San Anselmo landscape designer Dig Your Garden

What goes into a winning garden look? For me, the best gardens rely upon a creator who has a great eye, a solid understanding of how all the varying components — weather, soil, drainage, color, shapes and textures — affect the whole and a creative knack for putting it all together. This can be overwhelming for an amateur but not for a professional. So I asked Eileen Kelly, winner of one of Houzz’s 2016 awards for customer service this year (her fourth Houzz win in as many years) — to share her secrets for a winning landscape. Houzz is a national online home design website. The San Anselmo landscape designer and owner of Dig Your Garden Landscape Design excels at designing outdoor living spaces that provide function and beauty throughout the seasons based upon the desires of her clients. She incorporates drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plants using eco-friendly practices. Here are Kelly’s tips: • Determine the theme or style for your landscape and stick to it. “This will help determine shapes and organize the space. Consider the architecture of your home, the colors and textures and echo them in your plant palette, hardscape areas, pottery and throughout your outdoor living areas.” • Add a focal point. “Elements such as a sculpture, water feature, birdbath, or boulders­­ make a statement. Perhaps a beautiful plant specimen or tree, a bench, a pergola or a dramatic planter. Consider views from within your home when deciding placement.” • Group plants and use repetition for balance. “A garden with too many different types of plants or too many colors can be overpowering. If you desire a calmer landscape, use fewer plants repeated in groups of three, five or more, and fewer flower and leaf colors, for a natural and less cluttered result.” • To achieve a garden with year-round appeal, look beyond the bloom. “ After flowering, not all plants hold up their good looks throughout the seasons. Intermingle plants that provide a variety of leaf textures and shapes; and leaf colors such as burgundy, grays and shades of green, for all-season interest. And choose plants that flower at different times of the year.” • To conserve water, group plants by water needs. Use an efficient irrigation system and apply mulch to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weed growth. “For low-water gardens I like combining select California natives with plants from other Mediterranean regions to provide interest in all seasons. I include succulents and other textural plants in the mix for interest with low-care, low-water needs.” • Plan your garden for expected growth. “Understand how large a plant or tree will grow at maturity and space accordingly. Do the research, or have landscape professions recommend and install the plants that are appropriate for your garden and site conditions.” • Want to replace or reduce your lawn? “There are a variety of alternatives. Lower-water ground covers such as Dymondia margaretae ‘Silver Carpet’ is one hard worker that can take some foot traffic. Or fill areas with a gravel or decomposed granite (DG), and add a focal point.” • Brighten shady areas. “Use variegated plants (plants with white edging) and plants with bright green foliage and textures to create brightness and dimension.” • Create outdoor rooms or a secluded nook. “I like the concept of not always revealing the entire landscape at first glance. Create mystery by obscuring an area of the landscape from view with shrubs, fencing or vines, or create a pathway that leads to a hidden area or a secret garden.” • Are you a do-it-yourselfer? “Do your homework or engage knowledgeable landscape professionals to help. Before becoming a landscape designer, I regret not hiring a designer to help with my personal landscape. I made a lot of mistakes and wasted money on plants that weren’t appropriate. I learned the hard way. It pays to work with knowledgeable professionals for landscape design consultation and beyond.” For information on Eileen Kelly, go to www.digyourgarden.com. PJ’S QUOTE OF THE WEEK “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” — author Margaret Atwood DON’T-MISS EVENTS • Which vegetables are surefire winners for Mill Valley gardens? Laura Nicoletti will tell you from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 5 and also explain how to prepare soil, sow seeds, when to buy starts and when to transplant them. This free GardenSmart class is at the Mill Valley Public Library at 375 Throckmorton Ave. in Mill Valley. Register at 415-389-4292 or www.millvalleylibrary.org. • Buy your favorite vegetables and herbs at 10 a.m. March 6 at Armstrong Garden Centers and learn how to plant and harvest them for summertime garden-to-table meals. The free class is at 1430 S. Novato Blvd. in Novato (415-878-0493) or 130 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Anselmo (415-459-2701). Go to www.armstronggarden.com. • Snag some marvelous magnolias and their companion plants at 10 a.m. March 5 at the monthly plant sale at the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park at 1199 Ninth Ave. in San Francisco. Garden admission is $8; discounts for seniors, youth and families. Call 415-661-1316 or go to www.sfbotanicalgardensociety.org. • It’s tomato time at Sloat Garden Center; learn what you need to know, from planting to favorite varieties, at 10:30 a.m. April 10 at 2000 Novato Blvd., Novato (415-897-2169); 401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley (415-388-0365); or 700 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Kentfield (415-454-0262). Cost is $10 for non-members. Go to www.sloatgardens.com. • Teens, stop in at PBTeen at Strawberry Village, 800 Redwood Highway, Suite 211 in Mill Valley any time now through the end of March and pick up free design tips on painting your room from color selection to statement walls. Call 415-380-5038 or go to www.pbteen.com. PJ Bremier writes on home, garden, design and entertaining topics every Saturday and also on her blog at DesignSwirl.co. She may be contacted at P.O. Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at pj@pjbremier.com. David N. Swaim Tam Realty Inc Owner DRE#1070789 415-710-5504 609 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo CA 94960 www.tamrealty.com Serving all of Marin County

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