For Charlie Dorman, work has always been about doing what brings him joy. Discovering the emerging process called hydroseeding was literally an answer to Charlie’s prayers. He had wanted to start his own business, and after a preacher encouraged him to pray specifically for his question, Charlie prayed for a job where he could work outside and see new places. Three days later, a friend asked if he wanted a job hydroseeding. The job meant more pay and overtime, and Charlie made the move.
A few years later a friend wanted to invest in a business. They found a barely used hydroseeding machine. “It was a little rusty on the outside, but the inside looked brand new,” recalls Charlie. “We bought the machine and a used truck, put it all together, and we started our own business.” He remembers his first job was on Cinco de Mayo. The year was 1978. Six years later, Charlie bought out his partner and the family-owned and operated company now provides lawn seeding and erosion control services for public and private clients throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Monterey Counties.
Hydroseeding is the process of mixing the seed type into what is called a slurry. Charlie begins with shredded wood fiber mulch which is scientifically ground to specifications. The mulch has a vegetable dye in it that is a carrier for all the other ingredients (fertilizer, Ecology Control M-Binder tackifier, and other additives). It’s all combined with water and blended in a tank with agitators to form a slurry that is then pumped through a hose and sprayed onto the ground to establish vegetation and control erosion. By keeping the seeds moist, they can germinate, and after five to six weeks, you can give the grass its first mowing.
As the longest applicator on the Central Coast (maybe in California), Charlie has his hydroseeding family and Madrone Landscapes among them. He and Rick Mathews go “way back” (he estimates probably not 40 years, but definitely over 30). He reckons they’ve collaborated on dozens and dozens of projects. “It could be more than 100,” he postulates. “If we had only done three jobs per year, which would be a low average, that’s 90 right there.”
Charlie enjoys working on the “really cool jobs” Madrone designs like wineries, houses, and ranches. Typically, the project involves restoration work and putting things back to nature. “When you move the dirt and change the grades of soil, you have exposed soil,” he describes. In consultation with the premier supplier of native seeds, Madrone designs a mixture that will fit the habitat. “Some days we’ll do several different mixes at one location,” says Charlie.
When it comes to identifying what is unique about Dorman Hydroseed’s 30+ year relationship with Madrone, Charlie points to the company’s trustworthiness. He considers it uncommon in today’s world. He also appreciates how organized the company is and the great people he works with.
Interested in talking to us about your landscape? Contact our team at [email protected] or (805) 466-6263.
Late in 2019, Madrone partnered with One Cool Earth, a non-profit organization that creates garden-based school programs. We committed crews to improve and maintain gardens at six Atascadero School District schools. Shortly after our discussion, the entire program was put on pause as schools employed health and safety measures.
As kids head back to campus this month, Madrone has been busily preparing the outdoor classroom sites. Our team worked on each garden used for One Cool Earth’s Earth Genius program, rejuvenating and preparing the sites for a new school year. From mulching and weed abatement to repairing hardscape, we spent a few days ensuring that each school can rely on a garden space that will enrich them throughout the year. One Cool Earth educators can now visit each week and rely on a revitalized garden to teach about nutrition and the environment.
Madrone and One Cool Earth share and reinforce one another’s values: giving back, stewardship, and innovation. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.
This is a state-of-the-art irrigation valve manifold installation for Hotel SLO to supply irrigation for planters on 5 levels from ground level to balconies to roof.
Evan Moffitt, CLT, CLIA, PCA, at SiteOne Landscape Supply, has been working with Madrone for over four years, delivering everything from irrigation and pavers to lighting. Evan and SiteOne are reliable partners for anything we might need for our landscapes, assisting us on over one hundred projects for varying clients and spaces.
SiteOne offers a comprehensive selection of top-brand landscape supplies, from irrigation to lighting, throughout North America. “We carry nearly everything Madrone would need, so it’s about getting what they want,” said Evan. After so long working together, we know exactly how they deliver, and they know what we order. Being able to count on their services has come as a huge boon time and time again.
When it comes to philosophies we share, we both work hard to deliver our services on time, valuing urgency and good communication when it comes to others’ time and work. “We understand each other very well,” said Moffitt. “They have a great team culture. A lot of people there work well together, they have a great support and management team to get the projects done, and they communicate well.”
