Mature, woody Rosemary shrub – Detracts from look of a property. See prognosis at the bottom*

How to know when you should replace your plants

How do your plants look?  Are they attractive, healthy and vigorous?  There are a few factors that deterrmine how they look.  

  • Your plant’s maturity.  Are they in the beginning or end of their lifecycle?
  • Are they planted in the right place?  This will determine how well they thrive.
  • Maintenance is important.  But maintenance cannot compensate for plants that are past their prime or are planted in the wrong place.  We have seen numerous examples of plants in the wrong place that, in spite of diligent management, will never thrive.  

Knowing Your Plant’s Useful Lifecycle is the first step

With the right maintenance practices some plants can live for many years.  Ten, twenty, thirty and long beyond that.
Others have a finite lifespan at which time they will need to be replaced.

Do you have a shrub that looks awful? 
Woody? Has it stopped producing foliage?  Like the rosemary depicted above? Can your plant can be saved with renovative pruning?  Or is it time to replace it? 
An ugly looking plant reflects badly on your property.
You will need to either rejuvenate or replace it.

Know which options your plants need depends on their type. 
Don’t spend your valuable time resurrecting a dying plant when it is better to replace it with a plant or plants that enhance your property.  Conversley, replacing mature plants cost money.  Make sure you know whether your plants can be rejuvenated.

Be knowledgeable.  Then plan.
Below are some examples of plants types and their expected lifespan.

Primrose – an Annual

Annuals
Their lifecycle is typically one year.  And, they bloom consistently.

Black-eyed Susan’s – a Biennial

Biennials
Typically they complete their lifecycle in two years.

Yarrow – Sample Perennial

Perennials
Plants that live for more than two years.
Horticulturalists categorize perennials as to woody or herbaceous.
A woody perennias are trees and shrubs.
Herbaceous perennials are non-woody plants that that flower during a specified time period and usually die back in the fall.
Their lifecycle will depend on plant type and their environment

How to Know When Your Plant Has Completed its Lifecycle

A simple answer is – it becomes unsightly.
Some plants that become woody and stop producing foliage should be removed.
There are some exceptions – or plants that can be revived.

Below are some examples of plants with a finite lifespan

Ceanothus Julia Phelps

Ceanothus has an average lifespan of ten years. At the very most – fifteen years. You can tell when it needs to be removed when the plant becomes sparse and it looks unsightly. Pruning regularly to remove older shoots will help extend their life. 

 

Cistus

Cistus’ lifespan is approximately ten years.  You will know know when it is time to replace your Cistus (Rock Rose). Because it will become very woody and will produce less and less flowers.


Below are some examples of Perennials with a longer lifespan
They can be rejuvendated with appropriate pruning

Photinia

Photinia is usually grown as a hedge for screening purposes. A moderate grower. Reaches maturity in about 12 years. They can live for fifty years – with good care. Pinch and lightly prune 4-5 /year for encourage density.  One way of rejuenvating them is to cut back the entire shrub.  Another way is to cut back in stages.

 

Privet

Privets are grown as trees or heges for screening.  They have a long lifespan. Some report 20-40 years. Fast growers, they are hardy and need regular pruning. Renovate by cutting entire plant down to 6 – 12 inches off the ground.

Planning to Optimize Your Plants’ Lifecycle

Know what to expect at every stage of their lifespan

The first five years

Jerry Goodspeed, a horticulturalist for Utah State University says that in the first five years of a landscape, plants grow and fill in their assigned area. 

After ten years

Goodspeed says plants may become overgrown.

  • Overcrowding may become a problem.
  • You can tell if they are in decline when they appear leggy.  Hard pruning can restore vigor on some.
  • Start evaluating each plant on a case by case basis as some may need replacing.
  • If your irrigation was installed at the same time as your plants were installed, you may be wasting water. 

Manage Plant Growth 

  • Plants compete for nutrients, water and sunlight.  Some do not survive.
  • When trees mature its larger canopy may block sunlight from a neighboring plant making its removal necessary.
  • Long term tree care. Routine pruning and fertilization are important for the health of your trees.  They are an important part of your asset.  With proper maintenance they will last for many years. 
  • For shrubs that are crowding another plant.  A healthier fix than shearing is to selectively remove plants that are crowding each other.

*Mature woody Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Unfortunately, this poor Rosmarinus should be replaced.  One of our GGI resident experts, Paul Swanson says, “they do not respond well to hard pruning.” I can guarantee that given Paul’s thirty plus years of experience, that is the last word on it. 

