Tag Archives: water features

Add A Stream To Your Drought-Tolerant Landscape


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


SWIMMING POOLS – Ready To Take The Plunge?


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


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


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


Enjoying Nature – An Outdoor Shower


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?


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.


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
RMS_pnorviel-deck-outdoor-shower_s3x4_lg copy


Sunset Plaza Makeover – Completed


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.


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


Landscape Design – Building A Wall Of Water


In August’s “Notes & News,” I introduced you to a “A Sunset Plaza Makeover,” the landscape I was designing for an international film producer and his family. The construction has been completed, the planting is coming to an end and the D.D. Blanchard Magnolias I featured in that newsletter are doing brilliantly.This has been an extraordinary project, which I am thrilled to have been able to design and build.

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, a pool and spa and a charming entertainment room adjacent to the pool. It also has a wall of water, as I call it, the design and construction of which I thought you might find interesting.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News


Landscape Design – Water Features – Beauty, Tranquility & Value


Whether it’s a swimming pool, a pond, a waterfall or stream, a fountain or a combination of any of these, water – either still or flowing – adds something totally unique to a landscape – even if that landscape is only a balcony

The Magic of Water

I was reminded of this when my crew recently finished building a waterfall/stream that I had designed to fit into a corner of a piece of property that sat on a hillside. Because of the location, this was not an easy birth and it took a lot of work to shoehorn this feature into place. But when the water was tuned on and it began flowing down the rocks, filling the small pool at the bottom, it was transformational!

The sound of the water cascading over the rocks and the sunlight reflecting off the stream gave a whole new dimension to what, as you see in these pictures, was not an ideal location.

Of course, water features come in every size and description and price. What’s most important in considering what feature or features might be appropriate, other than, of course, price, is how it relates to your current landscape and home, your family and your lifestyle.

Here are three very different examples of water features and hardscape that I designed and built based on:

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News


5 Tips For Designing Your Landscape


If you’ve been thinking about re-doing your back yard, front yard or the whole nine yards, now is a good time to begin formulating a plan. So here are 5 tips to consider.  I’ll be along with an additional 5 tips next month

1. Plan What You’re Going To Do

Planning is paramount when you’re designing a garden or landscape. I know how much fun it is to walk around a nursery or garden store and pick out plants, but before you ever set foot in one, you need to have a clear idea of what it is your doing. Here are some things to consider:

  • play areas for your children
  • space for pets
  • seating and/or dining areas
  • water features (pools,fountain, streams)
  • hardscape: walkways, paths, structures, power lines
  • update or expand sprinkler system
  • outdoor lighting
  • equipment storage
  • unsightly air conditioner units and service building
  • the amount of sun or shade your garden experiences

How are you going to handle each one of these?

2. Research

The best way to learn  how to make it happen is to see how others have creatively dealt with similar situations.

  • Get a selection of landscaping, home or gardening magazines and cut out pictures of what you like.
  • Go to the library and look through landscaping design books and photograph the pictures you like (use that camera-phone creatively).
  • Drive through neighborhoods and take photographs of yards you like, or a particular way an area has been designed.
  • Buy gardening books and read the chapters on what concerns you.

3. Continuity Of Design

The landscaping of  your home does not exist in a vacuum, it should be the exterior  extension of your home. The landscaping designs that are most successful are those that effectively blend the materials, styles and colors of your home with the out-of-doors. Therefore a successful design is not just about the selection of plants and their placement and the purchase of patio furniture, it should incorporate paths, driveways, walkways, walls, columns and, of course, the view.

4. Scale

The size of one object in relations to another is what scape is all about. I often see property owners that are afraid of selecting accents like bird baths, sculptures and garden statues that are relative in size to the size of the yard. Typically, most homeowners select a smaller size than what is actually needed. Remember, the scale of an object or objects should be relative in size to the objects around them.

5. Plant Selection

This is the very heart of good landscape design because if the plants you select don’t survive and flourish,  not only have you wasted a great deal of time and effort, you have also wasted a good deal of money. Therefore, before deciding on whether to plant roses or gardenias, you need to be clear about a number of things:

  • how much sun does your property get
  • what kind of tress are on your property
  • what is the PH balance of the soil
  • do you have tillable soil or is there too much clay or sand (see my newsletter, Soil Isn’t Sexy But It Is Essential.

All of these elements need to be evaluated in order to determine the kind of plant material that is appropriate for your environment. Once you have all this information at hand you can begin the process of designing your garden.

Need Help?

Should you want help in this process, in addition to designing landscapes I also consult with those folks to want to do it themselves.  If you’re interested in setting up a consultation, email me or give me a call at 323-788-3831.


Does Landscaping Add Value To Your Home?


This is the one question that I am forever being asked by both my current clients, whenever they’re considering a make over, as well as prospective ones, who have just bought a house and want to re-landscape or have children or a dog and need to reconsider their environment.

It’s also a very valid question because landscaping can be a substantial investment and it makes financial sense to know if that investment may pay off in the event the home is ever put on the market.

I recently read an interesting article at Buzzle.com that examines these considerations so I thought I would share their POV with you. What follows is a truncated and personalized version of that article.  For the complete version please check out their website above.

What the Experts Say

According to Buzzle’s experts, a well-maintained landscape in the front and backyard will add 15% to the selling price. Also, well-landscaped homes sell 5 times faster than any other home.

To continue reading … Eva’s Note & News