Landscaping and Gardening Services in Pismo Beach and SLO County
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15 Dec 2016

Kotolo Milkweed



Kotolo Milkweed is also called Indian Milkweed and Woollypod Milkweed. Milkweed is necessary for monarch butterflies in all stages of growth. This plant is a tall perennial with clusters of bluish-white and pale lavender flowers. It will bring beauty and butterflies to your drought-resistant garden.


Kotolo Milkweed is native to California, growing in the chaparral, meadows and woodland clearings. It needs full sun but isn’t picky about soil. It can grow in rocky soil, sandy soil and clay.

Home to the Monarch

Plant Milkweed to help the declining monarch butterfly population. It hosts the monarch from birth through the caterpillar stage and then feeds the adult butterfly.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on Milkweed plants. The caterpillars eat the foliage, so holes in the leaves are to be expected. Using pesticides or other chemicals will be counterproductive.

Monarch caterpillars live on the plant and spin their cocoons there. You can expect to see three generations of adult monarchs from about the end of April through July.

Destruction of Milkweed habitats is one of the factors involved in the decreasing numbers of monarchs. If you’re planting a bird and butterfly garden, Kotolo Milkweed should be at the top of your list.

In the Garden

Kotolo Milkweed is toxic to humans and household pets. It’s not a flower for cut bouquets. Take particular care to keep children and pets away from the hairy pods that develop after the plant’s flowering season.

Milkweed’s flowers attract hummingbirds as well as butterflies. It grows to a height of about three feet, making it perfect to plant directly around the birdbath. Butterflies require water as well as nectar. You can then put shorter flowering plants around the Milkweed and edge it with pebbles or even small boulders to create a barrier.

This variety often grows close to pines in the wild, so you can plant it close to them as long as it gets sun. It’s also found near oaks and growing alongside Sagebrush.

Water and Temperatures

Water this plant twice a month during the summer, preferably at the base to avoid damage to monarch cocoons.

Milkweed is very tolerant of temperatures below freezing.

Things to Remember:
• Milkweed is the host plant of monarch butterflies
• It requires full sun
• This plant is toxic to humans and pets

Due to Kotolo Milkweed’s unique characteristics, it’s best to work with a landscaper when deciding where to place it. Contact us today to start designing your butterfly garden.

30 Nov 2016

Laurel Sumac



Laurel Sumac is an evergreen shrub with shiny, true green leaves highlighted with red. Some leaves are entirely red. The foliage has a citrusy fragrance. The white flowers smell like apples. After blooming season, the plant produces masses of green berries that turn red. It provides year-round color and interest for your drought-tolerant garden.

Name and History

Laurel Sumac is actually a member of the Cashew family. The name comes from the resemblance of the leaves to the leaves of Bay Laurel.

The Chumash tribe had several uses for this plant. They ate the berries when other food was scarce. We strongly recommend against eating any Sumac berries because some varieties are toxic. They made the berries into a tea to treat mouth sores. When dried and prepared, the leaves have antiseptic properties. The Chumash used the leaves to treat rashes caused by other plants. This is a native California plant with a rich history.

Growing Conditions

If an area gets too cold for oranges to grow, it’s too cold for Laurel Sumac. In the wild, this shrub grows along the southern coast and is an integral element of the chaparral. When planted in the proper environment, it’s one of our heartiest native plants. It’s one of the first shrubs to grow back after a fire.

Like most drought-resistant shrubs, this one grows best in sandy or rocky soil with good drainage. It requires almost no summer water. Plant it in full sun.

Flowering Season

In appropriate conditions, this shrub flowers from January through June. The berries appear in late summer and are ripe by autumn. Berries not eaten by wildlife turn black in winter and drop off the plant.


Laurel Sumac is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Bees and butterflies feed on the flowers. Birds love the red berries. It’s a large shrub, growing from 10 to 15 feet tall in the wild. Because it’s an evergreen with heavy foliage, it provides excellent winter shelter for birds and small wildlife.

Companion Plants

This is a parasitic plant. It needs to grow close to California Sagebrush, other varieties of Sage or Ceanothus. Its roots draw essential nutrients from these companion plants.

