Posts Tagged La Canada

Side Yard Ideas

Southern California cities like Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, and La Canada have homes that are anything but cookie-cutter.  There are plenty of hillside homes, small homes on large lots, and lots featuring strange dimensions.

With homes like this, there is often a small stretch of yard which doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the space.  This could be a small side yard or an irregular spot behind the garage.  What can you do with such a space?  Here are some ideas:

Make it a play area.  Whether you have children or not, a space to stretch Children feet in green grassout and enjoy the outdoors is always welcome.

Your landscaper can design the space into a play area for children with swings or a sand box.   Another idea for kids is to install man-made grass so they can use the space for a slip-n-slide in the summer and a comfy play area the rest of the year.

Your side yard can be made into a play area for you by installing a small firepit, installing hardscaping so that the space can be used for a variety of games or installing man-made grass for games like bocci ball.

Make your own farmer’s market.  Utilize that extra space to grow your ownSmall Fruit Tree veggies in raised beds.  Or, plant a mini orchard with your favorite fruit trees.  You can also install a small vineyard for your own, homegrown California grapes.

Let it go to the dogs.  If you have dogs or other pets that require running room, set up your side yard as a dog run or a place for your pet to play.

Grow your own bouquet.  Plant your favorite flowers and create a living Meeting Placebouquet.  You can also find out the best flowers to attract your favorite insects or birds and grow those in your side yard garden patch.

These are just some ideas for your irregularly shaped lot.  Here’s to a yard that works perfectly for your needs – no matter the shape.

 

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Covering up for winter

This wintertime, it’s a good idea to cover any bare soil up.  I know we all think about mud slides for hillside homes, but imagine what those flash floods do to your soil quality, no matter the type of slope.  Every year soil gets swept away by flash floods, and the remaining soil gets compacted and weighed down by water, then it dries – usually very quickly – and creates hard, compact dirt.

While we aren’t getting flash floods yet here in Southern California and the weather forecast for winter is something like below to average rainfall, rain in places like Thousand Oaks, La Canada, Simi Valley, etc, tend to come in torrents.  So, how to protect that soil from compacting?

1. Plant a variety of species.  It can be nice to have a pretty, even lawn, and, while this isn’t a bad idea as it does slow soil compaction, it also means you have loose soil to a certain point, then it begins to compact.  This is because you’ll have a farely even root system.  So, if you don’t want hard pan when you do decide to shake it up and landscape, plant a variety of species.  Try different kinds of grasses, some wild flowers  and some shrubs or even a tree.  You can go entirely native too, planting only Southern California plants.  One of my neighbors does this and her front yard always smells amazing and attracts the most honey bees, birds, butterflies, etc. every year.

2. Plant a cover crop.  If you have bare ground because you haven’t decided what to do with it yet or you’re trying to let your soil rest, try planting a cover crop.  Cover crops like alfalfa, buckwheat, barley, mustard, etc, are great for rejuvenating and protecting your soil.  Just make sure to keep it mowed so it doesn’t get out of control and to turn it in spring before it reseeds. 

3. Mulch, mulch, mulch.  If you don’t want to plant a cover crop, or you’ve got a really small patch of bare soil you don’t want to have to mow, cover it up with a nice mulch.  You can research what your soil may be deficient in by examining your micro-climate, what you’ve been growing in it, or discussing it with your local landscaper or nursery.

Here’s to healthy, happy soil!

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