 

Coreopsis Perennial

Above: Coreopsis – a perennial and native to North America


8 Easy Drought Tolerant Plants for Your SF Bay Area Climate. And, how to care for them.

These plants are beautiful and tough. They will save water and add color to your garden.

One of these 8 plants will work for your SF Bay Area climate.  Whether you live in the hottest inland part of the San Francisco Bay Area or on the coast.

Get the printable version of our report below
Download the Report

 
Lantana
Lantana, a non-native perennial
Attributes Non-native
They come back, year after year. In an array of colors.
Colors Pink, purple, yellow, red and orange
Bloom times  Spring, summer and fall
Light Requirements  Full sun
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy; deer resistant
Notes Bees and butterflies love them
They like well-draining soil


Salvia Leucantha (Common Name Mexican Sage)

Salvia Leucantha, a drought tolerant perennial
Attributes From Mexico; one of numerous varieties of Salvia
Colors This variety is purple
Bloom times  Late summer to early frost
Light Requirements  Full sun; will tolerate some shade
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy to grow
Notes Butterflies and hummingbirds love them
Hardiness to 15 degrees; tolerates windy conditions


Achillea Moonshine (Common Name Yarrow)

Achillea Moonshine or Yarrow is a drought tolerant perennial
Attributes Native. Showy flowers that can be dried; fragrant
Colors This yarrow flowers are yellow.
Bloom times  Early to late summer
Light Requirements  Full sun
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy; deer resistant
Notes Attracts bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects
Hardiness Heat tolerant



Dietes (Common Name Fortnight Lily)

Dietes, a perennial that adapts to wind and fog
Attributes From Africa, from the Iris family
Colors White, yellow or pink flowers
Bloom times  Spring to fall
Light Requirements  Full sun to partial shade
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Needs regular pruning and deadheading
Hardiness Adapts to wind and fog

Ceanothus Diamond Heights

Ceanothus Diamond Heights, native ground cover
Attributes Native ground cover or shrub
Colors Yellow chartreuse and variegated foliage
Bloom times  Spring has pale blue flowers
Light Requirements  Shade to part sun
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy; deer resistant, pruning not necessary.
Hardiness Likes coastal temperatures. 
Hardy to 20 degrees


Cistus x purpureus (Common Name Rock Rose)

Cistus x purpureus or Rock Rose, a hardy shrub
Attributes Non-native, fire-resistant, tolerates neglect
Colors Bright pink almost purple showy flowers
Bloom times  Spring, and summer
Light Requirements  Full sun
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy; deer resistant
Notes White (salvifolius) or light pink (xskanbergii) are adaptable to fog and wind
Hardiness Tolerates heat



Arctostaphylos Emerald Carpet (Carpet Manzanita)

Arctostaphylos Emerald Carpet, drought tolerant ground cover
Attributes Native ground cover or shrub; evergreen
Colors Deep green foliage, white flowers
Bloom times  Winter to spring
Light Requirements  Full sun, partial shade
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Easy; deer resistant
Notes Bees and butterflies love them
Hardiness to 15-20 degrees


Penstemon Carillo Red

Penstemon Carillo Red, native great for cut flowers


Attributes Native, makes beautiful cut flowers
Colors Red tubular-shaped flowers
Bloom times  Early to late summer, blooms for 4 weeks or more
Light Requirements  Full sun to mostly sunny
Water Drought tolerant
Maintenance Deer resistant
Notes Attracts pollinators
Hardiness Tolerates hot dry climates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bullthistle


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.

Download

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
Herbicides

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.
The
Himalayan Blackberry grows in dense thickets, covered in thorns. 
Highly invasive and difficult to
control.
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s new in landscape and gardening?

Every year there are numerous reports on the latest trends in plants, hardscape, irrigation and even color. From technology to outdoor living. Designers, Landscape Architects and Green Industry pundits weigh in on what’s hot. 

There are several sources for this article. The people at Gardeners’ Guild have chimed in on the latest wrinkle. I’ve combed through Garden Design Magazine, NALP (National Association for Landscape Professionals), ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) and irrigation experts. 

According to some experts, Millennials are driving some of these trends.  See below.

More Local Sourcing

Using native plants is a trend that has been building over the years. Some landscape designers see the market’s interest in natives morphing to endemic plants – those which are native to a particular ecosystem.

