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!

 

 

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.

We receive calls from many people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area who have poor soil.  It happens enough that we thought people might be interested to know more about the process of rebuilding.

If you have the following problems chances are poor soil is the culprit:

  • Soil is cracked and dried in the summer
  • Digging holes is difficult whether or not it is wet or dry
  • Water tends to pool on the surface, then drains very slowly or runs off the surface.
  • Leaves are yellow and have brown dead sections

Much of the above symptoms are due to a lack of organic matter.  Look at the color of your soil.  It will be dark if it has enough humus.  Humus is the foundation of healthy soil and is formed by decomposition of plants, leaves or animal matter and provides nutrients for plants.

Below are tips on how to rebuild your soil.  They are also part of our LivingSolutions organic landscape management program.  It’s a comprehensive sustainable approach to landscape management.  For more information about our program, see our website:

Mulch

Tree service mulch is free, attractive and provides organic matter.  It is made from the branches and brush which are run through a grinding machine and chipped into small wood chips.  This will gradually break down and add nutrients to the soil helping it to hold more water, reverse compaction, slow erosion and reduce weed growth.

Compost

Purchase it or make it with kitchen scraps and yard trimmings.  Avoid meat, eggs or dairy.  Apply compost with the least disturbance, on top of soil.  The compost will improve soil structure and increase its ability to hold moisture.

Organic Soil Amendments

We recommend using 100% worm castings as a top dressing.  Worm castings are

Poor Soil

odorless and have the appearance of coffee grounds.  They impart a slow release of nutrients to the soil, increase its water holding capacity and immunity to disease.

Compost Tea

It’s a liquid microbial inoculant which provides essential nutrients to the soil.  It is rich in plant extracts and sea kelp.  Compost tea also reduces germination time, promotes vigorous growth and increase drought resistance.  It can be sprayed directly on plants or on soil.

Avoid Excessive Digging

Good Soil

Every time soil is disturbed through digging or excessive foot traffic it damages the delicate soil structure.  This limits a plant’s roots access to nutrients, air and water.

Limit of Eliminate the use of Pesticides or Synthetic Fertilizers

Synthetic fertilizers will help keep plants green and blooming but only a small percentage is actually used by the plants.  They can leach from the soil into ground water.  They feed the plant, not soil and the nutrients are insufficient over the long term.

If you keep up this practice you will start noticing that your plants look healthier and have more vitality.