On a recent trip to Ojai, CA with family I noted something beautiful: desert landscaping in a raised planter bed lined with local boulders. The shopping center on West Ojai Ave., Hwy 150, incorporated the local horticulture as a design theme throughout the shopping center. It really worked for me.
The crisp green Agave plants arranged in a harmony outside the store, and a subtle winter rain brought out the scent of maple from the deciduous trees overhead. The sharp yellow leaves speckled the ground and I noticed inlaid cast-metal leaves in the pavers, to remind guests and residents of this most regal autumn season’s dressings. The drizzle of rain didn’t detract from the dessert plants as one might expect, as the darkened soil enhanced the Agave’s color. Continue reading “Xeriscape: Water-Defying Landscaping”
In the world of home investment, swimming pools are a questionable feature. While useful for family get-togethers and outdoor excursions, many consider pools to be a liability which lower the value of the property. Many home owners and property investors choose to fill swimming pools, eliminating the need for maintenance and liability concerns.
Crews can remove a pool using several different techniques including semi-permanent pool covers, partial removal, and complete removal of the concrete or fiberglass structure. Figure 1 shows a Genesis crewman filling a swimming pool with clean dirt, completing a partial pool removal.
Several factors to consider when deciding whether to fill an in-ground swimming pool:
Evaporation. Uncovered pools constantly lose water through evaporation, which increases the water bill.
Chemical Reduction. Most swimming pools require the use of hazardous chemicals (when concentrated) to keep the pool clean.
Injury Liability. If someone becomes injured in the pool, insurance companies usually hold the home owner responsible. Remove the pool, and remove the liability.
Leaks leading to failure or repairs. If the pool develops a crack and leaks into the subsoil, erosion could cause the pool to fail. If the leak is caught before an accident occurs, a repair can still be costly.
Partial removal, as in figure 1, means the demolition of the pool floor, while leaving the side walls intact. This allows water to pass freely to the water table and avoid flooding. If the home is sold after the pool filling project, the partial structure in the yard should be revealed to the buyers. Future construction and landscaping in the area may depend on the knowledge of buried structures.
Complete removals involve the demolition of the pool floor, side walls, plumbing, and pool motors. This most costly option takes the property back to square one. While the hole gets filled with clean dirt, also consider adding nutrients to the top soil. This aids in plant health for future landscaping. Starting from scratch (literally) allows home owners to create a landscape to match their tastes and styles, a genuine expression of pride in ownership.
Whether transformed into a Japanese garden, or play area for the grand-children, the gained square footage from filling a pool can add both monetary and intrinsic value to the home. We’re sure you’ll love the results.
Contact Genesis today for a free in-home consultation. We’d love to help you traverse this important decision which affects your property. Reach us toll free at 888.389.5533, or visit our free estimate page.
We searched our image database to bring you some of the most interesting patio designs that incorporate natural stone designs. Natural stone, while very beautiful, can also be more expensive than manufactured stone. To provide the best service to our customers, we often suggest natural appearing stone or using natural stone as an accent to concrete pavers.
Take a look at these photos and let us know what you think in the comments section below. Hope you enjoy!
Genesis is a home remodeling specialist serving Southern California since 1993. For a free in-home consultation call us at 888.389.5533, or visit our free estimate page.
According to archaeological evidence, the first farmers began to “landscape design” about 12,000 years ago. Yep, agriculture is a form of landscape design, and so is gardening. The first men and women who walked the earth were part of a complex ecosystem, one that required enhancement to supply human needs: food, shelter, and comfort. This farming lifestyle shaped culture, defined history, and produced today’s diverse world of unique peoples.
Today the art and science of landscape design bears slight resemblance to it’s humble beginnings, surpassing our ancestors’ wildest predictions. A variety of outdoor spaces are now designed for human needs; homes, public spaces, and vast parks are all designed and engineered for human pleasure. These spaces are created not for food or shelter, but for enjoyment and to preserve the cultures and traditions of the past. Integral to these landscape designs are the plants and materials chosen to define these spaces.
Michael Pollan, world renown author and food journalist, explores the human psychology of plant selection in his book Botany of Desire (2007). His four categories of plant selection are:
1. Sweetness (apples)
2. Beauty (such as a rose garden)
4. Control (Pollan uses the potato and other agricultural crops for this example)
These desires drive designers and home owners to select the “best” plants to put in outdoor spaces. Sometimes these plants are invasive species, such as apples. Other times plants are selected for their unique abilities, such as climbing vines. In a perfect world each home owner would select plants that are the most colorful, bear the sweetest fruit, and adapt to the environment they are placed in. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.
Booming populations and drought concerns introduce conflict to the landscape design industry. Los Angeles and Las Vegas are two cities at risk of water shortages. Las Vegas is slowly sinking because of strain on the water table below the city. Los Angeles, demand having already exceeded it’s natural water resources, currently pipes water from hundreds of miles away and even submitted plans to pipe water from the Great Lakes. Statewide water concerns led California to introduce the Save our Water initiative. The state of water usage for these cities in five years is difficult to judge. One thing is for sure, landscape design is no longer a “bed of roses”.
Individuals seeking a soothing backyard retreat face a conflict: waste water on a lush creation, or endure scorching temperatures and prickly plants?
For the resolution let’s turn to a father of native plant selection. Jens Jensen, making a name for himself in the early 1900s, studied landscape architecture and pioneered the use of native plants and materials for outdoor designs. He created gardens and parks that communicated meaning about the structures, open spaces, and swimming pools his work surrounded. His secret? A philosophical outlook and an understanding of natural beauty. In his own words:
A true expression of native talent is not found in the pompous gardens of large estates. For true expression you must look in the simple gardens of the common folk. Here is found a true art that has grown out of the soil and out of the heart of those people. They belong! They fit! They tell the true story of the loving hands which created them.
Genesis maintains a list of native-friendly and complimentary plants for use in landscape design. These plants are beautiful, conserve water, and many are drought resistant. Here are a couple luscious examples of native Southern California plants proving that water savings and beauty can exist in the same backyard. For a free in-home consultation call us at 800.287.5400, visit our contact page at genesisstoneworks.com/contact, or email us at email@example.com.