Things to remember:
• Don’t plant in areas where temps fall below freezing
• It needs companion plants
• This large shrub is colorful all year

Laurel Sumac is popular because of its year-round color and benefits to wildlife. Contact us today to learn about using it in your garden next year.

16 Nov 2016

California Peony

California Peony


The California peony has such an exotic appeal that it’s become a subject for decorative embroidery. We can be proud because it’s one of our native California beauties. It has a luscious look with its deep red to black petals and profusion of thick yellow stamens. If you want a flower that’s drought tolerant and sure to start conversations, plant California peony.

A True Californian

California peony grows only in southwestern California. It likes dry areas, the chaparral, slopes and sage scrub on the coast. It also grows in forest underbrush. Summer water can cause root rot, so it’s a good choice if you live in a drought-prone area.

Melancholy Beauty

The blooms are heavy and tend to droop when the stem reaches full height of just over two feet tall. The dramatically colored flowers are dotted amidst thick stands of foliage. Each plant has up to 30 stems, nearly all leaves, with two or three flowers in different stages of maturity. The blooms are about the width of two fingers.

Each flower has six to a dozen petals. The petals are thick, bright red at the top and darkening to purplish-black. The California peony is quite exotic and stands out from every other drought tolerant flower in the garden.

The Essentials

Cultivating California peony often requires the efforts of pro. The plant is demanding regarding water and drainage. It can tolerate almost no summer water and must have soil with excellent drainage. It likes loam and clay.

California peony grows best when facing north. It’s a good plant for the sloping area on your property and can survive well on the edges of your property because it’s not of interest to deer.

Early Bloomer

For the earliest spots of color in your yard, plant California peony. It blooms January through March. The flowers die off when other spring plants start to bloom.

A Worthwhile Challenge

Part of the allure of the California peony is the challenge of nurturing it to its peak growth. It’s an unusual jewel in the midst of common drought resistant plants. Flower lovers find them so beautiful that they travel to see them in the wild during their prime blooming time. California peonies in bloom are worthy of showing off to your friends.

The seed heads are also attractive after the petals fall. After blooming and going to seed, California peony dies off entirely until next spring. Finding it in bloom is as exciting to lovers of rare plants as a sighting of an infrequently seen bird to a birder.

To bring out the best in California peony, it’s essential to work with a landscaper specializing in gardening. The extra effort is worth it to see this singular beauty flourishing in your garden. Contact us if you find California peony intriguing.

Things to Remember:
• No summer water
• Soil must have excellent drainage
• California peony is one of our earliest bloomers
• It’s exotic and requires care to cultivate

Evergreen Landscaping would love to help you turn your garden dreams into a reality. Contact us for a free consultation.


01 Nov 2016

Purple Owl’s Clover

Purple owls clover


Few things are more beautiful than a field of purple owl’s clover. It’s found in the chaparral and along the coast. It can grow up to 18 inches tall. It’s the perfect plant for creating colorful drama in your drought tolerant garden.

Early Garden Color

Purple owl’s clover’s blooming season runs March through May. It’s an annual in the Indian paintbrush family. It brings welcome color in shades of true purple to magenta. The base of the petals can be burgundy. The combination of colors and the way that the petals spread out do make the plant resemble a paintbrush.

Purple owl’s clover grows in clumps of about a dozen flowers. Each stem is covered with long, slender leaves. The plant is technically a shrub. It’s fast growing, so you won’t have to wait long to enjoy its showy beauty. It grows so thickly that the seedlings may require thinning.

Sun and Soil

This flowering shrub loves sun, especially morning sun, but it can grow in areas that get partial sun. For maximum flowers and height, keep to sunny areas.

Purple owl’s clover tolerates most soils as long as it’s in an area with good drainage. It likes rocky soil, sandy soil and clay. Plant it in different areas of your yard for maximum visual effect.


Established plants require little water. It’s important that purple owl’s clover is watered lightly but enough to soak the soil after planting. Your landscaper will also make sure that the planting area is correctly prepared. Correct planting and initial watering will help ensure that purple owl’s clover grows well and is hardy.

