Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Photo - California Sister Butterfly (Adelpha bredowii californica)

I saw this California native butterfly on a hike
at Heise County Park outside of Julian.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo - Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

I found this monarch caterpillar on my Asclepias (also known as
Butterfly Weed). Butterflies love the nectar from this plant,
then they lay their eggs on the plant. The caterpillars hatch, eat the
leaves on the Butterfly Weed and then spin their cocoons. 
A few weeks later more butterflies appear.  Asclepias is
a fantastic plant for attracting butterflies to your garden. 

Photo by Doug Kalal

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photo - Lantana (Lantana camara)

This shrub is drought tolerant, heat tolerant
and attracts butterflies.  However the foliage can irritate
the skin, so don't use this plant along pathways
or in gardens with small children or animals.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gardening Tip - How to Plant a Slope

    After you have cleared the slope of the old plant material, the next step is to upgrade the irrigation system.  Drip irrigation is a good method for irrigating a slope that will have a relatively few amount of plants (1 per 20 sq ft).  The drawback to drip irrigation is that in some rural areas, the local critters (gophers, squirrels, raccoons) love to chew up the lines in search of water.  So I actually prefer using rotors for irrigating a slope.  MP Rotators by Hunter are an outstanding product for controlling water on a slope.  This product can be found at both Ewing Irrigation and Hydroscapes here in San Diego.
      Following the irrigation tune-up (or overhaul if needed), you next need to amend the soil.  Gro-Power and composted top soil are usually the best materials to use for fixing up the soil (although every slope is different).  See the earlier article in March about fixing soils.
     After you have put down your soil amendment, you need to lay jute netting up and down the slope (see photo).  Jute netting is a bio-degradable material (sometime referred to as erosion cloth) that serves 3 purposes and is critical to the success of slope planting.  Jute netting not only holds the soil amendments in place but after planting it holds the mulch in place around the new plants.  Finally jute netting helps to keep water from just running wildly down the slope.   One large roll usually measures 4’ x 225’ (900 sq ft).  Always lay the netting up and down the slope, never side to side and use the pins to secure it in place.
      Once the netting is in place, it’s time to plant the plants.  On each plant it is important to build a little berm on the downhill side of the plant.  This helps to hold the water in place around the new plant’s root ball.  Also when you place the plant in the ground don’t forget the Best-Pak (the slow release fertilizer I have mentioned in earlier articles).  Place the Best-Pak on the uphill side of the root ball then soak each plant with a hose.
     Next add some mulch and a pre-emergent herbicide like Preen to the slope to control the weeds.  Spread at least 2 inches of mulch over the entire slope (the depth of your thumb).  1 cubic yard of mulch will cover 150 sq ft feet to the depth of your thumb.
      Finally, carefully water the new plants again in order to wash the mulch and Preen off of the foliage.  Continue to soak each new plant over the next few weeks to help them get established.  The exact watering schedule depends on the plants and the time of year you have planted your slope.

Author along with Ross McCright of
Rossco Contracting working on a slope.
Note the jute netting laid around the existing
plants that were kept.  New plants will fill
in around the existing plants.

Photo by Client

Photo - Jute Netting on a Slope

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Carlsbad.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Patios, Pathways & Plants Lecture

Want to improve your landscape but are not sure where to begin? “Patios, Pathways & Plants for Fixing Your Landscape” will give you great solutions for creating a dazzling outdoor environment at your home. This free presentation will cover a wide variety of topics such as the different types of materials to use for patios, plants for hummingbirds, what to do if you have shade areas or slopes, what drought tolerant plants are best for you. With dozens of plants and material examples to see, you’ll be inspired to transform your yard into a beautiful landscape!

