Tag: landscape design

What Is Xeriscaping and Why Is it Beneficial?

Xeriscaping is a big word to describe a popular landscaping trend. You may be more familiar with the terms “drought-tolerant” or “water-wise” landscaping. No matter what you choose to call it, it means one thing: landscaping using hardy plants (often native plants) that require little water to thrive.

A drought-tolerant garden is designed to help reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation. This sort of landscaping is important for two reasons: it saves both water and energy. But in addition to the ecological benefits, it can also be very creative and at the same time, incredibly beautiful.

While a lush green lawn may be a cultural norm, here in the Bay Area, it’s out of place and artificial. With only about two feet of rain per year and almost none at all during the summer months, this area is among the driest in the country. Why fight our natural ecology when native water-wise landscaping options are so much easier on the environment and can be far more visually appealing too?

HOW DROUGHT TOLERANT OR “WATER-WISE” LANDSCAPING SAVES WATER

If your aim is to support our local ecology, native plants are the way to go. This landscaping trend isn’t just about curb appeal or looking good for some garden club.

WHAT ARE THE BEST WATER-WISE PLANTS?

You’re probably picturing a cactus garden, but the truth is that there are a variety of plants that do well in drought situations. They can be quite beautiful, as well as low-maintenance.

Trees like the coast live oak and large shrubs like the coyote brush and the California lilac are excellent choices for our area. Smaller shrubs like the California sagebrush, California buckwheat, silver lupine, or black sage are also great choices. Looking for groundcover? Ditch that water hogging lawn and choose spreading groundcovers like yerba buena (yes, it’s also a plant!) or native grasses, such as blue wildrye, California fescue, and foothill or purple needle grass. Looking for more? The California Native Plant Society is a great place to get all sorts of information about native plants that are drought tolerant and perfectly suited for our climate. But this type of landscaping offers more than just a pretty exterior for your property. There are some great secondary benefits from drought tolerant plants too. Consider planting aloe to use for first aid and other medicinal purposes. Like to cook? There are plenty of herbs that don’t require a great deal of water: common sage, rosemary, and Greek oregano are a few good choices. Maybe you’d like something more ready-to-eat? Fruits like the prickly pear cactus, pomegranate, guava, fig, and date palms all do well in the dry heat.

But, of course, even the best water-wise garden will still need some moisture to become established, and from time to time. There’s no need to worry – we know how to make it easy. We’ll be glad to install a commercial-grade drip system to provide just the right amount of water for each of your plants. It costs a bit more than the DIY approach, but it’s a very efficient solution to keep your garden beautiful no matter the weather.

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  • 3230 Darby Com, Fremont, CA 94539
    111 N. Market St #300, San Jose, CA 95113

  • (510) 490-0487
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How to Design and Create Your Dream Hardscape

Whether you’re designing a new outdoor space, or overhauling your existing one, this guide provides the steps you should follow to design the hardscape of your dreams. Hardscape design and installation are fundamental elements of good landscaping – particularly in regions like Northern California where the landscape is hilly and drought is common. But before jumping into the steps, let’s cover a few basics.

WHAT IS A HARDSCAPE?

Hardscapes are the human-made stone, concrete, wood, metal or brick features of a landscape. They’re the framework around which a beautiful landscape is based, and can include stylish walkways, gazebos, walls, bridges, patios, steps, outdoor kitchens, and decks. The key to designing a perfect hardscape is to focus on building quality features that seamlessly integrate into your outdoor space while respecting the natural beauty and style of your property.

HOW TO DESIGN THE HARDSCAPE OF YOUR DREAMS

Now that we know what a hardscape is, we can focus on the steps you should take to successfully craft your front or back hardscape.

STEP 1 – RESEARCH AND IDEATE
Before doing anything, research hardscapes and create a huge list or collage of inspiration based on landscapes that are similar to yours (this is important since a hardscape design in the American Southwest will be much different than a hardscape design in the Pacific Northwest). To start, check out the various Bay Area hardscapes we’ve constructed. If you want more inspiration, try Gardenista, or Houzz.

STEP 2 – DEFINE YOUR GOALS
Next you should define goals for your outdoor space. Do you want to encourage your family to spend more time outside together? Formally entertain guests? Are you looking for an area to relax in the evening, or a space where your family can be active and enjoy nature during the day? It’s key to work with your landscape designer to define and prioritize your goals before choosing a theme or materials, since the intended usage for your space will inform all later decisions.

STEP 3 – CONSIDER YOUR SITE, INCLUDING DRAINAGE AND EROSION
This is particularly important in California where residences are often built on hillsides, and the environment is frequently in drought. You and your designer must determine how drainage will be affected by every feature you implement. From an environmental perspective, it’s also important to design the landscape to recapture runoff instead of sending it down a drainage pipe. Retaining walls are particularly adept at preventing erosion and directing runoff, so this feature should be part of most hardscape installations.

STEP 4 – PLAN FOR THE ENTIRE LANDSCAPE
Be sure to plan for your entire outdoor area, not just part of it. This holds true even if you can’t redesign your entire area at once. If you and/or your landscape designer don’t plan comprehensively, you run the risk of adding a major feature, such as a patio, only to realize a year later that you’d like a waterfall and the patio now blocks your pathway.

STEP 5 – DEFINE YOUR STYLE
After defining the goals of your hardscape design, now it’s time to choose a theme. Take your list or inspiration board from Step 1 and break the ideas into categories or themes, such as ‘formal,’ ‘relaxed,’ ‘Oriental garden,’ or ‘Mediterranean veranda.’ Choose a theme that best fits your goals, your entire landscape / environment, and that works within the erosion and drainage constraints you defined in Step 3.