Companion Plants

Purple owl’s clover is a semi-parasitic plant, growing with “companion plants” like California peony in the wild. The clover’s roots reach out for the roots of nearby plants to obtain nutrients during drought. For best results and a natural looking garden, plant purple owl’s clover with wildflowers it grows alongside in nature.

Lupine is another companion plant to purple owl’s clover. Planting it, California peony and purple owl’s clover together will give you a gorgeous “meadow” of true blue, saffron yellow and pinkish purple.

A Butterfly Meadow in Your Yard

It’s best to pick a large, sunny area on your property where purple owl’s clover and its companion plants can flourish. The clover is of special importance to the Bay checkerspot butterfly, an endangered species. Bees also seek it out. By making a space on your property for purple owl’s clover, you help pollinators find food and places to lay their eggs.

The borders of your property, along fences and on rocky slopes are good areas for purple owl’s clover.

Purple owl’s clover should be planted in mid-fall, no later than the end of October, so call us today to ensure a beautiful spring garden.

Things to Remember:
• Purple owl’s clover starts blooming in early spring
• It requires careful planting
• It attracts endangered butterflies
• It’s low water and low maintenance

If you need help with creating a beautiful landscaping for your home, contact us today at (805) 773-5395

19 Oct 2016

Elegant Clarkia

Elegant Clarkia

Elegant clarkia is a great addition to your drought-tolerant California garden. It’s also known as “Farewell-To-Spring” because its flowers start to bloom when spring flowers fade. The blooms are in the purple family, range from amethyst to magenta and are a delight to the eyes.

Jewel Tones in Your Garden

Clarkia produces a rainbow of purple flowers from late spring until the end of June. Up close, individual plants almost resemble gladioli. From a distance, a hedge of clarkias is a mass of every shade of purple. Some flowers are even blushing shades of pink.

If you have lavender in your drought-resistant garden, clarkia is a good complementary choice. Clarkia adds bright pops of color that enhance lavender’s dusty grayish shade of purple.

A Standout Beauty

Clarkia is a great choice for hedges or lining walkways or fences. Elegant clarkia grows to over three feet in height. Unlike some of the taller flowering plants, clarkia stands up well with no assistance. One dramatic way to utilize it in your garden is to create a defined bed of nothing but clarkia.

A winding path lined with clarkia is a pleasant way for your guests to find their way to your door or patio. Many people plant clarkia around their birdbaths. The large flowers are attractive to all pollinators, especially hummingbirds. The one-inch deep blooms make it easy for hummingbirds to reach the nectar. We recommend clarkia to clients specifically interested in creating bird and butterfly gardens.

You can also bring the beauty of clarkia into your home. It’s one of the best flowers to cut and, when placed in a simple tall vase, looks like it came straight from the florist.

Water and Sun Requirements

Elegant clarkia is a fast grower and tolerates full sun or partial shade. Partial shade is advisable since the wild plant grows in woodlands under pines and oaks. Clarkia grows best in soil that is a mixture of sand and clay.

Clarkia is one of the easiest drought-tolerant plants you can select for your garden. Its water requirement is so low that we advise no water during the summer.

Caring for Clarkia

Clarkia will produce many seedlings. Don’t thin out seedlings. Clarkia produces the most abundant blooms as part of a stand of many plants. Weeding isn’t necessary.

Clarkia can be planted in fall or after the last frost in areas prone to cold winters. Contact us today so that you can have clarkia in your garden next spring.

Things to Remember:
• Clarkia needs very little water
• It attracts hummingbirds and bees
• It requires no special care

26 Sep 2016

Greenbark Ceanothus

Greenbark Ceanothus

Greenbark ceanothus is a shrub that produces fragrant white to blue flowers. It’s found along the coast and is part of California’s chaparral. Other names for the shrub are redheart and red-heart mountain lilac.

A Hardy Shrub for Your Garden

The green bark of this ceanothus contributed to its most commonly known name. The wood is red, hence the shrub’s other fanciful names.

