Giving Back: El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)

Giving Back: El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO)

Who knew stewardship felt so good?

No matter where you live, you make an impact. For communities to function well over time, conscious efforts must be made by many to contribute to the positive impact toward the development of that community, or else who will?  That is stewardship. We recognize this at Madrone Landscapes, and try to do our part.

One recent effort that Madrone participated in was the design and installation of a low-impact landscape at El Camino Homeless Organization(ECHO). ECHO is a non-profit organization with a 50-bed transitional shelter helping families and individuals find permanent housing within three months of entering the facility. The organization is located on the Central Coast of California serving North San Luis Obispo County, and you can read more about their efforts here.

Working with ECHO’s Board of Directors, Madrone came together with community volunteers and students from California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. The Madrone team and volunteers installed shade trees, screening, and a drought tolerant, native plant pallet. A quarter acre of fruit trees including apples, peaches, plums and figs were planted and a raised vegetable garden was also installed to make the most of what the facility has to offer.

Over two weekends of fun and hard work, Madrone’s general manager, Daniel Mazawa, led the charge with the help of Cal Poly professor Christie O’Hara and Rainscape manager, Victor Rocha, as 60 volunteers transformed the space into an aesthetically pleasing and functional landscape. Prior to the planting and mulching, Madrone’s build team graded the area, installed the irrigation and assembled all the needed materials. Local businesses donated irrigation parts, soil amendments and mulches. A little bit of conscious stewardship can make a big difference, and the benefits  of this project will “ECHO” for years to come.  The smiles say it all!

Meet the Team: Megan Savage and Ian Parker

Meet the Team: Megan Savage and Ian Parker

To kick off our new “Meet the Team” segment, we are highlighting the dynamic duo Megan Savage and Ian Parker from the Design Crew! Ian Parker is the Sales Manager at Madrone, and has more than 10 years of field installation and design experience. Megan is one of Madrone’s Landscape Designers, and has years of technical and design experience behind her. Together, they cover the whole spectrum of the design experience, designing for San Luis Obispo county and North Santa Barbara county. Here is what they told us when we asked about working together as the core design crew:

How long have you worked at Madrone? How long have you worked with each other? 

Meg: I started working at Madrone about 2 weeks after I graduated from Cal Poly, and I have been here for just over a year now. I started working with Ian when he switched from the construction side to the design side of the office.

Ian: I’ve been at Madrone for close to 6 years now – mostly as a Project Manager with our Construction Department, and now as a Designer and Sales Rep.  I’ve been working alongside Megan for the past year.

What is unique about the working relationship with each other?

M: We have similar personalities but different skills. We are constantly encouraging each other and bouncing ideas and questions off one another which makes our office a fun, productive space. We both have a unique approach to our designs. My skillset lies more in the graphic details and technical drafting, whereas Ian has great design skills plus a vast knowledge of building and installation techniques. Between the two of us, I feel like we can design anything and find a way to install it in the landscape.

I: Megan and I work together well because we have a real complimentary skill set, and I think we’re both driven by our passion for creating beautiful spaces and making clients smile.  She’s a great designer, and amazing with the technical stuff, and I’ve built enough landscapes to know what will work well and how to bring concepts to life. Together i think we cover the whole spectrum of design experience.

How many projects have you collaborated on?

M: All of them since Ian started in this office. I can’t think of one that we haven’t had one another take a second look at for some aspect of the design!

I: We collaborate on every design. We’re always asking for a second opinion on layout or discussing plant choices or building techniques.  I know I can be my own worst critic at times, so having someone to approve my ideas and offer encouragement is awesome.

Which two projects were most successful?

M: I feel like every design we have done is successful in its own way.  Some are feats of technical detailing, some are just incredibly laid out with gorgeous plant palettes, and some simply made our client smile and go outside more – in my book, all of these traits (and more) could be considered successful.

I: I think all of our projects have been successful, and we have quite a few projects that we’ve collaborated on scheduled for construction this coming summer and fall. I’ve had a lot of fun working with her to build 3-D models of some of our more involved designs.  It’s amazing how much seeing a 3-D model can do for a client’s confidence – I mean, this stuff just wasn’t available when I was in design school.

What do you most appreciate about working with each other?

M: Ian’s support and mentorship. I had no construction experience when I started here and I feel like I am constantly learning from his skillset every time we look at a new project. If I hit walls with design ideas or have a lacking creative moment he always helps me find a way to see my site differently so I can work through it.

I: I really appreciate Megan’s energy and passion for her clients and their projects.  She really wants to help them make their home a place that they love, and it shows in all of her designs and interactions with clients. Side Note: She also has this strange power that allows her to stare at my computer and make it behave when it’s acting up… short of buying a new computer, I don’t know what I’d do without that!

Houzz Announces Best Of Houzz 2016 Winners

Houzz Announces Best Of Houzz 2016 Winners

Annual Survey and Analysis of Community of Over 35 Million Monthly Users Reveals the Top-Rated Home Remodeling Professionals and Most Popular Home Designs. Houzz Inc., the leading platform for home renovation and design, today announced the community’s picks for Best Of Houzz 2016 in North America, a homeowner-to-homeowner guide to the top home buildersarchitectsinterior designers, landscape pros and other residential remodeling professionals on Houzz from cabinetry or roofing pros to painters.

“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented, competent and service-oriented professionals,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to join our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts in recognizing our “Best Of Houzz” professionals around the world.”

