Eight Tips for Sustainable Landscapes on the Central Coast

Eight Tips for Sustainable Landscapes on the Central Coast

Our Californian Central Coast climate is unique and particular, shaped by drought-tolerant native plants and dry but beautiful weather. As professional landscapers, we understand the importance of planting flora that can live sustainably in our soils. Here, sustainability means many things—keeping water bills down, plants alive without fuss and unnecessary labor, the native landscape uninterrupted by any invasive species, and more—and does not undermine the beautification of your outdoor spaces.

This timeless video is just as relevant for central coast landscapes today as it was when it was filmed in 2009. Created by the Templeton Community Services District in cooperation with the SLO County Partners in Water Conservation, this ten-minute video walks through eight topics you should consider when creating a sustainable landscape. Hosted by Kate Dore and our own Rick Mathews. 

Eight factors to consider when creating a sustainable landscape:

  1. Planning and Design—know your site inside and out to ensure you start off on the right foot
  2. Soil Type—before deciding on your perfect plant palette, make sure you know what your soil can sustain
  3. Plant Selection—set your heart on the beautiful variety of native and Mediterranean plants that grow best in our area
  4. Limited Turf Areas—a costly and management-heavy asset, it’s best to design for only as much turf as you need for your practical enjoyment
  5. Mulching—organic mulch is the perfect solution for topsoil protection, temperature regulation, and weed prevention
  6. Efficient Irrigation—an essential component to preventing time-intensive care and water waste, make sure your irrigation system is efficient
  7. Hardscape Areas—these can be designed with sustainable and water-wise materials as well as potted plants and container gardens to beautify your walls and walkways
  8. Maintenance—reduce maintenance time and costs by considering the speed of your plants’ growth, the cost of any new maintenance tools, replanting needs, and any possibility for your plants damaging your landscape if left unchecked
On the Boards: North County Rustic Modern

On the Boards: North County Rustic Modern

A redesign in Paso Robles at 10,600 SF, this North County backyard landscape creates a rustic modern outdoor sanctuary—befit for its owners and the home it surrounds.

This project redesigns the entire backyard, re-envisioning every space to include custom features like a live wall, firepit, and a new outdoor kitchen and dining area. It blends historic elements and flora native to the California Central Coast with these new modern features to create a comfortable, aesthetic balance.

The design includes points of interest and focal features such as a dry creek, raised garden beds, horizontal fencing, and landscape lighting. Stately oak trees create a canopy with moonlighting over the activity areas.

With all the custom elements in this project, there have been many details and revisions to keep up with. Communication between the install crew and the design team has been increasingly important with each adjustment.

From the design-build teamwork to the inspired design, this North County landscape is a wonderful example of creating an outdoor sanctuary with varied gathering spaces that are both functional and aesthetically beautiful.

 

On the Boards: Shell Beach Oasis

On the Boards: Shell Beach Oasis

As part of this Shell Beach Residence’s major remodel, we are designing an outdoor sanctuary by creating a beautifully contemporary, tropical California landscape.

A unique space that requires plenty of communication and creativity, this design is the epitome of an oasis. It is both striking and practical, formed by three differentiated spaces within one cohesive whole and designed to be split in half by a roll-out gate. This gate, strategically placed within the patio and complemented by the yard’s single-palette planted border, allows guests a feeling of privacy while creating a manageable visiting space for the owners.

From raised garden beds to a built-in spa, this coastal residential landscape harmoniously blends multi-functional features with a stunning, tropical California aesthetic. A bit different from the North County plant palette, the well-drained, irrigated, and thoughtfully-placed materials emote the feeling of a tropical vacation—truly a paradise!

Breaking Down the Madrone Mission Statement 

Breaking Down the Madrone Mission Statement 

Our mission is to create inspirational landscapes that cultivate the natural beauty of California’s Central Coast

Create in our mission statement refers to the entire design/build process. Design is often the first phase of Madrone’s services. Our initial consultations begin the process that will produce a plan. We work closely with our clients through give-and-take interactions to refine their original concepts and solidify the scope of work.

Create also refers to our work on site. Whether through planting, irrigation, or construction, all phases can be approached and implemented creatively and with innovation, artistic elements, and inspiration.

Inspiration originates from a personal state of mind and is unique, based on perspectives and influences. As a company of green professionals, we’re grateful for the daily inspiration we find in being able to promote and enhance the beauty and health of the Central Coast—culturally as well as biologically. It is an honor to help cultivate one of the best places on Earth to live.

We prioritize inspired creation in our approach to design/build landscaping. Madrone designers and field crews alike tap into inspiration by asking the following question about every single project we contract: What is the “stoke factor” of this job? Every project and client has them, and it’s our job to find and maximize that “stoke”—or inspirational factor—for and with our clients.

