Tag Archives: Los Angeles Landscape Contractor

Best Landscape Designers in Los Angeles


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


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


Landscape Design – Balcony & Container Gardening


Lemmon TreeWith Summer upon us and life moving into the out of doors, I’ve had a number of clients ask what they can do to make their balconies more attractive. Of course, as a landscape designer and contractor, my obvious answer is … “add plants!”

While there are many other things you can do to improve the look or view of a balcony, including furniture, outdoor lighting, umbrellas and a whole host of soft goods, as well as water features, the thing that will brighten up a balcony faster and more economically than anything else, is a well thought out selection of plants.

Balconies, regardless of their size or the amount of sun they receive, can transform a view from the same old building you’ve been staring at since you moved in, into a charming vista. And while it would be ideal to sit out on one and enjoy the view, a view isn’t required or even room to sit.  A simple “Juliet Balcony” (an ornamental stone or decorative iron enclosure outside a window) or even a window ledge is more than enough space to create landscape magic. Of course, the larger the balcony, patio or roof garden, the more creative you can be.

However, before you rush off to the garden store, there are a few things to consider. Balconies, patios and rooftops are often micro climates that present different conditions from the ground below. Spend time during the day observing the space where you intend to garden. And please consider the following:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News


Landscape Maintenance – Is “Mow, Blow & Go” Really the Way To Go?


Why would anyone spend a great deal of time and energy, not to mention thousands, or even tens-of-thousands of dollars creating a beautiful landscape and then cheap out on its maintenance?

FYI: plants don’t look after themselves, gardeners do.

landscape-maintenance-1 All of those stately homes of England, like Highclere Castle, the actual name of the estate in the PBS series, “Downton Abbey,” which I mentioned in February’s edition of my newsletter, “Eva’s Notes & News,” were or are maintained by a staffs of gardeners and horticulturists.

And while your home may be your castle, I understand that it doesn’t necessarily present the horticultural challenges equal to one of the stately homes. But maintaining a garden is more that just cutting the lawn, trimming the hedge and blowing away the debris (a/k/a “mow, blow & go”). So here are some things you might want to consider when contemplating the care and feeding of your garden.

How To Select The Right Landscape Maintenance Company?

Research & References

If you were selecting a contractor I’m sure you would do a little due diligence before you hired someone to rip out your bathroom or put on a new roof. The same diligence should apply in selecting a landscape maintenance company.

  • pic-landmanageInterview at least 3 potential companies
  • Ask you friends or neighbors, whose landscape you admire, who does their maintenance
  • Check them out on Yelp, Google+ or, if you’re a member, Amy’s List to see what’s been said about their work
  • Ask to speak to at least two current employers and ask about the following:
    • Are your plants health and long lasting?
    • Is there a specialist in the company who has knowledge of horticulture, including plant selection and maintenance, evaluation and treatment of plant problems (insects, diseases, weeds, nutritional deficits); proper chemical usage; mowing, pruning and edging methods; and other detailed maintenance requirements.
    • Do they have the all the requisite equipment to do the job, including mowers, edging equipment, spreaders, sprayers, and specialized hand tools that are needed to properly maintain planted beds and turf areas? Do they understand the capabilities of the equipment and will plan schedules to ensure optimum performance?
    • Are they easy to work with and come up with suggestions that will improve your garden?

Benefits of using a Landscape Maintenance Professional:

While hiring a knowledgeable landscape maintenance company with specially trained staff may be more expensive at first, the additional cost is a small price to pay compared to the cost of replacing turf and plants damaged by disease and insects. Additionally, a company with a certified arborist available can identify hazardous trees on the property that represent a potential liability.

The improved survival rate of plants is another benefit. If a contract is to be used to define the maintenance company’s responsibility, a clause may be included to obligate the company to warrant newly planted shrubs and trees. A company that enters into an agreement in which plants are guaranteed will make an effort to ensure their survival.

Additional Information:

Should you be interested in learning more about professional landscape maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact us or check out our Landscape Maintenance Page on our website, www.garden-of-eva.com


Tree Pruning – Part I


A tree may need pruning for a variety of reasons:

  • to remove diseased or storm-damaged branches
  • to thin the crown to permit new growth and better air circulation
  • to reduce the height of a tree
  • to remove obstructing lower branches
  • to shape a tree for design purposes
  • to remove branches that are 10 feet or closer to power lines, particularly if they are connected to the house

Who Should Prune

Once the decision has been made to prune, your next decision is whether or not to tackle the job yourself. In the case of a large tree where you want to remove big branches in the upper area of the crown, it may be best to hire experts. Large tree pruning, in particular, can require climbing and heavy saws or even cherry-pickers and chain saws. This is a job that should be left to trained and experienced professionals. Never compromise personal safety in pruning a tree.

