When looking back at the recent destructive fires in the Western U.S., a number of homes were saved as a result of the owners’ careful pruning and fire-safe landscaping techniques that protected their homes.
What You Can Do
- Take out the “ladder fuels”– vegetation that serves as a link between grass and treetops. It can carry fire to a structure or from a structure to vegetation.
- Maintain a well-pruned and watered landscape to serve as a green belt and protection against fire. Prune all trees up to 6 ft. to 10 ft. from the ground.
- You’ll want to assess your risk– find out about the fire history in your neighborhood and make sure you’re clear about your property’s boundaries and contours.
- Assess the overall terrain and things like prevailing winds, native vegetation and seasonal weather
- Stack firewood at least 30 feet from your home and store flammable materials in metal containers at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences.
- Always install smoke alarms on every level of your home. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long-life smoke alarms.
Choose Plants for Fire-Safe Landscaping
All sorts of factors go into determining which plants are appropriate for a fire-safe landscape: things like how much water and salt they retain (which is good) or if they contain a lot of aromatic oils or tend to drop a lot of matter (not so good).
You’ll want to use the zone concept. Zone 1 is closest to the structure; Zones 2-4 move progressively further away.
- Zone 1. This well-irrigated area encircles the structure for at least 30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression equipment in the event of an emergency. Plantings should be limited to carefully spaced fire-resistant species.
- Zone 2. Fire-resistant plant materials should be used here. Plants should be low-growing, and the irrigation system should extend into this section.
- Zone 3. Place low-growing plants and well-spaced trees in this area, remembering to keep the volume of vegetation (fuel) low.
- Zone 4. This furthest zone from the structure is a natural area. Think selectively here, and remove highly flammable vegetation.
- Eliminate small trees and plants growing under trees. They allow ground fires to jump into tree crowns.
- Space trees 30 feet apart and prune to a height of 8 to 10 feet
- Place shrubs at least 20 feet from any structures and prune regularly.
- Plant the most drought-tolerant vegetation within three feet of your home and adjacent to structures to prevent ignition.
- Provide at least a 10- to 15-foot separation between islands of shrubs and plant groups to effectively break-up continuity of vegetation.
- Landscape your property with fire-resistant plants and vegetation to prevent fire from spreading quickly.
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Enjoy a fuss-free, water-wise garden in the Golden State by growing plants naturally in tune with the climate and wildlife
by Debbie Ballentine, Houzz.com
Top Water-Wise Native Plants, Trees and Grasses
These plants provide an important habitat to critters large and small, stunning seasonal colors, textures and interest in any-size garden, and are climate appropriate in dry California summers. They were chosen for their gardening ease, extreme beauty, value to wildlife, minimal maintenance and availability at nurseries, and because they are native to most regions of California.
Plant California natives in the early fall to benefit from the rainy season — they put down their roots when it’s cool and wet. Once established, they require only infrequent water during dry summers. The rule of thumb to establish water-wise California natives is to water once a week the first summer, once every two weeks the second summer, once every three weeks the third summer, and then water monthly or not at all during subsequent summers. (Not all natives are drought tolerant. Some require infrequent water and others regular water as frequently as every three days. Know the plant and its needs before buying.)
Coast Live Oak
Native from the coastal bluffs to mountain ridges in many plant communities below 5,000 feet, Mendocino County south to Baja California and the Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands
With their large, shady canopies, pollen-laden catkins and desirable acorns, California oaks provide more food and habitat for wildlife than any other native plant. They provide food and shelter to a plethora of birds, deer, mammals, butterflies and pollinators.
Due to their susceptibility to oak root fungus, native oaks are intolerant of summer water and prefer to be planted in a naturalist setting where they won’t receive irrigation during the dry season. Coast live oaks look best and are happiest with other drought-tolerant native plants, like manzanita, ceanothus, hummingbird sage, barberry, pitcher sage, coffeeberry and currants, to name a few.
Plant a heritage oak tree this fall that will provide a habitat and beauty for multiple generations to come.
