Rockin’ It: Innovative Use of Stone at the San Francisco Garden Show (2012 Edition)

sf-garden-show-2012-stone-and-hardscape-ideas.jpgAs I pointed out last year, garden shows are a place for designers to do all the crazy shiznit that’s over-the-top stunning, but also completely impractical, hard to maintain or otherwise unsuitable for life in the real world. But the wonderful thing about the hardscape and stonework at garden shows is that it’s full of great ideas that you can steal and put to work in your own home garden, like, tomorrow. Think about it. These gardens are put together in a matter of days, and since most of the material is borrowed from local suppliers, the designers really don’t want to mortar, cut, or do anything too permanent to the stone. This means that as a DIY-er, you can buy materials and mess around with them until either your back gives out or you perfect the look. (Hopefully the latter happens first.) So without further ado, here are some of my favorite inspirations from the 2012 San Francisco Garden Show. [Read more...]

Don’t Do This: Horrible Landscaping Blunders

dog-urine-damage-on-plants-Copy.jpgThis post might get a little ugly. Scratch that. It’s definitely getting ugly. Today, I’ve got a quick round up of some of the worst offenders I’ve seen in professionally installed landscapes. Roving bamboo, landscape fabric stifling tree trunks, unhappy plants suffering a variety of maladies. . . and all of it easily preventable. Want to keep from making some of these landscaping mistakes? Read on for a quick, unattractive tutorial. [Read more...]

Book Review: The Revolutionary Yardscape

revolutionary-yardscape.jpgIf you often see odd materials at hardware stores, rummage sales, and friends’ garages and have flashes of insight that they could be repurposed for a totally new use, then you are going to love The Revolutionary Yardscape. It’s subtitled: Ideas for repurposing local materials to create containers, pathways, lighting, and more, and it’s all about how exactly you might reimagine differing shapes and materials to use within your garden as fences, trellises, lights, pathways, etc. Levesque has an amazing eye for the type of warm industrial design that is so popular right now. His landscapes rely on foliage colors, spiky forms, and stylish reuse of metal, glass, easily-available stone, wood – even styrofoam! Yes, there’s a stucco-covered styrofoam structure in the book, that looks pleasingly futuristic against a water feature. With each project, he walks us through the materials that originally provided inspiration, the needs of the site, and how he exactly he brought the two together. He doesn’t dumb down the construction how-to, but his instructions have a simplicity to them which makes me feel like I could tackle any project in the book if I had sufficient desire. That’s not to imply that you’re limited by the projects he suggests. Indeed, the whole point of the book is that you’re not going to know what your own projects will be like until you find your own interesting materials to repurpose. Given that, Levesque works hard to share the concepts behind his designs and his construction techniques so that you will be able to create projects that are truly your own. While his style is distinct, there are so many interesting materials and projects shown that even if you don’t connect with his use of color or materials, it would be easy after reading to come up with your own unique ways of styling your materials. This book is like a set of training wheels for those (like me!) who long to build our own garden structures, but aren’t sure where to start. This quote from the end of the book seems to sum up his design philosophy:
Do Touch I am right there with the neighborhood children in many ways. But it is my own “don’t touch” warning that I must avoid. It is my own “you cannot do that” voice which I must openly ignore and blithely brush past as I go about the business of reimagining what a garden can be. In order to truly rethink the garden, I have to get on with rethinking all the boundaries I set for myself – or worse yet, the ones I let be set for me. Boundaries imagined or imposed keep us from improvising. They keep us from slipping past the known into the knowable. We need a few less boundaries in the garden. We need more play, more dead serious play. We need to play with stuff and play really hard. We need to hunt down what is local, used, and readily available, and we need to drag it home and get busy playing with it. There are no lines we must play inside or outside of. In the end, in order to rethink the garden we must rethink the gardener.

Want to read more about the author?

SF Gate article featuring his work His website, with his speaking appearances listed Read more reviews of his book on Amazon

Professional Tips for Using Landscape Fabric Right

Howtouselandscapefabric.jpgI’m no fan of landscape fabric, but I accept that it can be a useful tool in the garden in a few select circumstances. I go into how to decide whether landscape fabric is a good choice for you in this article, but if you’ve decided to use it, I wanted to provide you with some professional tips and pointers on how to install it professionally. [Read more...]