Primary Landscape Trends for 2019

We notice some landscape trends return year after year.  They remain on the list because their popularity is still soaring.  Like edible and community gardens. These two are big – and encouraging. 

More people are embracing plants – indoors and out.  Millennials are spending a lot of money on plants. And, Generation Z – loves them!  Gardens that save water, benefit the environment, are low maintenance and –  gardens that heal and feed.  They are everywhere.  Not just in the west. 

Healing Gardens

More hospitals and institutions are incorporating gardens.  Since we know that gardens can heal the mind and,the body, Horticultural therapy is a increasingly recognized profession. 

How plants help in institutional settings.

  • Alzheimers and dementia patients
  • Patients with mental illness
  • Improves hormonal balance
  • Decreases violence by 19%

Interior Plants are More Popular Than Ever

From Garden Media’s annual report.
Pinterest searches for indoor plants are up 90 percent. National Gardening Association found that 30 percent of all households bought at least one hourplant last year.  Millennials are driving this trend – they represent 31 percent of houseplant sales.

People who spend a lot of time indoors behind a screen are craving nature.  Bringing the outdoors in – is a no-brainer. One organization in New Zealand has identified how apartment dwellers are using plants in their homes. Putting “masses of indoor plants on modular shelves.” Aranged for easy maintenance. At home they are not using living walls – too high maintenance.

A partial list of indoor plants with the best air cleaning attributes (according to NASA)*

  • Boston Fern
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Agloenema
  • Sansevieria
  • Ficus Benjamina
  • Anthuriums
  • Spathiphyllum
  • Dracaenas (Marginata and Massangeana)
  • Pothos

See our website for photos of the above plants and others we use in our service.

*Bill Wolverton, former NASA research scientist who conducted the 1989 plant study favors golden pothos.  He suggests placing two good sized plants per 100 feet of interior space.  He reminds us that they make people feel happier, reduce stress, improve mood and energy levels.

Green Building - Emeryville California

Office Building Trends

Sustainable design and bringing nature inside was once a new trend.  Now these concepts are the standard and essential for attracting talent.

It’s called “Biophilic design”. Designers also integrate views, natural lighting and climate to mirror the outdoor environment.

One study by Harvard University found that –
In a strategically designed green office, employees had on average 61% higher cognitive function
than their non-green counterparts.

Big picture, sustainable buildings are just one aspect of what is called – healthy buildings.   Spaces are being designed with the employees’ well being in mind. 
One example is relaxation or quiet spaces, featuring soft and comfortable seating; mini fridges. 

Community Gardens

The Trust for Public Land says this trend has grown 44% since 2012. 22% since last year.  Most community gardens grow edible plants.  The biggest way they make a difference is by providing low cost healthy food for underserved communities.  It’s hard to envision living in an area without a major grocery store – independent or chain.  But, that is a reality in Richmond. 

Verde Elementary is a small school at the end of a quiet street in Richmond. It has one of the oldest organic school gardens in California. Urban tilth managed it for eight years. It is a food source for the students and the North Richmond community.  The program includes teaching students about health and nutrition plus, it gives them the experience of tending a garden.

There are many community gardens throughout the bay area.  Below is a partial list.

Other East Bay community gardens

El Cerrito has Pacific Oaks Community Garden

Hercules Sustainable Community Garden

Rodgers Ranch Community Garden – Pleasant Hill.  This garden rents different sized spaces for an annual fee.

San Francisco community gardens

Potrero Hill Community Gardens

TNDC Tenderloin People’s Garden

Please Touch Community Garden

Climate Resilient Gardens – where nature and technology merge

As the conversation about climate change goes mainstream, a broader swath of the population are realizing they can help make a difference – in their own gardening practices.

The term resilience – is being used by Gensler (architecture and design firm).  It’s in the context of – urban centers and their potential to become part of the solution.   Now individuals are taking more responsibility by embracing gardens that enhance biodiversity. 

Wildlife Gardens

Gardens are trending toward a less manicured look in favor of a more natural appearance. 
are more popular. 
Adding plants that attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Low maintenancea gardens.
Edible gardens have become wildly popular.