Amazing blue flowers covered in pollinators brighten the garden in the spring, while the dark evergreen foliage is rich green throughout the year. There are a number for species, cultivars and hybrids of California lilac to choose from, including ground covers, medium-size shrubs, large shrubs and extra-large shrubs. Some can even be espaliered or trained into a small tree.
Plant California lilac where it won’t receive summer irrigation after it’s established to extend its life beyond five or 10 years.
Read More about native plants at houzz.com
We have seen it all over the news for over a year now, homeowners are ripping out their lawns in favor of drought tolerant plants, hardscapes and artificial turf or synthetic grass. The lingering drought has forced many Californians to rethink their landscapes and look water wise alternatives. So what about synthetic turf? What are the pros and cons? This article may help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons of Fake or Synthetic Grass
Maile Meloy, Sunset.com
There’s just something beautiful and comforting about mown grass. Whether you’re throwing a ball, lying in the shade on a hot day, or sitting outside on a warm night, a green lawn is a pleasure.
Writer Wallace Stegner, having grown up in dry, wild Saskatchewan, Canada, first saw a lawn at age 11 in Montana. “I stooped down and touched its cool nap in awe and unbelief. I think I held my breath ― I had not known that people anywhere lived with such grace.”
Lawns are also an environmental nightmare if you live in a dry climate, and Stegner did try hard to remind people of the natural aridity of the West. I live in Los Angeles, where millions of gallons of drinkable water are dumped into lawns every day, year-round.
Compare: Lawns and the alternatives
Each of the hundreds of thousands of gas-powered push mowers that whine away, cutting that lushly watered grass, puts 11 times more pollution into the air every hour than a car. The leaf blowers ― illegal in many areas but widely used anyway ― are just as bad. The carbon footprint of L.A.’s lawns is enormous.
And then there’s the constant, nerve-racking noise from all those mowers and blowers, on different lawns, on different days.
For a while, my husband and I dealt with the problem by not watering our lawn. Call it default xeriscaping: If you don’t water, you miraculously don’t have to mow. But it’s not pretty. The weeds start to take over, and people stop picking up after their dogs, figuring that you don’t really care. We did care about the grass ― we just didn’t want it to grow.
Then we went to a party at the house of a landscape designer who watered, she said, for only eight minutes a week, and did her own gardening, with no mowing. This was real xeriscaping: She had succulents, and drought-tolerant trees, and pink-flowering cactus, and Mexican beach pebbles ― and two stunning green rectangles of perfect lawn in the back. “The grass,” another guest whispered to me. “It’s not real.”
“It’s not?” I asked. It looked gorgeously real.
“Touch it,” she said.
I did, and it was true: The grass was fake.
Read more about synthetic grass at Sunset.com
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Do you live in the California? Then you must know that how important it is for you to save and conserve water for your future use. Water is a very crucial part of everyone’s life. People need water for various reasons and without it life is, undoubtedly, incomplete. After four years of continuous drought Californians are realizing that their landscaping must change. Landscapes must use less water through use of more sustainable landscape designs.
At San Diego Landcare Systems, Inc. we have the expertise, certification and have spent over thirty years working as a sustainable landscaping contractor. We can turn your yard into a beautiful, useful and relaxing oasis that uses very little water.
How To Save Water with Sustainable Landscapes
There are certain ways by which you can save water. You have to make sure that you are following those methods properly for coping up with the drought. Sustainable landscaping is one of the best ways to save some precious water. It also makes your landscape beautiful as well healthy for your living. Some of the ways are –
- Limit or Eliminate Grass – Grass is one of the biggest sources of wasting water outdoors. The larger the lawn the more time and water is required for upkeep. You may also want to consider synthetic turf or even grasses that require much less water.
- Right Selection of Plants – Selecting the right plant based on their adaptability is very important. That is why drought tolerant plants will always be best for the places like Los Angeles and San Diego. They are resistant to droughts and will not need much water. So, you will need minimal watering for these plants which is a great advantage over the non-native plants. This can result in saving a lot of water.