Ceanothus spinosus blooms between January and the end of June. Extensive pruning won’t harm it and may be necessary to prevent it from growing out of control and becoming straggly. Ceanothus spinosus can be cut back to a short trunk and still regrow.

Shaping Your Ceanothus Spinosus

The greenbark ceanothus is a drought-tolerant shrub that requires the attention of a professional landscaper to look its best. In the wild, it often grows to be 20 feet tall. You can allow your shrub to grow to the height of a small tree and still enjoy clusters of blue or white flowers dripping from the branches. With expert pruning at the right time of year, you can have a bushy shrub thick with flowers.

Temperature Tolerance and Placement

A north-facing, sloping area on your property is the ideal place for ceanothus spinosus. It grows best in cool temperatures but can’t tolerate cold below five degrees Fahrenheit.

This ceanothus grows in rocky soil in the wild and is a great choice if you’re trying to control soil erosion on your cliff-side property. Natural soil is a must for a healthy plant.

Water and Feeding

It’s important that you don’t water your ceanothus spinosus during the summer. Keeping the environment natural increases the shrub’s lifetime. Introducing artificial elements like plant food or fertilizer can weaken this ceanothus, rendering it unable to survive in the face of natural disturbances.

Wildfire Considerations

Ceanothus spinosus presents a low danger of flammability. Removing dead or dying branches from older trees further reduces the danger of flammability.

Importance to Wildlife

Ground fowl like quail often shelter under ceanothus spinosus, and other birds and small wildlife use it for protection from winter winds. Deer may nibble on the evergreen foliage but aren’t significantly bothersome.

The flowers of greenbark ceanothus are of vital importance to native bees. Planting this shrub improves the environment by providing food for pollinators and preventing soil erosion.

Ceanothus spinosus may sound like a complicated plant, but its only requirements are the correct soil and growing environment and professional pruning. If you’d like to learn more about it and why it may be the perfect plant for your coastal property, contact us.

Things to Remember:
• Ceanothus spinosus requires yearly pruning
• Natural soil is a requirement for the health of the shrub
• This shrub is important to native bees and to control soil erosion

08 Sep 2016

Chaparral Currant

Chaparral Currant



Chaparral currant is a refreshing change from succulents and grasses. It’s a gorgeous shrub that, when in bloom, is almost reminiscent of wisteria. The blooms range from pale pink to rosy pink and light purple.

A Colorful, Drought Resistant Beauty

Chaparral currant is a member of the gooseberry family. In the wild, it can grow as tall as 10 feet, but we recommend keeping it no taller than five feet for better bloom production. Chaparral currant has something to offer every drought tolerant garden.

The fruit of the chaparral currant is edible. Currants can be made into jams and jellies and used in other ways in desserts, and the leaves can be added to herbal teas. Always be sure to check with your landscaper before eating fruits from plants that aren’t familiar to you. One type of plant may produce fruit safe for people and animals while the fruit of another plant in the same family may be inedible and even dangerous to people.

One of the most attractive traits of chaparral currant is its blooming season. Chaparral currant often begins to bloom in October and produces fragrant flowers through May. It’s a must for winter color in your garden.

Just the Right Amount of Water

A young chaparral currant can wither away due to overwatering or under watering, so it’s best to let your landscaper handle the irrigation. Once established, the shrub shouldn’t be watered during the summer when it’s not blooming or producing fruit.

Placement in Your Garden

Chaparral currant grows in clay and rocky soil, on slopes and in woodlands. It can grow in sun or partial shade. Like purple needlegrass, chaparral currant likes the environment under an oak tree. Soil with good drainage is important.

Many people plant chaparral currant close to their birdbaths. The shrub is very attractive to birds, particularly hummingbirds. Hummingbirds love chaparral currant so much that they’ll visit your garden even if you don’t have a hummingbird feeder.

Chaparral currant is a good choice to line your walkway because it can grow equally well in the shade of your house and the direct sun of your yard. The fragrant flowers make it a pleasing shrub to plant around your patio. Plant chaparral currant in areas where you and your guests can enjoy watching hummingbirds feeding from the blooms.

Chaparral currant attracts butterflies as well as hummingbirds. The shrub gives tailed copper butterflies a place to lay their eggs, and the foliage feeds the caterpillars.