While SiteOne doesn’t always have the opportunity to get out to the site and see the results of their reliable supply, we know our work benefits majorly from their ethics and consistency. We’re grateful for the many years we’ve worked together to develop landscapes of which we’re proud.
Hotel SLO’s planters, on 5 levels from ground level to balconies to roof, are supplied irrigation by a state-of-the-art irrigation valve manifold. See above.
Learn how to make your landscape defensible during fire season
At Madrone Landscapes, we have dealt with properties in high fire danger areas for decades. There are many ways to enhance a property’s defensibility, whether through plant selection and design or irrigation and water system strategies.
Visitors to the 2021 Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles will be able to see for themselves some of these best practices at the Fire Safe Demonstration House for view from July 21st to August 1st. The model property will show strategies for living in fire-prone areas around the Central Coast, especially appropriate as fire season comes upon us.
The multi-phased project will be developed over the next couple of years, and Phase One is getting ready for this year’s Fair. After re-grading, tearing out old plants, and doing a weed abatement, Madrone transformed the space into a simple gravel landscape (one of the best options for fire safety). The open gravel area will accommodate shaded seating, a proposed “Hydration Station,” and educational messaging to help people visualize how they can keep their properties fire-safe. A future phase will feature a mobile multi-media educational exhibit, and the occasional visit by a fire truck.
This community education exhibit was created by the Fire Safe Council, spearheaded by Turko Semmes with Madrone Landscapes lending assistance. Semmes and Company built the structure, demonstrating closed eaves and partial straw bale, the latter being three times more fire-resistant than the average material. Also contributing to the fire safe landscaping message is the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden (SLOBG), whose Fire Safe Demonstration Garden can be viewed daily at the SLOBG grounds off Hwy 1 in San Luis Obipso, near Cuesta College.
Come visit the Demonstration House, a welcome respite from the hot Paso Robles temperatures, featuring shaded seating areas and the only hydration station at the Fair. Bring your water bottle and swing by for a fill-up!
Rich History and Old-Stock Mission Vines in Our Backyard
Located on 86 acres of the former Milpitas unit of the Hearst Ranch, the Mission San Antonio de Padua features a large church, a museum, and a gift shop. In 2020, as part of the Mission’s ongoing restoration project, we joined the team to complete a renovation of the Mission’s courtyard garden. Working together with Joan Steele, administrator, we were able to create a beautiful garden designed to showcase the many native plants used by the Salinan Tribe. Although the garden is new, these grounds are rich in history (this year marks its 250th anniversary!), and we asked Joan to highlight one of the few original features remaining in the courtyard garden: its original grape stock.
Heritage grape stock cutting purchased through the Mission San Antonio gift shop.
“The cuttings would have been brought either from Mallorca, Spain, in the 1700s and/or from the area around what is now Mexico City,” explains Joan.
The Franciscans knew they would need to plant a vineyard in the New World to have wine for daily Mass. Following construction of the first irrigation system (aqueduct) in California, the Franciscans and the Native Salinan Tribal Members planted the first vineyard on the Central Coast.
They built an adobe wall around the vineyard to keep the animals out and built a house for the “vineyardist” within the vineyard. As the vines flourished, the Franciscans built two large wine vats and a wine cellar (one of the vats and the wine cellar are still visible today as part of the Mission museum). By 1841 there were 4,000 vines in the vineyard.
The Mexican government secularized the Mission in 1834. It was temporarily abandoned in 1844 and the vineyard continued to decline. Prior to his death in 1882, it is believed Fr. Dorothea Ambris moved some of the vines from the declining vineyard and replanted them inside the Mission courtyard and out in front of the Mission to better care for them.
Joan shares that in 2011 the Mission sent samples of these vines to UC Davis for DNA testing. It was discovered that the grapes are “Mission” grapes – also known as Criolla Chica in South America and Pais in France. While this varietal is no longer available in Spain, this type of grape stock is still used widely in Central and South America to produce the local table wines.
“We are very proud of our historic vines, still producing wonderful annual harvests,” Joan notes. “It is one of our long-range goals to reestablish the vineyard at the Mission, using cuttings from the original vines. We hope to engage the cooperation of local university students to rebuild the adobe walls around the vineyard and grow the historic vines for many years to come.”
Currently, the Mission has some cuttings available through the gift shop when it is open on the weekends. Visit www.missionsanantonio.net to keep abreast of the changing schedule due to COVID restrictions and staffing requirements.