One of the Best Flowering Trees!

Back in my college days at Cal Poly Pomona, I took several plant identification courses as part of the educational requirements for Ornamental Horticulture.  Two trees from the same genus always stood out for their outstanding floral display and landscape use.  Back then, the genus was called Tabebuia, since changed to Handroanthus. The two useful landscape species are Handroanthus impetiginosa,(Pink trumpet tree) and H. chrysotrichus, (Golden trumpet tree).

The Pink trumpet tree in full bloom

While taking a walk, I came across a beautiful pink trumpet tree in full bloom.  I then started noticing a few other trumpet trees scattered about the neighborhoods in North Park.  I’m not to sure why, but in my view, this species is an under utilized ornamental landscape tree.  Perhaps due to a slow growth rate, medium appetite for water or its deciduous nature, the species is not heavily promoted by the nursery industry.  But it has many beneficial characteristics making it a useful ornamental landscape tree.

The pink trumpet tree requires full sunlight to part shade and grows to approximately 25-feet in height in Southern California.  The non-aggressive rooting system makes it a good choice for use in smaller confined planter areas such as a parkway strip.  It performs well in the urban environment.  Like most trees, it prefers well drained fertile soils however I see this tree flourishing under less than ideal conditions.  No noted pests or disease, hardy to 24º F, damaged below 18º F.  After spring flowering, it grows a green to brown colored pod.

A close relative to the pink trumpet tree but faster growing

A close relative to the pink trumpet tree but faster growing.  By M.Ritter, W. Mark, J. Reimer, C. Stubler

Unlike the pink trumpet tree, the closely relate golden trumpet tree is a more rapid, larger growing tree.  It too is deciduous, and like the pink trumpet, it flowers in the spring with an impressive display of brilliant, fragrant yellow trumpet flowers.

This tree grows to a larger size than the pink trumpet, up to 50-feet tall and similar width.  It has a spreading, low canopy that matures into a broad, round-headed or vase shaped crown.  It prefers full sun to part shade.

Branch strength is rated as medium to somewhat weak and root growth is more aggressive than the pink trumpet.  Unlike the pink trumpet, the golden trumpet tree should not be used in a confined planter are.

Both these trees perform well in our mediterranean climate and their different growth characteristics allow for varied use,  one in more confined areas, the other requires more room to grow.  Once established, both are relatively drought tolerant.

Hope you find this helpful, let me know if you have any questions!

 

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Removing Your Turf and Sprinklers Due to Drought, Remember the Trees!

As Californians scramble to find a way to reduce water consumption to meet a 25% water reduction mandate, turf removal has become the latest means to accomplish significant water savings. From Santa Barbara to San Diego, with Los Angeles and Orange county in between, turf is being ripped out at a frenzied pace.

Considering the rebates offered by the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles and other municipalities, homeowners and businesses are jumping at the opportunity to be reimbursed for turf and spray irrigation removal.  Succulent gardens, Mediterranean, and California natives and other drought tolerant plant materials are being used to replace water guzzling turf.

The decades long love affair with our green turf lawns is coming to an end.  Unless you can afford to pay extremely onerous penalties for excessive water use, the California drought, climate change and dwindling water resources will change the way we design, plant, irrigate and use our landscaped areas.

As turf and spray irrigation is removed, it is easy to forget about trees in the landscape. Trees planted in the landscape rarely receive irrigation dedicated to just the tree.  Typically, the tree is located in an irrigated turf or planter area.  Tree roots grow where there is moisture.  Trees adjacent to an irrigated turf area will certainly root into the turf zone because that is where the water and nutrients are.

A common misconception is trees develop deep tap roots that grow deeply into the soil to locate water.  In fact, almost all tree roots grow within the top three feet of the soil mass, almost 80% of the roots grow within 12-24 inches from the soil surface!  Initially, a tap root growing downward will encounter rocks, hard pan or other physical impediments causing the tap root to split into a fibrous system growing horizontally through the soil profile.