Chaparral currant provides a much-needed lush, colorful element in drought resistant gardens. Due to its particular watering requirements in its juvenile phase, we recommend the care of an experienced landscaper so that chaparral currant achieves its full beauty. Call or email us to discuss adding this lovely shrub to your garden.

Things to Remember:
• Chaparral currant has specific watering needs in its first year
• It flowers from autumn through spring
• It’s attractive to hummingbirds

24 Aug 2016

Purple Needlegrass

Purple Needlegrass

Purple needlegrass is a type of bunchgrass, a wild grass that grows in clusters. It’s one of our most well known wild grasses.In fact, it’s California’s official native grass. What makes purple needlegrass so recognizable and popular?

Burrowing Seeds and Roots

The seeds of purple needlegrass have a sharp end called an awn. The awn helps the seed work its way into the earth, giving the plant the name needlegrass. The awn is so sharp that it’s a common cause of injury to livestock. Be sure to wear shoes around your purple needlegrass, and keep pets away from it.

Purple needlegrass’s root system is far-reaching and can extend as far as 20 feet. It can grow in woodland soils, clay and otherwise barren soil. It’s recommended to improve areas with soil erosion due to its wide-ranging roots and hardy nature.

A Colorful and Resilient Landscaping Grass

The leaves of purple needlegrass remain green throughout the year and top out at around one foot in height. The flower stems grow to two feet in height, making an attractive contrast when the flowers bloom.

Purple needlegrass’s flowers look a lot like wild wheat. They’re purplish-red and almost iridescent in direct sunlight. Although the flowers aren’t the type you’d cut and put in a vase, they’re handsome and add some rich color to your yard in early spring.

Historical and Modern Uses for Purple Needlegrass

Native Americans used the leaves of purple needlegrass for weaving baskets. The California Indian Basket Weavers still use purple needlegrass leaves to teach basket weaving to children.

In addition to replenishing areas with soil erosion, purple needlegrass is utilized to stifle the growth of invasive non-native plants. Planting purple needlegrass can both improve your soil and protect native plants, but for the best growth, don’t plant it too close to other grasses. Your landscaper can help you pick the best places to plant purple needlegrass.

Purple Needlegrass in Your Garden

You can plant purple needlegrass in full sun or partial shade. It doesn’t need much water, but some irrigation during the height of summer will keep the leaves from going brown. Water purple needlegrass once a month during the summer.

Purple needlegrass is primarily used in landscaping as a groundcover. It can be planted under trees for additional visual interest.

Purple needlegrass doesn’t produce the type of flowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies, but it is a very important food source for small wildlife, especially since so many native grasses that wildlife depends on for food have been overtaken by non-native exotic grasses.

Contact us today to learn more about landscaping with purple needlegrass.

Things to Remember:
• Purple needlegrass is ideal for yards prone to soil erosion
• It grows in nearly all soils and in sun or partial shade
• Purple needlegrass is a valuable food source for native wildlife and helps reduce the growth of invasive species



17 Aug 2016



Where there is chaparral, you’ll find chamise. It’s one of the shrubs that make up the easily recognizable ground covering in the California high desert. Chaparral, and by association chamise, range from Mexico to California and into Nevada and Oregon.

A Flowering Shrub for the Harshest Landscapes

You probably wouldn’t think that this hardy, drought tolerant shrub that grows in the high desert is a member of the rose family. When viewed up close at the height of its late spring and early summer blooming season, the shrub is covered with masses of small white flowers with pale yellow-green centers. It’s considered an evergreen and will look best and produce more blooms if the dead seed heads are pruned.

Chamise can grow up to 12 feet tall. Again, pruning it to keep it under control at a shorter height will result in a more attractive plant that will add dense greenery to your yard all year. The leaves are a handsome olive shade of green. Some homeowners choose to allow the shrubs to grow to their full height for use as a windbreak. Another benefit of adding chamise to your yard is the prevention of soil erosion. Chamise is recommended in particular for homeowners with sloping properties.

