Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
As featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine ( design by )

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Planting Trees in San Diego - How to

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. has been planting trees in the San Diego area since 1983. We want to ensure that the trees we plant not only survive, but thrive. Here's the process we generally follow:
1. The general rule: the ideal time to plant a tree is the autumn or early spring. Since we install landscapes year-round in San Diego, this isn't as much of an issue as it would be in other parts of the country. Palms and tropicals are ideally planted in the summer. Deciduous trees plant best when they are dormant.
2.Choose the right tree for the right area. As a professional design company, we understand the characteristics of each species (climate needs, growth rate, mature shape, maintenance requirements, & disease tolerance) and can help homeowners to choose a tree that not only enhances their garden but will thrive in its placement.
3.Where to buy a tree? We have established long term relationships with many of the wholesale nurseries in the San Diego County and will scour our sources to find you the best specimens that are available. We also import specimens from our contacts out of county which are then shipped safely with the plants health in mind. We want to ensure that we are starting with a healthy tree. 4.To dig or not to dig? We'll find out and avoid any underground piping, cables etc. There may be local code requirements that your community has as well.
5. The most common mistakes when planting a tree happen before the tree is even planted. Successful planting relies on the digging hole. Holes that are too deep prevent the newly planted trees roots from having access to sufficient oxygen. Holes that are too narrow prevent the rootstructure from expanding enough to nourish and anchor the tree. Holes dug in clay soil without breaking up the slick sides create a barrier known as glazing which prevents water from passing through. So here's our technique: We dig a hole that is 2.5 times the width of the root ball. The general rule for depth is that the crown of the root ball where the trunk starts should sit above (about 1") the surrounding earth. The added height allows for settling. Remember when handling a tree, use the trunk. The bottom of the hole should have a slight pedestal in the middle which the root ball sits on and water pools away from. This prevents water from collecting directly below the trunk which can cause rot. We score the side of the hole, particularly if there is a high clay content to the soil.
6. Creating the back-fill: The soil that we excavate is tilled with peat moss, composted manure, topsoil and mycorrhizae. This blend is what we use for back-fill. The blend may vary depending on the type of tree being planted.
7.The planting: After gently opening the root ball by hand, we seat the tree upon the pedestal in the hole and surround it with the back-fill soil up to the crown of the root ball. This soil is then hand compressed to allow water to reach the roots. We then water, wait an hour, fill with back-fill after the settling and water again. (1 gallon for every 6" of trunk height is appx.) We then mulch 3" from the trunk out past the circumference of the original hole at least ot the drip line (the widest point that there are leaves). This helps to keep the tree hydrated and most weeds out. We stake trees where appropriate.
8. The first year of a transplanted trees life is critical. It will need consistent & regular watering until the roots are established. To form deep roots, water slowly for an extended period. Deep roots help the tree to resist droughts and winds.
9. Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. gives a year warranty for all trees that we plant. We are a design, install and maintenance company. We want you to enjoy the tree as it grows over the years.
-garden girl says "Get out there and enjoy your garden!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If your conscience has ever felt the pangs of guilt of having a tree cut for your holiday use of just a few weeks...and an artificial tree doesn't suit your style, you may want to consider purchasing a living Christmas tree. A living tree comes with the roots intact for the purpose of planting it after the holidays pass. They are usually more expensive but they provide more long-term value and create less waste. A well selected choice not only enhances your landscape but it will make the memory of your holiday season linger and grow in your own yard. If your garden design doesn't need any more trees, a great option would be to donate it to a plant-a-tree organization. The usual fresh-cut varieties of Christmas trees like Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce are not suited to our climate zone here in San Diego. They are cut and shipped outside their natural areas. For San Diego, you'll have to select a tree that will: 1. thrive in our local zones and 2.Fit in your landscape design. For estates with lots of space, here are a couple of options: Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) or Incense Cedar (Cedrus deodara). For a smaller garden, you could choose a Blue Point Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point').
So here are some tips for opting for an 'Environmentally Conscious Christmas:
1.If your going to donate: find an organization before you purchase the tree. Living plants need care from the second you bring them home and you wouldn't want a lapse in care post-holidays to prevent a successful transplanting. If your going to plant it: 1) pick the spot wisely by researching how much space a mature tree will need and 2) dig the hole before you even bring the tree inside the house. (Next weeks blog- tips for planting)
2. Keep in mind a living tree is much heavier than a fresh-cut tree. A balled and bur-lapped tree with its roots and soil should be kept constantly moist. (a 5' tree can weigh about 200 lbs) You might want to go for a living tree sold in a container pot instead.
3. Selecting a tree that has moist soil, a firm root ball and flexible branches. A lot of needles shouldn't come off when you brush a branch gently. When handling and moving , lift it by its roots rather than trunk. Be gentle.
4. It's best to acclimatize the tree to its indoor debut. Store it under a covered porch or garage. Living trees can't stay inside for long, so wait to bring them in until the week of your celebration. The less time indoors the better. There are anti-wilting sprays that help keep the tree moist and prevent the loss of valuable moisture. Plan for about 5 days inside.
5. Locate in a cool area away from heat. A balled-in-burlap tree can be placed in a galvanized tub & straightened with rocks. Add about 3" of mulch to help aid in retaining moisture. Don't pile mulch directly on the trunk. The same, more or less, goes for a potted tree, put it in a pan & add mulch. You'll need to water the soil/mulch mixture often as necessary to keep the roots moist.
6.Decorating. Live trees can be decorated as long as you use care. Use small lights that DO NOT give off any heat.
7. Next week - the replanting guide for your Live Christmas Tree
If you're thinking, this is different than a fresh-cut tree. You're right. Having a live tree in your home is an 'eco-friendly' choice that is well worth any of the inconveniences that the differences may entail. Beyond the commercialism, lies the symbolism. Evergreens promote good cheer and hope while reminding us of the life just waiting to burst forth in the coming spring. What better way to honor life than to give your holiday tradition a future for decades to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Holidays are here again, (or should I say 'already'), and for those who celebrate the season by displaying a Christmas tree, it is time to weigh the three main options: Artificial, Fresh-cut or Living.
Since I know next to nothing about artificial trees, I'll withhold any advise in that arena.
For those who choose fresh-cut, the most popular varieties in San Diego are usually Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce. When any of these varieties are cut, over half of their weight is water. Displaying these trees in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss. Most fresh-cut tree sales lots will make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2" thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk which you'll want to keep clean and treat gently while transporting home. Once home, get that clean cut trunk in water as soon as's just like fresh cut flowers. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, vents or lights. Use a stand that fits the trunk without chipping away any bark or outer layers since they wick up water even better than the middle. The general rule of thumb for how much water to use: 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. You'll need to check the stand daily and refill to your original water mark when necessary. A warm room makes the tree draw water more quickly. The same goes for lights...the hotter they are, the quicker they dry out the tree. A dry tree, overloaded with lights is a recipe for disaster. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. After the holidays, go to to find a recycling location near you. The program, which has been offered since 1973, recycles all of the collected trees into products that are available to the public. Green recycling is essential to prolonging the life of the landfill. By recycling your Christmas tree, you are doing your part to reduce the amount of material in the landfill and help the environment by giving your holiday tree a 2nd life as compost, mulch or wood chips.
Next week, I'll talk about the third option: Choosing a Living Christmas Tree.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Step 1 Open your mind
Step 2 Get a design concept
Step 3 Install subterranean drip irrigation

More about Step 1: Open your mind. Homeowners tend to believe that a water-wise garden is going to look like a back drop from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'. Well, that's just not true. You can enjoy a garden that doesn't waste water and is cactus free & tumble weed free. There are such a wide variety of California natives, Mediterranean natives, and drought tolerant succulents or perennials, that a garden design can deliver aesthetically pleasing gardens that require less water usage. Water-wise landscaping uses plants that either grow here naturally or thrive in climates similar to ours.