How To Prune

Targeting a Pruning Cut Large trees aside, there are many pruning jobs that you can do on your own. In all cases, the key is to prune the unwanted branch while protecting the stem or trunk wood of the tree. Tree branches grow from stems at nodes and pruning always takes place on the branch side of a stem-branch node. Branches and stems are separated by a lip of tissue called a stem collar which grows out from the stem at the base of the branch. All pruning cuts should be made on the branch side of this stem collar. This protects the stem and the other branches that might be growing from it. It also allows the tree to heal more effectively after the prune. To prevent tearing of the bark and stem wood, particularly in the case of larger branches, use the following procedure:

Three steps to pruning large branches.

  1. Make a small wedge shaped cut on the underside of the branch just on the branch side of the stem collar. This will break the bark at that point and prevent a tear from running along the bark and stem tissue.
  2. Somewhat farther along the branch, starting at the top of the branch, cut all the way through the branch leaving a stub end.
  3. Finally, make a third cut parallel to and just on the branch side of the of the stem collar to reduce the length of the stub as much as possible.

A similar procedure is used in pruning one of two branches (or one large branch and a stem) joined together in a ‘u’ or ‘v’ crotch. This is known as a drop crotch cut. Make the first notch cut on the underside of the branch you’re pruning well up from the crotch. For the second cut, cut completely through the branch from inside the crotch well up from the ridge of bark joining the two branches. Finally, to shorten the remaining stub, make the third cut just to one side of the branch bark ridge and roughly parallel to it.

If you need your trees pruned, or want a landscape consultation regarding the health and safety of your trees, give us a call at (323)  461-6556

To watch a charming  animated video on Pruning Trees.

This material comes, in part, from Pruning Trees, a step by step guide.

Part II of this series will include: When To Prune, How Much To Prune, Tools and Helpful Products.


Landscape Design – The Art of Espalier



Espalier, pronounced either “es-pah-lee-er” or “es-pah-lee-ay,” depending on how French you want to sound, is the ancient horticultural practice of controlling woody plant growth—originally for the purpose of fruit production—by pruning and tying branches to a frame so that they grow into a flat plane. The plant is usually, although not always, grown against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis and frequently in formal patterns.


Espalier as a technique is believed to have started with the Romans. During the Middle Ages the Europeans refined it into an art. The practice was used to produce fruit within the walls of a castle or a monastic cloister so as not to interfere with the limited open space and to decorate the fortified structure’s walls.

Vineyards have used the technique in the training of grapes for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years.

Espalier In Landscape Design

Espalier has considerable merit in today’s landscape design where the technique of growing fruit tress or ornamental plants is primarily used as a decorative accent.

An espalier becomes a living sculpture in the garden where the espaliered plants and trees can cover unsightly, boring, or blank, windowless walls or to create a visual screen or barrier—bringing an otherwise boring wall or space to life.

I have used espaliered plants as part of my landscape designs to add height in foundation planting, between widely-spaced windows and in tight, confined areas where spreading shrubs or trees cannot be effectively maintained.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News



Six Tips on How to Choose Solar Landscape Lighting


images-1As the weather warms and we begin to spend more time outside, the question of how best to light the outdoors in order to enjoy the evenings comes up. If your yard is already brilliantly illuminated, skip this blog, but if it isn’t or if it could be substantially improved, you might want to read on.

There are countless ways to illuminate the night, but one you should consider that might save you a good deal of money is solar landscape lighting. There is an excellent website that deals with this issues, Your Solar LInk Blog which I suggest you take a look at because it offers a great deal of information about all aspects of solar energy. The following is based on the information provided in that website.

The Solar Challenge

It can be a challenging and at the same time a fun process when looking into creating outdoor lighting for your home, yard or garden. The fun part of the process is that you are in control of creating a unique outdoor environment, inspired by your own imagination. You can create a comforting, welcoming mood with unique and eye-catching outdoor lighting.