As roots grow outward from the trunk, the tree crown grows in conjunction with the spreading root system.  The outward edge of the tree crown is referred to as the drip line of the tree.  The structural tree roots grow outward toward the drip line, however they don’t stop there! Outside of the drip line, the structural roots become increasingly smaller in diameter and that is where the fine absorbing root hairs are located, often well outside of the tree drip line.  Many tree species grow roots up to twice the tree crown diameter!

Knowing how tree roots grow is vital to understanding how your trees will react to changes in irrigation caused by converting turf or high water use areas.  If the edge of a tree crown or drip line is near an irrigated turf area, it most certainly will have rooted into the turf soil zone.  When the turf is gone and water is turned off, the tree will have lost it’s primary source of water and nutrients and will begin to decline.  If it does not have or develop other water resources to tap into, the tree will eventually die.

If you notice the crown of your trees declining, not leafing out or new buds dying back, these are symptoms that may be caused by the affects of drought or lack of water. Think back and consider what changes have occurred in the past one to two years? Has there been construction or renovation work nearby?  What about changes in the landscape, was the turf removed and sprinklers turned off?  Was there trenching, rototilling or soil preparation in an area nearby existing trees?

You can still remove your water consuming turf and use drip irrigation, just remember to plan for irrigating the trees.  If using a drip system, consider using higher volume emitters, or other distribution systems that will provide an adequate water supply to the tree. Add a drip valve solely dedicated to tree irrigation separate from the other shrubs or ground covers.  Proper planning, installation and maintenance is required to convert water consuming landscapes into sustainable, water efficient landscapes while preserving existing tree health and aesthetics.

With proper planning, trees can be grown and will flourish using drip or low volume irrigation systems but you must provide enough water distribution to encourage the tree to root into the surrounding site soil.  Unlike spray irrigation, drip systems must be maintained and upgraded as trees grow larger root systems.  Additional drippers or emitters are required as the tree crown increases in diameter.  Drip and low volume distribution systems work great but are more labor intensive than spray systems and require a higher degree of maintenance.

So go ahead and get rid of that old ugly bermuda grass lawn, or grit your teeth and say goodbye to your green lush tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass and say hello to water savings without sacrificing visual aesthetics.  You can keep your trees alive and flourishing while still achieve water savings and a unique, beautiful landscape.  Use a landscape and certified arborist tree professional to help you achieve your sustainable, affordable landscape!

 

 

A Better Way to Protect Trees and Pedestrians

Safe Path permeable product replaces cast iron tree grate

Safe Path permeable product replaces cast iron tree grate

Through a business acquaintance, I had the good fortune to meet with Mr. Christian Rodriguez, a company representative from Blue Drop, Inc.  We met at a downtown San Diego street intersection where Blue Drop, Inc. had a contract with the City of San Diego to replace old cast iron tree grates with their new product called Safe Path.

Tree planters within pedestrian sidewalks are typically small confined spaces surrounded by concrete with lots of pedestrian traffic.  Tree grates were installed around the planter pit primarily to protect people from tripping over tree roots.  The grate also allowed watering to occur beneath the grate and afforded the tree a degree of root protection from pedestrian traffic.

When first installed surrounding a young tree, there is plenty of room for the tree trunk and root collar to grow and expand.  Tree grate openings typically are up to 12″ in diameter.

Tree trunk lifts grate creating potential trip and fall hazard

Tree trunk lifts grate creating potential trip and fall hazard

A young tree with a two inch diameter trunk will add one inch of trunk diameter per year. The tree will outgrow the tree grate opening within a decade.  Just as the tree reaches maturity and is starting to provide the maximum intended benefits,  the trunk begins to lift the tree grate.  Either the tree or tree grate must be replaced.

When I met Mr. Rodriguez, he showed me a downtown site where Blue Drop had installed their new Safe Path product.  The product is a poured in place permeable rubberized material that levels the planter surface with the adjacent sidewalk.  Water quickly infiltrates the permeable product which allows for both water and gas exchange.  The tree trunk, root collar and any surface roots are safely protected by the product.  As the trunk and roots enlarge, the products cracks, allowing for easy product removal and mending.