More about Step 2: Getting a Design concept. As with any design concept, having some plant 'know-how' is essential. A professional landscape company can save you a great deal of money and heart ache in the long run, because they understand: 1.what needs to be done to improve your gardens soil and drainage and 2. what will thrive in each of your gardens micro climates. We can help you choose low-water use plants and stategically arrange them in your garden according to their need for sun, shade and drainage. There is nothing wrong with admiring and wanting to emulate the work of others. Visit places like the Water Conservation Garden in San Diego. Responsible developers in some of the exclusive gated communities in the Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar areas are showcasing beautiful drought tolerant landscaping surrounding model homes or in their common areas and entrances. When looking for ideas, remember to pay attention to the plants placement in the garden. Another good place to visit is on the Monrovia growers website. They have an extensive list & pictures of drought tolerant perennials for the San Diego climate. At Torrey Pines Landscape Co., we can share our portfolio of the water-wise gardens we have designed, installed and maintain, as well as provide you with references.

More about Step 3: Subterranenan drip irrigation eliminates problems like: water waste from sprinklers. Water is wasted by either misdirection and/or over-spraying causing water to run off down the street. By implementing subterranean drip irrigation, you save your home's exterior from water damage and it's a lot easier for gardeners to work around without breaking. It puts the water where you need the plants roots.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Tips for Pesticide Use and Storage

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. is a licensed pesticide applicator in San Diego County. As part of our maintenance service, we provide pesticide application to the accounts that we manage. Pesticides whether liquid, powder or granular have active ingredients that are designed to target specific problems such as weeds and insects and other unwanted pests in the landscape. We follow all of the safety & legal guidelines for chemical use, storage and disposal. For the DYI minded here are some tips for the products one may purchase off the shelf at any garden shop.
*Safety for you means wearing eye-protection, gloves, and long sleeves
*Keep pesticides covered and locked away from kids & pets
*Always store them in their original containers
*Follow the label directions
*Do a spot treatment when possible
*Do not water after application
*Never apply in the rain or wind
*Do not use on paved surfaces
*Never use sinks or storm drains for disposal (call 1.800.cleanup for disposal)
* We encourage you to explore organic or non-toxic options
Whether you have professional help or are your own gardener, if you decide that a problem is serious enough to warrant action, it's time to formulate a pest management strategy. Your garden is a complex living and interdependent system. Focusing on the elimination of one particular pest may upset the garden's natural balance. Our primary aim is to focus on prevention. We are in your garden weekly monitoring its health & looking for the tell-tale signs of problems before they get out of hand. We have decades of experience in pest management: identifying the problems and developing pest management strategies both organic and chemical.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thank goodness, preparing for snowy weather is not on our list for your San Diego gardens. Despite what folks from the east coast may think, we do have seasons with indivual requirements for landscape maintenance that change cyclically with the changes in the amount of annual precipitation. Some years we receive more rains than we can absorb and other years there isn't enough rain to supplement our already taxed imported supply of water. The wet years hold their own challenges: soil erosion on slopes, whipping winds, flooding in low-lying areas, drainage obstuctions or inadequate drainage causing root rot or mold. Many of these issues can be prevented or managed with a professional design, installation and maintenance plan. Since we've had some rains already, check run-off from the slopes, roofs and patios now. Standing water or loss of soil can alert you to potential problems that can be addressed before they turn into disasters. Drier seasons have the obvious irrigation challenges. Here again, getting a professional to help design a garden that has waterwise choices in plantings and irrigation in mind helps in the long run.

The "To-Do" List:
Lawns: There are two "kinds" of lawns. Cool-season lawns like ryegrass, bluegrass and fescue are in their growing period. Maintenance entails fertilization, aeration and setting mowers to cut them shorter. It's a good time to plant (seed) or install (sod) a new cool-season lawn. If your neighbors have problems with gophers, avoid having them yourself with an extensive net of chicken wire installed beneath your new lawn.Warm-season lawns like Bermuda, zoysia and St. Augustine are slowing down in their growth and don't require as much attention.

Ground Covers: November is a great time for planting ground covers that spread. If you have been considering reducing your water usage by replacing some or all of your lawns, there are many great choices for ground covers that do well in the full sun that your lawn once enjoyed like Sedums, Osteospermums, or Gazanias. There are other ground covers suited for the shadier places in your garden like Hedra helix (Needlepoint Ivy), Ajuga reptans ( Carpet bugle) or Trachelospermum jasminoides (Star jasmine). Slopes stay in place when covered by a variety of shallow rooted ground covers and deeper rooted plantings.

Pruning: Because we traditionally experience more winds in fall and winter, plan for it by opening spaces in dense trees and the tops of heavy shrubs to allow the increasing winds to pass through.

Rearranging: Now through winter is the time to relocate young trees and shrubs in your garden. Transplant deciduous plants after the leaves have fallen and the plant is dormant. Remember the hour glass principle and prune the top to balance it with the loss of root coverage.

Color: A general guideline is that if you want colorful spring flowerbeds, the time to plant is fall. October planting is ideal, but November is not too late. The variety is incredible: delphiniums, foxgloves, calendulas, coral bells, and pansys to name just a few. They will thrive if fed with a product high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. My personal favorite: Ranunculus. These natives of Asia Minor are tuberous rooted and provide long lasting color. Wild flowers, like California poppy and sweet alyssum, can be planted from seed if your willing to keep their beds moist. Most wild flowers, if grown in a well prepared ground tilled with soil amendments, don't need fertilizer.

Roses: It's time to slow down the care (fertilizer, spray and water) to encourage the winter dormancy.

Edible Garden: Continue to plant winter vegetables and strawberries.

Sound like too much 'to-do'? Need help? No worries! It's what we do. Having a garden that you can enjoy year-round is one of the many perks that have drawn so many to San Diego. Torrey Pines Landscape Co. wants you to help you to get outside to enjoy your garden, not work in it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy 'Aloe-een', San Diego!

Since it has been over a month since we have featured any succulents, here's our "take" on Aloes. They hail from South Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian peninsula. Aloes, unlike Agaves, have gel-filled leaves and don't die after blooming. Variety is the key word Aloes. They range from just a few inches in height and breadth to a full size tree reaching upward to 25 feet. Their thick glossy leaves may be dark green, light green, yellow-green, spotted, mottled, striped, multi-color tinged, pale blue-gray or nearly white. An exciting note to leaf coloration is that some, like Aloe cameronii have foot long green leaves that will turn a vivid red when grown in the full sun. About a third of the species form trunks over time. The acaulescent (stemless) varieties may be solitary, clump or creep and spread out. Most bloom in the winter, but many flower every month. Since the varieties are too many to list, let's look at the similarities: most Aloes are showy and easy to grow in well-drained soil in the San Diego gardens. Here are just a few varieties:
Aloe arborescens, Tree Aloe,isn't really a tree, but it is our choice for coastal gardens. Tight clusters of serrated green leaves form multi-headed mounds around 2 feet in diameter. A colony, or grouping can spread to about 10 feet. A torch like spire of red-orange flowers blooms in midwinter.

