruning when the leaves are off will give you a better idea of how your pruning will affect the shape of the tree.

How Much to Prune

When deciding how much to prune a tree, as little as possible is often the best rule of thumb. All prunes place stress on a tree and increase its vulnerability to disease and insects. On no account, prune more than 25% of the crown and ensure that living branches compose at least 2/3 of the height of the tree. Pruning more risks fatally damaging your tree. In some cases, storm damage, height reduction to avoid crowding utility lines or even raising the crown to meet municipal bylaws, your pruning choices are made for you. But even in these instances, prune as little as you can get away with.

Pruning Tools

Advice regarding tools is pretty straight-forward. Buy the best tools you can afford and keep them in good condition.

Recently, a number of new and innovative tools have come on the market that are extremely useful to a homeowner. 

TreeHelp Rope Saw Rope Saws
A new and safe way to cut high tree limbs – pull the ropes to prune while standing on the ground.
TreeHelp Pole Pruner Pole Pruner & Lopper
A versatile pole pruner that can be attached to any standard-thread extension pole.  Includes 14-inch pruning saw blade and 1-inch lopper.
TreeHelp Folding Pruner Folding Pruner
A versatile, folding pruning saw that can be attached to any universal extension pole for long reach.  Lightweight and robust.
Portable Buck Saws Portable Buck Saws
Extremely lightweight and collapsible. Perfect for the homeowner, gardener and camper.

After each tree you prune, remember to disinfect your pruning tools in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water followed by cleaning with soapy water and then drying. Tree diseases are easily spread by infected tools. Finally, if you’re not skilled in the use of tools like chain saws or if the pruning job is more than you’re capable of managing, hire an expert. Safety first.

Free PDF Guide

For an excellent free guide on tree pruning published by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the National Arbor Day Association, and the University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources: Click Here.

Source: www.tree-pruning.com