A Blog about Landscape Design in San Diego
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About admin

I'm a landscape designer and contractor living in Encinitas, CA.


Spring Home Garden Show

Spring Home Garden Show

The flowers are slowly coming into bloom, the sun is beginning to shine just a little bit warmer and the masses are starting to look at what is new in residential design as the outdoor recreation season begins. Oh who are we kidding, We live in San Diego! All year long is the outdoor recreation season. Every year around this time the Spring Home/Garden Show comes to town at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and every year a select group of master gardeners get to show their chops at the Master Gardeners exposition. The Garden Show is as they put it, is a place where you can find everything for your home, where show prices are the best and where you can buy plants direct from the growers. Don’t forget that any event at the fairgrounds has to include great food and the carts were out in full swing this year. Mmm, cant you just smell the kettle corn or grilled sausage over an open flame?


Exhibitors viewing the displays

Exhibitors viewing the displays

The Garden show provided the opportunity for San Diego residents to meander through the booths of merchants and business people all vying for our attention to help make our homes inside and out a better place. However, the main event at least in my opinion is the Garden Masters Exposition. The exposition showcases a variety of excellent Landscape Design companies displaying their version of beauty, design and function in a friendly competitive environment. The variety and diversity of displays is what makes this exposition so great, with designs that can attract a wide variety of show goers. The Spring Home/Garden show for 2013 was quite the success for everyone involved by providing exposure to a plethora of local companies and for demonstrating the great amount of creativity and hard work by those who put on the show.
garden masters 2013

Delta Home Improvement Specialists in the beginning stages of our Ocean Friendly Garden Home facade

Delta Home Improvement Specialists in the beginning stages of our Ocean Friendly Garden Home facade

Delta Home Improvement Specialists is a general contractor based out of our very own Encinitas, Cal-i-for-ni-a! Gerrod Rabak has been in business since 2005 creating and executing finely crafted projects. Gerrod has worked with us in the past to help realize our vision and he came through again to build our display at the 2013 San Diego Home Garden Show. Gerrod did an amazing job building our home facade that helped us win Best In Show this year!  We want to thank Gerrod for his time and dedication in helping with our successful showing at the Garden Show.

Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Garden Program

Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Garden Program


The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grass roots organization that started 25 years ago. It all started when 3 surfers from Malibu were about to lose their favorite wave through development.  The Surfrider Foundation was founded through their efforts to preserve something they loved and gave them enjoyment. Their mission thereafter was “The protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.” They feel pretty strongly about their commitment to protecting our beaches and have extended their reach around the world. We at Falling Waters Landscape were fortunate enough to team up with the Surfrider Foundation to design a display at the  2013 Spring San Diego Home Garden Show.

Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation


We are are certified contractors for Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Garden program which aims at preventing runoff from entering our oceans, conserving water by planting native and climate appropriate plants, increasing permeability of water back into the soil and by utilizing a variety of water retention methods. The Surfrider foundation realizes that Urban runoff from vehicles, garden chemicals and man made and caused bacteria and sediment is the number one source of ocean pollution. Their noble attempts to educate the public about this issue have brought companies like ours into the mix to be stewards of the program and implement these ideals of conservation into practice for the coastal cities in which we work and live. The Surfrider Foundation has always been at the forefront of protecting our coastlines through a variety of programs and the Ocean Friendly Garden program is yet another in a dedicated effort to protect, conserve and allow everyone to enjoy our beaches and coastlines.

Moosa creek is a great California Native nursery based in Valley Center, California. These guys are serious about their craft. This family owned and operated nursery uses a very unique growing system to ensure their plants are well adapted specifically to our Southern California Climate. To ensure high survivability they utilize microbe infused soil mixes that are designed to match a plants natural environment. Moosa uses as little amount of chemicals as they can for the benefit of the plant but also for the land on which they grow on. Moosa Nursery even water stresses their plants so that they “develop enhanced survival skills.”  All of this just means a plant thats going to survive wherever we plant it in Southern California. We support Moosa Creek and used their plants to help us win Best in Show at the 2013 San Diego Spring Home and Garden show for our sustainable and water wise display.

Birdhouses 1.0

Posted by admin in Landscape Design - (1 Comments)

It’s sort of a weird hobby, but I’m really into birdhouses…. I’m not really even into birds. For example, I would never own a bird – but the idea of miniature little examples of Architecture, whether they be hanging from a tree or perched on a post or fence make me happy. I know, I know… but its the little things in life, right?

So here are some examples of birdhouses I love, all photos I’ve taken. I’ll periodically post more pictures.

Hines Res., Mt. Helix (current project, this one looks like a hollowed out Casaba melon, way cool!)

