Five Colorful Fall Favorites

Five Colorful Fall Favorites

Show-stopping Foliage for California’s Central Coast

 

Autumn’s drop in temperature means the debut of many plants’ most show-stopping colors. Whether it be trees or bushes, they each create a vibrant pop in a landscape. We curated a list of five plants we especially love for their bright personalities come fall, and we’re excited for you to get to know them, too.

 

Pistacia chinensis – Chinese Pistache

A gorgeous option for full-sun areas, the Chinese Pistache is not only drought-tolerant, its leaves turn stunning shades of orange and red with the cold. The seeds of their small, bright October drupes are considered directly beneficial for wildlife, and its graceful, symmetrical shape provides a picture-perfect feature for any landscape.

 

Ginkgo biloba “Autumn Gold” – Maidenhair Tree

Gingkos are native to China with beautiful, uniquely shaped leaves that allow the tree to be appreciated from afar and intimately up close. Not only that, but said leaves turn bright yellow come fall, lending a luminous contrast to any stand-out reds, and will drop in a carpet of gold.

 

Geranium sanguineum – Bloody Geranium

This hardy perennial is known in spring and summer for its vivid magenta flowers, but that’s not its only colorful trick. In fall, with the absence of flowers, its foliage tints red, garnering its name from those bright shades. With its charming leaf shape, it can be a lovely, more shrub-like addition or low-lying ground cover that provides lasting color nearly year-round.

 

Sedum reflexum “Angelina” – Golden Stonecrop

A cheerful shade of yellow year-round, Golden Stonecrop is a low-maintenance, weed-smothering succulent that only becomes brighter as the weather gets colder. It really does become a brighter, deeper yellow the colder it gets, so it is a perfect pop of color for any rocky, Central-Californian soil.

 

Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku” – Coral Bark Japanese Maple

We all know Japanese Maples, but this one is especially striking. As its leaves turn from lime green to yellow in the fall, they drop to reveal a striking red bark that stays until its leaves sprout again. Fall and winter landscapes benefit significantly from this perennially beautiful plant.

The Essential Landscape Design Guide: How to Maximize a Residential Landscape

The Essential Landscape Design Guide: How to Maximize a Residential Landscape

Written by Daniel Mazawa, General Manager
Originally published in Living Lavishly

Transforming a landscape can be overwhelming—there are so many places to find inspiration, and there are drastically different styles to consider. It can be helpful to work with a professional—landscape designers are trained to see the big picture and identify opportunities that elude most homeowners. Here are a few steps homeowners can take to understand the design process and get a grasp of what they want from their landscape:

Analyze the Site
On the Central Coast, there are several different natural backdrops that most homes enjoy. Whether it is a distant view of rolling oak woodlands or a beachfront bluff experience, it is important to understand the setting of a place as influenced by the natural world. Take stock of existing trees or plants on site as well as sun and shade.

The architecture of the home and the neighborhood aesthetic may set the tone for the landscape design style. Consider the experience of driving up to the house and walking around the yard. A guest arriving at the home should know right where the front door is and where to park. The movement around the landscape should be functional and beautiful. Where are the areas of interest? What is the flow and the circulation? Identify the opportunities and constraints in a setting before figuring out what to do.

Establish the Functions
It is easy for someone who owns a home to identify what they want, but it can be a little more difficult to define what they need. Everything takes up space, so prioritizing functions is extremely important. Figure out how much usable space is needed for parking, outdoor entertaining, open utility areas, connecting pathways, and any other high-frequency functions. Pools, hot tubs, sport courts, outdoor kitchens, vegetable gardens, and other secondary functions can be fun additions to fold in.

Consider the best locations for all functions as far as convenience, sun exposure, views, and feel. For example, both an outdoor kitchen and a vegetable garden are convenient near an indoor kitchen, but the garden wants open sunshine and the outdoor kitchen benefits from shade or shelter. Also consider the indoor/outdoor connection as perceived through windows and doors from inside. A pergola can feel like an extension of an indoor room, or a distant view can be framed to be enjoyed from inside.