STEP 6 – CHOOSE MATERIALS THAT REFLECT YOUR STYLE AND THEME
After defining a style, work with your designer to choose materials that reflect your style and theme, the natural environment, and your interior design. For example, do you have stucco or brick that you want to match or highlight? The goal is for your hardscape to seamlessly blend with while enhancing the best features of the environment that surrounds it.

STEP 7 – SELECT THE RIGHT PLANT MATERIAL
Include as much vegetation as you can in your hardscape. Although this isn’t always possible in areas like the US Southwest and California, it’s important to make use of as much vegetation as is feasible within the limitations imposed by the climate.

STEP 8 – CHOOSE QUALITY MATERIALS
As with everything in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to hardscape materials. Be sure to use materials that are long-lasting and suit the architecture of your site. If you’re running into budget issues, consider scaling back on elements as opposed to purchasing cheaper materials.

STEP 9 – PROPERLY PREPARE THE SITE
This is a very common mistake, and a big reason why it’s important to consult with or hire an expert before undertaking a major hardscape design project. Before building, you need to ensure you put enough base material down to withstand the elements of your region. This is something a landscape designer would take care of for you, or you could reach out to an inspector at your local building authority, the American Landscape and Nursery Association (ALNA), or your state landscaping association.

STEP 10 – CONSULT WITH AN EXPERT
We’ve hinted at this throughout, but it’s really important to consult with an expert before undertaking a major hardscape design project. When choosing an expert to work with, think about whether you’d prefer to hire a consultant who can manage all aspects of a landscape design project, or if you’re willing to work with multiple contractors. Although the end result may be just as good when working with multiple contractors, many people prefer to hire one contractor who can do it all, and thus avoid the hassle of coordinating schedules and delineating responsibilities.

A good contractor will ultimately save you money by ensuring your design works with your natural environment, fits within your budget, uses quality materials that won’t deteriorate over time, and that your site is prepared properly so your elements don’t break up within a few years. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to our expert designers for advice.

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  • 3230 Darby Com, Fremont, CA 94539
    111 N. Market St #300, San Jose, CA 95113

  • (510) 490-0487
  • info@kochlandscapedesign.com

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Top Landscaping Trends in California

Whether you’ve just purchased a new home that could use a little TLC or you’re ready to update your tired, old landscaping, choosing a style can be a challenge! There are plenty of options out there – from the formal English garden to the rugged desert blooms of the southwest. But if you’re in the Bay area, you’ll want something that blends in well with your neighborhood and is appropriate for the climate and soil. Here are some of the most popular trends right now.

LOW MAINTENANCE LANDSCAPING

For some, working in the garden can be a source of peace, a fun hobby, or a way to blow off steam. For the rest of us, we’d rather be doing just about anything else with our free time. If this sounds more like you, a low maintenance landscape design might be just perfect. You’ll be able to keep a well-groomed lawn and garden with little effort. And this option is better for the environment too since it won’t waste a lot of water or require special soil treatments.

A low maintenance landscape design means different things for different parts of the world. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re going to want plants that can really handle drought since we only get an average of 19 inches of rainfall per year. Native plants will be happiest with our climate and soil conditions as they’re already perfectly adapted. If you don’t want to worry about pruning, dwarf varieties are a great option because they won’t grow as large as their full-size cousins. And perennials are the best flower options since you won’t have to replant them each year.

MULTI-PURPOSE PLANTING

For those who don’t mind tending to their landscaping and want to get something in return, multi-purpose planting may be the way to go. A multipurpose landscape design means your plants are more than just decoration. They also serve some actual function or purpose beyond the typical shrubs and flowers.

This may mean edible plants like fruits, berries, and herbs that also function as a hedge for screening, shade trees, or groundcover. Another way to landscape could be to incorporate beautiful plants that both improve the appearance of your home and attract birds and wildlife to your property. And for some people, plants that actually serve as a wildlife habitat are the way to go. These are both attractive and environmentally friendly as they welcome bees, birds, reptiles, and other native species to your property.

OUTDOOR OASIS LANDSCAPING

The third trend in Bay area landscaping is the outdoor oasis. This is a great option for people who like to spend time outdoors, enjoying the beautiful weather this region has to offer. When you’re relaxing in your outdoor space, you’re going to want landscaping that adds to the feeling of home and comfort. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, no matter what size your oasis may be.

The oasis landscaping that immediately comes to mind is options that provide a retreat from the sun. Shade trees, a pergola with climbing vines, and other options make your outdoor time more comfortable and safer for your skin. Next, you may want to incorporate an outdoor kitchen or dining area. For many, an oasis is just not complete without the sounds of trickling water – we recommend a recycling water fountain. Others may prefer a water feature they can really get into. A jacuzzi or custom pool may be the best option to cool off on a warm sunny day. Finally, you’ll want a variety of fragrant blooms to bring a pop of color and a delightful aroma to your yard or garden.

No matter which of these trends you choose to incorporate into your landscape design, you can’t go wrong when you consult the experts at Koch & Associates. From the consulting and planning phase through construction of the backyard of your dreams, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started on your perfect landscape construction project.

OUR CATEGORIES

CONTACT INFO

  • 3230 Darby Com, Fremont, CA 94539
    111 N. Market St #300, San Jose, CA 95113
  • (510) 490-0487
  • info@kochlandscapedesign.com

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