Landscapes enhance the effects of the sites they beautify, inspiring those who visit or inhabit them. One of the most common ways is through memorials to loved ones. Whether it is a tree planted in someone’s name, small, personalized elements, or dedicated gardens, these memorials can keep us in touch with our loved ones in the most beautiful and gratifying ways. Memorials can contribute to a sense of home or place and help create an Outdoor Sanctuary. Now more than ever, it’s important to create a personal sense of safety and comfort. Let your garden give you inspiration.

Cultivate helps emphasize both the physical nature of our work and our goals of promoting, protecting, and enhancing the natural beauty of the Central Coast. Development done incorrectly, whether commercial or residential, can impact and damage the environment. Our approach to landscaping seeks to recognize and understand development impacts and mitigate or avoid negative effects as much as possible.

California’s Central Coast provides one of the best climates for humans to live and thrive. As community members, we include a social component in our cultivation of life here. We strive to give back and have made doing so a practice. From building and dedicating gardens to contributing support for addressing social and cultural concerns, we believe it is incumbent on us to continue to earn our place as positive members of our community. Free enterprise includes the responsibility to give as well as the privilege to take.

It is with gratitude and determination that at Madrone Landscapes, we are continuing our mission into a new year and beyond.

Four Winter-hardy Plants for the California Central Coast

Four Winter-hardy Plants for the California Central Coast

Here on the central coast, we don’t typically have freezing temperatures, and we have fewer plants that die back or go dormant during these colder, wetter months. During the winter months when nothing else in the garden is showing its colors, here are four of our favorite plants to steal the show.

Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) This cold-hardy succulent comes in a variety of colors and can be planted in rocky places with very little soil. We love the look it creates when you stick them in cracks and crevices of stone walls or walkways.

Nandina ‘Fire Power’ is a great evergreen shrub that has year-round interest. It is especially beautiful in the fall and winter: the leaves turn a deep red with cold weather.

Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ is a low-maintenance, low water-use shrub. Manzanitas are striking year-round thanks to their evergreen leaves and gorgeous red bark, but their dainty winter blooms really give them another dimension.

Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Irene’ like Manzanitas, Trailing Rosemary is low-maintenance and low water use. When planted on top of retaining walls and allowed to drape over, they add drama to your garden, while their scent and seasonal flowers give them an added edge over some of the other trailing plant materials.

Tasting Room Landscapes in the 2020s

Tasting Room Landscapes in the 2020s

Wineries on the California Central Coast have had their share of curveballs dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, but some have been well-suited to adapt to changing times. The tasting room experience could be considered even more valuable today for its ability to give visitors a relaxed, open-air experience as a respite from the headlines. As a follow up to our 2018 article Five Landscape Design Tips for California Central Coast Tasting Rooms we caught up with two notable winery leaders to see how the landscapes were faring in the pandemic.

In spring of 2020, all wineries were forced to halt in-person tastings for 10 weeks. When wineries could reopen, they were limited to providing tastings in outdoor spaces by and with proper social distancing. June McIvor of Tolosa Winery said they had to reduce their outside capacity somewhat to accommodate distancing requirements and they began offering online reservations in addition to the phone and email reservations they had already been encouraging. The winery shifted lounge spaces to tables and spread them out for proper spacings and reduced maximum group size. The variety of patio spaces and strategically located small planters provided the flexibility to adapt their space and fit people.

June reports the winery is welcoming many new guests from population hubs in Northern and Southern California who are traveling by car to vacation on the Central Coast. Locals and visitors alike are “looking for normalcy” and she feels that the relaxed atmosphere of tasting wine in a beautiful garden patio is greatly appreciated. She remarks, “We are grateful we renovated,” and because of thoughtful pre-pandemic design they are well-positioned to adapt to pandemic constraints.

Damian Grindley of Brecon Estate also had to rethink the outdoor table layout for tastings and reservations and has seen similar success. Surprisingly, he had considered moving to reservations-only prior to COVID-19. The requirement forced Brecon Estate into a reservation system early but with little pushback. He correlates reservations with better customer satisfaction because of a more controllable experience with adequate staffing to the reservation load. Satisfied customers will buy more wine.

The “relaxed Central Coast” vibe of Brecon Estate draws in locals and visitors with the goal of making customers feel welcome and comfortable. As far as the winery renovation and landscape built in the last six years, he says, “we almost could not have designed it better.” The comfortable outdoor spaces and detached outdoor restroom building worked out particularly well for COVID-19 restrictions.

With the respite wineries provide, demand for outdoor tasting room space will continue into the winter. Tolosa Winery has extended their outdoor tasting room season using tents for weather protection. Brecon has room for tents but is considering alternative layouts for patio design with tents in mind. A couple of feet one way or the other can make the difference for a great fit.

With outdoor tasting areas at a premium, savvy wineries will put thought into providing comfortable usable spaces for winter weather.

Here are five tips for wineries that are thinking of renovating their tasting room landscapes to accommodate customers looking for a great experience.