Landscaping and Gardening Services in Pismo Beach and SLO County
264 Irish Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Mon-Sat: 7:00AM - 5:00PM
02 May 2017

Three Little Landscaping Ideas that Bring Big Results

When you live in an area where drought-tolerant plants are a must, all the lawns start to look alike.

These simple landscaping ideas will make your lawn stand out from your neighbor’s yard. When you try these landscaping tricks, you’ll want to spend all your time in your garden.

Add Planters to Your Garden

landscaping ideasPlanters can keep your lawn colorful and your garden going during the worst droughts. Even if you’re under severe water restrictions, you can still water them. Planters of differing sizes give your garden extra visual appeal. You can also bring your garden onto your patio or to your poolside with containers.

really big planter can overflow with flowers typically used as groundcover, making them a focal point for a change. If you want a container full of color, choose a flower like Purple Owl’s Clover that doesn’t get too tall. You can also create a mini garden in an extra-large planter.

A big ceramic bowl planter looks great with tall native grasses and shorter plants. Asymmetrical design makes your container garden design even more interesting. Don’t put the tall plants in the middle. Place them at the side of the planter and let succulents and trailing greenery fill out the planter.

Do you love fresh herbs? Big planters full of basil and peppermint will look great on your patio and smell divine on hot summer evenings.

Give Plants Support

You don’t have to have a full white picket fence to enjoy the traditional effect. Just one short section of fencing with tall flowers like California Peony leaning through the pickets will brighten your lawn.

If white pickets aren’t your style, try a more California style of fencing. A corner of decorative rail fencing helps shrubs stand up and suits Mission and Southwestern style homes. Redwood or a redwood stain is the perfect touch.

The key to making decorative fencing work is to use it sparingly. Too much will overwhelm your lawn.

Climbing plantings like Clematis need a trellis. Use a traditional trellis to frame your walkway or door. Vines with heavy foliage or flowers and a roof trellis make a shady spot on your lawn or a beautiful entrance to your patio.

Pacific Garden Pathways

You don’t have to have a big garden to add a pathway or two. Pea stones in small or medium sizes are perfect for paths from your back door or patio that wander through your garden. If you’re entertaining, lining your path with torches will ensure your party is successful.

Try edging your path with red volcanic rock for a classic California look. This is a great look if you have Cacti in your garden.

Do you have a large garden? Multiple wandering paths are perfect for relaxing meditative walks. Add a waterfall or pond and bench for the ultimate luxury garden.

Whether it’s picking herbs or sitting by a waterfall watching butterflies in your flowers, your garden should engage you and your guests. To learn more about implementing these landscaping ideas, contact us today.


21 Apr 2017

Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Landscaper

It’s vital to check a landscaper’s background before hiring them. Hiring an unlicensed landscaper can lead to delays, poor results and even damage to your property. For peace of mind and a great looking lawn, make sure that your landscaper is licensed and insured.

Landscaping Shouldn’t Be Stressful

Landscaping your property should be enjoyable. You should see changes and improvements from your first appointment. Some warning signs to watch out for are:

• Inability to provide a license and insurance paperworkunlicensed landscaper
• Drastic changes in quotes after starting work
• No thorough consultation
• Delays and canceled appointments
• Poor attitude towards your ideas

If a company doesn’t have a license and there’s a problem with a job, it can be difficult for you to file a complaint. An unlicensed contractor can disappear with your money and leave your job unfinished. Don’t be afraid to ask for verification of your landscaper’s licensing status.

A good landscaper will be on time. Sometimes delays are inevitable. In that case, the workers should contact you. You shouldn’t have to take time off work to wait for someone who can’t be reached by phone.

It’s difficult to give you a quote without seeing your lawn. Your landscaper should offer free consultations and walk your entire property with you. This helps your landscaper get an idea of sun and soil conditions so that you get the lawn and garden you want.

You and your landscaper should be partners. If they display negativity towards what you want, that’s a sign to keep looking.

Landscaping Disasters

An unlicensed landscaper is probably inexperienced. Inexperienced workers may not give you the results you want. They may even cause damage to your grass, existing plants or trees. This can lead to a big expense for you and a lot of stress.