Define Design Style
A good first step is to decide whether a landscape is going to be geometric and calculated or free flowing and natural. A modern home may work better with a straight-lined landscape, but these forms can deconstruct as they move away from the structure. A natural setting such as a woodland can work well with curves and natural pathways especially if preserving existing trees.

People who like control, simple bold design, or tidy surroundings gravitate towards straight lines with geometric configurations. People who like tranquility, natural settings, or designing with nature gravitate towards flowing curves. Bold Modern style utilizes straight-line end of the spectrum and Natural Style falls on the curved line end. Mediterranean, Southwestern, Cottage, and Japanese gardens fall somewhere between. Having a clearly defined style that repeats and transitions smoothly will make a landscape feel complete.

Design Spaces Before Features
While design features are important, the spaces they create are more important to the user experience. For example, a tree may be a beautiful feature, but the shade and shelter a tree grove provides can create a comfortable room complete with walls and a ceiling. Comfortable spaces are often perceived as a bit wider than they are tall, or 1 to 1.618 height to width per the golden ratio. A pergola 16 feet wide by 10 feet tall is a good example. The same comfortable feeling can be achieved with shrubs and trees.

Conversely, putting too many plants next to a front door entry can make it feel tight and uninviting. Open it up and make the path wide, prominent and inviting. Wide open views will feel more comfortable when framed with trees or from a comfortable viewing patio. The psychology of spaces can be overwhelming, but it is obvious when a space feels right.

Work Out Transitions
Landscape is the glue that holds together spaces and structures. Transitions can be the most dynamic aspects of a landscape, or they can be eyesores. Complex hardscape features such as patios, retaining walls, fences, pergolas, outdoor kitchens, water features, and fire features will often intersect and connect with one another.

Figure out how connections will work to make a seamless transition point. Formal landscapes will often transition to a natural area. Utilize decorative bunch grasses on the edge of the landscape to blur the line between mulched landscapes and natural areas. When utilizing multiple design styles, create transitional landscapes to blend gradually. For example, a contemporary landscape may transition to a natural area going from straight lines to calculated arcs and then to a curved path.

Iron Out the Details
Details in the landscape should emphasize the overall design style and theme. In most cases, color themes should be complementary, so they don’t clash. Choose colors for concrete, stone, wood, paint, mulch, and plant material that paint a picture that goes together.

Textures should also be considered. Fine texture details such as exposed aggregate concrete, small ledge stone, or small plants can feel lost in a large space. Bold coarse texture details like large boulders or big leaved plants can feel overbearing in small spaces. Perennial plants provide color, texture, and movement.

Plants should fit the design style with color as well as layout. Bold masses of plants work well with contemporary landscapes, while multi-species combinations can work well with natural areas. Finishing details can make the difference between a hodge-podge yard and a cohesive landscape.

There is a lot to think about when trying to maximize a landscape. A professional can help. Landscape designers can take ideas and dreams and turn them into a buildable design. Knowing the process before starting design or construction can be invaluable to being able to communicate goals and expectations to create a successful landscape to enjoy for years to come.

I Can’t Get Lumber! Four Tips for Landscaping During a Shortage

I Can’t Get Lumber! Four Tips for Landscaping During a Shortage

Achieve the Landscape of Your Dreams Post-Pandemic

2020 saw an upsurge in outdoor redesigns—from businesses to backyards. Outdoor living investments topped the list of spending as everyone reconsidered the value of open-air seating or, for homeowners, a sanctuary.

Due to shutdowns, however, disruptions in supply chains were common and became major 2020 obstacles. Consumer demand then outpaced supply and drove up costs as products took longer and longer to arrive.