Hines Res., Mt. Helix (current project)

Garden Conservancy, NV

Garden Conservancy, NV

Garden Conservancy, NV

Garden Conservancy, NV (My favorite)

Living Walls

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There has been a lot of talk and examples out there of living walls. Which is the best system? What are the maintenance requirements? How do I irrigate them? What plants work best and where? Since there are too many variables to mention here, I’ll say what has worked for us – so far – and what we can and will install.

The system that many people see and ‘lust’ after would be the ELT or Living Wall system that is typically planted with succulents or low-growing sedums/groundcovers.

Succulent Living wall by others - Flora Grubb, SF

The end result is really beautiful but the labor and costs associated make this installation akin to “Fine Art” in the cost department. Most of the people who call us asking about this product get immediately scared off when we talk numbers and maintenance. Its a fine system when installed properly and maintained properly. Unfortunately this is cost-prohibitive to most people. I would say this is the most aesthetically pleasing of all the options.

4 panels with Ipe wood frame, Loc. Kensington, CA

Another option would be the Wooly Pocket system. While noticeably different in style and installation method, a similar look can be achieved, albeit a more “rustic/shabby” look. When you check out the website you’ll see thats exactly what the creator’s are after. The pockets come in different colors and sizes – single, triple, and 5-wide. These options make the system extremely modular and versatile. We have had lots of success with the Wooly Pockets and find them markedly easier to purchase, install and maintain. Here are few pics of installs we have done…

Wooly pocket (3 woolys, one on top of the other) install in our Office

Single Woolys on a custom Cedar screen, Loc. O'side, CA.

6 Months after install, 9'x6' Wooly Wall, Loc. San Diego, CA

Whatever your location, exposure, or desire, a living wall can be accommodated. We will post more pictures of living wall, Air plants and succulent panels that we have done

It went by too fast!

This year’s Green Show was a lot of fun! Much thanks to Brenda Dizon and Betty Steele from Steele Realty for putting on a great show… again. This year we were sandwiched between a Chiropractor and Sambazon Acai (awesome stuff guys!) right up against the slope. The weather was perfect – especially Saturday – and the show attendees were gracious, respectful, and laid back as one would expect at a street fair in Cardiff. The Groms were everywhere this year, all ages, having a blast either out in the water, biking, skating, or perfecting their style in the land-surfing tarp (see picture below).

Once again we represented for the landscape design and construction industry at this year’s show and had a great response. Our display featured a reclaimed wood feature wall and rustic table with lumber procured from Vintage Timberworks up in Rainbow. The sign was hand-painted by Ryan and all the potted arrangements were for sale (many still are… email if you’re interested). We went back and forth on having a LCD monitor show a montage of our project photos, but ended up passing on that and just chatting people up. Thoughts on this for next year??

We had several planters by Santa Monica based company Green Form made from Fiber-cement, air and water. They were a hit and if you really like them, check out their website and see their full-line of planters and furniture. Be sure to let Felix know where you heard about them.

Thank you to everyone who came and visited us and stopped by the booth to say hello. We are happy and proud to support our local businesses and appreciate you all. Any feedback, suggestions, ideas? comment below or send us an email.

Pics from the show….

What’s new?

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That is a very good question…

It’s been 6-7 months since I last updated this so-called “blog” with musings re: landscape, design, and the like. Frankly I’ve been busy, OK?

So what is the latest?

Earlier this year, towards the end of February we were gearing up for the 2011 Spring Home and Garden Show. For those of you who have attended the show in the past, you know its San Diego’s premier display of landscape design and construction. It’s held each year during the first week of March at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. We have found that it is as good a place as any to advertise what we can do. We take it very seriously and plan several months ahead… sometimes planning for the next show begins right after the last show ends. To digress, we were about a week away from the first day of Construction and my Sub-Contractor asked to meet. At the meeting, instead of discussing the details of the display, they left me in the lurch and decided that the show – and my business – was not worth their time.  It was really tough to take  at the time.  How was I going to get the show done and the jobs we had going? Unfortunately they have continued to cause issues, but to all of this I have tried to shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well, what can you do.” We have continued to stay busy and keep our heads down, not sinking ourselves to their level.  It’s all a shame, because together we worked on some really nice projects.  When you work that close for that many years you become like family, so beyond all the business stuff, I’m most upset about losing what felt like part of the family. I wish them luck, sincerely.

OK, with that out of my system we can move on to BIGGER and better things.