However two challenges come to mind – finding a good bargain on the lights themselves, and the cost of hiring a licensed electrician to do the installation.

This is where solar powered outdoor lights step in. Solar lighting has become an increasingly popular alternative to the conventional and costly electric lights that currently illuminate our homes and living spaces.

Solar lights are affordably priced, simple and safe to install yourself (no digging ditches, laying the wire and attaching it to a junction box), and solar lights can be relocated easily, and above all else, you also save on electricity costs.

Solar lights use photovoltaic cells that absorb sunlight during the day and turn it into energy. Rechargeable batteries store the energy, making it available at night when it is needed. LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, which require little power and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, provide the illumination. There is no wiring necessary to connect the lights to each other or to the electric grid.

images-2Until recently, most solar lights emitted only muted light and were not all that reliable. With the latest developments in the solar lighting industry, this has changed and super-bright LEDs have replaced more conventional filament bulbs.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) create light without producing the waste heat of regular bulbs, are very bright, and yet require a minimal amount of electricity to function. The result is a reliable, long-lasting light source that will typically work for the life of the solar light product.

When shopping for solar lights, it’s important to match the light to the function you want it to perform.

Six Tips on How to Choose Solar Landscape Lighting

Tip 1.
Decide if you need decorative accent, path or task solar lights.

Tip 2.
Find out whether the battery needs full sunlight to charge. Some lights charge with partial sun and work great under trees or in areas with low sunlight. This type of solar light can also be charged on a cloudy day.

Tip 3.
Consider the operating time. Usually solar lights perform year round and even charge the battery to provide operation during long winter nights. Some solar lights shine for several days before needing to recharge.

Tip 4.
Check the type of light bulb the solar light uses. LED lights offer the brightest and most efficient light when it comes to efficiency, size, price and energy usage. Some accent solar lights use amber LED lights to create a softer glow.

Tip 5.
Compare extra items like timers or an on-off switch to the cost. Colored lenses change the look of the solar lights without compromising the brightness. Some solar lights mount to your house, hang from trees or can be mounted to your patio rail.

Tip 6.
Match the lighting to your landscape theme. Decorative solar lights (figurines) can create an interesting theme for a landscape or lawn, or while positioned next to shrubbery trimmed to your taste. Country style solar lanterns will add that special countryside charm to your garden. Hanging Japanese Soji lanterns on your trees or patio will bring an Asian flare to your outdoors. Modern stainless steel solar accent lights complement contemporary landscapes. An ultra bright stainless steel solar light will be a great choice to light up your flag pole.



Moving and Transplanting Trees with a Tree Spade


After my newsletter dealing with moving commercially grown, container stock onto a property, people have asked what’s involved in digging up and moving a mature tree to a new location. Well, it is, essentially, just like transplanting any plant, only on a very large and expensive scale.

Here is a condensation from an excellent article that comes from the University of Minnesota’s “Sustainable Urban Landscape information Series” or SULIS. So if you want really detailed information, check out the entire article.

Tree Spading & What’s Involved

Tree spading is a common method for moving and transplanting large trees from one site to another. The following are some reasons for transplanting large trees vs. younger, smaller trees are:


  • To prevent the loss of a tree due to building, roadway expansion or other construction;
  • To create space for a new building addition;
  • A particular mature tree has outgrown its present location;
  • To alter the design of a landscape;
  • To move a tree to a site better suited to its needs;
  • To create a mature landscape quickly.

Initially, transplanting a tree with a tree spade may be more costly than purchasing container stock or B&B trees. However, the tree spade may be the best option if a tree will otherwise be lost or if the value of the tree outweighs the moving costs. Spading is also saves labor, planting time and years of maintenance of the juvenile tree. Spading also eliminates the possible risk of mower damage that commonly occurs on younger, smaller trees.

Dutchman_95_Tree_Spade_on_LoaderTree spades are used in various ways throughout the green industry. Commercial nurseries use tree spades to lift large, field-grown trees out of the soil, and wrap the root ball in burlap and twine (termed “ball and burlap” or B&B) for retail sale or compact storage. Landscape companies and arborists use spades to plant large trees that are nursery-grown or have been moved from elsewhere in the landscape. Landscape professionals use a tree spade to create an “instant landscape” by digging and transplanting large trees from one location to another.