Pedestrians safely travel over Safe Path tree system

Pedestrians safely travel over Safe Path tree system. Photo by Blue Drop

Because Safe Path is poured in place, it appears to be an ideal product to retrofit existing planter systems and especially for irregular shaped planter areas.  The product provides a smooth, yet permeable surface, creating a safe environment for pedestrians while protecting tree roots and enhancing street scene aesthetics

I have no financial of special interest in Blue Drop Inc or any of their products.  As a certified arborist who has provided expert witness testimony in trip and fall cases involving trees, I was interested in discovering new technologies that improve public safety around trees.

Click the link to read the full article reviewing the product. A Better Way to Protect Trees and Pedestrians

 

What to do With Your Xmas Tree?

Fortunately, most municipalities now have recycling programs for green waste, making it easier for homeowners to recycle their used Xmas tree.  Recyclers grind or shred trees into a mulch which is then composted and eventually becomes available as a bulk or bagged mulch product.  This is certainly a preferable option than the “old days” when trees were commingled with regular trash and buried in landfill sites.

If you have a large tree, prune off some branches and reduce the overall size to ensure local curbside pickup.  If you have the room on your property, you can do your own recycling via a compost bin, pile or simply leaving the tree in an area where it will slowly decompose on its own.  Leaving a tree whole may also become home to birds and other animals for shelter or nesting site.  Make sure all tinsel and other decorations have been removed from the tree.

If you  have a live tree, it can be re-planted into the outdoor landscape.  Remember, depending on the variety of pine tree, these are typically large growing trees.  Despite the small size now, ten to twenty years down the road, you may have a forty to sixty foot tall tree.  I have seen this issue while consulting on residential sites where a neighbors Xmas tree planted near the property line grew to fifty-five feet, with limbs and roots encroaching into the clients property, damaging concrete improvements and posing an increased safety  risk.  If you are going to re-plant the tree, make sure you have the space for a large pine tree to grow, avoid planting near property lines, driveways, sidewalks and patios.

For more information about Xmas tree recycling, check out this article at:

Making the most of the Christmas Tree

Can a Tree Capture Particulate Matter from the Air?

For years, certified arborists and urban foresters have learned the many benefits of trees. Energy savings are one of the foremost known benefits of trees as they shade building during the summer reducing the need for air conditioning and deciduous tress allow sunlight to reach structures during winter months, solar radiation decreasing the need for winter heating.

Another known benefit for trees are their ability to reduce storm water runoff and erosion, particularly during the winter months. Tree root systems bind soil particles and slow storm runoff from roofs and other impervious surfaces, trees act as bio filters, slowing storm and irrigation water runoff and allowing the water time to slowly percolate into the soil profile rather than run off into the street or storm drain system.  By forcing water to pass through the soil profile, rather than runoff into storm drain systems, the soil mass filters impurities before the water enters into streams, ponds and aquifers.

Birch Tree planting works as filter

A Birch street tree planting used for testing as a green filter to remove particulate matter from the air we breath

Continue reading “Can a Tree Capture Particulate Matter from the Air?” »

PTCA Field Day a Great Success

Wow, just when I thought the PTCA (Professional Tree Care Association) annual seminar was the bomb, the following field day was just as great. While the seminar was an indoor event focusing on a variety of topics presented by outstanding industry professionals and educators, the field day was spent outdoor at beautiful Balboa park in San Diego.