- Mulch – It is good to use mulch wherever possible as it is extremely good for conserving and saving some water significantly. It actually reduces the evaporation of water or moisture from the soil and also reduces the population of unwanted weeds. It thus reduces soil compaction and keeps the temperature of the soil moderate, thus saving a considerable amount of water.
- Efficient Irrigation – Many people water their landscape more than what is actually needed. With the help of sustainable landscaping one can reduce the excess need of water from irrigation.
Hire a Sustainable Landscaping Contractor
For saving some water you need to call a professional landscape contractor who will help you to get the best out of your landscape while making it fit the climate. Before you hire a professional contractor you have to make sure that you are getting the best. Here are some steps for you to choose a sustainable landscaping contractor –
- Reliable and experienced – A reliable and experienced contractor who has worked with many clients can surely guide you in the best way. You will be able to get the most valuable advice from them as they are experienced and also have enough knowledge regarding these. They can guide you properly how you to do sustainable landscaping and save some significant amount of water.
- Portfolio – Check the portfolio and pictures of the landscape projects they have already done. This will give you a good idea about how are they going to do. If you like their work then it is good for you and you can surely go ahead and hire them for designing your landscape.
- Customer Reviews – Appreciation for the works are often given through feedback from the clients. So, it is must for you to check the reviews and feedback from previous clients. .
- Professional Service – Make sure that the service they are providing is enough for you and covers all your needs. The services include many things like – clearing the land, ensuring adequate drainage, proper irrigation system, speciality gardens, safety measures, promoting environmental health and eliminate excess use of water in the landscaping or gardening.
The best way to cover all your bases is by hiring a design & build landscape contractor who can take your project through the entire process from to deign to construction to completion.. Be sure to choose the best San Diego sustainable landscaping contractor for you that will give you the water efficient yard you desire.
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As the drought in California continues, more and more homeowners are taking a hard look at drought tolerant plants. Gone are the days when drought tolerant meant large stones and some cactus plants. Today we have a wide selection of unthirsty succulents, flowers, and grasses that can thrive with very little water and very little maintenance.
Most drought tolerant plants are considered to be native plants in their particular region. These plants were here long before others came and changed the landscape. They are hearty, used to little water, and can handle what elements the weather throw at them.
Many Californians are opting for lawn free yards. The cost and time to water and maintain a lawn and new water restrictions are making much more impractical to ow a lawn. There are many ways one can replace the lawn from synthetic turf to patios but here again drought tolerant plants can become a major component.
At San Diego Landcare Systems Inc. we have been designing and building beautiful, drought tolerant landscapes for over 30 years. We can turn your backyard into a beautiful outdoor living space that you can enjoy for years to come.
17 Great Drought Tolerant Plants
Drought conditions and water restrictions in some regions of the country have made drought-tolerant varieties more important than ever. Here’s a look at some of the latest offerings from leading breeders.
Drought conditions and water restrictions in Southern California and San Diego County have made drought tolerant varieties more important than ever. Here’s a look at some of the latest offerings from leading breeders.
Photo: Today’s Garden Center
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Save Money, Water and Time with Sustainable Landscaping
A sustainable landscape can in fact be less costly and easier to maintain, because it’s designed properly. Far from being a sacrifice, establishing a sustainable landscape can bring you rich rewards and beauty you might not have thought was even possible.
If you reside in a dry and arid environment then your landscaping design is going to take a little more planning than some other parts of the nation. Sustainable landscaping involves utilizing only plants and trees that can endure with much less water than some other plants. There is no point in planting something if it can not sustain itself later on. So spend some time with your landscaping plan and see to it that you have done everything fit to the environment.
Health Benefits of a Sustainable Landscape
Exactly what uses sustainable landscaping friendly plants so great is that not just will these plants succeed even in the hot sun they will likewise have the ability to flourish in poor quality soil. This is a much required quality since places that have a lot sun have the tendency to have bad soil too. So in essence you are eliminating two birds with one stone as they say.
An environmentally friendly backyard, or eco-friendly landscape, needs less chemical treatment and less water. It stands to reason that applying far less fertilizers and chemicals is much more secure for house owners as well as the environment.
