By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President, The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects
I admit it, I dislike gardening. I’ve tried, really tried, but it’s not something I enjoy doing. So, our yard frequently became overgrown. When we had a lawn in our front yard, we used a service that was just “mow, blow, and go”, so they didn’t really keep up with pruning and other maintenance that a diligent homeowner should be doing to maintain their property. Then we did away with the front lawn, and the lawn service, and the other plants ran amok. This survival-of-the-fittest activity among our residential plants intensified during the past few years of drought. It became an eyesore.
So, we finally decided to re-landscape. We are very happy that we did. We like the way our yard looks, and we feel that the “curb appeal” of our home has improved dramatically. The neighbors like it too! The plants are still very young, so we won’t know for a little while what the final effect will be, but I’ve included a “before” and “after” photo in this blog article so that you can see what a difference it makes.
Here’s the important thing to me—when I come home, instead of feeling indifferent, I now feel uplifted. This little happy moment is repeated every day. It is healthy to develop a sense of satisfaction with your surroundings. If our new yard can contribute to that sense of well-being on a daily basis, then we definitely got our money’s worth.
Here is how we did it. We hired Master Gardener Tina Roushall http://www.roushallgardens.com/ to design a low-maintenance garden with drought-tolerant plants native to California. She asked us to look at other native plant gardens to get an idea of what we liked. Last April we went on the Going Native Garden Tour organized by the California Native Plant Society (Santa Clara Valley Chapter) in association with UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County http://gngt.org/.
We took lots of photos, and made some notes of plant names. Tina was able to sense a pattern of the kind of plants we liked and she also incorporated flowering plants that she knew would look good and grow well in our location. She suggested a “water feature” (fountain) that would run on recycled water and attract birds and bees. We liked that idea. She also suggested a trellis with a climbing plant on one side of our front door and another climbing plant that can be trained to grow up and around our porch.
We shopped for fountains in the town of Half Moon Bay, which boasts some lovely sculptural gardens and plant nurseries along Highway 92. We recommend Fabbri Home & Garden, where we purchased our fountain. They were knowledgeable and helped us with the installation. www.fabbrihomeandgarden.com. Another great spot is Sun Studios, which has really nice fountains, pottery, bird baths, etc., for your garden https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sun-Studios/228602593840646.
We visited Half Moon Bay Nursery www.hmbnursery.com and Yerba Buena Nursery www.yerbabuenanursery.com. Both of these businesses are pleasurable for shopping and Yerba Buena specializes in native California plants. Closer to home we bought hardscape elements (for the low wall) and landscaping supplies (sand, gravel, stones, bark) from Lyngso Garden Materials www.lyngsogarden.com . The staff is knowledgeable about what will fit your needs. We also get seasonal and flowering plants and other gardening items at Wegman’s Nursery http://wegmansnursery.com/ . It’s nice to supplement natives with some potted plants when the natives are dormant. They can provide good advice on plant care if you live on the peninsula and are planning to do any landscaping.
The installation was done by Jose Henriquez of JDH Garden Services http://jdhgardenservices.com/ . Jose was very diligent and worked with us to get the job done on time and exactly the way we wanted it. He is also helping us with maintenance.
The California-native plants seem to be easy to maintain. They need a lot less water than our lawn did. The water feature does provide a special place for the birds, especially during the drought. When I was on the porch last weekend the fountain was visited by 6 different types of birds within a short period of time, including a hummingbird who fussed at me for being in his territory! The fountain also provides a very pleasing sound. Studies have shown the “non-rhythmic sensory stimuli” in the home or office, such as the sound of trickling water or crackling fire, is beneficial to inhabitants. It can reduce stress, increase creativity and improve productivity. http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/10/14/biophilic-architecture-google-government-nature
We are grateful for all of the help and advice we received on this project, and we encourage others to take the plunge if you aren’t satisfied with your yard.