Aloe bainesiiis our choice for 'A Tree of Character'. It's one of the largest succulents. Think of trees in a Dr. Seuss book: multi-headed tufts of downward-curving leaves...that's pretty much right on. They have a definite sculptural quality that adds character to your landscape.

Aloe brevifolia is a low growing and spreading choice. The rosettes are made up of 3 inch thick spiky and blue or gray green leaves. Intermittently all year long, it will bloom with clusters of red flowers on 20 inch stalks.

Aloe ferox or Bitter Aloe, has a large single trunk topped with a crown of gray-green spiny red toothed leaves. Each branched inflorescence, or group of flowers from a single stem, holds hundreds of bright red or orange blossoms. Drama, anyone?

Aloe plicatilis caught my attention at the Balboa Park's Desert Garden several years ago. It's an Aloe without rosettes.Standing about 5 feet tall, it has gray-green fans, which individually look like foot long tongue depressors. The flowers of scarlet clusters bloom in late winter to early spring. The specimens at the gardens are mature and the trunks are fantastically gnarled and textured.

And last but most widely known and cultivated... Aloe vera, (syn. Aloe barbadensis), Medicinal Aloe. The gel is known soothing burns, bites, inflammations and a host of other ailments. Cleopatra allegedly used it as a skin-refreshing mask. It's form is upright (2 feet), with tall slender flower spires.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Outdoor Fireplaces in your San Diego Gardens

Creating a fire feature in your outdoor living space defines it as a destination. The attraction of Outdoor Fireplaces, Fire Pits and Chimeneas is undeniable. Torrey Pines Landscape Company, in San Diego, has brought the enjoyment of this primal pleasure to many of our clients without breaking the local fire codes and within their respective budgets. The common denominator no matter what the scale of project is that fire beckons every homeowner and their guests to bask in its warmth and glow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Landscape Lighting For Your Gardens

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer....
Have you considered lighting up your landscaping to create a night time attraction? Some simple accent lighting done just right may be just what your landscape needs and can be also really impressive to see.
If you're installing a new landscape, adding the lighting
is really the cherry on the cake. Without it, you are depriving yourself and your neighbors of a simple appealing aesthetic for viewing night after night.

Basically there are five common applications of landscape lighting:

•Path lighting
•Down lighting
•Wall lighting
•Stair lighting
The most common of these are uplighting and path lighting. Uplighting trees, shrubs, walls, & columns add a great sharp accent to the outside of your home.
With uplighting trees & shrubs, one can really take notice of the unique branching structure of the given specimen. Also this can create some very artistic shadow patterns onto a wall or a particular facade of a home. Not only does this generate art in your garden but it also provides some visual clarity to areas around them that are commonly navigated at night.

Incorporating path lights in conjunction with uplighting is when your landscape really starts to illuminate boldly. Path lights are just what they describe. They light up a throughway for navigation, safety, as well as aesthetic. Whether it's walkways, drives, patios, stepping stones, around planter edges, etc., path lighting is almost mandatory for completing a landscape.

Next, there is down lighting. Down lighting as you can already guess, provides one of the best angles of light. However, downlighting is the least common you will see in the landscape due to simple convenience. Down lighting a tree is very unique in that it provides a different accent of the specified tree while distributing light on the ground around it. What's inconvenient however is that one has to climb the tree or use a ladder to provide maintenance to that particular light.

Other down lights are more typically used in trellises and other overhead structures. Another factor to consider when down lighting is the wiring. Instead of it all being directly buried, tubing or PVC conduit located up and behind a post is what is used to run wiring to the light. With down lighting a tree, staples pins, or straps can be used to secure the wiring.

The last two applications for landscape lighting are for walls and stairs. Options such as square, circular, or slit type of openings for lighting are most often seen. This type of lighting is really unique in that it also adds a solid aesthetic feature to the landscape. Whether it's a seatwall, planter wall, retaining wall, or a partition wall, adding a custom light into it is going to look captivating. Either showing some plants in the fore front with back lighting or displaying a bare wall in the landscape with lights set in will both create alot of awe. Stair lighting is a very important application since it provides safe viewing of significant elevational changes.

While using uplighting, path lighting, down lighting, wall and stair lighting, one has to balance these accents in the landscape accordingly. Using too little or too much lighting can deter from the overall coherence of the landscape.

In conclusion, lighting is a great commodity to have within your landscape. Safety, aethetics, and convenience are really the main benefits you will gain when applying light.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Design and Construction of Patio Covers and Arbors

Patio Covers, Arbors, Garden Roofs, Poolside Pavilions and Pergolas not only make your gardens more inviting but also serve as major architectural and landscaping elements.

*Shade - an overhead structure can diffuse the sun, reduce the sun's glare and convert a sun baked patio or deck into an inviting oasis
*Extend Livable Space- they draw guests into the garden making entertaining a delight and enhancing your home's livability and appearance
*Adding Visual Interest- by changing a non-descript roof-line with an attached structure or creating a focal point within the garden
*Enhance Privacy- especially when houses are built close together, an overhead structure provides a measure of privacy
As with any building or construction project, planning is one of the most important steps. With a plan, it's to common to wind up with mistakes that are costly both in time and money. In addition to developing a design that fulfills your needs and blends with your home, there are a number of other factors, as in legal restrictions and code requirements, that must be taken into consideration. Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc has the expertise to handle any over-head structure additions from design conceptualization, through permitting and construction, to completion. Visit our portfolio on the web at to see completed projects in Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla, Del Mar and San Diego.

Before you begin, evaluate your needs... What is the purpose that you want the structure to serve? If you have lived in your home for some time you are aware of the seasonal weather patterns and how they effect the homes interior temperature and light. Location of a structure needs to take views, drainage and legal restrictions into consideration. Having an overall and comprehensive landscape plan can help to achieve a complete and harmonious result. The new structure needs to be a part of an overall design flow with walkways, patios and other landscape elements. A good design takes its cue from the homes architecture and should blend seamlessly while creating visual interest. What you don't want is a jarring contrast. The new additons should look like they have always been there...or that they fullfilled the 'missing piece' in your over-all design.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fire-Resistant Landscaping in San Diego

Despite this weeks current cooling trend.....
September is largely a continuation of summer weather. We can even expect a nearly blistering, warming trend with the Santa Ana winds. Water-Wise Fire Resistant Landscaping is the key to protecting your home. The goal in fire protection is to reduce the potential fuel for wildfires. Those of you who have homes next to "wild-space" or chaparral are in jeopardy because much of the native vegetation is dry and highly flammable. Homes with slopes are particularly vulnerable to soil erosion when the native vegetation is removed for fire control. Torrey Pines Landscape Co. has worked with many home owners to protect their properties with installing "fire-resistant" plantings that help control erosion without wasting water.

General Fire-Protection Landscaping Guidelines:
*Remove highly flammable native brush & vegetation
*Stabilize slope areas by planting deep rooted ground covers & adding widely space groups of shrubs and trees to maximize slope stability
*Don't use plantings with innate combustible oils that can fires to spread rapidly close to any structures
*Keep shrubs and trees thinned, well-maintained and in general away from any structures
*Use succulents and other plants with a high moisture content close to the home to create a line of defense

Zone 1
The area closest to the home. Choose low-growing plants with low fuel volume. Remove plants that would give fire a ladder to climb from the ground into a tree. Ideally there shouldn't be any tall plantings, but realistically this zone can have aesthetics in mind with plants selected with defensive in mind. What helps is hardscape. A lot of it! Brick, stone or concrete patios & walkways. Masonry seats, decorative walls and rock mulches. Shade structures and decks should be constructed of fire-resistant materials. See our portfolio at Keeping the gardens around your home well irrigated and neatly pruned is a good defensive strategy as well. Our maintenance teams also remove combustible materials like dried pine needles or leaves from the grounds. We suggest having us use gravel, pebbles or river rock as mulch instead of flammable materials. Ground Covers for this zone could include succulents - Sedums, Senicios, Crassulas, Aeoniumsor any of the various ice-plants.

