Tag Archives: Los Angeles Landscape Contractor

SWIMMING POOLS – Ready To Take The Plunge?

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leanderWith summer now in full force, I thought this might be the ideal time to bring up the subject of swimming pools. Of course, this being Southern California a majority of my clients already have pools, but for those of you who don’t and are considering putting in an in-ground pool (above-ground pools I’ll leave to the vendors), here are some things to consider.

malibuMake A Plan

Adding an in-ground pool is not only a major expenditure, it’s time consuming and will disrupt you, your yard and your life. It is a permanent feature of your home and will be an important consideration should you ever decide to sell. So if you’re serious about taking it on, the first step is to review the following and make a plan:

  • Choosing The Site: take into consideration it’s orientation to your home – exits – decks – windows, the view, the sun, the trees, existing hardscape, accessibility for construction equipment, the type of soil and the slope of the land
  • Create A Budget: create a realistic budget detailing all of your desired features and what you think they might cost
  • Review Building Codes: while the details of your community’s building codes should be left to your contractor, it would be wise to get a general understanding of what the codes cover and how they might impact the construction and cost

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

May 13 – 7 PM – Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Revealed

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Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association May 13th MeetingAt the invitation of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association I will be speaking on sustainable (“Green”) landscape design and the use of drought-tolerant, Mediterranean and native California species. The focus of the talk will be on how their use can save you money on your water bill and make a positive contribution to the serious drought California currently faces, as well as help ease our state’s ever-diminishing water supply.

If you’re interested in learning about drought-tolerant design and intelligent-water management, you are cordially invited to attend the meeting (no reservation required) on Tuesday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m. at the Van Ness Elementary School, 501 N. Van Ness Ave., Los AngelesSEE MAP

A couple of the topics I’ll touch on are:

  • How sustainable landscape design can be beautiful, provide curb appeal and integrate with your home’s architecture.
  • How to save money by replacing water-guzzling grass with a drought-tolerant landscape.
  • How to water drought-tolerant species.
  • How to prepare the ground and the kind of fertilizer to use.
  • Drought-tolerant plant selection?

In addition, I will provide handouts on the use of drought tolerant plants, the intelligent use of water and a landscaping design check list.

Garden of Eva Landscaping Design Group

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

To understand just how serious our water shortage is and how important water conservation plays in our environment’s sustainability, here’s an update from the L.A. TIMES date April 25, 2014 by Jason Wells.

Drought covers 100% of California for first time in 15 years

2014 California Drought

A prolonged period of below-average rainfall has put the entire state of California under some level of drought, ranging in severity from moderate to exceptional, for the first time in 15 years.

The latest drought monitor released by the National Climatic Data Center this week shows that the entire state is under moderate drought conditions, but within that map, 76.6% of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions, and for 24.7% of the state, the level of dryness is “exceptional.”

During the same period last year, none of the state was considered to be under extreme or exceptional drought conditions, and just 30% fell under the “severe” category, according to the assessment released Thursday.

“This is a really serious situation here in California and people need to be cognizant of that and start conserving water as much as they can,” said Jayme Laber, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service who is part of a team of scientists who contribute to the weekly drought monitor.

The lack of substantial precipitation over the last three rain seasons has affected every part of the state, “some worse than others,” Laber said.

While many municipalities across the state have instituted voluntary conservation measures, some have gone further. As of May 1, customers in Santa Cruz will have to cut their water use by 25% or face stiff financial penalties. The mandatory restrictions are the first for the city in 25 years, CBS San Francisco reported.

The statewide situation eased somewhat after soaking rains in Northern California earlier this year allowed the State Water Project, which supplies a majority of the state, to announce that it would make 5% of the system’s allocation — a minor bump from the zero allocation that customers had been expecting.

Still, NOAA reported last week that half of the Sierra Nevada’s snow pack liquid water equivalent melted in one week, spurred by statewide temperatures that were as much as 12 degrees above average. The melt did little to boost reservoirs.

Unable To Attend?

If you’re unable to attend the meeting, the presentation will be videotaped and posted on my website, Garden Of Eva Landscape Design Group, and on my blog, A Gardener’s Thoughts & Fancies, or you can subscribe to my newsletter, “Eva’s Notes & News,” as it will be included in next month’s edition.

Top Outdoor Living Trends That Add Resale Value

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I am, thankfully, busier than ever – both as a landscape designer and as a landscape contractor. I am working with a number of clients to transform their front and back yards into wonderful, livable spaces that are not only beautiful outdoor environments designed for relaxation and entertaining but are far more environmentally friendly and far less expensive to maintain than the water-guzzling grass that had previously covered the majority of these sites.

Garden Of Eva Landscape Design GroupA great deal of what I’m doing is the design and construction of hardscape environments. This increased interest in construction was highlighted when I came across a survey of 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. According to their survey (which follows) American homeowners are increasingly interested in creating outdoor rooms and outdoor kitchens (hardscape) for entertaining and relaxation. The results of the survey confirm what I’ve been hearing: with the economy improving and real estate prices heading upward, homeowners are now willing to invest in their homes. It’s clear that they want to maximize their properties’ enjoyable, usable spaces, to save money on maintenance while at the same timeincreasing their homes’ resale value.

Building What People Want Is A Wise Investment

Encino-9The following survey will give you an idea of how a serious sampling of homeowners are looking to improve their properties. It would be a helpful guide if you too are looking to make such an investment. Because, let’s face it, if you’re going to spend the time, energy and money improving you landscape, you might as well know what most people are looking for so that in the event you decided to sell … those improvements will turn out to be a wise investment.

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

The Yin and Yang of Landscape Design

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Oasis

Water Features

Water features come in every conceivable size and description and they are an ideal addition to a landscape that will be planted with native and drought-tolerant plants.

It may seem incongruous to think about creating a stream or pond or placing a fountain in a landscape that looks more like a dessert than a sylvan glade, but the right feature can not only give your landscape a focus, it can act as a stunning counterpoint to rocks and stones in a succulent filled, “green” garden.

Just think of an oasis in the dessert – the yin and yang of landscape design – polar opposites but perfect complements.

If you’ve come to the realization that pouring water on a lawn is not only wasting a precious resource it’s wasting your money, then the time has come to pull out that lawn and give yourself a blank canvas to work on.

Here are some ideas that I hope will convince you that having a yard that can pass as a putting green is not only inappropriate, given the drought conditions that Southern California is now facing, it is boring!

 To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

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.

A Succulent Garden Takes Shape Before Your Eyes

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A client of mine created an interesting time-lapse video showing the installation of succulent and drought-tollerant plantings in his front and back yard, which I designed and built for him. Take a moment to watch it unfold as my guys goes about their business.

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 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