Experienced pros will trace your sprinkler system and check it for damage. An amateur can easily ruin your sprinkler system and disappear, leaving you with a wrecked lawn and a big repair bill. This is why it’s so important that your landscaper be insured.

Lawn chemicals must be used with knowledge and care. Using too much weed killer can kill your flowers or burn your grass. Improperly applied chemicals are dangerous to children and pets.

Weed killers and fertilizers belong in the hands of lawn care professionals. Don’t let an unlicensed landscaper ruin your lawn and kill bees and butterflies with too many chemicals. Make sure that you hire someone with a license and lawn care expertise.

How to Find the Best Landscapers

Start with neighbors and friends. Ask for references. If you’re new to the area, contact the local chamber of commerce to learn about a specific business. You can also get information from the Better Business Bureau.

If you’re in Pismo Beach or anywhere else in San Luis Obispo County, give us a call. We’re a licensed and insured full-service landscaping company. Our professional contractors are courteous and punctual. We offer everything from gardening to irrigation services. You’ll love your lawn and yard when you work with us.


30 Mar 2017

Toxic Indoor Plants

All parents have been surprised at the things small children will put in their mouths. Every dog owner knows that a dog will eat anything it can reach. Even finicky cats are attracted to greenery. It’s important to know if a houseplant, a bouquet of holiday flowers or garden flowers can make your children or pets seriously ill.

Indoor Greenery that Can Be Dangerous

  • Philodendron
  • Arrowhead
  • Golden Pothos 
  • Dieffenbachia 
  •  Caladium


Philodendrons are some of the most common houseplants in the U.S. They’re easy to grow from cuttings and to keep alive in soil and water. Homeowners may keep hanging varieties inside year-round. Larger plants like Fiddle Leaf Philodendron are typically kept on the patio unless the weather goes below freezing. Philodendron has a high level of toxicity to children and pets. 
Arrowhead is a handsome potted plant. It has glossy medium green leaves streaked with white. Both the leaves and sap can cause digestive upset and breathing difficulties in cats and dogs.  
Dieffenbachia has dramatically colored white and green leaves. Its juice is so toxic that some South American tribes used the juice to make poison arrows. The juice causes skin damage and digestive upset. This plant should not be in a home with children or pets, and you should exercise caution when handling it. 
Golden Pothos is another plant with green and white leaves. It’s commonly given as cuttings because it can live in water alone. Do not keep Golden Pothos in a household with pets. It can cause death due to asphyxiation or kidney failure. 
Caladium is another dangerous potted plant. It has beautiful heart-shaped leaves with deep red veins. It can cause asphyxia in children and pets and burns to the lips and mouth. 

Hazardous Cut Flowers

  • Calla Lily 
  •  Daffodil 
  •  Hydrangea 
  •  Iris
  •  Gladiolus 
  •  Tulip 

Spring is nearly here, bringing with it holidays that often include cut flower bouquets. Some of the most beautiful and common flowers from the florist or your 
spring garden are toxic. 
Vases of flowers pose particular danger to cats because cats love to knock over anything containing water. Cats also habitually rub their faces on things, especially something new. Calla Lily causes choking, drooling and digestive upset in cats and dogs. It should not be brought into a house with pets. 
Daffodils can cause severe digestive upset in humans and pets. 
Keep Hydrangea out of the house. If ingested, it can cause illness ranging from stomach upset to convulsions and even coma. Be careful touching the plant. Hydrangea can cause skin irritation. 
Irises and Gladioli are in the same family and are moderately toxic to dogs and cats. 
Tulips can cause digestive upset, dizziness and, in extreme cases, convulsions.

What to Do About Toxic Plants 

In an emergency, call Poison Control: 888-426-4435 for pets and 800-222-1222 for children. 
For suggestions about non-toxic houseplants or cut bouquets, contact us. We can suggest many safe options so that you can still enjoy plants in the house. 


15 Mar 2017

Toxic Outdoor Plants

You’re probably familiar with toxic outdoor plants like poison ivy and poison oak, but other toxic wild plants may be growing in your own yard. You might even have dangerous plants in your garden.