Zone 2
The focus here is to reduce the fuel for a fire with low-growing ground covers that are resistant to fire which, when properly maintained, may halt a fire befor it reaches the house. Examples are some of these perennials - Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry), Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle), Dymondia margaretea(Mini gazania), Verbena peruviana , Salvia sonomensis(Sonoma Sage), Santolina rosmarinifolia (Green lavender Cotton) or Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme)

Zone 3
This zone is the transition area between the homes garden and the wild space. A mix of low shrubs and perrenials that may be native or drought-resistant introduced. Examples are: Prunus ilicifolia (Catalina Cherry),Ceanothus thyrsiflorusrepens (Creeping Blue Blossom),Portulacaria afra (Elephant's food), Heteromeles arbutifolia (California Holly), Cistus(Rock Rose), or Carissa macrocarpa 'Green Carpet' (Natal Plum).

Zone 4
This zone refers to the existing native vegetation farthest from the house that needs to be thinned to reduce the fuel volume. Whole plants needs to be cleared away to space between these native shrubs and trees.

The closer one's home is is to wild-space, the wiser it would be to solicit help from a professional to create a fire-resisant landscape.
-'Garden Girl' at Torry Pines Landscape Co. Inc
visit us on the web at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Agaves...easy-care with dramatic flair

Agaves are an easy-care succulent that can tolerate less than ideal conditions while providing a dramatic silhouette in your San Diego garden. They predominantely are native to Mexico. They range in size from 6" across to 10' wide and 4' high. With the exception of Agave attenuata,which eventually forms a trunk, most agave's are stemless rosettes. They all have tapered leaves that spiral outward and upward. The leaf shape, size and margin features vary with species. Most are monocarpic meaning they flower once then die, but it takes years for an agave to mature to bloom and the flower stalk is magnificent. During flowering, a tall stem (bloom spike) grows from the center of the rosette and bears a large number of tubular flowers. They usually reproduce from seeds, bublis (plants that form along the bloom stalk) or pups (new plants from lateral roots). Their shallow root system and dramatic shapes make the smaller varieties an excellent choice for containers. Maintenance requirements are low. The leaves may shrivel a bit with serious drought, but plump up again with watering or rainfall. Most are truly hardy, doing well in our full sun and weathering our winters. Grooming an agave is easy: snip the sharp tips, remove any dirt or debris that may have fallen into the crown and when cutting, trim flush with the stem. Designing a garden with agaves may not be for everyone. Most species have rigid spikes at the tips and sharp teeth along the margins as well as toxic sap. The juice from many species can cause acute contact dermatitis, a reddening and blistering than can continue to itch even after the rash has disappeared. The dried parts of the plant can be handled without risk. It's not the go-to plant for a garden that will host rambunctious children or curious pets. Don't despair if those are your circumstances because Agave attenuata is just the ticket for you. It is "user-friendly" meaning the smooth leaves have no vicious barbs or points.

Agave americana - Century Plant (so named for the time one must wait before it blooms...poetic license here...depending on the conditions and plant, it usually can bloom after 10 years) They are large (10' wide), with blue-green leaves and formidable hooked spines along the margins. The flower stalk (15 - 40' tall) bears yellow to green flowers. The 'Medio Alba' variety is smaller (3-4' high/wide) has bold stripes and a more graceful undulating leaf.

Agave villmoriniana - Octopus agave has blue green leaves that undulate, as though swept by an ocean current and curl inward creating a tubular look. This is another soft or user-friendly agave

Agave parryi - has a silver blue-gray wide leaf with reddish black serrated edges and tips. Growing to about 2' high and wide, this tight rosette is frost tolerant.

Agave victoriae-reginae - has dark green rigid and blunt leaves with thin white stripes that end in black points. Because of its natural symmetry, this is gorgeous when grown in a container

Agave geminiflora has thin, narrow flexible leaves that grow out from the center like a perennial fire-work exploding.

Agaves are surging in popularity for San Diego's landscapes, let us at Torrey Pines Landscape Co., help you to incorporate these dramatic, easy-care gems into your garden.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aeoniums (pronounced A-oh-knee-ums) are a genus of about 35 species, native to the Canary Islands, North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean. The name comes from the ancient Greek word 'aionos' meaning immortal. This genus is part of the Crassula family. (A quick lesson in classification from the broadest to the most specific goes as follows: Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus & Species.) Most of the species of Aeoniums form rosettes on basal stems and bloom in the spring or summer. The centers of the rosettes are the new growth and as they age, the oldest (outer) leaves wither and fall off. The stem heights varies with species along with the structural density. They are dormant in the summer and grow in the winter. One of the great features of these succulents is how easy they are to propagate: simply snap off a rosette along with an inch or so of stem and plant it. There's an expected period of droopiness which passes when the new cutting develops roots. This succulent likes a bit more water and shade than others. The general rule of thumb is that the darker the leaves of the species the greater the sun tolerance.

Aeonium arboreum varieties grow to about a 2-3' in height. The key to highlighting these garden gems is to keep contrast in mind. We use the Aeonium a. 'Zwartkop' in full sun with a backdrop of contrasting brightness. The shiny deep magenta leaves appear almost black (schwarzer kopf literally means black head in German).
Aeonium 'Cylops' has a larger rosette size, reddish-bronze outer leaves with pale green new growth at the centers. The floral stalk which is actually an elongated rosette, produces immense conical clusters of yellow flowers.
Aeonium "Sunburst' is another stunning variety with a large rosette size. The leaves are boldly variegated white, lemon and green with pink leaf margins.
Aeonium 'Kiwi' have smaller rosettes on shorter stems providing a bank of low growing beauty. I was so inspired by the yellow and green leaves rimmed with brilliant red that I featured a photo I had shot in Balboa Park's desert garden in an ad we ran in the Ranch and Coast magazine.
There are some species that break away from the traditional pin wheel rosette shape like the Aeonium tabuliforme which grow nearly flat hence their common name of 'Lily Pad Aeonium". Because they grow so closely to the ground, they are vulnerable to absorbing too much moisture and rotting. Their dramatic 15" wide floating heads are dramatic and well worth the added effort to provide them with well-drained soil and circulation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Succulents in San Diego - Echeverias

Echeveria 'Blue Curls'

There are so many reasons to explore the world of succulents that are available for your San Diego gardens. Because of their durability, variety and drought tolerance succulents offer the potential for design that is imaginative as well as environmentally sensitive. A succulent is any plant that stores water in juicy tissues in order to survive drought. Because most species originate from parts of the world with harsh growing conditions, succulents need less maintenance and water than other typical landscape plantings. They come in an unbelievable, sometimes other-worldly, variety of colors, forms and textures. San Diego's nurseries and garden centers now offer a great selection to choose from since the demand for these eye catching and low-maintenance plants has increased. For those of you with a bit of a gardener in you, succulents are easy to propagate. You can take cuttings or start seeds and produce your own supply of accent plantings. Since the hot weather has finally arrived in San Diego, we at Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc., would like to highlight some of the genus, species and varieties that have inspired us.