The advantages likewise consist of reduced water use and water overflow, and less energy had to cool structures. A study in Arizona discovered that eco-friendly landscapes minimized a/c in homes by 25 percent.
The direct health benefits of a “green” landscape come from cleaner air. Trees, shrubs, and lawn clean the air by sequestering toxins (nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide gas, and dust). These same plants launch oxygen.
One fantastic advantage is time saved. Sustainable native plants require less upkeep, as much as 70 % less time spent on maintaining your garden or backyard.
Combine Native Plants with Hardscapes
Sustainable landscaping frequently focuses much more on hardscapes, like comprehensive stone pathways, gravel flower beds, and mosaic walls, make certain to seek advice from and work with a skilled San Diego area landscaper if you are considering this type of eco-friendly landscape design. At an extreme, you can produce a gorgeous hardscape-based landscape design, which is almost completely comprised of rocks, gravel, and stone, with a few thoroughly placed plants. If your location experiences a lot of drought or water scarcities, this type of landscaping is the very best way to go.
Another great benefit from sustainable landscapes is that they bring in wildlife. Strategy your landscaping utilizing native plantings and you will draw in butterflies and bees, which will certainly then draw in birds and more.
The Art of Landscape Renovation
We are seeing a big trend this year in San Diego Landscape Renovation, a big move to drought tolerant yards. After years in San Diego of persistent drought conditions more and more home owners are looking at more sustainable designs such as synthetic turf, “California friendly” plants, xeriscaping, and incorporating more hardscaping. The article below from Turf Design Build Magazine discusses the trend not only in California, but across the U.S.A,. to extend indoor spaces outdoors with sustainable elements.
By Tom Crain
Remodeling is tops in homeowner trends this year, according to a 2014 Houzz survey, and we’re not talking about just kitchens and baths. Landscape and patio projects rank No. 4 on the list of top remodeling projects. “Until recently, landscaping often has been the poor stepchild of the homeownership budget,” writes certified horticulturist and garden columnist George Weigel in his post, “The Value of Good Landscaping,” on the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association’s website. “When the money ran out, it was frequently the planting projects that got pushed off onto the future to-do list. There’s evidence that’s changing.” Landscape professionals can take advantage of the trend by presenting the art of renovation to their clients.
From coast to coast, renovation is trending
Susan Mulkern, co-owner of Mulkern Landscaping & Nursery on the Big Island of Oahu in Hawaii, says her customers have been cautious and slower to make decisions during the last three to four years of the recession. However, that’s changing. “It seems to me customers are now interested in spending, yet they need to stretch their dollars,” she says. “Renovations provide an excellent way to do this when their landscapes are still substantially there, and they like their original theme.”
Read more at Turf Design Build Magazine
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In 2007, a wildfire roared through a canyon in Rancho Santa Fe damaging numerous houses. One house that was spared could have well been saved by the big succulents growing around it. Are there fire-resistant plants? Yes, there are plants which do not fuel the fire and are considered resistant, however wildfires can burn most anything in their path. A fire safety landscape with a defensible perimeter around your home and fire resistant plants and building products can significantly enhance your home’s chances of enduring a wildfire.
When selecting the plants around your residence it is a good idea to think about whether the plant is highly flammable. Plants which are highly combustible include those which can have dry or dead twigs, needles or leaves. Plants that contain combustible waxes or oils and usually have a strong smell or have a sap that is resinous and a strong odor are likewise ones you wish to replace and avoid.
What Plants in San Diego Are Fire-Resistant Plants?
Fire-resistant plants are one that is slow to ignite. It might be killed or even burn in a fire but it is not contributing any considerable fuel to the fire. Plants such as succulents which contain a high moisture content, or deciduous trees and bushes which have leaves that are wet and supple are fire resistant.
Not all, but most native plants will burn more gradually and many fire-resistant plants in San Diego are California Friendly and require less water.
Creating a fire-resistant, protective barrier around your home includes much more than simply choosing the right plants. You must keep them trimmed and maintained. Keep low-growing plants within 30 feet of the house; eliminate dead or dying vegetation and keep plants appropriately spaced. Ensure that the plants aren’t touching each other, in order to prevent flames from spreading quickly. The closer the plants are to your home, the more consideration and maintenance you want to give them.