Homeowners can also use spades to locate trees on residential sites. Trailer-mounted spades that can hold a soil ball up to 44 inches in diameter are available at some rental centers. However, due to safety issues, and the complexity of the equipment and processes involved, it is strongly recommended that individuals hire an experienced contractor specializing in tree spading to transplant trees.

Dig Safety

Always contact the proper company or municipality for the location of underground utilities prior to digging. It is also important that you locate private lines such as irrigation systems, wiring for landscape lighting, water lines that serve water fountains and ponds, etc. In Minnesota, call GOPHER ONE at 651-454-0002 or contact a qualified professional contractor regarding the utility location prior to breaking ground.

Supplies and Specifications:

Tree spades are available in a variety of types and sizes. Some spades have the capacity to move a tree with a maximum trunk diameter of eight to 10 inches, or a soil ball up to 90 inches in diameter. The size of the spade is critical. It must be large enough to accommodate a root ball that will sufficiently sustain the tree after planting. If a spade is too small, the root system will be too small to allow for long term establishment and the tree will die. When determining the spade size needed to move a tree, deciduous trees are measured by trunk diameter and evergreens are measured by tree height. A tree spade can be used to move one tree at a time or a pod trailer may be used to move as many as three trees at one time.

Tree spade size

Deciduous tree – trunk diameter

Evergreen tree – height

44 inches

2 to 3 inches

5 to 7 feet

66 inches

3 to 5 inches

7 to 10 feet

92 inches

6 to 8 inches

12 to 15 feet

Trunk diameters are measured using a caliper, six inches above the ground for tree four inches in diameter or smaller and 12 inches above the ground for trees with a large diameter.



Landscape Designer – Los Angeles


Having been a landscape designer and landscape contractor here in Los Angeles since 1995, it wasn’t until recently that I was asked by a potential client, “What, exactly, is it that you do, besides buying and arranging plants and … planting them?”

I was surprised by the question because I assumed anyone interested in hiring a landscape designer and contractor understood what it is that I do. But it’s a valid question and it’s important for clients to understand the range of services Garden Of Eva Landscape Design Group can  provide beyond buying, arranging and planting plants. So, here goes!


A point of view or philosophy is essential for exceptional landscape design. I believe that nature is an essential part of the human condition and that in today’s world our gardens are, unfortunately, our primary means of contact.

Whether it’s a simple front yard or a backyard garden, a English perennial garden or a swimming pool landscaping, a dining area, a cutting garden, an atrium, a balcony, a large estate or an urban environment — a garden should be a world unto itself, offering: a place for quiet activities, that delights all who indulge or pass by, a space to learn, an area for entertaining and recreation, a place to escape from everyday stress, a setting to watch the wonders of nature unfold, a place to revisit memories, or a means of eliminating unwanted sights and sounds.

It heals what doctors can’t. It nurtures the soul and dazzles the eye, and in order to make it exceptional … it begins with my client’s dreams.

The Process

Landscape design and construction is an expensive and time-consuming proposition and communication is essential for a successful collaboration. One of my most important jobs is to clearly understand what the client is looking to accomplish and to figure out if it’s possible within their allotted budget. This often requires a great deal of research and resource review before a design is ever presented to the client. The following is a condensation of what’s involved.

  • Pre-Planning: meet with the client to gather background, priorities, design guidelines and review proposed budget.
  • Preliminary Design: review site, usage requirements and environmental conditions and develop a schematic study — present conceptual drawings, plant selection and initial construction costs for client’s review and approval.
  • Final Design: make adjustments based on client review — add detail — finalize materials and plant species — execute construction plans and working drawings — secure necessary permits.
  • Construction: demolition and/or plant removal, hardscape construction (i.e., all built elements such as patios, walkways, paths, fences, walls, driveways, fountains, pools, ponds, pergolas, arbors, gazebos, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, etc.), irrigation, planting, lighting, garden furniture and decorative accessories.
  • Maintenance: see to the health, well being and cultivation of newly planted trees, shrubs and grasses, and maintain the look and natural development of the garden.

Design – Build – Maintain

While many landscape designers focus only on the designing, I wear both hats – designer and contractor. I am  there for my clients from concept through installation and will also provide the garden’s essential, on-going maintenance.

By covering all aspects of a garden’s creation or expansion, I offer my clients a budget-conscious, time-sensitive matrix that provides for better communication, accountability and feedback. Like I said, communication is everything in an exceptional landscape design.



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