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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- Interview 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.
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.
Tree 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.
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
2 to 3 inches
5 to 7 feet
3 to 5 inches
7 to 10 feet
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.|
Other than maintenance and watering, which I have written about extensively over the last couple of months and guarding and spraying against insects, there’s not a lot that you have to do. So sit by the pool, have a barbeque or enjoy our cool summer evenings with friends, family, a pitcher of lemonade or, my preference, a frosty gin and tonic.
However, if you must busy yourself in the garden, do it in the early morning or early evening so that you and your plants aren’t stressed out by the sun and the heat of the day.
Can’t Stop Gardening?
If there are beds that still need to be tended or areas that cry out for help, and if you live in a costal zone, it’s still possible to plant:
- tropicals (see The Monthly Gardener for June), bearded irises, succulents, cacti and euphorbias
and to fertilize:
- roses, fuchsias, tuberous begonias, tropicals, ferns, water lilies, cymbidiums, warm-season lawns and succulents growing in containers
Pests & Diseases
Scale, spider mites, and thrips may attack during summer months. Mist plants frequently to increase humidity and reduce stress. Treat plant infestations with insecticidal soap, following label instructions or with a neem oil product if the infestation persists.
If you want to know more about what to do in the garden in August, check out Pat Welsh’s “Southern California Gardening – A Month-by-Month Guide, or Google, “Southern California Gardening August.”
I know it sounds too good to be true, but no-mow grass is real. In fact, it’s been around since the 1930s, came to market in the ‘60s, but with improved cultivars it’s only been the last few years that no-mow has become popular. This has come about due to the demand for low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally friendly ground covers. I can attest that it’s for real, an excellent alternative for the usual residential grasses, as I am currently planting it in several of my residential landscaping design projects.
The Fineleaf Fescue Species
The “fineleaf fescue” species is the grass of choice among “grassy” ground covers for slopes, median strips, golf course roughs, cemeteries, and for industrial, commercial and residential landscapes. There are four distinct species, and any number of commercial varieties have been developed for specific growing areas of California and for different amounts of sun and water.
Is It Really Grass?
When I suggest no-mow, the usual question I get from clients is, “Is it real grass?” Yes, it’s real grass, reaches 2 to 6 inches and grows sideways for a clean and uniform look. Once the seeds have taken hold and the turf is established, it will provide a beautiful looking lawn that requires very little maintenance!
But as there are a number of seed varieties, tailored for specific climates, irrigation, sun and use, I suggest you contact a knowledgeable professional before you proceed to rip out your existing lawn and replace it with no-mow.
Although no-mow fineleaf fescues require less water than typical mowed lawns, to survive in California they must be irrigated during the summer months. Irrigation may be stopped after the first significant rain of the fall-winter season and should be restarted only after the chance of further rain disappears in spring.
The recommended mowing height for fineleaf fescue lawns is 2 ½ inches. Mowing every 2 to 3 weeks is usually sufficient. Left unmowed, the grass will grow to a height of 6 to 12 inches, with most leaves drooping to one side or the other. It’s important to keep the grass from growing near or around landscape trees and shrubs. Tall, dense grass abutting trees and shrubs may provide a thick layer of continuously moist mulch that can promote fungus and crown rot. To prevent disease, keep grass at least 2 feet from tree trunks or shrubs.
One advantage of a no-mow fineleaf fescue lawn is that it needs less nutrition than usual grasses. If the soil is highly fertile, a no-mow lawn may never need to be fertilized. On average soils, the lawn may need no more than 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year. The best time to fertilize is October, before the rain arrives.
Sod vs. Seed
Because no-mow fineleaf fescue has extremely slow seed germination and seedling growth, this creates a challenge for weed control at early stages of turf establishment. There are many options to deal with the weed control and eradication, which your nursery or landscape consultant can advise you on.
However, now that producers are offering fineleaf fescue sod, in the long run, sod may be a better economic choice over seeding, considering weed infestation, seedling disease and seed wash out, all of which can affect seedling establishment.
Along with April showers comes National Landscape Architecture Month, Earth Day – celebrated on April 22 and on April 26, the birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and the designer ofNew York’s Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, thegrounds of the U.S. Capitol and many other extraordinary gardens and parks though out our country. So, I thought April would be the perfect month to consider “The Value of Your Front Yard“.