Here are some more tips to make your landscaping in San Diego more fire-resistant.
A sure means to lower fire threat around the home is to minimize plant product and increase your hardscape as rocks and concrete or swimming pools do not usually burn.
Plants are necessary most of the times (so do not believe that omitting them totally is a good idea) as roots assist stabilize soil.
Use mulch in between to prevent weed development, however keep it a couple of feet away from your home. Professionals think that the benefits of mulch retaining wetness in the ground and keeping weeds away goes beyond the risk of it smoldering.
Luckily there are numerous varieties of fire-resistant plants in San Diego that do effectively. There is likewise a great deal of details out there to help you start changing your landscape. Look into the links listed below. If you are worried about safeguarding your home with much safer landscaping surrounding it and seek the recommendations of an expert, call us at San Diego Landcare Systems (760)788-8140.
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Instead of a poured concrete swale, these homeowners opted for a dry stream bed lined with water-worn stones and edged with eye-catching plantings. San Diego dry streambeds are becoming very popular in sustainable landscapes.
Few phrases are more likely to discourage a gardener than “designated drainage easement.” Today’s trend toward building large homes on small lots, particularly in congested urban areas, has made that expression an all-too-familiar part of the homeowner’s lexicon. Large-scale grading and the construction of impervious surfaces like terraces, roofs, and driveways drastically alter the natural movement of water across a site. New neighborhoods must then be equipped with networks of catch basins, buried pipes, and open drainage swales that direct runoff away from homes. While these systems address hydrology issues, they create challenges when it comes to landscaping.
San Diego Dry Streambeds Stop Erosion and Enhances the Landscape
Fortunately, there is a solution. A dry streambed—one that has water running in it only in wet weather—can secure the soil and direct rainwater runoff while turning an eyesore into an appealing garden feature.
COMMON PROBLEM, CREATIVE SOLUTION
In 1993, Barbara and Gordon Robinson asked me to design the landscape for their new home. The site included a drainage area that collected surface water from several adjacent properties in a depression, or swale, across the rear property line, then directed it along the side of the house to a storm sewer at the street. On new homesites nearby, efficient concrete flumes had been constructed to carry the effluent as swiftly as possible. But Barbara, a dedicated gardener, was unwilling to sacrifice plants for plumbing.
An initial plan to install a French drain buried beneath a pea-gravel path was discarded when the gravel rolled downstream in the first storm. I suggested a dry stream—a shallow swale lined with stone substantial enough to withstand a serious downpour.
Read more at finegardening.com
For more information on creating San Diego dry streambeds visit our landscaping idea gallery or call us at 760-788-8140
As we endure another season of drought and fires, it is once again a great time to consider Xeriscaping San Diego. What is Xeriscaping? It is landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation. It uses sustainable landscape design.
Do you live in an arid climate? By that I mean – is the amount of natural rainfall in your area low enough that you have to irrigate to keep your landscape from turning into dust? Do you have to spend a ton of money during the warmer months to keep that grassy carpet in front of your house green? Do you sometimes feel like you’re engaged in a losing battle against the “dry” heat?
Lots of places have climates that make it difficult to support huge, thirsty lawns as part of your landscape. Many homeowners have learned (the hard way!) that it’s easier (and more affordable!) to make a change to minimized water usage instead of fighting a losing battle to keep grass alive.
Xeriscaping San Diego Uses Less Thirsty Ground Covers
The common term for minimizing water usage in the landscape is “Xeriscaping”. You don’t have to eliminate all type of greenery and plant life, buy you can successfully adjust to plants that are less thirsty. Depending on your region, there are quite a few alternatives to standard “bluegrass” that are attractive and water-efficient substitutes.
A homeowner can easily maintain a green mini-lawn using just far less water than is required by a traditional lawn. Alternatives for this type of ground cover include vines, various herbs, and native grasses like buffalo grass.
Continue reading this article at Wally’s Workshop.
For more information on Xeriscaping your yard in San Diego call San Diego Landcare Systems.
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