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.


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.



I heard a report this week on KQED about the drought outlook going forward into spring, 2016.

The good news is Northern California had a lot of rain.  Bay area residents can attest to the high winds, torrential rains and ensuing tree falls; power outages typical of heavy winter weather.  Many of us were sighing with relief and thinking, maybe, just maybe the drought is over. Maybe?


Being a Richmond based landscape contractor, we felt the difference between 2016 and 2015 in rain days.  Its result – a profusion of weed growth.

As we begin our approach to the end of the season experts are weighing in on defining how El Nino met our expectations.   Some good news is our snowpack is 87% of average.  Sounds good?  Unfortunately that is 13% below normal.

Peter Gleick, a hydrologist and head of the Oakland based Pacific Institute explains that our dry soil and groundwater levels being at such a negative, California needed snowpack far above the 87%.

Daniel Swain, atmospheric scientist at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, submitted an article in which he expresses some disappointment in the promise of El Nino.  In essence, the atmospheric response to the systems’ warmer sea temps was different than previous events.  Another curious characteristic of this El Nino – its effects were much more pronounced in Northern California.

April 2016 starts tomorrow.  We will know more by the end of that month.

In the meantime California’s drought mandates remain in  place until further notice.  Gardeners’ Guild continues to monitor these restrictions and will continue to communicate to you the latest in water and landscape management.

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Source for this story: KQED and Daniel Swain

Fallen Tree in Vallejo - courtesy of KQED website

Fallen Tree in Vallejo – courtesy of KQED website


Your trees can suffer a lot of damage and can also do serious damage to your home or vehicle.  They can also knock out power.

Drought stressed trees are more vulnerable to the high winds and heavy rain of an El Niño winter.
Limbs can break off and go flying.
The bigger the tree, the bigger the problem.

Call Gardeners’ Guild.  We partner with a few of the best arborists and have access to state of the art services.  We will arrange a thorough inspection of your trees.  They will be able to detect if a tree is structurally sound.  You can’t tell by sight only if your tree is structurally sound.

Gardeners’ Guild can offer you state of the art tree care and we can coordinate the entire process from start to finish.

Besides its overall health an arborist should look for:

    • Cracks in the trunk
    • Dead wood
    • Trees with a sudden lean
    • Decay – usually occurs in the lower part of the trunk near root zone.
    • Have overhanging tree branches trimmed

Click to download our ElNinoChecklist

Seeking landscape CREW LEADERS for two prestigious public park locations in San Francisco.
The ideal candidate is an experienced green industry professional with a minimum of 2-3 years of experience working as a CREW LEADER in a commercial setting.

You will manage employees under the direction of the Account Manager while implementing a contractual scope of work and site specific horticultural practices.

Your responsibilities will include:
• Maintaining job records
• Preparing daily time-cards, material use records and daily work schedules
• Daily interaction with park management and staff
• Learning client’s needs and expectations
• Leading landscape staff members in daily site operations
• Helping staff members to develop their skills in landscape operations and horticulture

An important part of your job is to model and direct a safe work environment.
Your conduct is professional at all times

You have these skills:
• Supervisory
• Irrigation management
• Water conservation
• Soil and fertilization
• Plants
• integrated Pest Management
• Landscape operations
• Effective communicator in English; knowledge of Spanish a plus!

Required: Valid California Driver’s License and insurable driving record

Gardeners’ Guild is a Bay Area industry leader in landscape management, headquartered in Richmond.
We are 100% employee owned. We operate with professionalism, honesty, accountability,
teamwork and innovation. These values are the foundation of enduring customer relationships.
Great benefits: ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), Medical, Vision and Dental programs. matching 401 (k) program, educational reimbursement, industry credential participation; paid time off.

If this sounds like you – let’s talk!
Contact Maritza Melendez mmelendez@gardenersguild.com

The link below is a PDF file with the full announcement that you can download and print.


We are especially proud of our construction division this year.

Gardeners’ Guild received three awards for a construction project in Mill Valley.  National, State and Regional landscape trade organizations have recognized our exceptional work!  The National Recognition was first place.

The property is situated on a steep slope overlooking the Mt Tam.  The homeowners wanted more outdoor living space and their Landscape Architect, Rebecca Coffman hired Gardeners’ Guild to do the installation of her design.

The work involved terracing to create additional level outdoor space.  A 7′ retaining wall, requiring extensive engineering was constructed.  It was integrated into new and existing levels, staircases and pathways.

Wood decks, flagstone stairs, extensive planting, soil amendments, irrigation and outdoor lighting were other components of the project.