Posts Tagged water features

Tranquil Garden, Tranquil Mind

Some yards and gardens make you relax as soon as you walk into them.   The Japanese Garden of Tranquility is one of those gardens for me.  Often, these gardens take a cue from nature.  Today I wanted to discuss how you can take a cue from this type of garden to get your own little corner of tranquility.


One of the principles of Japanese gardening is to utilize things which seem old, or are old.  One way to do this is to repurpose materials.

For example, you can utilize an old picnic table to be your new gathering place in your garden.  Or you can hang and old ship’s bell as an art installation.

Think with SymbolismLotus Plant

Different flowers and art pieces or arrangements mean different things to the Japanese.  You may not have studied Japanese symbolism, so it’s possible that those things mean nothing to you.  Instead of taking what means something to others, examine what you could install in your garden that means something to you.

For example, I have a Gerber daisy in my garden which my aunt gave me from the flowers at my grandmother’s funeral.  It blooms every year and reminds me of her.  I also grow sun flowers because they remind me of my childhood in Tujunga.

You may have plants which mean something deeply personal to you that you can plant in your garden.  Perhaps plants are not symbolic to you, but a particular bird or bug is.  Plant things which will attract them.  You can also install pieces within your yard that make you happy or which remind you of happy times.  (Remember all those rocks and shells you or your kids have collected?  Perhaps you could make your own display of them.)

Give Yourself SpaceRelaxing on a hammock

Most of us want to utilize every single inch that we own.  We want that mortgage to be paying for something we are utilizing 24/7.   Sometimes, though, allowing yourself some empty space in your yard is the best way to utilize the space.  Remember to leave open space for you to enjoy.

Block Noise

When you are in your garden, you don’t want to be hearing your neighbor’s conversations or the traffic noise coming from the street boarding your home.   Install fencing or walls or foliage which will screen your yard from intrusion.  If you can still hear exterior noise, consider installing a water feature.

Go Green

If various flowers or animals isn’t what makes you feel peaceful, then try adding various types of greenery to your yard.  Agaves, flax, Boston ivy, kale, cabbage, and various ground covers can draw your eye in a more peaceful way than vibrant flowers.

Add Natural Touches

Create a natural space to enjoy by using nature-inspired art and furniture.  For example, a complex pattern on your hammock or lounge chair may be eye catching, but a moss green or ocean blue may be more restful.

Here’s hoping your backyard is the exact combination of nature and tranquility for you.


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The Fun and Beauty of Waterscapes

Southern California is a dry place to live – which means waterscapes a beautiful and pleasant addition to landscaping.  Here are some ideas with regard to adding these to your landscape:Central Park

Fountains: Fountains come in all shapes and sizes, from art instillation with water running through and around the sculptures, to the classic three tiered fountain, to mini pools, fountains are a great way to both decorate a yard and to help cover up any exterior noise.  I especially love fountains for homes near the freeway or a major street – as they block out traffic noise effectively.

Additionally, when summertime hits us again, fountains make a yard feel cool and breezy.

Bird Bath: This is an easy, classic water feature.  Not only is it a pleasant little feature for your yard, it’s a great way to attract birds year round.  I keep my bird bath under my orange tree – at the tree line.  This way birds attracted by the fruit, the flowers, or the shade can also have a cool place to drink.

– Pond: Ponds are always a fun feature for adults and kids.  They can be created to recycle water, you can plant pretty lilies, cat tails and more – and you can use them for lovely fish.  The only real drawback to owning a pond is that oftentimes raccoons will come along for a fish buffet.  However, there are things you can do to deter racoons like:

a. Sprinkle the area around your pond with cayenne pepper.

b. Chop up a yellow onion and set the slices around your pond.

c. Install motion activated lights around your pond area.

d. Sprinkle black pepper and cinnamon all around your pond.

These are some ideas.  Another idea is to make sure you have any other food items that may be attractive to raccoons locked up as well as you can.

– Swimming pool: This is the classic water feature.  It requires a large space so that it can be installed, and needs regular maintenance once installed.

– Jacuzzi: If you don’t have enough roof for a pool, a jacuzzi can be a great option and a lot of fun.  On chilly winter nights, or even on a sunny day, a jacuzzi is a fun place for everyone to warm up and enjoy the water.

These are just some ideas!  If you have favorite water features – let me know!

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Wintertime Dreamin

It’s that time of year again.  Hopefully any lawn decorations and string lighting is set up, your yard is put to bed, and any lawn furniture is put away.  It’s time for us to look at our yards and plan for next year.