Toxic Wild Plants

Harmless vines and shrubs are frequently mistaken forpoison ivyandpoison oak.Your landscaper can show you how to identify the toxic plants. It’s not sufficient to cut down poison oak and ivy. They have to be dug up, and that’s a job for a pro. 
Pacific Poison Oak may present as a vine or shrub. It has clusters of three leaves that are quite attractive when they turn bright orange and gold. Avoid wild vines, shrubs and groundcover with clusters of three leaves. 
Other common toxic wild plants found in California are: 

  • Jimsonweed/Jimson Weed 
  • Castor Bean 
  •  California Buckeye/California Horse Chestnut 

Jimsonweed’s white flowers resemble Moonflower. The green leaves are long with irregular pointed edges, and the fruit is green and covered with spiny thorns. Jimsonweed can be deadly if consumed, especially if by children. 
Castor Bean is attractive in late summer and fall when the spiny fruit turns red and the leaves fade to white and pink. The poison ricin is derived from Castor Beans. Call a professional to remove this plant from your property if you have children or pets. 
California Buckeye is a small tree with frilly white and pale pink flowers. The seeds contain a toxin much like rat poison and are extremely dangerous to children and dogs. 

Problems in the Garden 

  • Hydrangea 
  •  Moonflower 
  •  Foxglove 
  •  Wisteria 
  •  Lantana 
  •  Oleander

All parts of Hydrangea are toxic. Symptoms after ingestion range from digestive upset to unconsciousness. It can also cause painful rashes. 
Moonflower’s seedpods swell after the flower dies. They turn brown in autumn, split open and drop white seeds. The seeds cause digestive upset in children and pets. 
Foxglove looks almost exactly like larkspur: tall, spear-like stems covered with beautiful flowers in all shades of purple. Its deadly toxic white berries turn red and are attractive to children. 
Wisteria’s seeds can cause digestive upset, dizziness, slurred speech and loss of consciousness. 
Lantana’s blooms consist of many small flowers and are typically orange and yellow or pinkish-purple and yellow. Lantana is usually problematic for animals rather than people. It can cause digestive upset and liver damage 
Oleander is a shrub with white or pink flowers and is one of the world’s most deadly plants. One leaf can be fatal to a child. Oleander is also deadly to dogs. 
Cats are unlikely to consume any of these plants but may rub their faces on a plant and come into contact with a toxin. 


In Case of Emergency 
If a child or adult ingests any of the above plants, callPoison Controlat800-222-1222.For pets,call888-426-4435. 
Do You Have Toxic Plants on Your Property? 
We’re here to help. We will identify and safely remove toxic wild plants anddiscuss your optionsregarding dangerous garden plants. If you decide to have garden plants removed, we’ll help you choose replacements.Contact usfor an appointment. 


15 Feb 2017

Hollyleaf Cherry

Hollyleaf Cherry, sometimes referred to as Evergreen Cherry, is a popular plant because of its beauty and its sweet-tasting cherries. It can grow up to 30 feet tall and is called both a shrub and a tree. It typically averages out at around 14 feet when used in landscaping. Its height and dense foliage make it a good choice for privacy hedges.

Appearance and Cherries

It’s easy to mistake Hollyleaf Cherry for Holly. They both have glossy green leaves with sharp points on the edges. True Holly’s berries are bright red, smaller than the fruit of the Evergreen Cherry and grow in tight clusters. This plant’s cherries hang like grape clusters, and the fruit isn’t densely packed together.

The flowers of both plants are creamy white and similar in size. This shrub’s small flowers have frilly-edged petals and pale yellow, Daisy-like centers. They have a discernible, pleasant fragrance. This plant is a year-round beauty. The flowers start to bloom in March and drape the shrub in white petals. In fall, the red cherries will brighten up your garden, and the leaves keep their true green color all year.

The cherries are edible. Take care to remove the single large seed before eating a cherry. They can be toxic. You may like to leave the cherries for birds and small wildlife.

Planting Requirements

Hollyleaf Cherry grows wild in the desert and coastal chaparral. It requires full sun. Plant it on slopes to create a windbreak and slow soil erosion. A good companion plant for this shrub is Coffee Berry. Landscapers recommend planting them together when creating a privacy hedge because Coffee Berry grows at a faster rate. You may need to thin seedlings when the plants are established.

Soil for this shrub should be well-draining. Speak to your landscaper about adding richer soil at the time of planting.

