This is Phase 1 of a complete landscape renovation project in Emeryville, for a condominium association.

It is being done in conjunction with a building renovation

This phase includes an irrigation upgrade, excavating all the soil in planter beds, new shrubs, trees and ground cover.  It is scheduled for completion around the end of February 2013.  Phase 2 will be hardscape.

Phase 1 is scheduled for completion around the end of February 2013.

Phase 2 will be hardscape.  More to come!



This year, Gardeners’ Guild has been honored with two prestigious awards this year for its work on a full-scale landscape renovation for a home in the Oakland Hills.  The national award, presented by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) is a first-place award in its category.  The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) presented the state award at their annual convention in San Diego.

Both associations receive numerous entries every year and recognize a select number of contractors with an award ceremony, featuring a multi-media show that highlights winners’ achievements followed by the presentation of award plaques.  Being recognized nationally for their work is a significant accomplishment for a landscape contractor and the team at Gardeners’ Guild was jubilant when the news arrived.

The property’s setting is impressive.  Located high in the Oakland hills with sweeping San Francisco bay views, the landscape renovation was conceived to harmonize with the mid-century modern style of the newly renovated house, and for their family to have more outdoor living space.  The new landscape was a complete transformation in which Gardeners’ Guild installed an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, spa and custom-built water feature and terraces, which were cut to maximize the beauty of the sloping hillside.

Kip Matthews, Gardeners’ Guild’s Construction Operations Manager and twenty-two year veteran of the company says, “Being recognized nationally is a huge affirmation of our hard work, talent and coordination.  I’m extremely proud of our team.”  Gardeners’ Guild President, Kevin Davis remarked on his appreciation of the client relationship.  “Our successful collaboration was a big part of the success of this project, said Davis.  “It demonstrates to us how important these partnerships are.”

A Spectacular Landscape Transformation


This was an article written by one of our managers and was recently printed in an industry trade journal.  It speaks volumes about our company’s irrigation know-how.

By Paul Thunstrom

As an irrigation technician, you will be viewed by your clients and colleagues as a technically advanced problem solver. You will be expected to get the job done where others have failed or have passed on a project or problem that has defied an easy solution. You must be prepared to take on the multiple challenges of appropriate assessment, information gathering, analysis, and the formulation of a comprehensive solution. You must also be able to resolve the challenge within a short time frame and often with little prior knowledge of the irrigation project or system you have been requested to work on.

This challenging task requires preparation, organization of thought and materials, and mastery of a tool chest of technical knowledge and specialized equipment to ensure you can accomplish the job expected of you.

To become a proficient irrigation technician requires extensive training and field experience. Once you have achieved the basic technical proficiency required by this position, you must further hone your skills to be considered among the best practitioners, capable of solving the most difficult irrigation problems.

  • Maintain an accessible library of relevant technical information. Industry manufacturers are an excellent source for this material. You should have at your disposal technical manuals from all the most commonly encountered manufacturers and familiarize yourself with the available products and specifications.
  • Develop relations with your irrigation equipment vendors and manufacturers. Seek out the most knowledgeable staff and leverage this resource to help solve problems and find the most appropriate products. Participate in manufacturer and vendor training events and product presentations.
  • Keep a detailed log book of everything you do. Questions about what was done on a project often come up long after the work is completed. Be prepared to access this information quickly with a chronological project log.
  • Understand the basic physics that are at play within irrigation systems. You may be a proficient technician with mastery of standard procedures and specifications, but an understanding of the basic theories underlying system operation and design will allow you to solve any problem you encounter. Taking an entry-level physics course is an excellent way to gain this knowledge.
  • Assess the entire system you are working on, not just the repair or project at hand. This system knowledge may lead to a quick solution and prevent unnecessary or inappropriate work being done. This information will also allow you to assess comprehensive system needs that could provide valuable information for your client and your company. Pass on any recommendations you have for system improvements or observations of deficiencies in writing to your client or manager, even if it is not related to the job you were requested to perform.
  • Always beware of coincidental problems that may seem related but are not. Perform thorough diagnostics and rule out all possibilities before formulating a solution based on preliminary observations.
  • Always check twice before you leave a project site after performing repairs, diagnostics, or system maintenance. Ensure that everything you touched is operational and ready to go. Avoid the personal embarrassment and loss of confidence you will experience from your employer and client if a valve is left on or a controller is not programmed properly. We all make mistakes, but when they are made by the technical expert, they are not so quickly forgotten or forgiven.
  • Maintain a clean, organized, and well-stocked service vehicle at all times. Track your inventory of commonly used parts and tools, and maintain it as needed. Ensure that your storage methods are highly efficient, and take the necessary action to make improvements as needed.
  • Be prepared to work with allied professionals to accomplish your projects. The irrigation technician will often need to consider paving; high-voltage electrical, structural, domestic plumbing; and other specialty trades to accomplish the project goals and should have a working familiarity with these trades. Know when your scope of work requires another trade and rely on trusted professionals to advise and assist as needed.

Paul Thunstrom is the Enhancement Division Manager for Gardeners’ Guild, Richmond, Calif., and is Landscape Industry Certified. Paul has a B.A. in Environmental Agro-ecology from UC Santa Cruz and has 23 years experience in landscape and irrigation design, construction, greenhouse nursery and agricultural systems management.  He is also a graduate of the ASLA Landscape Architecture Certification Program, UC Berkeley.  Paul most recently completed UC Berkeley’s LEED for Landscape Architecture.  He has been an employee-owner since 2000.


Recently I drove along with our President and Director of Business Development to one of our current landscape installation projects in the East Bay.  It’s the West Gate Cherry Tree Project in Berkeley.  In fact, it is right outside of the west entrance to UC Berkeley.

The purpose of the project is to recognize the societal contributions of the Japanese graduates.  It was entirely funded by the California Japanese American Alumni Association.

The project includes – planting 35 Akebono flowering Cherry trees on the University Drive medians. Incidentally, the common name for these trees is “Daybreak Cherry tree”.  Akebono means daybreak or dawn in Japanese.  They bloom magnificently in the spring and happily, they are drought resistant.

We are also planting Agapanthus, Hypericum, Prunus trees and installing mulch on the University medians.  Replacing what used to be turf with trees and plants supports Berkeley’s campus sustainability goals.  The project also includes irrigation installation.

The University expects that the conversion from turf to plants will save the University approximately 40,000 gallons of water a year.

It was a great to see the project – in progress – and to get a few photos of our smiling Gardeners’ Guild people.

See the photos.  More to follow.

Yesterday was Richmond’s third annual Economic Summit.  An important event for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, it was an opportunity to learn about the city’s communities, businesses, and some fun facts about its history and geography.

The Summit was broken out into two bus tours of the city – one was focused on its communities; the other, its businesses.  Here is some of what we learned:

Did you know that 31% of the land of Richmond is either open space or Parks?  There are some great regional and city parks in the city!  Many are located along the bay including – Eastshore State Park, Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, Point Isabel Shoreline and Miller-Knox Regional Park.  Miller-Knox has a beautiful picnic area.  In fact Gardeners’ Guild has had its employee picnic here.

Richmond is also home to Rosie the Riveter World War II National Historic Park and Memorial.  It commemorates contributions that women made to our country while men were called into military service during World War II.

The city is larger than you might imagine:  its total area is 56 square miles.  For more information about its colorful history and especially its important role during World War II, see this link:

Richmond is especially proud that it will soon be home to Lawrence Berkeley Lab.  It will be located the shoreline in Richmond. The lab’s new campus will bring in jobs and the city anticipates that it will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.