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.

This last weekend we participated in the Cardiff Surf Classic and Green Building Fair at Seaside beach. With several local vendors, including an awesome breakfast from the Encinitas Fire Dept., the event went really well.

We put together a small display showcasing several plants that will do amazing in our climate. We also highlighted the Falling Waters Bench (available in custom sizes and colors), furniture from our favorite local shop Grounded 101 (www.shopgrounded.com). The weather was sporadic and at times beautiful… the surf was GREAT for Seaside standards, and the people were gracious and laid-back… what else would you expect from a bunch of Cardiffians? I wanted to give a shout to some of the local businesses that we are buddies with, please check them out and why not buy some of their stuff? its great stuff, we promise!

Revolution Bike Shop (www.revolutionbikeshop.com)

Revolution Bike Shop – located near Le Papagayo (great Sangria by the way) on the 101 is the kid on the block as far as biking in North County is concerned. All of the knowledge, parts and service of the other shops but without the attitude! They feel that biking is for everyone, no matter what your level of experience… ahhh how refreshing! So go on in and get sized for that beach-cruiser you’ve wanted, or that road bike, get your bike serviced or just check out Joel’s awesome tattoos! Whatever your biking needs, Revolution Bike Shop is your source.

Sanuk beach sandals and flip-flops (www.sanuk.com)

Sanuk is the essense of local. With a local shop, headed up by a bunch of local guys and gals, this is what sandals should be. Sanuk has been around for over a decade now… where have you been?! They sell all over the world, but you can pick up your pair at Hansons on the 101 or Surfride, or even K-5 in Encinitas.

Gauyaki Yerba Mate (www.guayaki.com)

Looking for that buzz without all the sugar and crash from those “so-called” energy drinks? Look no further than Guayaki Yerba Mate. Try the Lemon or the berry… they swear by the Mint. Its all natural stuff and will make you feel great… just don’t drink one after 4:00pm like I did if you’re sensitive to caffeine.  They gave out free samples at the Show, but you can get yours at Seaside Market in Cardiff, or try one with a healthy burrito at Mozy’s Cafe on the 101.

VEG – Vertical Earth Gardens (www.verticalearthgardens.com)

This is very cool. The vertical earth garden uses cheap materials to create you one awesome vertical vegetable garden. The prices are affordable and the results are awesome. I’m seriously thinking about getting one of these myself, and will definitely call them out on future projects. Check out the website for more info on this inventive idea that is making growing your own food fun and fast!

There was so much more at the show, and we felt very privileged to be part of the action. A big thank you goes out to Betty, Brenda, and Alexis of Steele Realty (www.realtysteele.com) for putting on a great show and including us. Thank you.

This month’s issue of Sunset features the Vess home in an article focused on preparing your home for wildfire season (which is right around the corner). Nan Sterman, our local garden writing expert and Author of several valuable plant resource books chose to highlight certain aspects of the Vess landscape, while stunning photographs by Jennifer Cheung make a visual impact:

1. Replace flammable plants: Any plant material that is high in oil content, very woody, or provides fuel too close to the house should be replaced

2. Lush plantings: Herbaceous plant material with soft, fleshy leaves typically hold more water, and are thus more resistant to fire. Some nice choices include several Agave and Aloe species, along with Cacti and almost all succulents.

3. Water your plants: Even though the Vess landscape was designed to reduce water needs, it still must be irrigated properly and sufficiently. Dry, thirsty plants are just waiting to go up in flames when those sparks start flying.

4. Use DG: DG or Decomposed Granite is a great mulching alternative (where appropriate) to wood bark and traditional mulch. It comes in a variety of colors, doesn’t break down like organic mulches, and keeps roots moist and weeds down.

5. Simplicity rules: Space between plantings allows the eye to rest… it also creates defensible areas to slow down the spread of fires. I love when design can serve multiple purposes!

Vess image

We were very excited to hear we took first place in the 2010 CLCA San Diego Chapter Beautification Awards for medium Residential Design and Build catergory for the Rhee residence in Kensington.


The landscape was also photographed recently for a Behr Paint Ad, and an article in the September issue of San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles magazine. Also look out for the Vess home being featured in Sunset Magazine again very soon for an article about how to ‘Fire-scape’ your yard.

What else is new at Falling Waters? Ryan participated as a judge at this year’s Flower and Garden show at the San Diego County Fair. We are now offering maitenance services to our current and past clients in an effort to keep our gardens and designs as originally intended. We have added to the staff at Falling Waters with another Designer / Project Manager, and we hope that with his arrival we will be able to take even better care of our clients.

With Summer being in full effect here, we are busier than ever and enjoying the challenge. Thank you everyone for your continued support and well-wishes.

