Drought conditions in California are forcing property owners to come up with solutions for landscaping that are not only drought-tolerant but also attractive. Designing a balanced garden requires a combination of softscapes and hardscapes. The term softscape refers to living vegetation, and the term hardscape refers to the non-living elements, like pathways and patios.
There are many low-water plants, trees and ground covers that can be used for softscape areas. These should be chosen for the climate. Combining softscapes with hardscape elements like pathways, ponds, patios and areas of functional space can make your garden an extension of your living space. Using softscape in combination with useful hardscape elements is a creative solution that can produce a beautiful and interesting garden and also save valuable water and money.
There are many choices of drought tolerant plants for softscaping that can thrive in Southern California. Mediterranean varieties as well as native plants are among the best suited for our climate. Lavender, thyme and oregano are plants that add beauty and fragrance to a garden and require very little water. Yarrow and California poppy are native plants that also have lower water requirements. Bougainvillea can provide a lovely infusion of color and height on a trellis. Milkweed is a wonderful native plant that helps Monarch butterflies.
There are many ornamental grasses like sheep fescue and deergrass, that provide texture and color and can be a great substitute for lawns. Some examples of perennials that have lower water requirements are: mallow, lamb’s ears, catmint, coyote mint, California fuschia and penstemons, to name just a few. Succulents are another good choice for Southern California!
While softscape plants should be chosen to fit the California climate, hardscaping ideas are practically limitless. Rock walls, patios, paths, and boulders are some design elements that can be used. Paths that wander through your garden are inviting and a wonderful way to create depth perception.
Pathways can be made of flagstone, concrete, pea gravel, brick, bark, or cobblestone to name a few. Raised planters and divisions can add interest and bring beauty to your design. Adding a water feature with a recirculating pump, like a pond or a birdbath, attracts wildlife and brings tranquility. A garden bench, swing, and patio furniture invites you to relax in your garden. In addition, decks and gazebos are wonderful design elements that can extend your living space into your landscape.
Our professional team at Pacific Vista Landscape Services are experts creating softscape and hardscape combinations. We can help design, build, and plant your perfect waterwise garden oasis!
As the weather changes to fall and the nights in Southern California become cooler, a great way to continue using your backyard is with the addition of a fire feature like a fire pit or fireplace. They add warmth and ambiance to a cool evening and extend the amount of time you can enjoy your outdoor spaces.
There are so many options to consider when adding a fire feature to your landscape. The best thing is that you have a myriad of options to best fit the space you are designing. Plus you can add outdoor living space around your fire pit or fireplace, designing seating with comfy and colorful cushions, outdoor furniture, or even built-in benches. The sky is the limit when designing your outdoor space focused around a fire feature.
Here are some ideas of what to consider before planning a fire feature and dreaming of those cool nights around a warm file:
Consider Your Cost
How much you want to spend on your outdoor area can largely influence the direction which you take your fire feature design. Costs can be as low as $100 for a small fire pit, one where you buy your own stones and dig the hole yourself, or comes as a kit purchased at a big box store. At the other end of the scale, a large built -in fireplace can run several thousand dollars, especially when seating design is added.
Permanent or Portable
A good idea when planning your fire feature space is to determine how portable or permanent you wish to make the space. Do you want the fire pit to be a focal feature in the yard, or something lightweight and potentially portable?
For permanent designs, you generally want to take into consideration the materials that are used on the house or in the garden and try to match those materials. Permanent can be a DIY job where you use a pre-made kit from the store, or you can fully customize with a landscape professional to do your design and build it.
Options for portable fire pits are also varied, there are fire bowls, fire tables, and chimney-style options and all come in a range of materials and can fit anyone’s needs.
Anyway you go, you should ensure you are using the proper stones and materials to ensure the safety of your space. Make the fire pit proportional to the size of your yard, and be sure you have room for seating and circulation.
Consider the Requirements
Many communities have minimum guidelines of distance from neighboring yards, and from your home. There may be permitting requirements when designing and installing a permanent fire pit. Finally, check with local officials to see if there are bans on certain styles of fire pits, such as open fire designs.
Of course, Pacific Vista Landscape is available to make your fire feature design plans come together without the major headache of figuring out all the design, and permitting requirements all on your own. Just make a call and we will help you get setup with your dream fire pit or fireplace, and before you know it, you’ll be relaxing in your new outdoor area, enjoying a nice warm fire, and making s’mores!