One example – is a project we completed for U.C. Berkeley in 2016.  It was the restoration of Strawberry Creek.  The specifications required locally sourced plants and mulch. They had to be native plants grown in the Strawberry Canyon area, the location of the project.

Note: I encourage you to visit Strawberry Canyon. It is a marvel – a quiet oasis of nature sandwiched between a highly caffeinated college campus.

More building materials are being sourced locally. A reason for the increased popularity of local sourcing can be traced to climate change. Its geographic impacts and the ensuing regulation on say, the use of chemicals, water and the like are, in part, driving the preference of locally sourcing.

The reasons are practical. Reduced use of fossil fuel to transport them.

Strawberry Creek, U.C. Berkeley

 

Natural Products – With One Exception

There is a gradual shift away from the use of concrete toward natural and materials. Wood, brick, slate, gravel, pea stone and natural stone are popular. Increasingly, green materials are being used for retaining walls, fencing, decking, walkways and outdoor kitchens.
ASLA says “Nature will continue to play an important role in landscape architecture and we as practitioners will continue to be inspired and create designs that emulate and mimic(bio-mimicry) nature. An increasing trend will be to use the messiness and ephemerality of nature in a structured manner to create beautiful landscapes.”

The exception – there is a trend toward the use of artificial turf. Technology continues to innovate a product that looks and feels more like grass. Could they also invent the smell of fresh mowed grass?

 

 
 

Urban Gardening

One type of urban gardening trend that Gardeners’ Guild has noticed is the increased support for urban projects that provide affordable housing, gardens providing food for local residents and restoration projects in low-income urban areas.

ASLA says (American Society of Landscape Architects) “As densities increase in cities we will see larger scale projects that will attempt to service the needs of increasing populations (housing, transport, social, green space, job creation) at a local level.”

San Francisco has a number of projects designed to improve public space. Among them is the Green Benefits District. A quote from their mission statement: “to clean, maintain, enhance, and expand open spaces, parks, plazas, parklets, gardens, sidewalk greening and the Public Realm in general in the Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill neighborhoods”. There are a host of other projects aimed at revitalizing blighted areas such as the Tenderloin.  Gardeners’ Guild did some projects for the Green Benefits District.

Urban Tilth, Richmond is another example. It’s an ambitious non-profit dedicated to improving the health of its community. Their website says: “We farm, feed, forage, teach, train, build community, employ, and give back. We help our community grow our own food;” As part of 2015 Earth Day, GGI helped Urban Tilth plant a  vegetable garden at Verde Elementary School, Richmond.

Container gardening is exploding.  Urban dwellers with limited space see the low maintenance advantages of container plantings. A recent study by Harris Poll found that millennials are embracing edible gardening. Of the 6 million new people who took up gardening, 5 million of them were millennials. Their home gardening interests gravitate toward microgreens, medicinal herbs and herbs they can use in cooking.


 

Interior Plant Trends

Garden Design Magazine forecasts a renewed interest in interior plants for 2017. They say, “Just as bell bottoms are reappearing on runways, a 1970s-style fascination with houseplants is back. Millennials could have something to do with this.

Living walls for commercial buildings remains popular. They come in all sizes including a plethora modular units that can be installed like wall art. A heightened interest in plants for the office may have to do with the needs of younger workers for a healthier work environment. The extensive research about interior plants’ benefits such as air filtering as well as productivity enhancement is now widely available and posted. Plants both in the home and office is a trend that will continue to proliferate.

Irrigation

Brian O’Hara our Irrigation Manager, has noticed an uptick in the choices of add-on technology or upgrade kits that can convert a conventional controller into a “smart” controller*. This is a budget friendly option.

Smart controller technology continues to evolve. With more sophisticated cellular communication and the cloud all the onsite data can be shared with the operator. It has become a two-way wireless communications giving operators the ability to control an unlimited number of stations and flow sensors from a central remote location.

Moreover, they can be programmed and monitored by smart phone. Some include flow sensors that will text a contractor if they detect a leak in the system.

*About Smart controllers: They use weather and on-site local data sensing tools to optimize your water use.

 

 

waterrebateart

SFPUC

Local Regulations

  • 10% voluntary reduction in water use compared to 2013 – all SFPUC customers. 
  • 25% reduction of landscape watering lifted as of July 1, 2016
  • Revert wastewater flow factors back to their original adjustments, effective July 1, 2016.

