Regenerative Landscape Architecture

Humane Pest Control: Gophers and Squirrels

Humane Pest Control or Compassionate Conversation?

I was image: Humane Pest Controlat a client’s home recently in Sherman Oaks, California.  They told me about the gopher who had been eating the roots of their plants and creating little sink holes all over their yard.  During our site visit, I noted the telltale signs of a landscape out of balance.  I knew it would be my job to teach them how to fix their gopher problem by re-balancing their landscape.  While we talked, the gopher responsible came out of a hole at the base of an umbrella plant.  He looked directly at us while proceeding to remove three umbrella plant stalks and carry them backwards into his hole.  I pointed this out to my client, and we laughed at his audacity.

Being that I’m a student of inter-species communication and believe that animals are sentient, I spoke to the wide-eyed little performance artist.  I said, “I know you need to survive here just as much as the people who live in that house there, and so don’t worry, I’m going to include you in a solution that works for everyone here.”

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Beware: Not All Residential Landscapers Have the Required Knowledge

Some Residential Landscapers Lack Essential Knowledge

I was recently hired by another group of residential landscapers operating in Los Angeles.  They contracted me to answer a long list of questions they had about how to do landscape design.

image: some residential landscapers don't even know plantsThat’s right, they paid me to answer their questions about how to design landscapes.

I didn’t expect their questions to be so essential to the service they were out there providing to unwitting customers.  To illustrate my point, I’ll share with you the long list they sent me.  I answered every one for their company in the hopes of saving the lives of plants (if you’ve been a reader for a while you know I see plants as sentient beings), and I sincerely hope that it helped them better serve residents – and the landscape – of Los Angeles County.

I’ve seen some of their built projects, and the plants were all high-maintenance, high water-use species used in all of their designs.  They actually even told me that a lot of their designs are losing plants and have to be replaced regularly.

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A Mystic’s List of Perennial Plants

Special Performers For Our List of Perennial Plants

People often tell me that they love the way I speak about plants and the landscape on my website.  I definitely do express a unique perspective on non-human species and other organic elements of this beautiful, magical planet.  In this post, I will list perennial plants that provide multiple ecosystem services* to us and focus on the mystical side of the plant world, which I have worked with in my professional ecological landscape design business for the last 15 years.

image: list perennial plantsI fell in love with Nature** as a child.  I lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, and back then it was okay to wander for literally hours through the shipyards by myself.  Generation X understands this.  It was on those long, unsupervised walks that I discovered near-blinding pockets of magic.  I would remember them for life.  One was a tall stand of Anise (Pimpinella anisum) which had been colonized by a group of Ladybugs.  The sun was shining on their brilliant red shells, popping them against the vibrant green stems.  I stood surrounded by the wonderful scent of the plant and pinched several small lace clumps to savor the flavor, being careful not to scoop up any Ladybugs on accident.

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What Is The Best Mulch To Use In Los Angeles?

In L.A. What is the Best Mulch to Use?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed the barren, compacted parkways all around L.A.  Most of them have at least some plant life, some have trash, others nothing at all.  Just sun-baked, bleached dirt.  My guess is that most of you reading this are not quite as nerdy as I am about the health of our parkways.  Like, you may never have asked what is the best mulch to use in your yard or the planting strip out front of your house or apartment, known as a parkway.  Technically, the city owns parkways, but citizens must maintain them.  Perhaps where we can come together is that parkways could stand a makeover.  I’m here to share my techniques for revitalizing the parkways of L.A., cheaply and with little work on your part.

The methods I use with my clients are super simple, yet they, like most Permaculture techniques, pack a massive punch.  In the field, ecological designers like me call this sort of approach, where minimal effort produces maximum results, a fulcrum move.  The idea is that a fulcrum moves only a little at the joint, but at its end it swings wide.  In other words, you put in little work to effect a change, but the landscape jumps into action and sweeping change is the result.  Another great benefit of using fulcrum moves like the ones I’m going to share with you here, is that your costs are reduced.  That’s right, your water bill will go down, and if you pay a “mow, blow, and go” landscaper, you won’t need them to maintain your parkway as much, if at all.

If this sounds good to you, read on.

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Five Southern California Plants That Reduce Maintenance and Water Costs

image: Southern California Plants

Plants do a lot for human beings. If I were to try and list all of the services provided by the Plant Kingdom to the Animal Kingdom, it might amount to an encyclopedia set.  Most of us know about a handful taught to us in school:  plants breathe out oxygen, provide shade, and offer us delicious produce to eat.  In this article, I'd like to share a few of the many additional gifts we get from Southern California plants by highlighting a few species you can grow if you live in Los Angeles County.

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Desertification Reversal Isn’t Only Possible, It’s Simple

How to Easily Reverse Desertification

image: desertificationIn my experience as a designer and an intuitive, forest destruction is the single most dangerous activity of mankind.  The result of taking out trees is the decline of the landscape toward desertification, or entropy.  I’ve always shaken my head at the mainstream tale we’ve been told about entropy being Earth’s natural tendency.  If you’ve spent as much time gazing into Nature as I have, you probably agree that this is a flat out lie.  To anyone watching, natural systems move automatically toward a climax ecosystem state unless they are disturbed to a degree that breaks down the inherent ability of the system to recover.  In extreme cases of deforestation, true deserts occur, such as the Sahara in Africa.

An Egyptian Take On Desertification

Speaking of the Motherland, on the subject of desertification I find the research of those wise and brave enough to disregard Egyptology to be important here.  They are the most fun researchers and writers IMHO (in my humble opinion) because they are boldly willing to pass right by the misinformation campaigns fed to the world.  Read More