Katrina Coombs (owner of Outside Instyle) was recently quoted in a Landscape & Hardscape Design-Build cover-story.
Landscape professionals can also rescue and reuse landscape plants and trees. Katrina Coombs, owner of Outside Instyle, a Los Angeles-based sustainable landscape design company, says that since the city has given residents financial incentives to renovate landscapes to save water, she has worked on many complete redesigns. The challenge is that a design that focuses on water conservation can dramatically alter the look of a home’s landscape, from expansive lawns and concrete driveways to no turf, more pervious surfaces and drought-resistant plantings.
The key to reusing plants is the same as for recycling hardscapes. Take inventory of what is in the landscape, and then use it as a basis for the redesign.
For Coombs’ client in Cheviot Hills, Calif., there were many mature trees on the property. “The front yard was just a hodgepodge, with many oversized Phormium Tenax (New Zealand Flax) blocking light access through most every window,” she says. Her clients wanted to incorporate the existing 7 to 8-foot-high trees. Coombs designed an Australian/South African/California plant palette that complemented the large corner lot home and moved the trees to balance the design. “They would have been extremely costly if purchased,” says Coombs.
Once the grass was removed, she obtained free mulch from a local source to cover the open ground and keep weeds at bay until the drought-tolerant Dymondia was able to take hold across the front yard. She also designed a meandering path from decomposed granite to connect two 80-year-old olive trees on opposite sides of the property. “Decomposed granite, when used in this manner, simultaneously updated the look to 2010, yet complemented the old-style Mediterranean façade,” she says.