For decades the American Dream demanded white picket fences, green lawns, and gentle rays of sunshine behind dripping glasses of icy lemonade. That’s day number one. On day number two, a neighborhood kid runs a bicycle into the fence and scratches it. Day number three, termites move into the exposed wood under the scratch. Day number four finds you out in the scorching Summer sun replacing segments of wooden fence just to wait for the next repair. Dreams become nightmares far too easily. That’s why Genesis recommends Vinyl Fencing for high traffic areas.
Alternative: set up a white picket fence, without ever worrying about maintenance. Scratches, fading, pests, and even water won’t destroy these panels.
This relatively young innovation, first created in the 1960s, preserves the classic American look so many people enjoy without problems of wood fencing. Options range between perimeter fencing, privacy fence, and even sophisticated gate segments. Each fence can be topped with lattice, post caps, and other decorative elements. The most prominent benefits of the synthetic fence panels are the material’s ability to resist fading and scratching. Through-color construction and UV resistance mean the panels retain their original colors even in the event of a deep cut or scratch.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United States National Arboretum maintains a list of best practices for pest control. Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the USNA focuses on sustainable control of pests for long term garden growth.
The best way to manage pests is to use a combination of chemical and non-chemical control. Only take action when the problem is serious enough to damage the plant. If we all use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), we can control pests in an environmentally conscious manner.
Watch out for lacebugs, which damage pieris and azaleas. These winged pests are small at an eighth of an inch, are whitish, and evidenced by light green and specked yellow leaves. Lacebugs can be controlled with horticultural oil or soap. In the image at right, the yellowish and white patches are lacebugs.
Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes beware! Flea beetles are on the prowl, attacking young transplants. USNA.org suggests row covers to secure new transplants, then pyrethrum organic pesticide for flea beetle infestations.
The harlequin bug feeds on vegetable as well as flowering plants. In youth, population growth can be rapid, and adults can survive winter temperatures to plague a garden year round. Evidence of this pest are brown and distorted leaves or flower petals, caused when the harlequin bug sucks out the contents of plant cells.
For aphids, USNA.org suggests resisting chemical pesticide use. The reason? Predator insects feed off of the aphid, allowing higher predator population in the garden to control other pests. The image right shows one such predator ladybug with aphids on a plant.
Cutworms feed on seedlings, eating through the stem. The unsupported seedling then topples. Transplanted seedlings should be protected with “collars”. These can be fashioned from tin cans or paper cups. Gardeners can be surprised to find large numbers of seedlings felled in the morning, after the cutworms midnight snack. These collars can prevent this unfortunate meal.
Grey mold, or Botrytis, affects fruit and flowers. Eliminate any flowers or fruit with this infection before it spreads to other plants or fruit. Wind and water can transfer spores, so take care. Grey mold has the appearance of soft felt.
Here in the beautiful Southern California, this next pest is less of an issue. The bagworm is a caterpillar which attacks trees, and can eventually kill a healthy plant. Easily controlled with Bt, bags hatch in spring and should be eliminated when noticed at any time of year. In the image at right, a bagworm’s bag is closed in defense as it hangs on the stalk of a plant. Females stay in their bags upon hatching, while the male moth travel to mate.