The day consisted of a number of workshops organized into several different tracks that allowed participants to choose from a palette of presentations that provided something for everybody. Tree climbers and field workers loved the tree climbing workshop and training by Mr. Martin Morales. His workshop included climbing and positioning for safe work in trees, also taught about knots, ropes and equipment inspection, while providing new tips and tricks. I am way to old for climbing, but enjoyed watching guys in the trees, had an opportunity to meet Martin during an incredible lunch (carne asada). We were looking at a rigging holding a tree logIMG_0042, he immediately pointed out flaws and worn equipment, I would never have noticed. Fortunately we have educated tree climbers who understand the importance of proper equipment, training and safety.  Another track included Tree Risk Assessment best management practices (BMP’s) workshop taught by Mr. Ron Matranga and Dr. R. Bruce Allison. Since I consult and provide tree risk assessment as part of my practice, it was a great opportunity to learn about  best management practices involved with the new TRAQ (tree risk assessment qualified) versus the previous TRACE (tree risk assessment certification exam) methodology. Dr. Allison demonstrated new sonic tomography techniques for non-destructive testing of the interior of tree trunks, new cutting edge technology that is already an advancement from just two years ago. Using probes and determining the time for sound waves to travel through tree trunks and how the sound wave moves at different velocities around interior trunk decay will assist arborists to use in advanced tree risk assessment. As Dr. Allison noted, hopefully in the next few years, the cost will come down and we will have a pocket sized device and an app to use to help us understand what is happening with interior tree decay.

Sound wave technology, the next big thing?

Sound wave technology, the next big thing?

How serious is the problem

How serious is the problem

We all know about new invasive insects and diseases affecting our trees, new invasive species are being detected at a rate on one every 60 days, Dr. John Kabashiima provided the sobering statistic it is now one every 45 days! The gold spotted oak borer has decimated tens of thousands of Coast Live Oak and Black Oaks throughout California.

Six orange color dots help identify this pest, although the adult is rarely seen

Six orange color dots help identify this pest, although the adult is rarely seen

This pest has been spread throughout the state, particularly San Diego county by people using the dead wood for fire wood, transporting it in their vehicles where they unwitting spread the insect throughout the county. Don’t move infected wood!

Stop using infected wood for fire wood and don't transport the wood, you are spreading the disease

Stop using infected wood for fire wood and don’t transport the wood, you are spreading the disease

Take a look at some of these nasty borers and other insects, yikes!Nasty Borers

For pest control advisors and applicators, there was a pesticide application for trees demonstration and a safety workshop and tree identification workshop and quiz available to test your knowledge. Field guys loved the chainsaw sharpening and troubleshooting workshop presented by Mr. Paul Lasiter and Mr. Joe Garcia. Another great aspect for everyone was presentation of many workshops in Spanish and English, a very inclusive aspect that helped all of us enjoy the day.

I learned a great deal of new information I never would have even considered without this great field day presentation. Have you ever considered how heavy a downed tree trunk is?  Well, there was a workshop on how to calculate the wood weight of felled trees, presented by Mr. Harvey Pedersen. Crane operators have to have a reasonable idea of how much a log or portion of a tree trunk weighs in order to safely lift it. Mr. Pederson presented wood weight calculations of various types of trees and an amazingly accurate method for estimating the weight of a log, which was then lifted by the crane which provided the true weight to compare against our estimated weights. How cool is that!

How much do those logs weight?

How much do those logs weight?

Just want to thank all of those involved in the PTCA Seminar and Field Day for a truly memorable event, a special thanks to our friend Dave Shaw

Dave kept us all entertained, what a great guy!

Dave kept us all entertained, what a great guy!

 

who once again served as the master of ceremony and kept us all entertained. Keep up the great work, looking forward to next years seminar and field day.

Learn more about the PTCA at http://www.ptcasandiego.org

Going it Alone?

What happened to life in the Golden state? The economy is slamming us all and the ongoing drought and water restrictions have caused many stressed property owners, home owner associations, property management companies, builders and developers to reduce or eliminate landscape design, construction, renovation and maintenance budgets. This is unfortunate timing as now is time to invest in sustainable landscape systems, we need to renovate old turf oriented water guzzling landscapes with better adapted, sustainable landscape with improved irrigation technologies.

For those who have taken landscape design, construction, renovation and maintenance issues into their own hands, beware you may easily make incorrect decisions that might ultimately cost you more money than consulting with a landscape professional.