Adult plants need monthly watering during summer. New plants may need weekly water.


Like Coffee Berry, this shrub provides food for a variety of popular birds. Small animals also eat the cherries. Hollyleaf Cherry provides important winter shelter for birds. It’s not of interest to deer.

This is a host plant for the caterpillars of the pale swallowtail butterfly. Its flowers attract other butterflies as well as bees.


In addition to using this plant as a privacy hedge, you can plant it close to your house and have it pruned twice a year to keep it at a standard hedge size. Young trees are available for homeowners who want to establish a windbreak. Birders may want to add two or three plants to their gardens. Whatever your planned use, this plant will be visually pleasing all year.

Things to Remember:

  • This large shrub will grow into a tree without pruning
  • The berries are edible after the pit is removed
  • Birds and butterflies rely on this plant for food and shelter

Don’t be intimidated by Hollyleaf Cherry’s size. We’ll help you care for it. Contact us today for all your drought-tolerant landscaping needs.

25 Jan 2017

Coffee Berry

Coffee Berry, also called California Coffeeberry and California Buckthorn, is amedium to tall flowering shrub. The berries that give the plant its name appear in midsummer. Although not a member of the Coffea genus, this plant’s seeds can be used to make a beverage similar in taste to Chicory.


Multiple Native American tribes relied on Coffee Berry for food and for medicinal purposes. The berries are edible fresh and dried. Native Americans used both the leaves and bark to treat skin irritations. While Native Americans were experienced in using the bark to treat digestive problems, we advise against ingesting it due to the possibility of stomach upset.

Some cooks make jam from the berries. Get advice from a plant expert to make sure the berries are ripe before you eat them, and never eat any berries unless you’re certain of the plant’s identity. Be aware that this plant’s fruits have pits.

Height and Appearance

Height estimates for this shrub range from three feet to 12 feet depending on the type of soil, the amount of sunlight it receives and where you plant it. Its width can match its height. Pruning must be done at the correct time of year to avoid damaging the plant. Consult a landscaper before pruning.

The Coffee Berry shrub has dark red branches and long, slender leaves of true green edged with scarlet. The white flowers are star shaped, just 1/8 of an inch in diameter and have a light green center. The flowers appear as masses of yellow-green buds. The buds can appear as early as March and bloom through June.

The berries are larger than the flowers, about 1/2 of an inch in diameter. You may see red, yellow and purplish-black berries side by side. The berries are green at first and ripen alongside the blooms. This evergreen shrub will add vibrant color to your drought-tolerant garden during winter.

Planting Requirements

Coffee Berry is found in all wild areas of California. It grows well in close proximity to wooded areas but tolerates sandy soil. Part shade is fine. Established plants require twice monthly watering during drought conditions. New plants may need watering as often as once per week. Irrigation should be discussed with your landscaper.

Pollinators and Wildlife

This shrub’s tiny flowers are irresistible to native bees and to butterflies. If you’re a birder, you’ll love watching colorful songbirds feeding on the shrub’s berries. If you want
to bring more birds to your garden, this is the plant for you.

In the Garden

Many gardeners use this tall shrub as a background plant for smaller shrubs. It’s stunning when used to edge a driveway and allowed to grow to its full height. That won’t take long because this is a fast-growing shrub.

Things to Remember:

  • This shrub gets as tall as a small tree
  • New plants need regular water
  • The berries are a favorite of many popular bird species

Planting time isn’t far away. Contact us today if you want to add Coffee Berry to your garden.

11 Jan 2017

California Aster

California Aster, also called Common Sand Aster or Sandaster, is a member of the Daisy family. Its blooms range from white to cornflower blue to lavender. It is endangered and should be considered for every drought tolerant garden.

Hillside Habitats

California Aster is picky about its habitat. It grows best on rocky hillsides or slopes. It’s a great choice for a rock garden or a hardscape. A landscaper can build a suitable sloping area in your yard if your property is flat. This will create visual interest and allow you to create a terraced garden with plants and flowers at different heights.

If you have a hillside property, this flower is perfect for you. If necessary, we can add a rocky soil mixture to your existing soil to make a better environment for this Aster.