What else… well we’ve had a bit of press, which has been nice. Riviera magazine had a nice article featuring myself and a few other local landscape professionals. It came out a couple months back (see the press section on the main website). It’s funny because as soon as the article came out I got a call from Luxe magazine and I’ll be profiled in their Fall San Diego issue. I guess these things come in waves… well keep em coming! Additionally our episode of “Bang for Your Buck” aired back in July and we received a really nice response. It was so much fun shooting the show with the whole crew (especially Jamie Durie and Lauren Sparks) and learning more about the TV -making process.  Bret and I are flattered by the attention and inspired to keep doing what we love

Projects have been steady, but along with the steady stream of work has been a steady stream of frustration. Let me explain.

In the past 6-10 months we have submitted more bids, went on more consultations, and spent more time on the phone than any other time that I can remember. People are having the hardest time making a decision and while, yes, it is part of the business to give of your time to help them navigate the bidding process, it has been mostly an exhausting exercise. Recently we even had a client call one week before work was to start to cancel. The insult to injury was that I was on vacation (the client knew this) and they had already given us a deposit. They asked for the deposit back and even admitted that it would probably cost the same but require more of their time and supervision. This… is… frustrating.

Don’t worry, this will not be a format for my rantings… I just wanted to share some personal stories and see if others are experiencing the same thing. At least I would like for those who know they are going to end up hiring whoever gives them the lowest number to please let us know at the first meeting… thats fair right?

Am I by myself here? Are any of you other designer’s/Architects/Interior folks dealing with this? Let me say that on whole I LOVE my clients. We have a blast and there is a mutual respect and measure of trust that is established early on in the relationship. Just lately, there’s something in the water… I guess.

What else??

We recently had the opportunity to move into an office space in Solana Beach on the 101. Now let me preface this by saying that it would be fantastic to have a presence on the 101, and the Solana Beach Corridor is my #1 top pick. Much to my dismay and disappointment, now just wasn’t the right time. Stay tuned though, because soon we will find the right space/lease and possibly the design shop; Falling Waters: Landscape Design + Gifts will be realized. (thats a working title) :)

In May I finished an irrigation class at Mira Costa in Oceanside, and this semester I’m taking an Architecture class. Education has and will always be very important to me. I have my education goals and I’m working slowly but surely towards them. Overall the past 6 months have included a lot of growth for the company and we’re excited about the projects we’re working on and the prospects of whats to come. The maintenance division is continuing to grow and we are especially excited about a new project that will be starting in 2 weeks… we get to team up with our favorite local Landscape Architect, Todd Pitman again and work on a fabulous Mid-Century on Mt. Helix. More pictures and info to come.

I think that is all for now. We’ll have more photos to upload to the blog and website soon. Check out the Facebook page for more up-to-date information.

We filmed another episode of “Bang for Your Buck” at the Rhee house this last week. Again Jamie Durie was the landscape expert and Lauren Sparks was the Realtor. They walk through the space and decide if we did a good job and if Eugene will get his money back should he decide to sell the house in the future.

They were pretty easy on us overall. I was expecting more criticism, actually, but most of the constructive criticism was all stuff that Eugene and I knew they were going to bring up.

Right now our episode is the 13th in the lineup, so it won’t air for another 4-5 months. When I know more I will post here and on Facebook and hopefully you will check it out.

On a side point we are still developing our design for the Brick House in Hemet. Morgan has been really patient with us, and for that I thank you! The Spring Home and Garden Show is in a couple weeks and we are frantically working on our design and lining up all the vendors and the labor… we will have a large space this year. Last year we were too busy to do the show, and now I remember why we didn’t do it… it just takes so much time. And of course, we want to put our BEST out there.

More later…

Landmark Houses

Posted by admin in NEWS - (1 Comments)

I was going over the Home section in the LA Times the other week and came across “Natural Beauty” a profile of Ray Kappe’s Rustic Canyon home in Los Angeles.

This home is a treasure, featuring seven different levels, platforms and decks, mitered glass (no wood or steel corners where glass meets glass, seamless look), and amazing views of the natural landscape of the hillside. This was yet another home where I’ve heard the phrase “the site was initially thought to be un-buildable.” Whenever the sentence starts out that way, you know your in for something special. Kappe did build on the site, and in the Northridge quake of 94′ only two windows broke… not to shabby.

The house sits on 6 huge concrete columns that are sunk 30′ into the hill’s bedrock. The entry of the house takes you across a wooden bridge. The main living areas have slight changes in elevation to create distinct rooms. The whole thrust of the design integrates the built space with the environment. From the green carpet to the numerous walls of glass; the lines are blurred between the inside and the outside – on purpose.Ron Radziner of Marmol-Radziner Architects calls the space, “the quintessential tree house.”

The lot was purchased in 1967 for $50,000 and today the house is worth 2.6 million (according to www.zillow.com)

Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha

Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha

Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha

Photo by Ricardo DeAratanha