The lumber and resin supply chains took a particularly harsh hit. Lumber shortages resulted from dealers cutting back in light of falling demands at the start of the pandemic. Resin shortages were driven by “many resin manufacturers and distributors declaring force majeure on [many resin products]” in light of major storm fronts hitting Texas and the Gulf Coast. With resin being used for plastics, even PVC and sprinkler parts rose in price. A decrease in workers across the board also stunted supply chain flow, as there are fewer truck drivers able to deliver.

As the country opens back up, supply chains are patching, but the builder industry still cannot expect the speed and supply of pre-2020 years. Roger Ramsey from Ewing Irrigation emphasized that “we will not have the luxury of a full supply chain to lean on”—we are still in recovery, and it will take time to return to snap back.

According to Evan Moffitt, CLT, CLIA, PCA, from SiteOne Landscape Supply, however, “this pricing is likely to stick. Pricing structures will change. It appears that there is no end in sight in terms of the shortage” (emphasis added). Because of this, it is essential to expect your landscape to not only potentially take longer but to cost more.

That being said, there are ways to be strategic while still achieving the landscape you want. Here are four tips for property owners to stay on top of limited resources:

Be Flexible

Do not marry yourself to a single ideal, and make sure to have a backup plan. Availability is still limited, and you should plan for the event that your specific materials might not be the best option. Says Ramsey, “Make sure you have an alternate in mind for each part of your project.” Be open to discussion with your designers on whichever aspects might see trouble.

Communicate

Early and proactive communication of your needs will make for a much smoother schedule. Try to be clear about what you need to be done and when, and the business tackling your project will adjust as they are able. Ask for realistic timelines so that you know what you can expect. Be communicative with your vision, needs, and options so you can be accommodated quickly and without fuss.

Be Ready to Switch Gears

Supply chain disruptions are usually sudden and unplanned, which means that your project might not be finished in the expected timeline. If supply shortages make one section of your landscape lag, once again be flexible—encourage the pursuit of other areas of the project site and be proactive with any adjustments you’re ready to accommodate.

Prepare for Price Adjustments

If you’re on a tight budget, begin with a forgiving vision so that you can adjust as needed to any price jumps or extra costs. “Expect delays,” says Moffitt. “Things will take longer to get. Materials will cost more.” Once again, communicate thoroughly with your landscapers so they know what you can and cannot afford. They will adjust within your margins to make sure that any potential hurdles won’t hurt you financially.

Post-pandemic, property owners continue to invest in outdoor spaces, which means not only are materials in high demand, but so is labor. If you are in the midst of a landscape project or planning to start one, these four strategies will guide you cleanly through the process. Please contact us if you have any questions about your project.

 

“Stay Ahead of Outdoor Living Supply Chain Disruptions,” SLOXpress, CLCA SLO Chapter, April 2021, page 4.

Fire Safe Landscaping at the Mid-State Fair

Fire Safe Landscaping at the Mid-State Fair

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!

Partner Profile: Rojas Enterprise

Partner Profile: Rojas Enterprise

Robert Rojas, the owner of Rojas Enterprise, is a licensed contractor with over 20 years of experience. Primarily offering concrete and masonry services, Rojas assists Madrone Landscapes with hardscaping. He and his team can be relied upon to enhance projects with everything from decorative patios and walkways to custom project features, outdoor fireplaces, and sound structural retaining walls. By incorporating stains, polishes, and decorative stamps, Rojas’ work is much more than just concrete and masonry.

The Rojas team has been working with Madrone Landscapes for over 15 years, where they have completed over 200 projects together. The longevity of the partnership can be mainly attributed to both companies’ dedication to client satisfaction and integrity of their workmanship. “The most important thing to me is making sure the client is happy with the final product,” explained Rojas. He also credited the long working relationship to Madrone’s professionalism. “The team at Madrone is easy to work with, not only because they are good people, but because they provide clear direction with their procedures and schedules.”

Out of all of the projects that the Rojas/Madrone teams have collaborated on, Rojas is particularly proud of a project where they created a stamped, circular pad for a fireplace. Its compass feature was skillfully cut into the concrete and stained to enhance the features.