Built-in water conservation

The planted strip in this commercial driveway is multi-functional. It improves what might be a continuous concrete driveway, thus offering better aesthetics for the users and visitors. It also functions as a large gravel sump which recharges the groundwater. This 4 foot deep gravel-filled strip receives all of the site drainage, including the roof, via underground pipe. Gravel is about half mass and half void so water storage can be easily calculated. In smaller rain events all of the site water is free to move out to groundwater. In larger rains, the water fills the structure and flows out at the bottom. The design is simple and not expensive to install. By recharging the groundwater supply, the amount of rainwater that may cause flooding is reduced. We strongly believe we need to trap more rain water for reuse, rather than just letting is flow out into the ocean.

Edible plants as ornamental landscape

Food producing plants can easily be planted throughout the ornamental landscape and we heartily endorse this concept. Fruit producing strawberries are no less ornamental than non-food producing groundcovers. The same holds true for trees and vines. Similarly, planting fast-growing annual vegetable crops is easy, even if their locations are not formally devoted to vegetable production. For example, a row of carrots, may be planted along a walk. In the photo above, planted behind the boxwood hedge there a variety of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and asparagus.

Conserving water and electricity with intelligent design

We believe the next commodity to become powerfully expensive will be water. We often design very attractive landscapes that are extremely drought tolerant. These landscapes don't have to be desertscapes. Drought tolerance is much better looking and more interesting than what we've seen in the past. The planting designer must also be the irrigation designer—the key to low water use. A tremendous amounts of electricity can be saved using landscape lighting made with LED light bulbs. The transformers and wire sizes can be smaller as well. This concept has revolutionized landscape lighting.

Outdoor rooms

We are proponents of the large patio, and even multiple patios. In this climate these truly become outdoor rooms. Overhead structures can allow for furnishings that are as comfortable as living room furniture. Add a water element and other environmental enhancements, such as pots and sculpture and one can expand the livable square footage of any home. This should always be considered as a key concept for everyone in the Santa Barbara Area.