Friday, June 17, 2016


Kill your lawn and increase your property value! This has been my motto for the past few years and I stand by it.  I get that if you need lawn for kids or dogs then by all means have it and hopefully you utilize more sustainable lawn options like Carex pansa.  But otherwise I just don't see the point.  In this case my clients in Mission Viejo had lawn and cracked concrete that they wanted to replace. The kids had fled the nest and having the lawn was no longer necessary.  Their driveway was cracked and needed to be overhauled as it had also created various trip hazards.

In this case there was only one solution...  Gut everything and start from scratch.  The design intent was to use soft set flagstone throughout most of the garden and only mortar set it where it was necessary to do so.  We also used California native plants to help bring in the local wildlife and added two rain barrels to catch whatever water comes out of the gutter.  That combined with some boulders and accessories makes this a true sustainable garden.

The materials we used are:

  • Flagstone - color butternut (formerly known as oaklahoma buckskin) from Resource Building Materials in Lake Forest.  They also have several other locations.   
  • Rain barrels - provided by the homeowners local water agency.  
  • Boulders - already existing on site and re-purposed.
  • Plants:
    • Existing Crape Myrtles
    • Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' - McMinn Manzanira
    • Calylophus hartweggii - Sundrops
    • Eriophyllum nevenii - Catalina Silverlace
    • Galvezia juncea 'Gran Canon' - Baja Bush Snapdragon
    • Mahonia aquifolium - Oregon Grape
    • Oenothera speciosa 'Rosea' - Pink Evening Primrose
    • Salvia clevelandii - Cleveland Sage
    • Salvia clevelandii 'Alan Chickering' - Alan Chickering Cleveland Sage
    • Salvia greggii 'Coral' - Coral Autumn Sage

Friday, June 10, 2016


I was hired by a nice couple in north Tustin/Santa Ana to design their front yard.  It was a yard filled with grass, some shrubs and trees but not much of anything else.  They wanted a yard that brought in all the beneficial wildlife, was pretty to look at and did not need much upkeep.  What they got was just that with some hidden surprises.  

This garden consists of decomposed granite paving, California native and some California friendly plants.  A brand new overhead irrigation system, some lighting and boulders.

The plants are:

  • One dwarf Lemon tree
  • One Arctostaphylos 'Lester Rowntree' that is used as a statement large shrub
  • Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' (McMinn Manzanita), Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Skylark' (Skylark Ceanothus) and Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage) that is used as 6' tall accent shrubs.  
  • Anigozanthus spp 'Red' (Kangarro Paw_, Hesperaloe parviflora 'Break Lights' (Red Yucca), Salvia millifera 'Hot Lips' (Hot Lips Sage) that is used as 3-4' tall accents.
  • Calylophus hartweggii (Sundrops), Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' (Seaside Daisy), Heuchera maxima (Coral Bells) that is used as 1-2' high groundcovers. 
  • Some succulents that were existing that were transplanted.  
  • Flats of Carex pansa (California Meadow Sedge) that is used as a lawn substitute.
In regards to the irrigation and why we did not go drip...  Well most of the plants are native to California and these plants in the wild are never drip irrigated.  In this case we had to redo the entire irrigation system because some of the pipes were really old and in need of repair.  

The only negative issue that we had with this garden is nut sedge.  The homeowner's were certain that their gardener had removed it all but well as we found out after installation... Not so much.  But with some care it can be removed never to return again.  

This video is a progress from the beginning of the installation till the end.  Enjoy!  


Friday, May 20, 2016


It was Saturday the 14th of May.  A day that I was really looking forward to not only because I was going to spend the day with a bunch of girls but also because it was my 41st day of birth.  So it was planned that as many members of the orange county landscape design network as could would spent that day at Lotusland.

Lotusland where we went is a 30 acre garden that was constructed by opera singer Ganna Walska. We sighed up for a tour that not only told us about the history of the garden but also the colorful past of the former owner.

This video is a highlight (in pictures) of the garden.  If you are ever looking for a day trip then I would high recommend visiting Lotusland.