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Area contractors and nurseries can provide useful insight to best maintain regional coastal flora


REGION — Daffodils have begun to bloom, signaling the coming of spring — a season when many homeowners begin planning projects to improve or expand their homes and gardens.

But how do you choose the right resource for your project with so many options out there?

Entrusting local general contractors or nurseries with projects provides many added benefits over typical “big box” stores.

When tackling home improvement projects, local contractors bring a wealth of knowledge beneficial to homeowners. From knowing the area’s permitting processes, rules and regulations to other important details, they have an edge over big box competitors. And since they live and work in the community, customer satisfaction is paramount — their reputation can make or break their success, and word-of-mouth plays a large role.

This also applies to outdoor projects. Visiting locally owned nurseries for your garden and landscaping needs ensures superior products and services over large retailers.

Businesses based out of the area may not supply customers with the best products for the environment in which they live — an important factor for homeowners in Southern California.

Gaining access to plant species that thrive in our southwest climate, such as native or drought-tolerant species, is one key to a successful home garden. And since each garden is different, homeowners need access to resources that can dedicate the time to help them wade through the options to find out what best suits their needs.

Kristi Beach, marketing coordinator for Barrels & Branches Nursery in Encinitas says, “Since we’re a small nursery, we can offer customers the kind of one-on-one customer service the big box stores can’t. We really know our customers and their needs.”

Barrels & Branches is owned by Samantha Owens, who is also a landscape designer and contractor, and who was actually raised on the property where the nursery is located. The nursery offers workshops for residents who wish to learn more about specific topics.

“We start by asking homeowners to give their project a bit of thought,” Beach says. “‘What are you hoping to accomplish with your garden? Are there problems you need help solving?’ Once the homeowner has established some goals, we advise them to think about their budget and timeline.”

This personalized service allows customers to get the answers they need. Looking for low maintenance? Drought-tolerant? Ornamental? An edible garden to feed your family? The options are endless, and they can be overwhelming for even the more experienced gardener.

That’s why having someone who has your best interests in mind is beneficial.

Cordova Gardens in Encinitas has been operating as a family-run business since 1987. Joe Cordova runs the nursery with his wife, Martha, and son, Jose, and caters to those looking for a more personalized experience.

“Our customers are only taken care of by the family,” says Joe Cordova. “We want to make sure they are treated right.”

Cordova says their goal is to make sure their customers get the service they deserve and answers to any questions they may have.

His advice to homeowners is to “shop where you feel comfortable, and make sure the people you are dealing with are knowledgeable.”

Mariah Smith, who owns Anderson’s La Costa Nursery with her husband, Marc, advises people to do their research before committing to a project or contractor.

“Go visit and meet with your potential designer — let them get to know you and your space, your vision and your dreams. It is important for the customer to feel comfortable and know that their designer understands their vision, priorities and budget.”

This individualized service is strengthened by the fact that many of the plants available at local nurseries are grown on-site or in the area. This sets homeowners up for more success, as the plants will acclimate more readily, making for the thriving and beautiful garden most strive for. Offering plants appropriate for each season, as opposed to whatever can be shipped in, is another important factor to consider.

“We are able to source plants from a variety of growers,” says Smith. “We are not contracted to work with just a few growers who all supply the same items. We look for unique and unusual plants that cannot be found at big box stores.”

The experience of working with a local nursery or contractor does not compare to that of working with a big box retailer — the benefits are many. Aside from a higher-quality, more-tailored experience, you can rest assured knowing that you’re also bolstering your local economy.

“Supporting local small businesses helps keep a neighborhood attractive and charming. It keeps dollars in the community where we work and live by employing fellow locals and neighbors and strengthening the local economy,” adds Smith.