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of recent client reviews. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award.

Madrone Landscapes placed Best of Houzz 2016 for Design and Best of Houzz 2016 for Service. Check out

Changing the California Landscape

Changing the California Landscape

Changing the California Landscape

An Autumn Roundup of Local Landscape Conversions

Written by Daniel Mazawa

Designer and Estimator, Madrone Landscapes

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a movement towards a new California landscape.  After a century of following trends in both England and east coast gardens, we are developing a Californian identity in our landscapes that speaks to our environment, our climate, and our available resources.

The limited availability of water has forced our hands to look to both our native California plants and those of Mediterranean regions of the world for inspiration in the landscape.  It is a common misconception that drought tolerant landscapes need to look like desert scenes from the southwest.  Our landscapes can be lush, usable, and beautiful, while still being low maintenance and drought tolerant.  Both Paso Robles and Atascadero have been successful in assisting home and business owners to reduce their water use with combined landscape rebates of over $36,000.00.  More funding is available to property owners, within the city limits, who want to reduce their water use.  Funding is limited and on a first come, first serve basis.

The emphasis on converting the California landscape to a more sustainable and drought tolerant status revolves around the removal of unnecessary lawns.  Lawns use a very high amount of water and require high maintenance.  It is important to note that lawns have great utility in the landscape when used for sports or play; however, if they are used simply for aesthetics they may be unnecessary.  As general rule:  “If the only person who uses the lawn is the one who mows it, it is not worth the resources to maintain it.” (Rick Mathews, Business Owner, Madrone Landscapes).  Many plants can be used to give the lush green look we all strive for, but with much less water and maintenance.

In order to help home and business owners use lawn alternatives, both the City of Paso Robles and the Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) have devised monetary incentives.  Both municipalities have programs to offer up to $500.00 for removing irrigated turf and replace it with a drought tolerant landscape.  For the do-it-yourself homeowner, this may pay for the whole project.  For those who hire landscape professionals, an overdue brand new landscape will be more affordable.

The AMWC is offering additional rebates for using more efficient irrigation products.  Just changing the nozzle on your sprinkler system can greatly increase its efficiency, thereby reducing your water use.  MP Rotator nozzles are the latest sprinkler innovation.  They are compatible with most spray head sprinklers and can be used increase the uniformity of sprinkler coverage and reduce runoff.  “Overspray from irrigation deteriorates our streets and carries pollutants from our cars into our storm drains and creeks.” (Jaime Hendrickson, Conservation Manager, AMWC)  Asphalt deterioration due to huge amounts of wasted irrigation sprinkler runoff is causing one Atascadero neighborhood to look at astronomical fees needed to fix their damaged streets.  Local home and business owners must also take note that runoff on sidewalks during a freeze can create a slick ice hazard for passers by.

The AMWC is also giving rebates for smart irrigation controllers.  Smart irrigation controllers can be in the form of new controllers or a retrofit part for your existing controller.  They measure solar intensity, rainfall, or soil moisture daily to water exactly to you plants needs.  Without this component, it is common for landscapes to be overwatered in the winter, spring, and fall; and underwatered on the hottest days of summer.

There is a long list of drought tolerant plants that can be used as a lawn instead of the more common water-loving turf grasses.  Right now, most of these options cost more than a common sod product, but they can be a great, usable lawn.  Two grasses we use regularly for this are Carex praegracilis (Meadow Sedge) and Carex glauca (Blue Sedge).

More commonly, lawns can be replaced with beautiful botanical display of colors and textures to create a signature California landscape aesthetic.  Choosing the right plants for the location is best left to an expert, but as a homeowner, there are some great resources and events available for inspiration.  The Autumn Garden Tour is a yearly event put on by the Atascadero Mutual Water Company, and more information is available at  This tour is an opportunity to see private gardens that have creative solutions for saving water.

2010 North County Rebate Roundup

Turf Conversion Rebates:

Paso Robles:

Square Feet of Turf Removed:              45,537

Number of Rebated Projects:                      52

Total Dollars Rebated:                         $18,766.84

Average Rebate:                                 $360.90

Rebate Rate:                                      $0.50 per Square Foot*

Maximum Rebate per Customer:           $500.00


Square Feet of Turf Removed:              47,000

Number of Rebated Projects:                     43

Total Dollars Rebated:                         $15,000.00

Average Rebate:                                 $348.84

Rebate Rate:                                      $0.25 per Square Foot*

Maximum Rebate per Customer:           $500.00

*Square footage refers to sprinkler-irrigated turf converted to a drought tolerant landscape.

MP Rotator Sprinkler Nozzle Conversion Rebates:


Number of Converted Nozzles:              600

Number of Rebated Projects:                  25

Total Dollars Rebated:                     $1,800.00

Average Rebate:                                 $72.00

Rebate Rate:                                       $3.00 per Nozzle*

*Number of existing sprinkler nozzles replaced with more efficient MP Rotators.

Smart Controller Rebates:


Number of Rebated Smart Controllers:      600

Number of Rebated Projects:                     12

Total Dollars Rebated:                        $1,200.00

Average Rebate:                                   $100.00

Rebate Rate:                                        $100.00 per Smart Controller*

*Contact Atascadero Mutual Water Company for applicable Smart Controller options.

The preceding data from the City of Paso Robles was collected from February 21, 2010 to September 22, 2010.

The preceding data from the Atascadero Mutual water Company was collected from January 1, 2010 to September 22, 2010.

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