I wrote about the added value of landscaping to real estate in last September’s Eva’s Notes & News, “Does Landscaping Add Value To Your Home. However, it’s worth repeating that,
“Your front yard is the face of your property. Not only does it greet you every day, it’s the first thing potential buyers see should you ever decided to put your home on the market. Therefore, ‘curb appeal,‘ isn’t just a real estate catch phrase, it’s a reality. According any number of studies, a well landscape property can increase it’s sale price from 7% – 15%.”
To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News
Besides creating colorful planters, as you will see by these photographs, I have included a couple of shots of a front yard I designed using nothing but succulents.
While ripping out a lawn and planting succulents does require a certain up-front expense, in the long run you can save thousands of dollars in water bills, many man-hours of tending, as well as tens of thousands of gallons of water – a great savings for both your pocketbook and environment.
To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News
Rammed earth is a sustainable building technique that’s been around since man discovered that by combining earth, chalk, lime and gravel, pouring it into a mold and pounding it down, he could create walls, houses and fortifications. Ironically, I’m using this ancient construction process to build a series of walls, seating areas and terraces in a garden I’m doing for the one of the stars of the most successful SciFi program currently on network television.
As described in Wikipedia, Rammed earth, also known as taipa (Portuguese), tapial (Spanish), and pisé (de terre) (French), is an ancient building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and natural building methods. Rammed-earth walls are simple to construct, incombustible, thermally massive, strong, and durable. They can be labor-intensive to construct without machinery (powered tampers), and they are susceptible to water damage if inadequately protected or maintained.
Rammed-earth buildings are found on every continent except Antarctica, in a range of environments that includes the temperate and wet regions of northern Europe, semiarid deserts, mountain areas and the tropics. The availability of useful soil and a building design appropriate for local climatic conditions are the factors that favor its use.
Building With Rammed Earth
Building a rammed-earth wall involves compressing a damp mixture of earth that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel and clay (sometimes with an added stabilizer) into an externally supported frame or mold, creating either a solid wall of earth or individual blocks. In modern variations of the method, rammed-earth walls are constructed on top of conventional footings or a reinforced concrete slab base.
Where blocks made of rammed earth are used, they are generally stacked like regular blocks but are bonded together with a thin mud slurry instead of cement. Special machines, usually powered by small engines and often portable, are used to compress the earth into blocks.
Historically, such additives as lime or animal blood were used to stabilize the material, while modern construction uses lime, cement or asphalt emulsions. Some modern builders also add colored oxides or other items, such as bottles or pieces of timber, to add variety to the structure.
Creating A Temporary Framework
The construction of an entire wall begins with a temporary frame (formwork), usually made of wood or plywood, to act as a mold for the desired shape and dimensions of each wall section. The form must be sturdy and well braced, and the two opposing wall faces clamped together, to prevent bulging or deformation from the large compression forces involved. Damp material is poured in to a depth of 10 to 25 cm (4 to 10 in) and then compacted to around 50% of its original height. The material is compressed iteratively, in batches, gradually building the wall up to the top of the frame. Tamping was historically done by hand with a long ramming pole, and was very labor-intensive; modern construction can be made more efficient by employing pneumatically powered tampers.
Once a wall is complete, it is strong enough that the frames can be removed immediately. This is necessary if a surface texture will be applied (e.g. by wire-brushing), since the walls become too hard to work after about an hour. Construction is best done in warm weather so that the walls can dry and harden. The compression strength of the rammed earth increases as it cures; it takes some time to dry out, as much as two years for complete curing. Exposed walls should be sealed to prevent water damage.
Go Native And Help Save Our Planet
If you’re considering adding hardscapes to your garden (terraces, steps, walkways, retaining walls) you should seriously consider building with rammed earth. It’s beautiful, sustainable and extremely earth friendly.
I am often asked by potential clients, “Do you design contemporary gardens?”
The answer, of course, is yes, not because I want the job – although that might be the case – but because the gardens I create are designed to do two things:
- express my clients’ needs and
- reflect or enhance the architecture of the buildings they surround.
I often feel buildings speak to me – not that I’m a “garden whisperer” – but I do take my inspiration from each structure and the stronger the structure’s point of view . . .
Continue reading Eva’s Notes & News