Local Roots

Poisonous plants can be pretty

Some of my favorite plants are poisonous. With so many attractive qualities, many look and smell so intoxicating it is difficult to understand why they have evolved to be so deadly to humans. The oleander shrub comes in many varieties. The petite Nerium oleander is a dwarf cultivar that comes in salmon, red or hot […]

How to create the perfect water feature

I have come to find out that most people enjoy the movement of water. Why? Who knows, maybe it has to do with the sun glinting off the water as it does in a beautiful mountain stream or the movement of the waves on a wide open sea. Perhaps it touches the cord within all […]

Even experts can and do make mistakes

Being a palm lover, a tree man, a landscaper and designer it is sometimes hard to swallow the bitter truth when you think you’re an expert with plants and you come to find out you’ve made a mistake. In my experience, I have come to learn that certain remedies work for a good majority of […]

Add splash of color to water-wise landscape

Creating a low water use yard from an old water guzzling lawn (in my last column) we scalped the sod, installed mounding, placed rocks and created interest with the movement of the soils and the placement of small boulders and rocks. These things by themselves are very low maintenance but they don’t excite the eye […]

Landscape solutions for drought conditions

We have had a very wet winter so far this year. Or so it appears. Typically we don’t get this much rain every season and weather prognosticators are still calling for a continued drought in the near future. With the sheer number of people living in the Southwest, our water usage is going through the […]

There’s a lot of nuance to plain, old-fashioned dirt

San Diego soils can be very interesting and do differ in composition and structural makeup depending upon their unique location. You can find a blend of beach cobble and clay throughout the Mira Mesa highlands, rich porous red brown sand in Leucadia and California Gumbo as we like to call the green compressed hardpan clay […]

Fast growing plants are quick but inefficient

With all the rain that we have been having this year (and it was supposed to be a dry year in San Diego!), designing your landscape with good drainage is a definite must to protect your home. Living in the desert near the coast like we do, dry and wet years will come and go. […]

Agave attenuata: an easy to care for and beautiful succulent

When it comes to succulents, few plants are as beautiful and easy to work with as the Agave attenuata. The attenuata is a native of Mexico and is found throughout the Southwest and South America. It often enjoys the spotlight in many sunny locations of the garden. Very light green in color, almost the classic […]

Proper drainage essential when designing a landscape

So you want to landscape your home, your castle, your best investment? Well, let’s take a look at where you might start and how you would go about the art of landscaping while avoiding the pitfalls of inexperience. Most self-help books and even lectures by professionals in any field will begin with the basics trying […]

A guide to local palms

Swaying gently in the breeze on the steep banks of Swami’s surf outlook or standing tall like soldiers going off to war in single file along Coast Highway 101, the Washingtonia robusta can be found almost anywhere here in Southern California. Commonly known as the “Mexican fan palm,” I used to hate this tree because […]