Echeveria 'Doris Taylor'

Today's blog: Echeverias

This large genus of succulents is in the Crassulaceae famil. They are native to Texas, Mexico and Central and South America. They are named after the 18th century Mexican botanical artists and naturalist Atanasio Echevarria Codoy who was one of the expedition to compile an inventory of Mexico's flora and fauna.
Most species can grow in some shade and can take some frost (hybrids tend to be less hardy). Although they are drought resistant, they really thrive with regular deep watering and fertilizing. Most species lose their lower leaves in the winter. It's better to remove the lower leaves regularly because it protects the plant from moisture and fungus which may wick-up. This is a plant easily propagated. You simply re-root the main rosette and use the bottoms for growing new plants. In the spring and summer they produce bloom spikes a foot or longer that gracefully curl with flowers in a wide variety of colors.

I was so enthralled with a photo of a blooming Echeveria elegant hyrid that I took at Mirmar Wholesale nursery that I featured it in an ad we ran in the San Diego Home and Garden Magazine.

-garden girl

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

San Diego Landscape August Tips

#1 Tip : Go outside and enjoy your garden!

#2 Tip : Watering Guidelines for the month. We are experiencing a cooler than average August this year. The clouds that have blocked the sun are not bringing any measurable rain, so watering is still on the to do list. It is also a good time to check your irrigation systems for its efficiency. Check for leaks, broken sprinklers, malfunctioning drip emitters and the charge level on the back-up battery in the irrigation timer. Renewing the berms on watering basins that have eroded over the year will ensure efficient watering in the hotter months ahead. Water garden plants and trees according to their individual needs.

#3 Tip: Pest & Disease Control Guidelines. We advocate prevention….a healthy plant that has been regularly & accurately watered and fertilized has a better chance of surviving problems. With that said, there are issues that can arise that need addressing immediately: Nematodes, Fungus, Fireblight, Aphids, Leaf Scorch and Scales. Each problem has its own pathology and solution.

#4 Tip: Fire Protection. It’s time to do what you can to minimize risk, especially if your home is next to native brush or chaparral. Think of protection in terms of rings. Closest to the home – remove highly flammable plants that are close to your home and replace with plants that discourage a fire from spreading. Next ring- a buffer zone of well watered low-growing plants that act as a fire break and are known for their ability to withstand fire. Last ring- remove the choking fuel load of dead leaves, twigs and branches that build up inside the native brush or chaparral around the outside of your property.

#5 Tip: General Garden Maintenance: Potted plants, especially in terra cotta, dry out easily. Consider waterproofing the insides & add perlite to help the loss of moisture. Roses, which are usually conserving energy for a big burst of blooms in the fall, need a light pruning by removing the dead twigs, spent flowers, suckers, lanky growth and hips. Clean up Daylilies and Agapanthus by removing the stems that have bloomed. Now is a good time to control crabgrass in the lawn because it has not set seed yet. Remember that lawn care is determined by the type of lawn that you have. Warm-season lawns (Bermuda, Zoysia & St. Augustine)are growing at their fastest now and need deep but infrequent watering, monthly feeding and should be mowed as short as possible. Cool-season lawns (perennial Ryegrass, Bluegrass and Fescue) are growing slowly now, so the directions for care are loosely the opposite: shallow and frequent watering, no fertilization, and mowed tall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Modern La Jolla Small Space Challenge

Location: A modern La Jolla Home perched on a slope with little flat yard space
Challenge: To create an outdoor space with BBQ, Fireplace, Water Feature, Dining Area and Seating Space

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc created a design concept that met the clients needs while keeping the modern lines of the homes architecutre and the home owners style in mind. We integrated functionality, as well as finesse, to compliment their interior design and spared no expense in acquiring the highest-quality materials combined with our in-house craftsmanship to deliver a design that beckons anyone on the inside to come on out!
The outdoor room that we created needed to be cut into the existing slope and when viewed from the inside of the home, flows out as a natural extension of their modern interior design aesthetic. The entire look has clean & sophisicated feeling with its square lines and choice of materials. There is an economy of form....less is more in a modern garden.

Let's take a closer look:

This garden has an emphasis of clean hard-scape with bold architectural plantings. The patio itself, the caps for seating and the BBQ counter and back-splash are done in hand cut slate pieces of varied sizes. The entire slope side of the patio has an 8' capped retaining wall covered in smooth stucco with built in slate-veneered seating. There is an upright L-shaped water feature seamlessly situated in the southwest corner. The water spills from the top of the walls, trickling over imported textured tiles creating a soothing sound for this modern retreat without sacrificing horizontal space. The compact BBQ area is built in the entrance way to the back patio. It is easily accessible yet out of the way. Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) climbs up the wall along side the BBQ adding a delightfully fragrant smell in the spring. The planter above the BBQ has Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis'Prostratus') which trails over the wall is drought tolerant, fragrant and hearty. The outdoor firplace invites a cozy outdoor experience year-round. The area behind the fireplace has Oldham Bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) whose imposing vertical mass creates a dramatic architectural backdrop. Because the container plants are fewer in number, they are actually highlighted and add drama. A few well-chosen planters in modern shapes and colors will do the trick. Cordyline 'Bronze Baby' and a variety of Echevarias add a punch to the BBQ area. Phormium 'Pink Stripe' takes the stage along the seat wall between the water-feature and fireplace.

There is an ever-growing trend toward a simple, contemporary garden - one that works for a smaller yard or for those seeking a water-wise or an easy-care garden. Controlling everything from design to construction, Harry Thompson and his dedicated team look to deliver low maintenance, water-wise gardens for any theme...modern included.

When it comes to bringing your vision to life, Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc., has the resources and talent to oversee your project from the initial planning stages all the way through to implementation.

San Diego Landscape Construction Services

Outdoor Fireplace in Carmel Valley

Pool Decking in La Jolla

How fortunate are we to live in San Diego with a year round outdoor climate? We can build great outdoor rooms and entertaining areas within our gardens that allow us to get the maximum use of our personal spaces. If you are interested in quality and are planning to enjoy your investment for more than a few years, it will pay to spend a little more up front rather than having to replace pre-fab garden features again later.

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. specializes in landscape design and construction:
- Patios, paths & driveways of stone, brick, or concrete
- Custom designed and built Outdoor kitchens & BBQs,
- Water features and Pool Deckings
- Decks and Bridges
- Arbors, Patio covers and Trellises
- Walls and Screens
- Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits.
There is a definite balance between the hard (built) and soft (plants) of a garden for it to be both pleasing and useful. So this balance is something that we really give careful consideration in the original concept and design. All garden improvements they should be considered carefully and designed to create a seamless flow of interest and excitement in the landscape.

One thing that really separates our custom crafted designs from the store bought pre-fabricated variety is quality. All of our Fireplaces, BBQs, Water features and Cooking Islands are cast in place steel reinforced concrete structures. We do not use pre-fabricated aluminum, galvinized studs or pressed board. This type of pre-fab construction is light weight and what happens is that these structures crack and start coming apart as the years roll on.

What we find about "outdoor rooms" is that they have a tendency to extend the use of these outdoor living spaces into the cooler months. With a nice big open hearth fire roaring, we are invited outside into a campfire like experience even in the middle of our mild winter. Our expertise runs on the artistic side, and you'll notice the creative use of veneers of natural stone, brick or smooth stucco on our BBQs, kitchens and fireplaces. We work with each client, making sure that the entire outdoor garden and its features are a personal reflection of their individual style.

