Tag Archives: Los Angeles Landscape Designer

Backyard Magic – Creating Cozy Comfort

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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.

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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.

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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

Pets and Toxic Plants

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English Springer Spaniel

While I’m not normally asked about the toxicity of the plants that I add to a client’s landscape, this question did come up recently regarding the back yard I was re-designing.  The owner wanted to know if any of the plants that were being considered would be harmful to their two Springer Spaniels. I said that I didn’t believe so, but that I would check to see if any of them were considered toxic to animals.

The Sago Palm I knew to be quite toxic to dogs and I have always been judicious in its use. However, I wanted to be sure that nothing I selected or anything else on the property was toxic, so I checked with the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine website and here is what they had to say. Needless to say, none of these were used in the landscaping.

A surprisingly large number of common garden and household plants are toxic to pets, and reactions to toxicity range from mild to life-threatening. Pets, like young children, explore the world with their senses, and they are therefore vulnerable to accidental poisoning. Many of these plants make wonderful additions to the garden, but it is important to know which plants are toxic. If possible, avoid planting these where pets (or children) will have frequent unsupervised access to the plants.

The 12 plants listed below are responsible for the majority of calls to our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) about possible plant poisoning. The list was compiled by Director of Pharmacy Dr. Valerie Wiebe. The toxicity of the plants below varies according to the species of animal exposed (cat, dog, bird, etc.), the amount of the plant that was ingested, and the specific variety or species of the plant.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the plants below, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms appear, because in some cases of poisoning, by the time symptoms appear it is too late to save the animal.

  1. Day Lillies
    Day Lillies

    Lilies (Lilium, all spp.): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. First symptoms appear in a few hours and may include appetite suppression, lethargy, vomiting. Cats are especially sensitive to lily poisoning, so be very careful to keep your cats away from liliies of any kind, including the Amaryllis, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies so often found in homes around the holidays.

  2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, weakness, and even death. (Photo courtesy of freebigpictures.com web site).
  3. Anemone (Anenome and Pulsatilla, family Ranunculaceae): Irritating to the mucus membranes, and can cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions, and death. (Photo is Japanese Anemone).
  4. http://blog.garden-of-eva.com/?p=1789 Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
  5. Amaryllis (family Amaryllidaceaea, incl. Hippeastrum spp.) All species, including Belladonna Lily, are toxic, and especially dangerous to cats. The bulbs are the toxic part of the plant. The “Amaryllis” commonly seen during the December holidays are Hippeastrum species. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, tremors. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Zagory, UC Davis Arboretum).
  6. Asparagus Fern (family Liliaceae): Allergic dermatitis, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea.
  7. Daffodil (Narcissus): Vomiting, diarrhea. Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias.
  8. Philodendrons: Irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
  9. Jade Plants (Crassula argentea): Vomiting, depressions, ataxia, slow heart rate.
  10. Chrysanthemums: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, incoordination, dermatitis.
  11. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): The tubers or rhizomes contain the toxic glycoside cyclanin, a terpenoid saponin. Ingestion can cause excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, or even death in rare cases.
  12. Cycads (including Sago palm; cardboard palm; etc.): The “Sago palm” is a cycad, not a true palm, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, melena (black “tarry” feces), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver failure, and death. A northern California police dog, a patient at one of our Companion Animal Memorial Fund donor clinics, died in November 2011 after ingesting parts of this plant.

For more information about plants that are toxic to dogs and cats here is a link to Southern California’s Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. 

Add A Stream To Your Drought-Tolerant Landscape

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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

Tips to Help Trees Survive Drought

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Our California drought is not going away. In fact, given the current weather and worsening drought conditions, this fall will probably be the worst forest fire season in the state’s history. In addition, the state and local communities are significatly increasing regulations regarding the use of water for lawns and have added substantial fines for its misuse.

I came across this info graphic on ways to help your trees survive the drought. Even if you allow your grass to die or decided to replace it with drought-tollernat and native plants, your trees are not only a significant investment in money and time, they add substantial value of your property and provide a number of environmental contributions.  Providing the correct amount of water and right nutrients can help trees and plants survive through severe droughts. If you would like to print this out and keep it handy to refer to, please Click Here

Prepared by the California Urban Forests Council and Invest from the Ground Up to help landscapers and property owners help trees not only survive a drought, but thrive in one. 

Drought-infographic_Trees

Additional Information

For more information on sustainable landscape design, water management and plant selection, here are links to articles I’ve written on the subject :

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.

Garden of Eva-2
Los Angeles Office of Homeland Security

 

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

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

Happy National Public Gardens Day!

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Gardens and landscaping are my life, so I couldn’t be happier to help ring the bell for this well deserved national celebration.  While I doubt there’ll be too many fireworks going off, it’s still an important day to draw attention to how important parks and landscaped public spaces are to our well being. So let’s raise a glass — I’ll forgo the fireworks — to the beauty of nature and the peace and tranquility she provides.

National Public Gardens Day (May 9th) is an annual celebration of the nation’s public gardens to raise awareness of the important role botanical gardens and arboreta play in promoting environmental stewardship, plant and water conservation, green spaces, and education in communities nationwide.

If you’d like to find a garden near you to celebrate, please CLICK HERE!

The Mission

Today, this national day of recognition, presented by the American Public Gardens Association, celebrates the environmental stewardship of North America’s public gardens and their local, regional and national leadership in resourcing the nation’s conservation and environmental education needs.

Activities

National Public Gardens Day celebrates all public gardens, botanical gardens, educational gardens, specialty gardens, entertainment gardens, arboreta, farm gardens, historical landscapes and zoos, and each institution participates in their own unique way.

Many of the nation’s public gardens will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families and thousands of visitors to explore and discover their local public garden, while learning about each garden’s commitment to education, research and environmental stewardship.

Timing

National Public Gardens Day takes place annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day, an unofficial start of spring and a time when the environment is top of mind for most of the public.  This year, National Public Gardens Day will be celebrated on Friday, May 9, 2014.

Benefit

Public gardens offer fun activities for families, couples and enthusiasts, providing a low-cost, entertaining and beautiful community outing as well as important resources, education and research on environmental stewardship and conservation.

Check out the 2013 National Public Gardens Day Video

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.

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.