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Have you ever had something happen to you that was such a coincidence that it was hard to believe?  Recently, I had one such experience. 


It all happened on a beautiful, sunny morning in August… 

But first, a little background:

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time may remember me sharing about my past job as a landscape designer.  I wrote about my adventures that you can read about, here.


There were things that I enjoyed about my job and others things that I did not.

However, I did enjoy working with clients and helping design the landscape of their dreams.

*Okay, back to my amazing ‘coincidence’ story.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was on my way to an appointment for a landscape consult – (I work for myself now).

As I got off the freeway and started driving through the residential streets, I realized that I had designed a landscape there years ago when I worked for the landscape design company.

As I got closer to my destination, I saw that I was in the same neighborhood.  I promised myself that I would try to find the same house after I was finished with my appointment.

My GPS directed me down the street where my ultimate destination was and soon I found myself sitting in front of the SAME house that I had originally designed back in 2008.

Hard to believe?  

My first reaction was “I can’t believe it!” 

I had designed hundreds of landscapes and the chances of being called back to the same one by a different owner was so small.

The second reaction was, I hope they don’t hate their existing landscape – if they did, I wasn’t sure I would tell them that I was the original designer.

But then I remembered that my client had told me via email that she and her husband had just moved into their new home and wanted to learn about the plants in their landscape and how to take care of them – they had no idea that I was the original designer.

I knocked on the door and my client greeted me and proceeded to take me into their backyard.

Now

The first thing I saw was the pathway made up of broken concrete (called ‘urbanite’) that was had already been present the first time…

Then

I did have pictures of the landscape when it had been newly installed in 2008.

The new homeowner told me that she and her husband had bought the home because they loved the relaxing backyard landscape.

I then told her that I had been the original designer.  She couldn’t believe it either!

Now

As we walked into the backyard, the details of the design came flooding back.

Would you believe that there used to be a swimming pool in this backyard?  

Then
Back in 2008, we filled in the pool and added mounds, boulders, drought tolerant plants and a palo verde tree. 
Now
The original owners wanted to get rid of their pool, which they hardly used to convert it into a drought-tolerant landscape with a seating area underneath a tree.

I had designed a meandering path from the patio which ended in a seating area made from flagstone.

Then

You can really tell how much the tree and other plants have grown over the past 7 years.

Now

While the overall landscape looked good and I was happy with how the design turned out – but there was an issue.

Most of the plants were brown and straggly – not very attractive and showing signs of under watering.  

The new homeowner provided me with the irrigation schedule that the original homeowners had been using and it was easy to see why some of the plants were a bit small for their age and didn’t look great – they were getting too little water.

Then
I helped her adjust her irrigation schedule and assured her that her plants would soon improve in appearance.

Although some of the original plants had been lost due to under watering, I remembered what they were and was able to give her a list of replacements to buy.


As I got ready to leave, the homeowner told me that she couldn’t wait to tell her husband that by sheer coincidence, their landscape consultant turned out to be the original designer.

I drove away with a huge smile on my face because it isn’t often that a residential landscape designer gets to see their designed landscape a few years later.

It made my job feel very rewarding that day 🙂

**For information on watering guidelines for the low desert including how to avoid over & under watering, click here.

Oftentimes when I am called to help a homeowner with their landscape, they pose a problem and/or a question about a certain area in their landscape.


I will share a few with, you now and then, in the hopes that I can help those of you who may have a similar situation.


Okay, let’s first look at this resident’s sunny area…



As you can see, there is a young citrus tree growing in this corner bed.  

The resident, who was from Europe, wanted to create a Southern European garden theme in her backyard.  However, in this area, she disliked the appearance of the bare wall around her citrus tree.  She wanted to have a retaining wall installed and raise the level of the bed and plant an assortment of herbs, which would cover part of the bare expanse of the wall.

The problem, is that you cannot raise the level of soil or you will suffocate the roots of the citrus tree.  Plants need the oxygen that is present in the soil.  Most of the oxygen is found in the upper levels of soil.  Adding more soil would decrease the amount of oxygen where the plant roots currently are located.

Taking out the citrus tree and replanting it into a raised bed was not an option in this case.

 So, what would you do in this area? 

Recommendation: Add three tall (3 feet or higher), colorful, glazed pots and place them up against the wall – one in the corner and the other two on either side.  Select pots in bright colors such as blue or orange, which will add a punch of color to the landscape AND plant an assortment of herbs in the pots.

Herbs are quite tough and can handle being in containers better then other flowering plants during the summer months and on through winter.

As the citrus tree grows and shades this spot more, the resident can switch out the sun-loving herbs for container plants that enjoy shady conditions.

 So, what do you think of this solution? Do you have an area like this where you want to add color up against a bare wall?

I hope you enjoyed my first “AZ Plant Lady House Call”.  I will be posting more in the future in the hopes that I can help you with an issue you may be facing in your own garden.

This past weekend, I had a special helper accompany me on one of my landscape consults….

My son, Kai.

He has never expressed any interest in going with me before – but I think he was bored and his best friend (who lives across the street) wasn’t going to be home.

So, Kai offered to come with me and be my ‘photographer’. 

As I was talking to my clients, Kai would take photos of certain plants, landscape areas or problems, which I would later include in my report.
He caught me gesturing to this evergreen pear tree, above.
Kai also took some good close-ups as well…
 Salt damage from lack of deep watering.
Manganese deficiency in citrus tree.
Kai did also take a few photos with me in them, but he neglected to press the ‘skinny button’ on my camera so I elected not to include them in this post.  (Okay, I know that a ‘skinny button’ does not exist on a camera, but I wish someone would invent one, don’t you?)
As our consult progressed to the backyard, Kai was no longer taking pictures.
Instead, he was finding himself in some of the photos I took….
 Meeting my client’s new chickens.
Swinging from rings in an old citrus tree.
Kai and I both had an enjoyable time.  The clients were very nice people who had a beautiful landscape.  
I hope that Kai was able to see more clearly what I do for my work, (besides writing blogs and articles). 
But all he said on the way home was, “Can we get some ice-cream?”
“Absolutely.”

Do you ever wonder if you are doing things right in your landscape?
If a plant or tree doesn’t look too well, do you wonder if it is something you are doing wrong?
When I am called to do a landscape consultation, my client usually has a primary concern.  But, part of my job is to also look at the landscape as a whole and point out other problems – hopefully before they affect the plant negatively.
So, I decided to start posting photos of problems I have spotted during consults in hopes that I can help you too.
Below, are two pictures of a very common landscape mistake that I see constantly.  Usually the homeowner/client has no idea that they are doing anything wrong.
Can you tell what is wrong?
It isn’t always super obvious…
 I’d love to hear what you think is wrong – just send me a comment, below.
I’ll post about this ‘landscape no-no’ and what problems it causes and how to correct it in my next post 🙂