Prohibited water activities (State Requirements)

  • Watering outdoor landscapes that causes runoff to sidewalks, streets, and hardscapes
  • Using a hose without a shut-off nozzle
  • No washing of driveways, sidewalks or hardscape; except as needed for health and safety or to meet City of San Francisco standards
  • Using drinking water for soil compaction, dust control, or other non-essential construction purposes if non-potable water is available.
  • Watering outdoor landscapes with potable water during and within forty-eight (48) hours after a rain event.
  • Watering with potable water of ornamental turf on public street medians; 
  • Inefficient irrigation of landscapes outside of new homes and buildings
  • Using drinking water in non-recirculating fountains or decorative water devices. 

SFPUC Watering Recommendations

For a typical San Francisco property, reducing watering to once or twice a week, and/or the amount time that watering occurs, will help ensure efficient water use while keeping plants alive.

For steeply sloped areas, watering should be done in multiple start times to avoid runoff. Watering for 5 minutes, turn off for an hour, and then water again for another 5 minutes results in better absorption than 10 minutes straight. Consider replacing grass or high water use plants with drought-tolerant species or converting to drip irrigation.

REBATE$

Residential turf replacement program

Residential Graywater systems

Large landscape improvement grants – this however, is for half acre minimum and has very specific guidelines (new) and applications are due October 22nd.*

*GGI note: this guidelines are lengthy and complex.  See SFPUC website for details.

The above was reprinted and summarized from SFPUC website.

MMWD

75% of their water supply comes from local reservoirs that, when full, provide only about two years of water.  They continue to ask customers to voluntarily conserve.

REBATE$

State of California Rebates

$2/square foot turf removal rebate for residential customers

They are continuing the following outdoor restrictions:

  • Using a garden hose without a shut-off nozzle
  • Landscape irrigation between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • Irrigating any ornamental landscape or turf areas more than three days in any week.
  • Applying potable water to outdoor landscapes during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall.

Contact MMWD office with any questions (415) 945-1520.

EBMUD

Continuing Restrictions

The following outdoor watering restrictions are in effect.

  • Repair leaks 
  • Landscape watering that runs off on sidewalks, streets and hardscapes.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Only hoses with shutoff nozzles are allowed.
  • Fountains or decorative water features must use recirculated water.
  • No irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.
  • No watering of outdoor landscapes within 48 hours of rainfall.

For more information

REBATE$

Residential

Lawn Conversion & Irrigation Upgrade Rebates

Get up to $2,500 for converting lawns and upgrading irrigation equipment at single-family homes and multi-family residences of 4 units of less.

The Magic of Mulch 

Save water, beautify your garden, and enhance soil health with mulch.

Graywater Rebate

Get a rebate of up to $50 for purchase of a graywater system 3-way diverter valve.

HOAs

Lawn Conversion and Irrigation Upgrades

Multi-family properties: up to $20,000 for 5 units or more; up to $2,500 for 4 units or less (includes drip irrigation, high-efficiency nozzles, pressure regulators, submeters and lawn conversion.)

Commercial Properties

Up to $2,500 (single-family and multi-family residences of 4 units or less)
Up to $20,000 (commercial sites and multi-family residences of 5 or more units)

SANTA ROSA WATER AGENCY

June 14th voted to lift mandatory water restrictions

REBATE$

For turf conversion and/or improving the efficiency of your irrigation system
Graywater rebate program
Rainwater harvesting

For more information

SOLANO COUNTY WATER AGENCY

REBATE$
Smart Irrigation Controller Rebates
Install a qualifying smart controller to irrigate your existing landscape and you could receive up to $300, $700, or $1000 depending on the number of stations.

Go to: www.waterprograms.com/solano or call 855.512.1221 

Water-Efficient Landscaping Rebates
Replace your lawn with water-efficient landscaping and receive $1.00/square foot, up to $1000 maximum; see Turf Replacement Rebate Program and check out FAQs about the Landscape Rebate Program. Please read the terms and conditions before you remove your lawn. Contact 707.455.1113 or solanocash4grass@scwa2.com for details. 

Gardeners’ Guild works in the above areas including Napa, Sonoma County, Marin, San Francisco, East Bay and Solano County.

We have a dedicated irrigation division and can diagnose, repair, design an irrigation system. Our awards since the mid 1980’s demonstrate we’ve been ahead of the pack in our long term planning that water management would be one of the most important issues of our time.

Call us at 510-439-3700 or 415-457-0400