I published an article that provides simple landscape and horticultural design tips for those trying to go it on their own.

The article discusses a process called Horticultural design as an alternative to traditional landscape design. This process uses plants cultural requirements matched to the specific site environment to determine the planting palette. Use this process to maximize plant establishment, vigor and vitality, reduce water consumption, insect and disease problems and reduce maintenance costs.

Use Horticultural Design to Enhance and Simplify Your Landscape

What a challenging time for property owners faced with landscape design and renovation projects in California. Aside from a difficult economic environment, the ongoing drought and mandated reduction in water delivery from Northern California and the Colorado River has deeply impacted landscape design, construction and maintenance practices throughout California, particularly in the central and southern part of the state. Sustainability is now a common buzzword in the landscape industry, however getting there is proving far more difficult than imagined.

Looking back at projects designed and constructed in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000, there has been significant improvement and increased awareness in landscape plant and soil materials and dramatic improvements in irrigation technology. Growers and nurseries have introduced thousands of improved plant species, varieties and hybrids, improving traits such as disease and insect resistance, drought resistance, flower size, color, duration, and so much more

Older plant varieties such as Delosperma alba “Disneyland” (white ice plant) that had terrible root rot problems have been replaced with hardy, drought tolerant plants such as Baccharis and Myoporum ground covers. Hibiscus shrubs, loved for their flowers but highly susceptible to giant white fly and aphids, have been phased out, same with other shrubs that had disease problems such as Fireblight on Carissa (natal plum). Fast growing Eucalyptus species are declining with structural deficiencies due to repeated psyllid insect infestations, root rot, age and inappropriate use. Thousands of trees pose a major threat and hazard to property owners and the general public.

As water availability diminishes, rates will continue to increase, rationing is most likely a permanent fact of life. We are faced with major changes and decisions on how to create affordable, sustainable landscape development for single, multi-family housing, commercial and industrial sites, public and recreational facilities.

Homeowners, HOA’s, property managers and businesses face a tremendous challenge in making the correct decisions how to design or renovate new or existing landscape systems. With so many facets to consider, it is easy to become overwhelmed and loose site of the original goal, concept or objective in a landscape project. Landscape architects are design professionals whose expertise is a recommended resource. However, we are all struggling to make ends meet, budgets for landscape professional services are very limited and many businesses, property owners, HOA’s and property managers are faced with trying to go it alone or limited professional design and consulting to assist.

In response to questions from friends and clients, the following provide an alternative to the traditional landscape design process by simplifying landscape planting and design decisions during the planning stage, utilizing a process called horticultural design.

Horticultural Design

The term horticultural design is the process of creating a plant palette based on the compatibility of plant’s cultural requirements with the site environment. Don’t select a theme then try to force plants to work in an environment they are not adapted or suited to. Knowing plants cultural requirements is fundamental for horticultural design and plant selection.

Here are some basic cultural requirements to look for when determining a plant palette:

  • Sunlight exposure
  • Size at maturity
  • Hardiness to frost or exposure to heat
  • Climatic zone.
  • Water and drainage requirements.
  • Soil type and preference.
  • Resistance or tolerance to pests and disease
  • Environmental micro-climates, winds, salt air, pollution
  • Flower showiness
  • Foliage showiness
  • Fruit showiness
  • Attract bees, hummingbirds
  • Use: Accent, foundation, understory, foreground, hedge, screen
  • Plant origin, native to where

SITE ANALYSIS:

In order to select plants that are best suited to your location, perform a thorough site analysis of the property; take pictures to document site conditions. The success of horticultural design relies on selecting plant material adapted to site conditions. The site analysis should confirm:

  1. Sunlight, shade and part shade exposure.
  2. Existing trees, shrubs, fences, walls, etc.
  3. Footprint of the residence within the site.
  4. Location of utilities such as water, gas, electric, telephone, CATV.
  5. View corridors and screen/privacy requirements.
  6. Grade/drainage conditions.
  7. Above and below grade obstructions.
  8. Dimensions and area requirements of the site.

