Landscape Design

Landscape Design Guide: Over-used Landscape Plants and California Native Substitutions

July 21st, 2011  |  Published in California Native Plants, Landscape Design

Any visitor to California with a horticultural eye would notice a handful of reoccurring plants throughout the state.  From freeways to strip malls to homes, there is a stunningly uniform variety of plants in the landscape.  But this is no mass conspiracy masterminded by evil growers.  Rather, this is a testament to some very tough plants filling some difficult roles.

But because our mediterranean climate allows the use of thousands of varieties of plants, it is high time some of the usual suspects in the landscape are phased out and replaced with some low-water, low-maintenance, native plants that match or out-perform the old guard.  Consider this Landscape Design Guide’s  suggestions for some California landscape ideas:

Rhamnus ‘Mound San Bruno’ (Coffeeberry) for Rhaphiolepis indica (India Hawthorne)

  rhamnus for rhaphiolepis 001 Landscape Design Guide: Over used Landscape Plants and California Native Substitutions Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips for Designing California Native Gardens

June 21st, 2011  |  Published in California Native Plants, Landscape Design

The good news is there’s no single right way to design a California native garden.  Whether you would like to dabble with a few plants here and there or have a regionally appropriate all-native garden, you may experiment as freely as you wish.  And with hundreds of varieties of native plants to choose from and a limitless number of unique sites, how could there be single a right way?

But with that said, a poorly designed native garden will fail faster than you can say “Lyonothamnus floribunus asplenifolius” (that’s Catalina Ironwood for the non-Latin folks).  Without proper research or forethought, one can unwittingly mix riparian plants with desert plants, underestimate plant size and place too closely together, or select the wrong plant for a given spot in the garden.  So in an effort to foster the creation of more beautiful, successful native gardens throughout California’s cultivated landscape, here are five tips we believe are the most often over-looked by beginners:

1)  Visit Mature Native Gardens:

visit garden 001 5 Tips for Designing California Native Gardens Read the rest of this entry »

Kill Your Lawn, Here’s How

August 30th, 2010  |  Published in Landscape Design, Landscape Sustainability

by Tree of Life Nursery

Removing or reducing the amount of turf you have on your property to make way for a native landscape is a wonderfully rewarding experience! Say goodbye to the maintenance headache, high water use, and lawnmower hum of your tired lawn and prepare to welcome the sound of songbirds and the sight of hummingbirds and butterflies in your landscape.

TOLN Kill Lawn Sticker wGrass320p Kill Your Lawn, Heres How
STEP ONE, (WHICH CAN BE A CHALLENGING ONE!), IS KILLING THE LAWN

Why should you ‘Kill Your Lawn’ ?
By removing some or all of your turf you will:
• Reduce water use dramatically
• Reduce or eliminate fertilizer and associated polluted runoff
• Eliminate weekly maintenance labor and expense
• Free up square footage for more attractive and beneficial plants!

2. HOW TO KILL YOUR LAWN

Identify the type of turf you have
• Cool season grass: Fescue, Marathon, Bluegrass and grass blends that stay green in the winter
• Warm season grass: Bermuda, St Augustine, Zoyzia and any rhizomatous grass that is brown in winter

3. DETERMINE A STRATEGY FOR REMOVAL BASED UPON THESE FACTORS

• Grass type
• Season of removal
• Timeline

4. COOL SEASON GRASSES: HARD TO GROW, EASY TO KILL, QUICK TO REPLACE

• Smother with mulch, no plastic
• Strip and flip using a sod-cutting machine, mark and avoid sprinkler heads that may be retrofitted for the new garden.
• Rototill, only if no rhizomatous weedy grasses are present
• Herbicide- typically not necessary with cool season grasses

5.WARM SEASON GRASSES: EASY TO GROW, HARD TO KILL, SLOW TO REPLACE
• DO NOT ROTOTILL
• Hand removal by weeding, digging out roots (difficult)
• Herbicide- controversial but effective, each gardener needs to make their own cost/benefit analysis of this method

6. GROW AND KILL
• Glyphosate-based herbicides (Roundup, Rodeo, others) low toxicity, short residual
• Non-selective herbicide, tailor application method to site conditions to avoid damage to desirable plants
• Seasonal- most effective and fastest when plants are metabolically active, warm season for these grasses
• Exhaust stored food reserves in their extensive root systems by repeated cycles: water, grow, spray, kill.
• Dormancy resembles death. Premature planting of your new garden will mean years of follow-up hand pulling. Patience and diligence are required to eliminate these types of grasses.