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Posts by cassidywalkup

Design Inspiration in the Digital Age

When considering design inspiration for a space or a large remodel it used to be that magazines were the go to source for inspiration. I used to take all my mom’s old magazines and cut out images of things I loved and that inspired me. I would then stick them in a notebook I appropriately would refer to as my cool things book. If you think about it there are plenty of magazines to find design inspiration for any style – Country Living, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Home Beautiful, Sunset Magazine, Garden Design etc. – there are even magazines that inspire a whole way of living, like my favorite, Martha Stewart Living.

I can't stop pinning!

I can’t stop pinning!

 These days design inspiration is more often coming from online resources. As designers we find ourselves clicking on the internet icon first and foremost to find inspiration for our clients’ projects and we’re noticing more and more clients are sharing their inspiration with us that they’ve gathered online from websites. It seems like even magazines are going online – with every subscription you get a virtual one as well for your device. I don’t find myself creating my cool things books that often anymore. However, I do constantly find my self pinning images to my Pinterest boards. I’ve got one for everything – garden design, for the home, DIY, recipes – you name it I’m sure I’ve pinned it.


A lot of my inspiration has come from an online resource gallery called Houzz. It’s a really amazing resource for all types of projects – landscapes, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms etc. Houzz allows you to create idea boards for whatever projects you are gathering your inspiration for. It even allows you to ask questions about the image for guidance, directly from the designer. You see, professionals create profiles and upload images of their work onto the online resource. This also allows you to find professionals in your area to design and/or build the work if needed.


As a company we created a profile on Houzz awhile ago and have added a multitude of images that people have in turn added to their idea books. We have even had a few articles published with our work in them for their online newsletter – also a great resource. We’ve had a fun time answering questions asked about plants and materials in our photos. For our clients who have not yet discovered the online resource, we’ve turned them on to it and encouraged them to gather their own design inspirations for our meetings. Even some of our clients have offered their reviews of working with us and allowed us to showcase photos of their projects on our Houzz profile. And because we love what we do and we have awesome clients we were just awarded a Best of Houzz 2013 award in customer satisfaction. Check out our Houzz profile here and get started creating your own Houzz account and idea boards of design inspiration. The clutter of the magazines and cool things books are a thing of the past, when looking for design inspiration – online inspiration is plenty, easily accessible and easily organized.

houzz interior design ideas

January maintenance tips

Winter in the Bay Area can be a forgetful time in the garden. Since we aren’t necessarily spending our days and evenings outside it’s easy to forget about your garden. However, there are chores that are necessary during the winter months to keep your garden thriving. There are also plenty of fun gardening and enhancement opportunities this time of year too – consider them a bonus! You can ensure a stellar spring garden if you follow these winter gardening tips.

January Maintenance Tips:

Trees and Shrubs: Most shrubs and deciduous shade trees can be pruned now (flowering trees shouldn’t be pruned until after they’ve bloomed) to promote healthy structure and growth during spring time months.
Bonus: Now is a great time to plant fruit trees – bare root trees are now available at many nurseries are typically less expensive than those potted in soil. Dormant fruit trees, like apple, cherry, plum and pear, require a certain amount of hours below 45 degrees to break winter dormancy and produce a healthy crop. Make sure you find the right tree for your microclimate.

Shop early for spectacular bare root rose varieties!

Shop early for spectacular bare root rose varieties!

Roses: For your existing roses, prune no more than half of the new growth from the last growing season. Pinching and pruning encourages vigorous new growth.
Bonus: January and February are the best months to plant new roses, and bare root stock is now showing up in Bay Area nurseries. This time of year the stock should be full with desirable varieties.

Be sure to rake and clean up leaves from planting beds before they cause damage!

Be sure to rake and clean up leaves from planting beds before they cause damage!

Raking: Stay on top of it. Fallen leaves can damage lawns and choke perennials if allowed to sit for too long.
Bonus: Got kids? Consider it a fun day raking the leaves into piles and playing in them. Got (pre -) teenagers? Make them earn their allowance and assign them the weekend chore.