We believe that your home says everything about you. We also believe that an outdoor room should look as good as any inside room. What really counts is that the structures integrate with the homes style, the new garden shapes, and your personal entertaining and use requirements.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Maintenance Services

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. offers the finest in San Diego's landscape maintenance for the areas of the county: La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Poway, Coronado, Mission Hills and Solana Beach. We are committed to providing a service that will properly maintain the aesthetics and long term health of your landscapes. Landscaping is a major joy as well as investment; and too many gardens have been destroyed by poor management. Our landscape maintenance crews are continually trained and tested to provide you with skilled and experienced service.
We have a minimum of $600.00 a month because we offer a wide range of services that most landscape companies don't.

-Outside Pest Control
-Licensed Herbicide Applications
-Upkeep & Replacement of Outdoor Lighting
-Irrigation technicians and water management programs
-Specialty plant programs for items such as fruit trees and roses
-Soil testing & Plant Disease treatment and prevention

Before starting service, each homeowner has a walk-thru of their property with one of our experienced managers. Managing a landscape takes knowledge, time and skill. We will immediately give you an estimate of the number of hours per week we would need to provide you with the services that you require and an estimate of monthly cost. For every new client irregardless of the size of the job, we perform a water-audit when entering a contract. Each contract is a written agreement that clearly defines the services and materials to be supplied and the costs.

We also offer a wide range of additonal services like planting seasonal color or creating something special for an upcoming outdoor party. Any additional services, outside the scope of the initial maintenance contract require written client approval prior to starting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's summer and if your gardens are not looking good, you need a good excuse. Perhaps your maintenance service isn't up to par, or the gardens that you inherited with the purchase of a new home don't reflect your style. Don't fret! Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. has been serving the San Diego's landscape design, construction and maintenance needs for years. We are willing to give you references from home owners in your community. Our service areas include: Coronado, Mission Hills, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Carmel Valley and Poway. Nothing speaks more highly than a satisfied homeowner. Some of our clients have used us through our entire range of services: design, installation and then maintenance. We have been on the leading edge of water-wise gardening and irrigation. Our goal is to provide you with professional service while obtaining your goals....a landscaped environment that you can enjoy season after season. A garden of true inspiration.
Planning vs. planting: Because it's a season where we begin to really spend a lot of time outdoors, it's a good time to get out there and notice the function and form of your gardens. July isn't a particularly good time for planting, but it's an excellent time for planning. Do you need more shade in a favorite spot that could be provided by a vine covered arbor or an additional shade tree? Does the decking or hard-scape around your pool need work? Do you have a west facing window that gets too much sun in the late afternoon? These are the seeds of ideas that you invest in now so that by next summer you can make the most of your summer garden.

Summer holds it's own challenges for gardening.... heat and dryness. Usually gardens require regular watering July through September. Here planning changes to your existing irrigation system, drought tolerant plant selections and plant placement can make a big difference. In the meanwhile, proper summer landscape maintenance will make a difference to your existing garden. Maintenance includes: Trimming, pruning, mowing, dividing, fertilizing, watering, & controlling weeds, pests and disease. The average "Mow & Blow" service isn't equipped or usually educated to handle these all of these facets of garden maintenance. Does your current garden service know that watering mature trees deeply but infrequently will encourage deep healthy roots? And that trees with healthy root systems are less stressed by dry conditions. Speaking of trees, San Diego is know for its Avocado and Citrus. If you have a single tree or an orchard, knowing how to water them appropriately make a difference in the trees health and productivity. For those of you that have roses, there are the concerns of pest control, feeding, pruning and watering. There isn't one fast rule. Each type of rose (Climbers, ramblers, or species) requires a different care regime. Pest & disease control in general is a maintenance issue. We are licensed pesticide applicators. Correct diagnosis followed by professional treatment is the way to approach keeping your gardens healthy. For those of you that have lawns...there are 2 different basic kinds of lawn: cool-season grasses and warm season grasses.
They require different care to allow them to thrive. Get my drift? A gorgeous garden isn't a given just because you live in San Diego. It requires thought, experience and consistency.

from the office of Torrey Pines Landscape Co.
serving San Diego's garden needs since 1983
visit us at

Friday, June 25, 2010

As a San Diego landscape design company, we know the San Diego area and create the unique outdoor environment you deserve.Torrey Pines Landscape Company can bring your dreams to life. Whether a small cottage, or a large estate, we can make your idea a reality. We have the creativity and experience to bring your own special retreat to life.We specialize in custom installations, excelling in projects that require our detailed quality craftsmanship.We are an eclectic team of veteran landscape construction and maintenance professionals dedicated to the achievement of your highest expectations.

Specialties include:
Creative Landscape Planning and Installation
Automatic Irrigation / Drip Systems
Patios of Brick, Stone, Tile or Concrete
Outdoor Fireplaces and Cooking Areas
Masonry Walls and Garden Planters
Wooden Patio Covers
Trellises, Arbors and Gazebos
Waterfalls, Fountains, Ponds and Bridges
Benches and Garden Built-ins
Landscape Lighting
Landscape Maintenance
Water-Wise Tips

Pages: Services

DRAINAGE Without good positive drainage, plant roots rot, house foundations suffer, mold and moss grow instead of desired plantings and the garden is always a muddy mess to walk through. There are two types of drainage- surface and subterranean. We have had some sites where we have had to install large underground French drains that pick up waters moving horizontally through the soils like underground rivers. Most of the time in San Diego, surface drains are enough, but if there are the telltale signs of subterranean water, then we can help solve these challenges as well.
SOIL PREPARATION A garden with good soil preparation is like a home built on a good strong foundation. If the soil preparation is done thoroughly and properly, a new garden will mature quickly and stay healthy for years to come with a lot less watering, fertilizing and work on your part. Most of San Diego soils are ancient ocean floor strata that haven't seen the light of day for millions of years until some builder came along with a bulldozer. What this means is usually a high salt content and a definitive lack of organic materials. We perform an onsite soil analysis which checks the texture and Ph of the soil. After this is done, we doggedly till the proper amendments into the soil. This usually involves electric jackhammers and small bobcats with teeth. Some of the amendments that we use are: organic natural compost, peat moss, bone and blood meal, time released fertilizers, organic fertilizers and gypsum for clay soils.
CONTROL OF THE WATER Applying the right amount of water to the plant material at the right time is at the heart of our arid climate challenge. With little rain and using drought tolerant plants that will rot easily if over-watered, we have a delicate situation. Each part of your garden has a small but important micro climate. A shady northern side of a home is cooler than south or west side. What we do is divide the garden according to its microclimates and water each area with a separate circuit of irrigation. For example: we might water that shady north side every 4th day in the summer and water the southern side every other day. We also divide the circuits or valves in the irrigation by the types of plants. A citrus orchard will need to be watered weekly where as a shade garden of azaleas or camellias might need water every other day in the summer.