When it comes to home improvement, plans are generally modified by budget and available space.  So, what projects do you want to accomplish next year?  Here are some ideas:

– Go native.  It’s always good to add native plants to your yard – or to even take the plunge and plant only natives.  This will likely cut down your water bills and gardening costs – as Southern California natives like poppies, sage, Meeting Placedeer grass, California lilac, Coast Live Oak, Western Sycamore, etc are literally made for your soil.  These types of plants are great for hot, dry SoCal cities like Agoura Hills, La Canada, and Silverlake.  While you will need to keep them well watered to allow their roots to establish, over time they will help cut down that water bill.  Additionally, natives usually attract native birds and insects throughout the year, so your yard may become filled with butterflies, bumblebees and birds.

– Get sprinklers or a drip system installed.  As you well know, Southern California is hot and dry.  To keep up any kind of lawn or plants, you need some source of water.  Take a look at your space and decide if it would be better to go with a sprinkler system, or a drip system.  Drip systems get the water straight to the plant roots, which usually makes them more cost-effective.

Install hardscaping.  Are you sick of dealing with plants and sprinklers and so on?  Or maybe you want a place where your family and friends can gather outdoors and have a barbecue or a picnic.  These circumstances speak to getting hardscaping installed.  There are many different options for hardscaping – stone, concrete, brick, etc.  And your hardscaping ideas aren’t limited to a back patio or island.  Take a look at your entry way, your front walk, and your driveway.  These are all areas which can be improved with something as small as cleaning and sealing the concrete, stone or brick they are made of – or as in-depth and replacing the existing look with something completely different.

Make little changes.  It’s those details that make all the difference, from installing a fountain or lamp post in the back, to putting up a hammock for summertime or sprucing up your lawn furniture  you can make a big difference in your yard.

– Install a space for family gatherings.  Again, this can be as small as setting up a picnic table with benches – or as big as getting a firepit with surrounding seats installed.

– Get a nice screen to make your backyard your own little world.  Bamboo, tall bushes, and other plants can be installed to keep your backyard private and muffle outside sounds.  Take a look at what separates you from your neighbors and see if it can’t be improved.  If it’s a chain-link fence, perhaps you can discuss improvements with your neighbors and get a block wall or a wooden fence installed.  If you know your neighbor’s like the look of what separates your property lines, perhaps you can find plants you like to conceal it, or you can decorate it with a fountain or sculpture.

– Install any lighting.  This is actually something you should do over the winter, as this is the time of year when there is more darkness, and additional lighting would be welcome.

Here’s to a holiday season full of dreams fulfilled.

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Enjoying the Early Summer

It’s hot hot hot!  Here are some fun ways to beat the heat:

– Get a hammock or a lounge chair and… lounge.  You can laze about in the sun or enjoy the shade with a good book or cold lemonade.

– Install a cool sun room.  If you already have a patio, get an awning and a fan.  Or, you can partially enclose your patio to keep the bugs out and just enjoy being outdoors.

– Let the sprinklers go and run through them like a kid.  There’s nothing wrong with a little summer fun.

– Install a water feature, like a little creek, fountain or pond.  The sound of running water can keep you nice and cool.

– Paint things with bright colors, whites, or cool greens.  Another option is to plant some nice shady greens or bright flowers.

Get a pool installed.  There’s nothing more fantastic than a nice cool pool in the summer time.  If you can’t quite afford a new pool, try getting an over-the-ground pool set up.

– If you have outdoor hardscaping, think about accenting it with tile, or installing tile flooring.  It’s a nice way to cool down an outdoor space.

– Get inspired by amusement parks and get those misters installed in your yard.

– Install a gazebo under a nice shady set of trees, or with its own shade.

What are your favorite ways to cool down?

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Zen and Rock Gardens

At first glance, zen gardens and rock gardens seemed kind of silly to me. However, more I see of them , the more I like them.

If you’ve never seen a zen garden, you should know that the one which inspired me was the zen garden at the Huntington Gardens .

Here is what I think are the advantages of zen or rock gardens:

– Rocks don’t need water – so that keeps your bill the a minimum.  Even if you decide to add a water feature, which can be really very beautiful, you can install environmentally friendly reuse and filter systems which allow you to use the minimum of water to maximum effect.

– You can convert your garden into a picnic or party area easily.  Just add chairs and tables.

– You can go au natural and obtain California rocks only to great beauty and effect.  You can even go further and allow some native plants in your garden which will just enhance the beauty.

– You can also decide on hardscaping only, which tends to last much longer than landscaping – and is far easier to maintain and keep clean.

– If you install a small covered deck overlooking your peaceful zen garden, you can enjoy it year round.

There are some downsides – for example, if you want to go all out Japanese, your garden will be more difficult to maintain unless you’re a bonsai expert.  I know I am a bonsai brown thumb, so hats off to you if you can keep them alive.  Additionally, many Japanese plants do not grow well in SoCal due to the extreme temperatures and lack of moisture, which is why I suggested changing traditional plants out with natives.

So here’s wishing you peace and tranquility as you improve your landscape.

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