Native Plants for Landscape Design

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. 1. Sweetness (apples)
  2. 2. Beauty (such as a rose garden)
  3. 3. Pleasure
  4. 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.

Landscape Design by Jens Jensen via

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.

-Jens Jensen, Siftings (1939)

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, or email us at

Row of African Sumac Trees
African Sumac, drought resistant once established.
Bicolor Iris
Dietes bicolor (Moraea bicolor), useful in rock gardens, fire resistant.

Paver Sealant: Standing the Test of Time

Example of Paver Sealant | Ref# DW0078

Interlocking concrete pavers are beautiful and dynamic. Well designed outdoor spaces with good color and pattern selection can be absolutely stunning. This home, right, is a great example. Paving stones also endure the elements better than almost any other paving material applied today. They simply last.

However, there is one aspect of pavers that can change with time. As dust, routine traffic, and hard water work on the pavers the original colors can fade and tarnish. A quick power-washing often revitalizes the paving stones by removing embedded dust. What happens when the pavers are stained with oil or rubber? How do you keep dirt from the pavers in the first place?

Enter paver sealant.

A powerful product, solvent based sealant was used for years to protect driveways and patios. The coating enhances the color of the pavers, protects the stones from erosion, and also seals the stones from stains. Oil and rubber marks can simply be wiped away from sealed concrete stone. For years Genesis used this solvent based sealer with stunning results. Paved surfaces were left with a high gloss sheen that have stood the test of time.

However, recent EPA regulations have limited solvent based solutions in California. The VOC, volatile organic compound, rating for the solvent sealer was well above the new environmental standard. The only remaining product is a highly limited water-based sealant.  The penetration of this water-based product is far less than the solvent-based sealer, with visibly inferior results. This caused Genesis to shy away from stone sealant altogether.

Developments in recent years, however, have allowed Genesis to offer stone sealant once again, this time water based. This new eco-friendly product reduces VOC, volatile organic compounds, in the air and penetrates deeply enough to bond well and protect the pavers.

Summary of benefits:

  1. Enhance the color of the pavers.
  2. Protect stones from erosion and wear.
  3. Protect stones from stains.

Call us today to get a quote on interlocking paver sealant at 800.287.5400, or visit our contact page.

USNA Pest Control Tip of the Month

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.


Lacebugs, source: Forest & Kim Starr via wikicommons

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.

Flea Beetles

Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes beware! Flea beetles are on the prowl, attacking young transplants. suggests row covers to secure new transplants, then pyrethrum organic pesticide for flea beetle infestations.

Harlequin Bug

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.


Ladybug & aphids, Source: Greyson Orlando via wikicommons

For aphids, 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.


bagworm, source: JonRichfield via wikicommons

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.

This post is a summary, and the full article by USNA can be read here: Pest Management Tips: June

For professional landscape design services, request a free estimate from Genesis at 800.287.5400. Examples of our landscaping work live at

New! Vinyl Fencing

Duramax is now at Genesis!

These vinyl products are engineered at the highest level of durability and beauty, giving your home the most bang for your buck. The experts at Duramax have designed these products specifically to withstand the ultraviolet rays of Southern California, one of the harshest environments for outdoor decorations. Not only do we now carry vinyl fencing, but walls, patio decks, sheds, trimming, and gazebos.

New! Vinyl Fencing and more!

Aestheticaly pleasing, these new products can be ordered as straight vinyl, or foe wood and stone.

In addition to vinyl fencing’s incredible lightness, strength, and durability, it is also less costly than alternative products. Several qualities of vinyl products ease installation and maintenance:

First: of all no trenching is required; the products are engineered hollow to cut down on weight, but also with internal structural supports that increase strength.

Second: repairs to any damaged structures are only a fraction of the expense as to other decorative materials; the low weight decreases the need for bulky footings and supports.

Third: most walls are engineered with drainage systems, but vinyl has no need of this. The bulk of the structure does not rest on the ground, therefore water cannot build up and cause soil erosion. Vinyl products are simply easier to work with.

Give Genesis a toll free call at 888.389.5533 and we’d love to talk you through the new system. We will send a representative to your home to give you a consultation free of charge. No obligations and no regrets. It is your home and it deserves the best. Let us help you on the path to a richer life.


Free Paver Rendering

The recurring issue with purchasing a product is that you are never quite sure what you are really getting. There is always that element of risk. We here at Genesis are positive you will be pleased with our results, so we’ve done something novel; we provide an image of your finished product, before we even begin demolition.

Free Paver Rendering
Our photo editing software is very precise, able to match the colors and patterns you have envisioned. All you have to do is send us an image of the space, and we will generate an electronic composite. We will eliminate that element of risk and give proof that your home is worth investing in. Send us an image today and see what we can do! You will be impressed with the potential of your home…

Genesis is proud to introduce! This is the newest online tool for customers to use in identifying which look is best for their home. Soon to come on the site are Stone Veneer, Retaining Wall, Garden Wall, and Fence Wall articles that could help customers figure out which wall best fits their needs. Feel free to stop by and take a look at the different property design opportunities!


Elegance is an interesting word. In many circles it represents the idea that the simplest solution is also the most beautiful. This idea permeates the world of stone pavers. There is no process simpler than the installation of stone pavers to one’s drive; and there is no driveway surface that is more beautiful. Every home owner looking to improve curb appeal and/or the value of their property should consider this elegant decision for their home. Visit our site at Genesis Stoneworks to see what we mean.

Safety in the winter season…

With all of the dynamic weather systems hitting the California coat this time of year, it is a good idea to think of the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Heated driveways can eliminate ice buildup and also provide an element of comfort to your hardscape drive. For those with existing paver drives the instalation is quick and painless because of the flexibility of stone pavers. If a concrete drive already exists, then this could be an excellent opportunity to upgrade the appearance of your home with stone pavers.