What does a healthy lawn mean to your family?

What does a healthy lawn mean to your family?

A Healthy Lawn: This is a great time of year to aerate and fertilize your lawn. Aeration is a simple process that improves drainage and opens the thatch so water and oxygen can reach the roots. This helps microorganisms thrive and break down accumulated thatch build up. It also helps to reduce compaction which occurs naturally over time. All of this combined improves water absorption, produces deep root growth, and encourages a healthier grass that chokes out weeds. Once aerating is complete, fertilize your lawn to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.
Bonus: A healthy, well-tended lawn improves the value of your property and the aesthetics of your neighborhood, not to mention the enjoyment a lawn can provide for your family.

Tired of looking at a vacant veggie bed? Plant now there are plenty of veggies to tend to!

Tired of looking at a vacant veggie bed? Plant now there are plenty of veggies to tend to!

Bonus! Veggies! Lots of vegetables want to be planted in fall and winter for spring harvest- it’s not too late! Some of the best to plant now: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, onions, peas, spinach and turnips. Year round vegetables like carrots, beets and radishes can be planted now too. Maybe this is your year to create the kitchen garden you always wanted – stick to the resolution to eat more locally and garden more frequently!

Rather not get your hands dirty? Call our maintenance department at (510) 444 -5195 to set up an annual maintenance visit. We can get your garden all spruced up for a spectacular spring.

Bonus! Considering design changes in your garden?! Now is the perfect time to have our designers complete your landscape design plans. Depending on the size and scope of your project a design could take 4 – 6 weeks, giving you plenty of time to design and build your garden for enjoyment this year, as soon as this spring!

Charming Winter Gardens

Welcome Winter!

Although the weather outside is frightful, the garden can still be delightful! Although this cold snap here in the San Francisco Bay Area is causing us to complain and stay inside, there is still a lot to appreciate in your garden this time of year.

Including berries! Berries brighten up any garden in winter. Cotoneaster dammmeri, a groundcover, native Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), a large growing shrub, and Hawthorn (Crataegus ‘Washington Hawthorn’), a small scale tree, are always reliable berry producers. Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a classic holiday shrub with its dark green, glossy foliage and bright red flowers. Mahonia varieties produce smoky blue berries, but like Holly, need a male counterpart nearby as a pollinator in order to get results.

The bark of the Coral Bark Maple really stand out in a winter garden, this one is newly planted in a great location!

The bark of the Coral Bark Maple really stand out in a winter garden, this one is newly planted in a great location!

Don’t forget to appreciate beautiful bark. Even after these plants drop their leaves, there is a show to behold. Ninebark (Physocarpus) shrubs have rough, peely bark that is a unique garden element. Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’), a small to medium sized tree, and the Redtwig Dogwood shrub (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’) have coral and red twigs that really stand out, especially against a darker foliaged evergreen shrub or tree.

The beautiful hellebore flowers - charming in any garden!

The beautiful hellebore flowers – charming in any garden!

And of course every garden should have some winter bloomers, they do exist! Camellias come with bloom colors ranging from pure white to dark red, there are even variegated and ruffled ‘peony form’ blossoms, and different varietals bloom at different times from September to March. But that’s not the only option. The Purple Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea) is a fast growing but non-aggressive vine that is perfect on a fence or arbor with it’s pendulous clusters of lilac and deep purple blooms. Heaths (Erica carnea or E. darleyensis) are hardy shrubs with masses of small pink, white or rosy purple flowers, and look right at home in a variety of garden styles, particularly with California natives and Mediterranean gardens. Finally, evergreen perennial hellebores (Helleborus argutifolius) love part shade and come in a range of bloom colors from chartreuse to mauve to burgundy.

How could you not want to spend time out here even when it's late and cold!

How could you not want to spend time out here even when it’s late and cold!