And, water.  We can no longer take it for granted.  Drought tolerant plants are the standard. 

Garden Technology

Irrigation technology, including weather-based irrigation timers, (controllers) has exploded in popularity.  This relieves the busy homeowner from having to remember to water.  And, it is more effective.  We list the names of SF Bay area water districts offering rebates for some of these products.
Soil moisture sensors help by measuring the amount of moisture in soil.
Plant ID/Gardening apps are proliferating.  However, I have yet to find a good one.

Brand new!
Robotic weeders.  Solar powered.  It can weed whack for up to three hours.  (This is all we know at this time).
Robotic pollinators.  They are being tested.  Results show they have been successful in flowers.


Rose Pruning is Easier Than You Think!

Our tips and tools give you all the basics to make it easy.  We tell you when and how. Plus advise you on the best tools to make it safe.  And, easy. 
Straight from the experts.  Including a video.

The Goal of Rose Pruning

We call it the 3 D’s!  Remove DEAD, DISEASED or DAMAGED.  Remember this when you look at your roses.

Another goal of pruning is to

  • Increase air circulation.
  • Shape your plant.
  • Encourage growth on flowering wood.

You want new, fresh canes.  They produce more and healthier roses than older ones. 

Tools for Rose Pruning Safety

Take precautions to yourself because thorns are very sharp.  Scratches and punctures from them can get infected.
Having the right pruner is a big step toward making it easy.

Rose Pruners that we recommend

There are two types of pruners.  Anvil and Bypass pruners.  We recommend Bypass.
Anvil pruners are not as sharp and do not make clean cuts. 
See examples below.

Bypass  PrunerOur recommendation.  Note the curved blades in the illustration below
What makes them effective is that the two curved blades cross eachother while cutting.

It’s the key to getting a sharp clean cut.  Otherwise you risk injuring your plant.

Anvil Pruner – They are not sharp and will tend to rip the cain.  You can see the difference as the blade is flat and flush against the back side.

GlovesSan Francisco Rose Society, a trusted authority on roses, recommends thick leather gloves to protect you from sharp thorns. For more protection, there is the gauntlet which protects above the wrist.  See below.

Clothes  – Should be thick and hard enough to protect you.  Long sleeves are a must.  SF Rose Society recommends a leather jacket.

About Rose Canes

Cane – It’s the stem of a rose.  It grows from the trunk.  A young cane is bright, smooth and green or a mahogony color.
See illustration below showing a healthy cane.

Old or dying canes are wrinkled and gray.  See dead gray cane below.

When and How to Prune Roses

Because of the mild San Francisco Bay Area climate, we  recommend pruning roses in February. 

Our pruning tips are broken out below by three basic types of roses. 

Carpet roses (sometimes called shrub or ground cover roses.)
Climbing roses.  And, Floribundas and Grandiflora roses.

The illustration below shows you proper pruning – how to make the cut.

Floribunda and Grandiflora Roses

They are the most popular roses in the San Francisco Bay Area and are pruned similarly.
The Master Gardener video posted below is a great tutorial on pruning this type of rose.

See the example below of a Grandiflora rose bush

  1. Remove any damaged, diseased, weak or broken canes, until there is only healthy growth.
  2. Cut back about one fourth to one third of the current year’s growth.
  3. Cut the center branch from each cluster of branches.
  4. Cut the remaining ones back to 3-4 undeveloped growth buds.

Important notes

Cut off any stems that are crossing over the center of the bush or crossing over each other.

You want the center opened to allow sun and air circulation.

It should be shaped like a vase.

The Master Gardener video below demonstrates how to prune this type of rose

Carpet Roses

They are also referred to as shrub or ground cover roses.  You will see them on many commercial sites in the San Francisco Bay Area.

See photo below

Carpet Roses

These roses are the least fussy!

Remember the 3 – D’s.