A complete site analysis may include drafting a plot or site plan. A scaled plot plan is useful for organizing your thoughts and design concepts. The plan should show the confines of the property, footprint of the house, driveway and other flatwork, hardscape or masonry. Use the drawing as a template, then overlay sketch paper to try different ideas or concepts.

PLANT CULTURAL REQUIREMENTS:

A plant palette is developed once the site analysis is completed. Using the cultural requirements, select plants appropriate to the conditions in the site analysis, consider:

  1. Sunlight exposure and geographic area to start the process. South, southwest, and west exposure are for full sun plants. East, southeast, and northwest exposures are for part sun part shade plants. North is strictly full shade plants.
  2. Size at maturity is often overlooked, resulting in serious relocation or maintenance expense down the road. Understand the full height and width of the plant and plan appropriately.
  3. Make sure the plant can tolerate the heat or cold extremes of the site. Succulents, citrus, avocado, and many tropical or sub-tropical plants cannot tolerate a hard frost; understand the hardiness rating of the plant.
  4. In conjunction with the hardiness rating is the geographic zone rating where your site is located. The geographic zone rating is based on the climatic influences and temperature extremes. Plants that flourish in a Midwest climatic zone may not perform will in a Southern California climatic zone.
  5. Understand the soil type you plan on landscaping or gardening. Clay soils drain poorly, hold water and create root rot problems. Sandy soils drain quickly but lack organic content and nutrients. Know whether the plant likes wet or dry soil conditions. Soil structure, drainage, aeration and nutrient content can be improved with soil amendments and fertilizers.
  6. Drainage, often overlooked, is one of the most important aspects for a successful garden or landscape. Make sure the site maintains a 1-2% surface gradient away from structures. Provide sub-surface drainage systems as required to avoid saturated conditions.
  7. Avoid plant genus and species that have disease or pest problems. Select newer improved hybrid species and cultivars that are disease and insect resistant.
  8. Inspect your site for microclimates, exposure to a prevailing wind condition (Santa Ana’s in Southern California), salt-water exposure from coastal wind, pollution from adjacent heavy traffic.

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:

Some simple, basic design considerations include:

  1. Accent or hi-light plants, usually a tree(s).
  2. Foundation or background shrubs to anchor the landscape.
  3. Understory, foreground shrubs and perennials.
  4. Ground covers, annuals and perennials for borders, accents, foliage and flower color.
  5. Existing site home, building or office architecture and finish surfaces. Select plant material that will enhance existing site features.
  6. Grade changes, retaining walls and site elements to create movement and interest.
  7. Pathways, including D.G., sidewalks, pavers, bricks etc.
  8. Entertainment areas, BBQ, outdoor kitchens and bars.
  9. Water features, objects d’ art.
  10. Utilitarian uses such as doggie run area, trash storage, and pool equipment.
  11. Exterior site lighting, many fantastic low voltage lighting options for hi-lighting, safety and security.
  12. State of the art automatic low volume “smart” irrigation system for efficient distribution and maximum water cost savings.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS:

  1. Group tree and shrub planting based on sun exposure. Never mix plants with different sun exposures i.e.: full sun with full shade plant.
  2. Layer plantings based on height and size requirements.
  3. Repeat planting patterns to reinforce the plant theme.
  4. Avoid using too many different plants. Don’t attempt to create a botanic garden.
  5. Avoid using too many different flatwork and hardscape finishes. Select finish surfaces that compliment and enhance existing structures or features, do not introduce foreign finishes that detract from the property.
  6. Create separate irrigation zones for turf versus planter areas, shade versus sun exposure area.
  7. Make sure the grading and drainage create a favorable growing condition.
  8. Avoid standing water on pathways.
  9. Avoid land locked planters or install sub-surface drainage in the planter.
  10. Remember that an effective, efficient, beautiful design for a garden or landscape is usually based on simplicity and repetition to reinforce an effective theme.