Finally, having lighting in your garden will enhance your winter garden, even from the indoors. Using uplights in your lighting scheme can help showcase the structures of the trees, even deciduous ones. Lighting also provides safety during the winter time by highlighting entrances, paths and stairs. It can also be used to showcase garden sculptures, or water features like the photo above, which are focal points all year round. Lighting could also help coax the party outdoors – to the fire pit area or outdoor fireplace for roasting marshmallows, I mean we do live in the San Francisco Bay Area, compared to other parts of the country it’s not that cold!

Enjoy your winter!

2012 Statewide CLCA Trophy Award Winners

2012 Statewide CLCA Trophy Award Winners


The California Landscape Contractors Association just launched their website on the Statewide 2012 Trophy Award Winners!  

Click the link above to read about our winning gardens and check out some of the other category winners.  We are so very proud of our Designers, Barry Sacher and Mario Herrada, for their winning gardens!  If you want more information, please read our designers’ blog posts on their projects as well.  

Why hire a landscape designer?

Landscape Design Plan

Landscape Design Plan

In the San Francisco Bay Area a garden is an extension of our home. Our unique weather allows us to spend a lot of time outside during the day and into the night. This is a key element of the social fabric that defines who we are. A landscape designer will assist you in creating a garden that reflects and enhances your unique lifestyle. As one often realizes when attempting to design their garden, this is easier said than done.

What many homeowners lack is a landscape designer’s ability to clearly understand the structure of a garden. Principles such as unity, balance, color, proportion, transition and repetition come into play when designing a garden. Further, designs may include specific features or complicated construction elements that require design experience. Some examples of common issues:

* Choosing the right plants for your growing condition (including soil quality, microclimate, sun pattern, deer resistance, seasonal interest and water needs)
* Decreasing maintenance for you and incorporating sustainability for the environment
* Creating privacy and blocking unwanted views while following local specifications for fire and traffic safety
* Ideally locating design elements including water features, pools, entertaining spaces, lighting and circulation
* Creating gathering spaces or outdoor rooms that reflect the architecture of your home and your personal aesthetic and lifestyle requirements
*A creative flair is also an important factor. The landscape designer must unify the physical opportunities and constraints and create a garden that looks good and works well.

For over 30 years, Lazar Landscape designers have developed gardens that reflect our clients’ lifestyle and are sensitive to the restrictions of our environment. In addition, as part of a Design – Build team, our landscape designers have a strong knowledge of construction techniques and are involved throughout your entire construction project. A very beneficial element to your project when going with a design – build firm.

Our clients include families, couples and individuals with varied needs, wants and budgets. Some are seeking privacy, others want to include their neighbors and increase their connection to the community. Some are avid gardeners, while others would rather not spend time on garden maintenance. It’s our job to come up with solutions to challenging problems in your outdoor space, and make the most of your property so you can take advantage of your unique San Francisco Bay Area lifestyle.

Think Ahead! Considering your next garden project? Construction may slow down in winter, but that’s why this is the best time to get designing! Start planning your project now – so it will be shovel ready in spring – and ready for you to enjoy all summer long. Call Lazar Landscape today to speak with a designer and find out how to move forward. Contact a landscape designer at (510) 444 -5195 to discuss your individual landscape design and construction needs.

Kauai: A Tropical Garden Inspiration

The stormy weather hitting the bay area this past weekend and week makes me want to just snuggle up on the couch and watch the rain, from the comfort of my living room, not bothering to venture out in it. For me the weather seems like a very drastic change because I was just in Kauai on my honeymoon, enjoying the 80 degree sunshine-y weather by the pool (with a little rain for cooling). To warm up your week I figured I could share my experience on the “garden island” and some tropical garden inspiration. You just cannot go to Hawaii and not be inspired by the tropical plant pallet, even the plants just along the highway!

tropical plants

I love seeing all the Torch Ginger blooms, Plumeria flowers and Dendrobium Orchids planted in the ground as we explored the island. You also can’t help but fall (back) in love with Palm trees while in Hawaii. The tropical ferns add texture and interest to planting beds and create a very lush look. While on a day trip to Waimea Canyon State Park I discovered Kauai’s own vertical gardening techniques – ferns just growing on the dirt “walls” along the road – at least 12 feet tall. A very beautiful and natural sight.