  1. Cut the bush back to rejuvenate and reinvigorate the plant.
  2. You will be cutting it back to half its original size or more.  Initially, your plant will look like mere stalks when you are done.  But, don’t worry.
  3. Your rose shrub will re-establish itself with healthy new growth.
  4. Finish by trimming so it has an even shape.

Climbing Roses

These roses like to grow against a arbors, fences or a trellis.  They key is to train them to a horizontal position.  In the shape of a fan.

See image below

These need to be trained because they have long branches can become quite unruly if allowed to grow in a haphazard fashion.

Some key tips about pruning and training them

  1. Trim off any old, dead, diseased or overcrowded branches.
  2. If a cane is not climbing in the right direction, just remove it.
  3. Encourage sidehoots (also called laterals) because they produce the flowers. They should be cut back from two to five buds.
  4. Train by bendng the dominant canes to fan out horizontally by securing them. They will produce more flowers! 

 When you are finished

  • You don’t have to seal your pruning cuts.  They will seal themselves, particularly if they are dormant.
  • Remove all remaining leaves.  They can harbor pests.

Main Sources for this post

  • Master Gardeners – I viewed several different posts by Master Gardeners including the above video from Oregon.
  • Nanette Londeree, Master Gardener and Master Rosarian who writes articles about the care of roses.
  • San Francisco Rose Society – I used some online information along with their book on roses. 
  • Paul Swanson, Gardeners’ Guild, Director of Business Development and horticultural expert.

Gardeners’ Guild will deliver Poinsettias to your SF Bay Area office

Having Poinsettias delivered will put a smile on your face. 
Your office mates will thank you.

Our interior division services San Francisco and the East Bay as well as Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Limited quantities available.  Order today.

Your poinsettia order options*

Either with or without maintenance
Sizes 4”,6” 8” or 10″ Poinsettia in a decorative foil sleeve
We will maintain them from November 28th through first week January
*A delivery charge may apply.  Replacements are at an additional cost.


Red, white, burgundy and pink

What you should know if you want to maintain them yourself.  

Poinsettias are temperamental need just the right light and moisture to last through the holidays.  This is why having a professional maintenance is the best option, especially for a commercial building.

They need strong indirect light, love moisture but not too much and warmish temperatures.  Avoid drafty areas.  Keep them inside.

Poinsettias aren’t poisonous but they can cause mild irrigation in puppies or kittens.  Best to keep them away.

And, they won’t harm people.  An Ohio State University study found that a 50-pound child would have to eat 500 leaves for any harmful effect to occur.

How to order

Contact Angela Wrath

Phone (510) 439-3707


Read more


Prevention and Control of Top 7 Invasive Weeds Using the Least Toxic Practices

Our report on the top 7 invasive weeds in the SF Bay Area was re-worked from one I posted in 2016 weeds typical in the San Francisco Bay Area including the most invasive weeds.

The top 7 invasive weeds is focused on the worst for good reason. This summer promises to be hot. Some of the top 7 are highly flammable.  Our treatment options for getting rid of the top 7 emphasize the least toxic solutions. Hand pulling or mechanical means for some, at the right time, can be effective.

Our Recommendations

We suggest a combination of prevention, mechanical or biological means. 
Sometimes a chemical solution is necessary, but only that is so.
The results of 2018’s on and off rainfall and intermittent heat waves have seen a prolific  crop of bull thistle (pictured above) and oxalis.

See the full report on managing weeds. It includes 13 weed types, prevention and control.


Prevention – the First Line of Defense

Plant Choices
The right plant in the right place sounds simple but makes all the difference. 
Healthy vigorous plants have the best chance of out-competing weeds.  
Healthy Soil
Make sure that plants are healthy by feeding the soil with organic products including mulch and compost.
Mulching and Sheet Mulching
Mulch keeps soil cool and moist.  It deprives weeds of light.  Organic mulches enhance soil structure and host insects which will devour weeds.  Sheet mulching is layering of cardboard, newsletter or fabric.  It serves as a weed barrier.  Water Management
Proper irrigation is critical.
We recommend drip because the water goes directly to the root of the plant, not in between them. Spray irrigation can encourage weed growth.  