Native and Endangered

California Aster is classified as a rare plant. Its habitat has been decimated by construction, especially road construction. Adding this plant to your drought tolerant garden will help keep it recover. It requires a bit more care than the average drought resistant flower, but it’s worth it to preserve the plant, add beauty to your garden and attract pollinators.

Caring for This Endangered Plant

• Soil: While this plant can grow in sand and clay, it’s healthiest and looks its best when planted in rocky soil.
• Water: You may read that this plant needs twice-monthly summer water. We do not recommend summer water. Too much water causes leaf loss and poor bloom production. This flower grows best on hillsides due to the excellent soil drainage.
• Pruning: This plant should be cut back after the seeds drop. We recommend deadheading during the summer to fall blooming season to encourage new flower growth.
• Scientific name: The correct scientific name of this plant is Corethrogyne filaginifolia. This Aster is often confused with Aster chilensis because both are called by the common name California Aster. Care requirements for each plant differ, so make sure you know which one you have.

In Your Garden

This is a tall plant (up to three feet) that can have weak stems. It’s best to give it some type of support. That support can come from other, stronger plants, stakes or boulders in your rock garden.

A healthy plant will have pale blue and deep lavender flowers on the same stem. You can see its resemblance to other plants in the Daisy family in its prominent yellow center. Petals are long, slender and curl back as the flower starts to go to seed. The leaves are long, pointed and true green, growing in pairs up the stem.

Birds, butterflies and insects are dependent on this flower, making it all the more important to cultivate this plant.

Things to Remember:
• This is an endangered plant in need of new habitats
• Rocky soil is a necessity for healthy plants
• Consult your landscaper regarding summer water

Successfully cultivating an endangered plant requires the assistance of an experienced landscaper. Contact us to become a protector of the California Aster.


28 Dec 2016

California Buttercup

California Buttercup grows tall in woodlands and the chaparral. Blossoms can have over twenty petals. It’s as charming as its tiny relatives and brings areas of bright color to your garden from early spring to late summer.


California Buttercup ranges from California to Oregon. It grows on the islands off the Pacific Northwest coast up to British Columbia. It’s found at the coast, in forests and in the Sierra Nevadas. Its main habitats are open meadows and hillsides.


There are a few traditions associated with this flower. The most familiar is the childhood game of holding a Buttercup beneath someone’s chin. If the skin glows yellow, the person is supposed to be especially fond of butter. An interesting folk belief in Ireland is that rubbing the petals on cows on the first day of May encourages milk production.

Size and Appearance

This plant consists of multiple flowers with stems several inches long on a central stem that can grow to a height of three feet. The flowers have a pale green center, perfect yellow stamens and glossy petals with a silky feel.

The blooms are about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. While not spectacular alone, the flowers on their central stem resemble dazzling yellow bouquets. They are lovely in small vases on nightstands and windowsills.

The grass-green foliage grows low on the stem. The leaves are soft and slender with multiple points.

In the Garden

California Buttercup is a fast-growing perennial. It doesn’t require much more care than cutting back overgrowth to encourage fuller flowers next season. Pruning any plant or tree must be done at the right time of year to avoid damaging the plant.

Meadow flowers like Buttercup should be planted with their wild neighbors. Companion plants often benefit each other by drawing nutrients from the other plants’ roots, attracting pollinators or simply providing a physical support for weak stems. This variety of Buttercup has a strong stem and can be the background plant for other flowers.

Companion plants for California Buttercup are Blue-Eyed Grass and Wooly Blue-Curls. The cornflower and lavender shades make a perfect color combination with Buttercup’s sunny yellow petals.

Sun, Water and Soil

Most drought resistant plants are picky about soil. This plant is not. It grows well in almost any soil, in full sun and partial shade and doesn’t require summer water.


The yellow flowers are very attractive to native California bees. This plant should be part of every bee, butterfly and bird garden. It’s important to consult your landscaper before cutting back the plant in the fall. Cutting back the plant too soon will interrupt the natural process of seeds drying, falling and reseeding.

Things to Remember:
• Don’t cut back this plant too early in the year
• Use this plant as a backdrop for shorter, less sturdy flowers
• This plant attracts native bees

California Buttercup is a great plant to use when starting a drought tolerant garden. Contact us today to get your plants in time for spring.

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.