One plant I saw everywhere that we are familiar with here in the Bay Area is Bougainvillea. The Bougainvillea can be a tricky plant to grow in our climate, particularly in the East Bay where we get frost, but in Kauai I saw it everywhere – including along the highway, growing as a shrub! Made me laugh to see a plant I have heard so many people try to grow without success and in Kauai it’s a highway plant! In the bay area we are fortunate enough to be able to grow some varieties of tropical and sub tropical plants, but they are not as lush as I found them in the tropical island region.

tropical plants1

We stayed on the south side of the island near the town of Poipou, our resort, the Grand Hyatt, had beautiful, lush grounds with many different tropical plant varieties. I noticed this particular planting on our last day at the front entrance. It could be recreated at home in the bay area if you did desire a tropical look in your garden and lived in a sunset zone that has coastal influence.


Of course some of the plant varieties would have to be switched, like the orchids for a plant with a similar effect, like a daylily (Hemerocallis spp.). A sub tropical garden look can happen in areas of the Bay Area, you just have to use hardier varieties that will survive outside of tropical areas like Kauai. We have installed quite a few successful gardens filled with beautiful Torch Ginger plants, Bougainvillea, Birds of Paradise and ferns in the San Francisco and Oakland neighborhoods. If you are interested in a tropical plant pallet be sure to do your plant research to pick the best varieties for your location. If you need help and advise feel free to contact us, we’re here to help and especially love creating plant pallets, contact us today! Hope the thought of a tropical paradise warmed your stormy day up, even just a little!

Here are a few more photos to day dream about, If you haven’t been to Kauai, I strongly recommend a trip:
tropical plants2

Plan now to enjoy later – Fall Bulbs!

Fall is the perfect time of year to get your garden ready to enjoy next spring. It’s the time to add perennials, groundcovers and shrubs as they will establish from the rains and not necessarily require supplemental water from irrigation systems. It is also the time to plant bulbs that will pop up after you’ve forgotten about them come spring time. The flowering spring time show you will get from your bulbs will be well worth the early effort, however, you have to plant you bulbs before winter to ensure this gorgeous show happens.

You will need to select locations in your garden that get adequate sunlight and have good drainage. Bulbs will not thrive in areas of poor drainage. If you have clay soil, like many areas in the bay area, be sure to loosen the soil at least a foot deeper than the recommended planting depth (typically you loosen the soil 2” – 3” below the planting depth in well draining soil) and amend soil with peat moss to help with drainage. Don’t forget to plant the bulb pointy end up with about 3” – 4” top soil covering the tops. When selecting your bulbs from a nursery be sure to hand pick bulbs without soft spots or mold, or order from a vendor like Van Engelen Inc, who can send high quality bulbs to your residence.

Small Hycinthoides bulbs for a client’s garden!

When ordering your bulbs a good rule of thumb to follow is 4 large bulbs per square foot, or 9 small bulbs per square foot. It may seem like a lot per square foot in your garden, but it will not disappoint. Also, take into consideration that some bulbs, like tulips, require refrigeration chilling for 6 weeks before they can be planted in the ground.

Large tulip bulbs that are being chilled for a few more weeks

In milder climates like areas within the san francisco bay area we are lucky that some bulbs we plant “perennialize” and we don’t have to plant them every year, like in other parts of the country. The daffodil is one of the most popular planted bulb in the bay area. It typically returns each springtime in our gardens and is also deer proof. A showy plant that is deer proof in this area is hard to come by, so plant your bulbs this fall and enjoy them come spring!

Large and small bulbs, check back next spring and we will show you the results of our fall bulb plantings!