Tag Archives: patio

Creating Sunny California Shade Without Breaking The Bank

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Weingart-CenterOne of the joys of living in Southern California is its weather. It’s now the middle of February and the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperature is in the 80’s – what more could one ask for? But an irony of our beautiful, sun-drenched out-of-doors is that we must have shade in order to enjoy it and to protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays.

As a landscape designer and contractor, there are a variety of structures I can design and build (pergolas, gazebos, arbors, greenhouses) to satisfy my clients’ desire for shade. However, these structures (hardscape) are expensive and usually entail a substantial amount of landscaping to go along with their construction.

But there are alternatives to a permanent structure and while a few of these may require a certain amount of installation, they can be added to an existing patio or deck or poolside without much fuss and without breaking your bank!

Here are the three major categories:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

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)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (5)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (1)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (2)

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas

 

Garden Of Eva - Balcony Ideas (6)

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

Backyard Magic – Creating Cozy Comfort

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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

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

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

A Creative Way to Expand An Existing Terrace

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I have a client that has a beautiful mid-century modern home with a rather small terrace off the living room. The terrace has as it surface, tiles custom designed by the architect. My clients want to substantially expand the terrace but keep the tiles since they are part of the architect’s design and are in remarkably good condition. However, there is no way that I can match the tiles and the cost of having them replicated is not within their budget.

white-steel-pergola-outdoor-house-terrace-design9As I am both a landscape designer and a contractor, I suggested the way to resolve the aesthetic problem of having multiple floor surfaces is to think of that section of the new terrace as the foyer to what is going to become a substantial outdoor living area. As a foyer serves as a transitional area from the out doors into the home, this new foyer will serve in a comparable manner, but in reverse, from the house to the out of doors.

By building a pergola over the old terrace that compliments the architecture of the house, adding a step around its perimeter and lowering the ground level of the expanded terrace, the result will look as though this new addition was what the architect had always intended.

pavers-grassIn order to tie the rest of the terrace to the original, I will use concrete tinted to pick up a dominant color in the tiles. And to integrate the grass of the yard into this new terrace, plant material will be used to band the poured concrete pavers. The pergola of the foyer will be replicated over the dining area and wherever possible, the finishing details of the terrace will compliment but not try to duplicate the mid-century aesthetic of the house.

I want this new addition to feel fresh and have it’s own identity while respecting the beautifully designed home that it abuts.

As the saying goes, when you’re handed lemons, think lemonade.

Weingart Center Garden & Worldscape

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See what happens in three years!

Weingart-6In May of 2010 I began designing and building the Weingart Center Garden. The Garden is adjacent to the Weingart Center, in the heart of the skid-row section of downtown Los Angeles. I wrote about this experience in one of my first newsletters entitled, “A Little Bit of Country on Skid Row.” That newsletter detailed my experiences and it has become the basis for an article I wrote for an up-coming issue of Worldscape.

Worldscape is a Chinese publication, in both English and Chinese, that focuses on global landscape design. The editors requested an article describing one of my projects and I thought the design and construction of the Center’s garden was ideal. It demonstrates how a public/private partnership (the Weingart Center, AmeriCorps and me) can make a major contribution to one of the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

The article is to appear in Worldscape’s September publication – I’ll update you when it comes out. In the meantime, these photographs were shot for the publication and show how the Garden has grown in three years. If you want to see what it looked like in 2010, here is a link to a video showing the Garden’s construction:  Video.

I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to tell the Weingart Garden’s story. I hope it inspires other public/private partnerships and will help introduce “a little bit of country” to desolate pieces of property all around the world.Weingart-4 Weingart-8 Weingart-3 Weingart-2 Weingart-1

Enjoying Nature – An Outdoor Shower

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tropical-patioWith summer upon us and families hitting the beaches, barbequing and hanging out by the pool, spending hours trimming the hedges, pruning the roses or digging in the garden, you don’t have to live on a beach to appreciate an open-air shower. The out of doors is a great place to be and a great place to shower: lathering up in the cool morning air, stripping down after a couple of sweaty hours playing tennis or feeling the refreshing cascade of water running over your body following an early morning tee off and 18 holes.

Regardless of your motivation, there is an outdoor shower that will meet your needs and your pocket book.  From a foot sprayer connected to a hose and a cold-water spigot to an architecturally designed changing room with a multi-head shower and hot and cold running water, the choices are virtually unlimited.

Site Selection

Exotic-wooden-round-outdoor-shower-enclosure-galleryLocation, location, location, as they say, is paramount in purchasing a property and equally true in determining the best location for an outdoor shower.  Here are a few things to consider in selecting a site:

  • your budget,
  • the location of the plumbing lines,
  • who will be using it after what activity, and
  • does it take advantage of the beauty of it’s surrounding?

Privacy

resthard_outdoor_showerWhile you might like to commune with nature while you shower in the “all together,” this might not be true for your daughter or your mother when she comes to visit. So, I would suggest designing your shower for the most modest among you. There are an infinite number of ways to maintain privacy while still enjoying the glories of nature. Here are just a few thoughts: shower curtains, folding screens, painted shutters, old doors, bamboo roll-ups, potted plants, privet hedges and, of course, a whole range of custom designed enclosures constructed out of almost anything that will withstand water over a prolonged period of time.

Plumbing

rice-outdoor-shower-lWhere the water comes from and where it goes is something I believe is best left to a professional unless this a temporary, “let’s try this out to see if anyone uses it.” If this is the case, then you’re on your own.

These photographs will give you some idea of the range of outdoor showers.  They come in all sizes and descriptions: home made, pre made and custom made. And, of course, I would be happy to help you make an informed decision if you’re looking to commune with nature and want the advice and assistance of a professional.

 

Exterior stone shower cubical real home L etc 03/2008 not used
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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.

 

Sunset Plaza Makeover – Completed

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In August’s “Notes & News,” I introduced you to a “A Sunset Plaza Makeover,” the landscape I was designing and building for an international film produce and his family. In November, I followed up by showing you what was involved in creating the garden’s “Wall of Water.” And now, after eight months, the planning and designing has come to an end, the construction is over (and aren’t my clients thrilled), all the trees, hedges and plant material have been installed and the cushions, pillows and other accessories are exactly where they should be.

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As the following photographs will show (all by Luke Gibson of Luke Gibson Photography), this has been an extraordinary project. Defined by a series of descending terraces, my client’s new backyard includes a large living area and fire place, a dining area and outdoor kitchen, our famous wall of water, as well as a pool and spa and a charming entertainment room adjacent to the pool.

It has also been a wonderful experience – my clients have been terrific to work for and with – and the result, a collaboration of intent and execution, will provide them, their family and friends with a beautiful and livable landscape for years to come. As a landscape designer, this is as close as I come to perfection.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News