Soil and Irrigation

The best soil for chamise is natural, rocky, sandy soil. Remember that this is a shrub that thrives in the harshest natural conditions. It’s one of the first shrubs to reappear after wildfires.

Chamise is drought resistant but has special water needs. Your landscaper can advise you about fire dangers associated with chamise. Warm weather can bring out flammable oils on the leaves. Watering chamise once or twice a month during the hottest part of summer will greatly reduce the production of these oils.

The Best Places to Grow Chamise

Chamise is a good shrub for the entrance to your driveway. If you have a cliffside property, chamise in full bloom looks dramatic spreading out on and hanging over the cliff. If you have a yard with a lot of natural boulders, plant chamise around them.

Chamise and Wildlife

Do you have problems with wildlife grazing on your plants? Chamise isn’t a favorite of deer and other animals that seem to view your garden as a buffet. Chamise is an important native plant because its flowers feed butterflies, and its shrubbery provides fall and winter shelter for birds and small animals. The dense leaves form a natural nesting environment.

Chamise in the Garden

Chamise dresses up areas of gardens with non-flowering shrubs. It looks impressive planted with other tall shrubs that produce blooms of different colors, particular shades of purple. As mentioned above, chamise is an ideal choice for adding greenery to a rock garden.

Contact us to learn more about landscaping with chamise and using native plants in your rock garden.

Things to Remember:
• Chamise is a survivor in hot, rocky environments where other plants can’t grow
• It must be watered once a month
• It helps prevent soil erosion

01 Aug 2016

Hairy Ceanothus

Hairy Ceanothus

Hairy ceanothus, or hairy mountain lilac, is a California native with some very attractive qualities to the gardener seeking drought tolerant plants. Landscapers recommend little to no water after the plant becomes established. Hairy ceanothus is an evergreen with stunning blue-violet flowers.

Hairy Ceanothus and Irrigation

How much water a plant requires and when is the primary concern of Pismo Beach area gardeners. Overwatering your hairy ceanothus can kill it. The plant is prone to root rot. Like most California plants, hairy ceanothus requires soil with good drainage. When watering hairy ceanothus, avoid wetting the leaves. This can damage the plant. The best irrigation for hairy ceanothus is to water nearby plants; the roots of the hairy ceanothus will seek out damp soil up to several feet away. When caring for drought tolerant plants, professional irrigation is the best way to ensure that each plant gets the correct amount of water in the best fashion.

One of hairy ceanothus’s many good qualities is that established (over one year old) plants don’t like summer water. When you plant hairy ceanothus, you get a beautiful plant that you really don’t have to worry about watering.

An Attractive Garden Shrub

The “hairy” in hairy ceanothus comes from the prickly appearance of the edges of the leaves and the hairy texture of the undersides. The leaves are a handsome true green and make a gorgeous contrast for the purple flowers. This shrub can grow up to nine feet tall, so it will be stunning when in full bloom. The flowers have a fragrance ranging from pleasant to intense. Hairy ceanothus is another shrub like chamise that prefers a sloping area with rocky soil, so it’s perfect for the bottom of your property. It can also be planted close to the house or patio as a background for shorter plants. Keep in mind that hairy ceanothus will spread out, making it a good choice for barren areas of your yard. It’s a popular choice for hedges.

Sun or Shade?

Hairy ceanothus grows well in full sun, but can also be planted in partial shade. The important thing to keep in mind when placing hairy ceanothus in your garden is that it prefers to face north. If you plant hairy ceanothus in partial shade, it will require even less water than when planted when full sun.

Wildlife and Hairy Ceanothus

The profusion of blue-violet flowers is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. You should take precautions against mule deer. Some small animals and ground birds like quail eat the reddish-green berries. Like other large evergreen shrubs, hairy ceanothus provides essential shelter to birds and small wildlife during the winter.

History of Ceanothus

Hairy ceanothus is one of our many California plants that were important to Native Americans. Some tribes used the leaves in herbal teas for different purposes. The Miwok tribe used the branches in basket-weaving.

If you want a beautiful, interesting drought resistant shrub that’s a part of California history, call us to find out if hairy ceanothus is right for your yard.