The Most Invasive Weed Types

Source: California Invasive Plant Council

Remove these plants from your garden! 
They damage our ecosystems by leaching nutrients from native species.
Some are highly flammable and at the same time consume valuable water.

Broom Species (French & Scotch)

Plentiful in forests or wooded areas. They spread along roads and appear like small trees.
Despite their pretty flowers they are toxic to humans and animals.
BEWARE. They are fire hazards. With a hot dry summer coming , get rid of these.
Crowds out desirable species by leaching nutrients.
Seeds spread by wind
Treatment Options
Hand pull between January-May

Cut to just above ground
Cut and treat with an herbicide

Fennel or Licorice Plant

Seeds spread by wind and competes with other plants for nutrients.
They will displace native plants in coastal areas.
BEWARE – This plant is also considered a fire hazard.
Treatment options
Hand pull when soil still wet.
Dig out as much of the root as possible with shovels, hand picks.
Mowing needs to be done at the right time or will encourage seed growth.


Bull Thistle

Showy purple blooms and sharp needle-like leaves.
Grows where soil is disturbed. Spreads rapidly.
Leaches nutrients from desired plants.
Treatment Options
Hand pull and step on stem before pulling
Mow before they flower

Cape Ivy

Forms a dense blanket over desired plants.
Distinguishing from less invasive ivy is difficult.
They choke off nutrients from understory vegetation, kill trees, harbor rats and snails.

Treatment Options
Requires precision as every stem must be removed.
Removing around the perimeter of a patch.
Because removal is complex cutting and using herbicide may be advised.

Himalaya Blackberry

Don’t confuse this with native blackberries!  Natives are smaller and don’t tangle and sprawl.
Himalayan Blackberry grows in dense thickets, covered in thorns. 
Highly invasive and difficult to
They leach out nutrients from desired plants and shade out light.
BEWARE they are also a fire hazard
Treatment options
Mechanical – digging up root tall
Burning of mature plants only with consultation with a professional
Unfortunately, treating with concentrated herbicide is one of the best ways.

Periwinkle or Vinca Major

Vinca Minor is okay! The two types look a little different
Vinca Major leaves are broader, larger; heart shaped.
Vinca Minor leaves are smaller, elongated.
Major is a pest. They root wherever their stems touch soil.
They spread rapidly in shady creeks; drainage areas.  And, they choke off natives.
Treatment Options
Hand pulling will work if roots are not deep, soil is loose and moist. (put plants in plastic bag & destroy)
Mechanical means (put plants in plastic bag and destroy)
Foliar spray can work
Cutting and treating with an herbicide is effective if all else fails.

Ice Plants

Competes with native plants.
Seeds are prolific. They move from landscaped areas to natural areas.
Pieces of the plant can be washed into storm drains.
They form a dense mat which can harbor rats and contribute to soil erosion.
Research has shown that where they root, ice plants make long term changes to the soil.
A snippet from one study found that when the ice plant was removed both native and exotic plant
species returned.  But natives were less abundant.
Treatment Options
Hand puling is effective, just do it early.









Sifting through a long list of 2018 trends in landscaping and gardening, we extracted ones more closely pertaining to the San Francisco Bay Area.

These important trends reflect our changing climate and how/ what people are planting this year. 
Plus there’s a brief, but inspiring case study about an old-fashioned practice made new again.

Thank you to our sources:
Garden Design Magazine
Turf Magazine
San Jose Mercury News

Container Gardening
A growing population millennials and retirees are moving into multi-family and tiny housing.  They want to garden. The answer to their small space challenge is containers.
They provide color, texture and structure.
There are a myriad of choices you can find from classic to modern.  Rustic to formal. Balcony boxes.
See below.

Do’s and Don’t’s on Containers
Say no to dark colors or clay pots
Dark colors get too hot; clay dries out in summer.
Best is fiberglass, plastic or glazed pottery.
Make sure they have drainage holes.

Succulents in glazed pottery

Low Water Container Perennials
Succulents are great. Hardy. They usually need full sun.
California Poppies are native, hardy and cheerful.
Lavender – Depending on your space you might try dwarf varieties.  They need full sun.