This lecture series will be coming to the following locations in this Fall;

Saturday, September 10th @ 11:00am
Rancho Bernardo Library
17110 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego
(858) 538-8163

Saturday, September 17th @ 2:00pm
Fallbrook Library
124 S. Mission Rd, Fallbrook
(760) 731-4653

Wednesday, October 5th @ 6:00pm
Mission Valley Library (next to IKEA)
2123 Fenton Parkway, San Diego
(858) 573-5008

Tuesday, October 11th @ 6:00pm
Tierrasanta Library
4965 La Cuenta Dr, San Diego
(858) 573-1384

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ask Doug - "How do I use stones for a DG path border?"

"Doug, I am using rocks to border my path.  I have dug my pathway and laid down my landscape fabric.  I have also placed stones but am not quite sure how to set them.  Should I put a layer of sand in, set the stones, and then add the DG, or do I just dig a spot in the ground, put the stone in and pack dirt around?  I am brand new to this stuff and doing it all myself.  Thanks for any tips you can give me."  Anonymous

Thank you for reading my blog and sending in a great question.  The way that we built the DG path seen in the photo below was to dig a shallow trench about 2 inches deep and about 4 inches wide.  The rocks were then laid in the trench.  Dirt was then packed around the rocks on the outside edge of the border, and the DG on the inside.  Notice in the photo that there is no pattern to the rocks, some large, some small, none of them are perfectly lined up.  This irregularity makes the path seem more natural.

Have a question for me?  Just post a comment on any of the posts stating your question.


Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in San Carlos

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ask Doug - "When do I trim my gaura back?"

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) is a wonderful drought tolerant perennial that can reach 3 to 4 feet tall.  Every 6 months you should trim your gaura by 50% with a hedge trimmer.  Here in San Diego, the best time to trim the gaura is in July and January.  However, the trimming can be done any time the flowering at the end of the stems starts to dwindle.

Have a questions for me?  Email it to me at kalal5@sbcglobal.net.

30,000 Page Views

Thank you loyal readers (and photo browsers). In just 7 months, this blog has surpassed 30,000 page views.  In honor of that achievement, I am starting a new feature called "Ask Doug", where I will answer your landscape questions.  So stay tuned for more 2 minute help to your landscape challenges.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Photo - Floribunda Rose 'Priscilla Burton'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima)

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Clumping Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Variegated Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus')

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Pacific Beach.

5 Fantastic Ornamental Grasses for San Diego

Ornamental grasses are a wonderful low maintenance alternative to shrubs and perennials.  With a wide range of colors and textures, these 5 fantastic plants usually only need to be trimmed once or twice per year.  Pictures for all these grasses can be found on my blog, just enter the plant name in the search box.

Festuca glauca
Clumping Blue Fescue
This tough grass is a great supporting player.  I love to use this grass in pots or at the base of water fountains.

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra'
Japanese Blood Grass
The new foliage on this plant has a bright red color do it, thus the name.  This grass can be invasive, so it is best used in a container or a small planter bed that is surrounded by concrete.  When planted in mass the color is spectacular.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’
Variegated Maiden Grass
This tall beauty (5’ tall x 5’ wide) has broad leaves with cream colored strips running down the length of the leaf.

Muhlenbergia capillaris
Pink Muhly
My favorite ornamental grass and a beautiful way to bring color to your garden in the fall.  This grass produces pink seed effloresces in the fall that seem to float above the grass like a pink mist.  A terrific drought tolerant plant as well.

Stipa tenuissima
Mexican Feather Grass
A nice, soft billowy grass that gets about 2’ tall x 2’ wide.  Trim this grass to the ground (about twice per year) when the top turns brown and a new batch of grass will come up.  This grass will reseed but consider it a way to get free plants.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photo - DG Pathway with Synthetic Bender Board Edging

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in La Mesa.

Photo - Gold DG Pathway

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Spring Valley.

Photo - Red Decomposed Granite Pathway

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in El Cajon.

Photo - Decomposed Granite (DG) Pathway Construction

First start with a pile of decomposed granite
with stabilizer mixed in.

Lay the DG down 1.5 inches at a time and
compact with either a roller or a gas powered
compacter like the one shown here.

