Richmond Annex is a neighborhood in southeast Richmond. It is mostly residential and located between San Pablo Avenue/El Cerrito to the east. Carlson Boulevard is the main thoroughfare through the annex, connecting downtown Richmond with downtown El Cerrito. This corridor is experiencing a rebirth and Gardeners’ Guild won the bid to install the landscape into brand new medians! Our part of the project is a complete renovation that includes a new irrigation system and controller; soil preparation, planting, sheet mulching as well as decomposed granite on the medians. A couple of weeks ago I took my camera and drove out to the site to see its progress.  We are still in the process of building the landscape and it’s very exciting to watch our people in action.  Because the medians are almost a mile long I was able to view the project in its various stages. We are proud to be involved in this project which will make a difference for the residents who live along this thoroughfare.                        

Upon being told that the Cherry trees were in bloom at UC Berkeley, I made sure to head over there the very next day and take pictures.  What Cherry trees?  And, where? They are located at the Westgate entrance at UC Berkeley.  Gardeners’ Guild planted them – thirty-five of them!  It is a project to honor UC Berkeley graduates of  Japanese ancestry; their contributions to society. On April 6th at 11:00am  there will be a dedication ceremony held at the Westgate entrance. See photos below:                        

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.”

  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 […]

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.

Ghirardelli Square has been a client for a long time.  We are proud of our achievements there and it’s a great example of the difference that color makes in the landscape. Color brings excitement to the landscape; it can create a mood and it provides interest through the seasons.  Can you imagine looking at this brick building without the profusion of pinks, purples and reds? How does one begin to choose colors for the landscape? Context plays an important role here in the success of a landscape design. You want to be conscious of all hardscape material colors, such as paving, site furniture, other plants, buildings, walls and other nearby structures. As you can see in the photo, color provides a focal point here. By the way – come and visit Ghirardelli.  There is a lot to do and see plus delicious food and desserts to savor.  There Kara’s Cupcakes, The Pub, McCormack’s and Kuleto’s plus Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. 900 North Point Street Check out their website for upcoming events:

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 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 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.