Edible Container Plants
Among the easiest to grow are –
Lettuces, kale and herbs. Shallow-rooted, they need a container with a 9-12″ depth.
Tomato plants are larger and need a container with a 12-14″ depth.
Consider dwarf varieties as well.

What You Need
Good soil.
Know your plant sunlight and water needs. Most edibles will need four-five hours of sun.
Mulching will help your soil hold water.
Feed the soil with: compost; worm castings.
(Gardeners’ Guild has great success with worm castings.  It is odorless, natural and improves soil health). There are also natural products you can purchase at your local nursery.

Acclimating Landscapes to Climate Change
More people are taking action to prepare for the effects of extreme weather such as drought, wind, severe heat, cold and rain.  Adapting a landscape for a changing climate involves components such as design, plant types, maintenance that includes consistent and correct pruning. 
Water management is also critical in acclimating our landscapes.
Below are tips on how to prepare for these trends, what you can do and why.

High Wind Resistance
Plants, trees and retaining walls are used as wind blocks
In large areas – plants are installed in a series of staggered rows that re-direct wind around and above.
For small areas – a similar concept referred to as a wind screen.
Wind isn’t completely blocked but tempered somewhat.
Wind Resistant Plant Attributes
More flexible stems.  Examples: Escalonia, Ornamental grasses.

Fire wise plants left to right: Agave, African Iris, Beach Aster

Fire Resistant Landscapes
The Napa and Sonoma fires brought into granular focus three factors:
“Defensible space” – a high priority.  The recommended clearance from a structure is 100′.  (More details on this topic in coming months).
Planting firewise plants in the right place. (see examples above).
Gardeners’ Guild has maintained and planted many of these.

Heat Tolerant Plants
Our micro-climates are changing. Areas that used to stay cool have hot temperatures more frequently.  More people are choosing desert-like gardens.
See photos below for some plants that won’t wilt in the heat.

Heat tolerant plants, left to right: Poppies, Euphorbia and Salvia

Freeze Hardy Plants
This is a partial list of plants that can withstand freezing temperatures.
Correa ‘Ivory Bells’
Verbena Lilacina

Drought Tolerant Landscapes
The drought officially came and went, but it can and will re-occur.
Water bills are rising.
The state of California may reinstate water restrictions making them permanent.
Later this year we will be covering drought tolerant plants and rebates.  Stay tuned.

Multi-Family Housing and its Amenities
It has exploded in the San Francisco Bay Area’s urban areas.  In San Francisco proper, Mission Bay continues to fill in with housing and business.  A breathtaking number of luxury, state of the art buildings have been completed in the last few years.  We highlight trends that are important for Community Managers.

One trend was noted from a recent issue of Bisnow. 
An attractive landscape is a non-negotiable amenity. 
Moreover, it shouldn’t look sparse or overgrown. 
A Multi-Family executive magazine article says that a three-year plan for upgrades that include new fire pits. Or, budgeting for a top of the line grill every few years is a must.

Aside from landscaping, there is a new push for multi-family communities to offer so-called “soft amenities i.e. dog-walking, dry cleaning, packing and concierge services.

A Soil Restoration Brief

David Montgomery, a Geomorphologist and author of books about soil, wants to world to know that organic products’ ability to restore degraded soil has been proven – in his own garden!

Over the years Montgomery had become discouraged that modern agriculture is “stripping the Earth of high quality topsoil.” 

He contends that civilizations throughout history have collapsed due to the depletion of the top three inches of soil.  “The skin of the earth”, Montgomery calls it. While writing a book on the topic, Montgomery’s wife began a project to restore the soil in their backyard.

She massaged in wood chips, fallen leaves, coffee grounds. Also mulch, compost, and a soil inoculant from worm castings. A miraculous transformation took place.  It took several years – but the soil came back.

It’s now flourishing with healthy edibles.  And, Montgomery’s story has become more optimistic.

Story courtesy of Sunset Magazine.