Pages: Design Process
Our Landscape Design Process
•Initial on site interview and discussions (no charge) •Enter into design agreement (refundable) •Measure site and take digital pictures •Prepare an Autocad landscape plan and itemized estimate •Present landscape design plan and estimate to client •Make revisions if necessary •Enter into written agreement and schedule •Commence work •Complete masonry and Hardscape (all done in house) •Complete Plantings and Softscape (all done in house) •Complete work and issue warranteesArea of Service Throughout San Diego
Our trucks and crews are seen all over San Diego, including La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, Encinitas, Mission Hills and the greater San Diego Area. We have occasionally done larger landscape design and maintenance projects out of these areas.
Pages: FAQs
Mission Statement
Creatively solve the outdoor landscaping challenges and needs of our clients. Provide the vision for turning our client’s landscaping ideas into clear and beautiful reality. To build a business on a reputation that every job is a “reference” no matter how big or small. Establish long term relationships with our clients and watch their gardens grow to both of our expectations year after year. Provide a courteous and flexible attitude of service in all matters. Earn an honest and fair profit as a result of these principals.
Is Torrey Pines Landscape licensed? Yes, since 1983.
How long have you been in the landscaping business? Since 1973.
How long have you been in San Diego, CA? All the management grew up in San Diego.
What training do you have? We have management members with everything from High School Diplomas to Masters in Biology. Most of our foremen have been with us for many years. What we do all have is a passion for this business.
Have you ever been sued by a client? No.
Have you ever had a claim against your license? Never.
Is Torrey Pines Landscape insured? Yes. We carry two million dollars of liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance.
What is the smallest project you will work on? Ten Thousand Dollars for installation. Five Hundred Dollars per month for maintenance.
Will you provide me with references?Yes. We usually try to match references with your type of project, however, you are welcome to talk to any of our old clients or any of the clients for whom we are currently working. You are also invited to visit our job sites.
Pages: About
Torrey Pines Landscape Company was first licensed in 1983 by Harry Thompson, a professional landscape designer native of San Diego, California. Since then through a dedication to customer service and integrity of workmanship, the company has grown to become one of the top custom landscape design companies in San Diego, CA. With over thirty five employees and over 35 years in the landscape design and maintenance business, the management at Torrey Pines Landscape is well trained and experienced.
Area of Service Throughout San Diego
Our trucks and crews are seen all over San Diego, including La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, Encinitas, Mission Hills and the greater San Diego Area. We have occasionally done larger landscape design and maintenance projects out of these areas.
Our areas of expertise include the following:
Landscape Design . Installation . Maintenance . Irrigation . Lighting . Fountains . Decks . Patios . BBQ . Firepits
Contact: Contact
Our Promise to You
Whether you have a small cottage or a large estate, whether you are an old garden vet or this is your first home, we will do whatever it takes to make sure you are happy with our work.
Phone: 858. 454. 1433

Friday, June 18, 2010

Water-wise gardens in San Diego

Visualize the possibilities...a gorgeous landscape within the limits of water conservation.

As landscape professionals, Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc. is very concerned about being a part of the solution to the water situation in San Diego County. Many of the decisions we deal with involve the use of water. The effects of these decisions reach everyone from the client (homeowner) to the community where their home is located. Historically professionals in the landscape industry have made many decisions that have led to the over investment of both water and energy for their clients gardens. We have made a commitment to make continuing efforts to make a positive difference not only for our clients, but for the community as well. We feel a responsibility to offer choices that can save resources without sacrificing beauty. The process can begin from the design of a water-wise garden in a new development or we can revamp an existing landscape. We want to help you create an environment that reflects your lifestyle and one that you will enjoy for years to come. Let's face it... the concern for water conservation isn't going away. San Diego has long held landscape practices that don't reflect the rising cost of water or its decreasing availability.

The key: visualizing the possibilities. There are now more choices than ever for plants as well as irrigation that follow water conservation principles. I recall a drive out to Sun City as a child where yard after yard had colored rock front yards. Some owners had opted for green rocks to simulate grass! Without dating myself, I have to tell you that was a loooong time ago. The choices now are amazing! Local nurseries and wholesale suppliers are carrying a wide variety of plants which are more fitting to the basic resources and environmental conditions of San Diego. There have been tremendous advances in the irrigation industry as well. There is a satellite controller that changes the amount of water your garden receives based on the current weather conditions. Your garden gets what it needs when it needs it. Brilliant! That saves a lot of wasted water.
There are a lot of resources available for homeowners now as well. There are a variety of books dealing with water-wise gardening with wonderful pictures and detailed explanations. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, or you just want some professional guidance call us. There are many varied conditions within San Diego County that may not be covered within the scope of the resource books. There are plants that can handle the salt spray along the coast in La Jolla.
There are varieties of plants that can handle a mid-winter frost in an inland valley zone (Rancho Santa Fe). Some areas of Poway are in the foothill zone and require a differnt palette of plants entirely. Erosion control for slopes, fire safety plantings, and varied soil conditions across the County are more factors that need to be taken into consideration. There are also the specific micro-climates within your own garden that need to be addressed. Recruiting a professional at the outset of a landscape project saves you time and money in the end.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Drought tolerant landscaping | outdoor water conservation tips

Water Wise Gardening: The Basics

There are a number of things that we can to do save water in our gardens; and if a garden is watered efficiently, it stays healthier and happier.

With some of these outdoor water conservation tips, the average gardener might need help.

Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc, in San Diego, specializes in drought tolerant landscaping and water conservation systems. If you have questions or want a price quote on some of these suggestions, please give us a call at 858.454.1433

Garden Tips

1. Cut down the size of lawns and consider removing lawns in less used and less seen areas. They can be changed to drought tolerant ground covers, aggregates, artificial turf, drought resistant grass or planting of low-lying drought tolerant shrubs.

2. Mulch all beds with 1” organic mulch. Make sure it’s not green and hot to the touch.

3. Make sure your soil is healthy. Have the Ph level of the soil checked and periodically root, prune and till beds. Most gardens need a tune up of this sort every 5-7years.

4. Be aware of the micro climates in the garden and have the right plant for these variances in heat and light.

5. Cut lawns higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

6. Keep lawns and ground covers thick and healthy with proper fertilization and care.

7. Big leafy tropical plants use more water than drought-resistant native California plants, succulents and Mediterranean types of plants. For water-wise landscaping, consider the benefits of drought-tolerant landscaping and gardening. Replace the plants that frequently wilt with drought resistant plants and shrubs which can sustain moderate periods of limited irrigation. There are also a variety of beautiful drought resistant trees available, that are tolerant of dry conditions.

8. Make sure your garden is weed free. Weeds drink water!"

Next blog.... Irrigation Tips for a Water-Wise Garden
from the office of Torrey Pines Landscape Co., Inc.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Water-wise plant Options

Salvia greggii, Autumn Sage

I'm better with my hands when they are
in the dirt as opposed to on a keyboard.
I have been blogging on another site and
theoretically those entries should appear
here as well. I'm sure it's operator error.

Anyway, I've been featuring different
water-wise plant options for your San Diego

So far I've written about Anigozanthos-Kangaroo Paw
and Salvias -Sage. Both have the colorful blooms
that add a delightful charm to any garden.
Salvias are known for their dramatic floral spikes, spires
or whorls and happen to be an excellent drought
tolerant choice. They are versatile from a design
point of view as well because they can be used
in many different garden styles. The Salvia officinalis
has edible purple flowers and many other uses ranging from culinary to medicinal.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Diego Landscape Designers

Low Water-use Gardening.