Falling Waters Landscape

You gotta love this home in Venice Beach, CA.

story by Debra Prinzing

EXCERPT: “The exterior walls of the new wing of the Bricault family’s Venice home are clad in sedums and other succulents, which soften the contemporary architecture so it looks like a plush, verdant floating cube. Paul Bricault likes the way the horticultural house gets people talking.

“Everyone who comes here looks at it with this quixotic expression. We get all sorts of questions, including, ‘Do we have roots coming through the inside walls?”








Full Story

 Vess Residence






So last Friday the show, “Bang for your Buck” profiled three San Diego landscapes – or Outdoor rooms. Jamie Durie was the guest host, and the Vess House was chosen as one of the three projects. The price point being compared was $110k . The Real Estate Agent and Durie tour the homes, and based on what was accomplished for the budget, decide who will get the largest return on investment.

Now, we are in a funny real estate market, are we not? And besides the fact that pricing a home and its amenities is an extremely subjective and variable science, pricing any real estate right now has to be tricky. That all being said, the Vess home tied for first place with an 80% return on investment – not too shabby…. but wait! What the show failed to make known (not the show’s fault, it was only a 22 min episode) is that the Vess residence has applied for and achieved Historical status which results in a significant tax break – and is transferable if the owners decide to sell one day. Because this was desired from day 1, several materials were specified (RR ties, unfinished block, aggregate concrete, minimal modern amenities) that would be in keeping with an early 60′s landscape. This style meshed well with the Owner’s desires for the property, and the project moved forward.

The great part about the episode was Jamie Durie’s enthusiasm for the landscape and the home. He mentions several times “wanting to buy the Vess house”. After taping, we had lunch together and discussed his recent projects (including Charlize Theron’s garden) and his other show on HGTV, “The Outdoor Room”, of which I’m a huge fan. In my experience the show is a fairly real interpretation of the design/build process… except for the fact that I don’t get to have an all expenses paid trip to Kyoto if I want to design a Japanese Garden. Durie basically gets to do what all of us Landscapers would LOVE to do… that is, visit an inspirational place, take photos, meet local people, and then return to reality and build a garden evoking the sentiment and feel of the inspired location. WOW, what a job! Suffice to say, I’m working on my tan and my Australian accent…. HGTV are you reading this?

When possible, we will link the episode on the site.

Here are some updated shots of the Colby project in Encinitas. The Black Pines have been trained now for a whole year and within the next few years should really start to like traditional Japanese Bonsai. The plant pallete has filled in nicely and even though this garden uses very little water, it is extremely verdent and has a cooling effect on the house. Enjoy…







It’s been an amazing beginning to 2010. We are staying really busy and I couldn’t be more thankful. I wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know that we are still very much in business and have some really amazing projects on the boards and under construction.

I opted to not do the Garden shows this year so I could focus on the projects we have and to spend more time with my family. Some have taken that to mean we are not doing construction anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have an amazing group of people working with me to realize my designs. Everyone is involved, the landscapes are true collaborations and they are turning out better than ever.

As promised I will continue to post here as much as I can, and encourage comments. Thank you to everyone for their continued support! Look for our Ads in San Diego Home and Garden, and come back here for more pictures and updates. We have a lot of exciting things happening this year… stay tuned

Here are few photos of some interior plant arrangments completed for Mixture in Little Italy. There are many to choose from and custom arrangements are available. Stop by and check them out!

dscn0085slate troughs with succulentsdscn0088

“A garden is explained by its form. This is the way that various elements are grouped in relation to one another. Of all the decisions that one takes when designing a garden, the most critical is the choice of its proportions. Visitors to a garden are unlikely to say how they admire its proportions; but I have heard them say that the garden “feels right”, which amounts to the same thing.” – Christopher Bradley-Hole

Have you ever walked into a garden or building and had that feeling? It doesn’t happen often, and as a designer you only hope to create a space that draws that kind of emotion.

Anyways, that was my quote for the day. Enjoy

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Fallingwater’ in Bear Run, PA, this custom home designed by Domus Studio, San Diego is our latest project.

Its great to be brought in on a project like this so early in the design phase. As the project progresses I will post more, and I’m very curious to hear your thoughts or critiques. It seems serendipitous that a ‘Fallingwater’ inspired house should have it’s landscape done by Falling Waters, SD.

FLW’s original intent was to bring man and nature as close as possible, quite literally creating a house on top of a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania. Built in the later part of the 1930′s, ‘FALLINGWATER’ has become iconic with FLW’s work and with influential design around the world. It was with great respect and humility, and a ideal similar to Wright’s that I chose the name Falling Waters. More to come…

 To scale model, Domus Studio