Next, hose down the pathway and let it dry. 

Then do another layer and repeat the hosing down process.

A good DG pathway should be about 3 inches deep and
be installed in layers to form a solid pathway.

Construction photos by Ross McCright, Rossco Construction Services.
Finished photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in San Carlos.

Creating a Decomposed Granite Pathway

     In the previous article I talked about what makes decomposed granite pathways (also known as DG) such an attractive alternative to concrete.  DG pathways typically cost $4-$6 per square foot for a contractor to install.  But you can do it yourself for half of that price. Now let’s go through the steps for creating a DG pathway;

1)  Using some rope, layout your pathway.  This will enable you to calculate the square footage of your project and help visualize the length and width of your pathway.

2)  Calculate the amount of DG you will need for your project.  Take the total square footage of your pathway and divide by 90.  That will give you the total cubic yards of DG you need to order.  1 cubic yard of DG will cover 90 square feet to a depth of 3 inches after the DG is compacted.  Here is a math example; Your pathway is 60 feet long by 3 feet wide, 60 x 3 = 180 square feet.  180 divided by 90 = 2 cubic yards of DG needed to cover the pathway.

3)  Select the color, KRC Rock has a terrific webpage that shows some of these colors.   Not all of the colors on their webpage are carried in stock and some are more expensive than others.
4)  When you order the DG make sure that the vendor pre-mixes a stabilizer solution with the DG.  This will make for a much more stable pathway in the long run.

5)  Next, using 3 inch tall synthetic bender boards, create a border for your pathway. You will need to secure the bender board in place with small garden stakes (6 inch stakes should do).  Small rocks can also be used to create the border as seen in the photo below.

6)  Excavate the soil down to the bottom of the bender boards.  You do not need a perfectly level surface, however the soil should be fairly firm.  If it is not, then run a compacter (see photo above for what a compacter looks like) on the soil to firm it up.

7)  Lay a heavy duty weed block down to stop weeds from coming up through your pathway.

8)  Put down a layer of DG approximately 1.5 inches deep.  Smooth it with a rake and then compact it with either a rolling drum or a gas powered compacter.  This layer should compact down to about an inch in thickness.

9)  Hose down the pathway lightly.  You are just trying to get the entire path slightly wet, but not enough to create puddles.

10)  Let the path dry for 6-8 hours, longer if the weather is cool and damp.

11)  Repeat steps 8-10 for the next layer, again, you should finish with a layer an inch thick.

12)  After the path is dry, lay the remaining amount of DG down and repeat steps 8-10.

13)  Once you have laid all the DG down and the path is dry (usually the next day).  Sweep any lose pebbles to the edge of the path and run the compacter along the entire path one more time.

Photo - DG Pathway with Rock Border

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in San Carlos

Garden Elements - Decomposed Granite (DG) Pathways

       In my lecture series, “Patios, Pathways and Plants”, I talk about the different materials available for homeowners to use for creating pathways around the garden.  Concrete, pavers and flagstone are among my favorites and examples of each can be found in this blog.  Decomposed granite or DG as it is commonly referred to, is a less expensive option that comes in a variety of colors.  DG pathways typically cost $4-$6 per square foot for a contractor to install.  But you can do it yourself for half of that price.
         One of the advantages of a DG pathway is that water can drain through the pathway, which helps with runoff issues.  Another reason I love to use DG pathways is that the material lends itself to what I like to call a “California Casual” garden.  The soft crunch of the path under your feet, surrounded by hummingbird and butterfly plants can create a very relaxing space, especially if you add in a shade tree with a spot for a comfy chair. 
        In the next article I will go into the steps on how to build a DG pathway.  KRC Rock has a terrific webpage that shows some of these colors along with a video showing how to install DG.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Photo - Silver Sheen Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen')

This shrub is a terrific screening plant, rapidly
growing up to 10 feet tall x 3 feet wide.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Del Mar.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011