If you live in San Diego, guess what…you live in a chaparral climate zone.
Without even getting into Global Warming or greenhouse effect conversations,
you have probably noticed that if you don’t water your lawn…it dies. And
conversely, if you water it regularly, you will pay the piper come water-bill
time. (As well as suffer under the condemning eye of the planet-friendly folks)
Although low levels of rainfall do not mean drought conditions, periods
of drought and dryness are a recurring phenomenon in warm, arid and semiarid
climates. With San Diego’s expanding population we tax the available resources.
So we have a situation of naturally low water levels and more folks living here.
The reality is that we need to change our bad habits: using ‘thirsty’-plants,
inefficient irrigation and general overuse of water. We must use our resources
more wisely.
At Torry Pines Landscape Co., we’re working on improving the water-use in
your garden. We design landscapes that are environmentally-sensitive. Although
low water-use may be a focus, there are other additional benefits that are achieved.
-Creating a Habitat for Wildlife
-Reducing Erosion
-Reduce Waste
Torrey Pines Landscape Co. was at the leading edge of bringing satellite controllers
for efficient irrigation to the San Diego area. We wanted you to benefit
from the merge of the latest technological advances with the current hot-topic
of going green. The controllers in your garden receives the current weather
information for your garden and modifies the irrigation accordingly. Pretty

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

San Diego Landscape Designers

"The challenge":
A San Diego home on a corner lot with no private yard space.

The solution:
Torrey Pines Landscape Co. created a private yard where there wasn’t one. This private bi-level get-away is enclosed by a planter-wall. The top of the wall has a built in planter where, as you can see in the pic on the right, we just planted Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale). Horsetail is a rushlike survivor of the Carboniferous Age! That’s one old trick we pulled from our sleeve. It works great when contained as we did here in this design. Don’t use this plant in open-ground because it is extremely invasive. You or your gardener will have to spend alot of time digging out the unwanted new shoots. The mature plant grows to about 4ft. which created a natural screening wall extension for this home’s owners. (left pic)

This creative design won the Landscape Beatuification Award from the CLCA in 2008.
The next post will take you inside this private get-away for an upclose tour of what is hidden behind the walls."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fountains...a.k.a. Water-Features

The sparkle of water dancing on air, the soothing sounds of a splashing fountain, the delicate petals of a water lily - all these and more are reasons to add water to your landscape. A water-feature can be simple or elaborate, formal or natural, pre fabricated or custom, a bold centerpiece or a background element. Whatever your desires are, Torrey Pines Landscape Company of San Diego can help bring your dream to a reality.

Helpful Questions:

-What size?

First, check out your garden site.
A large water feature with a spectacular waterfall will overwhelm a small lot. If you have a lot of space, a tiny feature would get lost in the expansive space. If you are planning anything more elaborate than a pre-cast fountain, you'll need to check with the city or county offices or your HOA for any ordinances that apply. Set backs from the property lines, required fencing (depending on water depth) and guidelines for size, height and lighting are all things we research before design and installation. All of our plumbing and electrical work meet required codes.

Formal or Informal?

Ask yourself these questions:
Do I like straight lines and symmetry?
Do I thrive in order?
Is my home interior formal?
Do I find some informal gardens 'chaotic' or 'messy'?

What's my Budget?

We have a great deal of experience in giving you a general idea of cost. If you show us some photos of water-features that you like, we can give you a rough idea of how much you're looking at investing. One of our favorite shops for precast fountains in San Diego is the jewel of a shop 'Column One', in Hillcrest. If you opt for a custom feature that we build, we'll give you a detailed price point along with the design. Don't forget to calculate maintenance cost, too.

Which Features?

Do you want sounds, sights, movement, lighting? Above ground or In-ground?
Textures, Colors and Materials? We've used tiles, natural stone, brick, boulders and stucco & concrete.
Would you like an eco-system that could sustain fish and water plants?
If you're leaning torward a fountain, do you prefer wall, freestanding or statuary?
Positioning reflects purpose. One of the things to consider when postioning your water feature is how you'll use it. It should always work integrally into the landscape.
Plants - Planning is the's important to know a plants size at maturity as well as how aggressive it amy be. With that said, there are a variety of textures, shapes, colors and heights that can help add to your water-feature.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Creating an Outdoor Kitchen for the way you work and play.

San Diego county has a climate where outdoor living is possible for most of the year. These days we all want to cook and live outside for the sheer pleasure of it. We've come a long way from the old wooden picnic table and stand alone grill. Our standards and aspirations have grown into a desire for outdoor kitchens and dining areas that match our homes is quality, style, performance, and attractiveness.
Let Torrey Pines Landscape help you make this dream a reality.
We'll give you the support and craftsmanship from the design process through completion.

Who doesn't enjoy an evening spent surrounded by family and friends sipping drinks and grilling outside?
Torrey Pines Landscape Company has been building a lot of outdoor kitchens that combine: entertainment bars, eating area counters, BBQ, refridgerator and storage drawers. Also some of our clients have asked us to incorporate charcoal and wood burning grills, pizza ovens, rotisseries, smokers and outdoor sinks. All of these elements just add to the fun of spending outdoor time with family and friends.
One thing that really separates our custom crafted designs from the store bought pre-fabricated variety is....Quality. All of our work are cast in place steel reinforced concrete structures. We do not use pre-fabricated aluminum, galvinized studs or pressed board because these materials are too light weight and will begin to crack and come apart as the years roll on. So, if you are interested in quality and are planning to enjoy your investment for more than a few years, it will pay to spend a little more up front rather than having to replace pre-fab garden features again later.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Outdoor fireplaces and firepits

'The most tangible of all visible mysteries.'
Leigh Hunt

Outdoor Fireplaces and Firepits

How fortunate are we to live in San Diego with a year round outdoor climate? We can build great outdoor rooms and entertaining areas within our gardens that allow us to get the maximium use of our personal spaces. What we find about outdoor fireplaces is that they have a tendency to extend the use of these outdoor living spaces into the cooler months. With a nice big open hearth fire roaring, we are invited outside into a campfire like experience even in the middle of our mild winter. Fire features can really vary in price and style. We can build somethig as simple as a free standing fire pit to a pretty elaborate fire and water feature.

Don't shy away from a single large dramatic statement. One big element, such as an outdoor fireplace can create a focal point for a garden area, drawing attention and prompting people to gather there.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Outdoor Patio Design: Brick - Stone - Tile - Concrete

Outdoor Patio Design: Brick - Stone - Tile - Concrete: "Patios of Brick, Stone, Tile or Concrete

Patios, walks, driveways, pool decking and all hard surfaces in the landscape are what we in the trade call 'Hardscape'. There is a definite balance between the hard and soft of a garden for it to be both pleasing and useful. For example, if your garden were all concrete paving it would seem sterile and industrial. It would be unbearable hot in the summer; and throught the year , it be boring and univiting. The opposite scenario, a patio area that is too small, creates problems too: the outdoor furniture doesn't fit and guests are stepping into the flower beds or huddled together when you are entertaining. So this balance is something that we really give careful consideration.

Another factor is deciding what fixed elements are going to be incorporated into the design. If you want a fireplace, an outdoor BBQ, an arbored dining space, and meditation area with a water feature, then the hardscape has to become the thread that ties all these elements together in a seamless and creative manner.

Once we have determined the overall shape and flow of the hardscape, it's time to determine the finishes. There are basically two catagories: monolithic materials and veneer materials. The monolithic materials are the one step processes such as poured in place concrete or interlocking pavers. There are some 30 different colors for concrete and some really nice rustic looking pavers now available. We can also do an interesting matte sandblast finsh with diamond cut tile patterns in color concrete. These monolithic one step types of paving are the least expensive."

Happy April Fool's Day...

'A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.' -Douglas Adams

Spring has sprung....get out there and enjoy the beauty in your own garden!