CASE STUDY:

The front yard of this estate has a full sun exposure with a very hot microclimate. The raised bed planter had no drainage outlets or sub-surface drainage system, the soil was very moist exhibiting anaerobic respiration and root rot. Existing Betula alba trees (European White Birch), were declining due to excess heat and root problems, leading to borer insect damage. The Carissa (natal plum) shrub in far right background mounded to 5’, covering windows and showing symptoms of fireblight. An ancient Boxwood hedge served no purpose other than hiding the plants behind. The large urns at the front entry contain an old Bougainvillea.

By removing the hedge, the entire planter area became visible and usable. Sub-surface drainage system removed excess moisture previously accumulating in the raised planter bed. Hi-light trees included Agonis flexuosa “After Dark” and Magnolia grandiflora “Little Gem”, trees adapted to full sun exposure, with contrasting foliage color and textures, complimented the architectural building style and color.

Foundation shrubs include Leptospermum scoparium “Ruby Glow” (tea shrub), and Duranta repens, (Sky flower), foreground shrub is Callistemon viminalis“Little John”. Notice the improved, colorful walkway entry to the side yard; previously it was all turf grass. High volume irrigation spray heads were retrofitted with low volume nozzles, cutting irrigation water up to 50%

Renovated landscape with new accent trees and natural theme

Below is a backyard hi-light, or what can be seen of this very cool fountain. Unfortunately, the existing rear yard hedge used to provide privacy had engulfed the fountain. Poor maintenance shearing techniques turning shrubs into geometric shapes destroying what should be a beautiful, informal hi-light viewing area. The wonderful planter urns had been neglected and provided little color or interest. This was a challenging area because it faces south and receives full sun exposure, however the upper-story tree hedge provided mixed partial shade. The goal was to enhance the prominence of the fountain and design an informal, colorful, relaxing area.

Is there a fountain back there?

Below is the same fountain however the large tree hedge limbs have been pruned to open the sight line corridor to the fountain while still retaining screening for privacy. Cercis canadensis “Forest Pansy” (Eastern Redbud) tress frame the fountain while providing breathtaking spring flower color, followed by ever-changing foliage color throughout the summer and fall. The existing urns were replanted with Abutilon hybrid shrubs as the anchor, surrounded with annual and perennial color. All the plant materials were selected for a full sun exposure, a particular size, effect, foliage or flower color or other special effect specific to the site.

Fountain hilight with Cercis Redbud trees

With so much to consider, the design process can be a significant hurdle for novices and those going it alone. Try to keep things simple. Start by going to a local nursery, preferably a wholesale growing grounds that has a large selection of trees and shrubs from one gallon to 60” boxed trees. Take pictures and make notes about the plants you like. Research your findings; the Sunset Garden book is an excellent resource for understanding plants and their cultural requirements.

In summary, selecting plants based on their cultural requirements that are adapted to your site will determine the theme for the landscape rather than the traditional method of having a landscape design that arbitrarily imposes an artificial landscape theme. The plants will thrive, establish quicker, use less water, and have fewer insect and disease problems, ultimately providing a less costly footprint with improved sustainability. With fine-tuning, the plant palette can be refined to suit any particular theme, coordinate and enhance site architecture, color, or specific features. Using an artificially designed landscape that does not suit the site with incompatible plant material will establish slowing, poorly, have disease and insect problems, lack vitality, consume more water and have far greater maintenance and renovation costs.

Even with the suggestions contained within this article, plant selection and the design process requires knowledge, research and creativity. Jeremy Rappoport is a professional horticulturist, C-27 licensed landscape contractor and certified arborist. For over two decades, Mr. Rappoport teamed with prominent public and private master development companies and community homebuilders as a land development specialist, with postings as a landscape, grading and offsite superintendent, purchasing agent, manager of sales, bidding and estimating, Director of Operations and Director of Land Development.

Mr. Rappoport combines his extensive work experience, professional degree and industry certifications providing landscape, horticulture, arboriculture and site development consulting, design and expert witness services. For more information, contact Jeremy Rappoport at 858-205-4748.