Why is it important to be water-wise?
The Bay Area’s famously mild Mediterranean climate is predisposed to dry conditions, and as the longstanding California drought persists homeowners face rising costs, both financial and environmental, of maintaining outdoor spaces with high water needs. Mazingira specializes in creating eye-catching gardens and landscapes that save water and protect the environment. We begin this work by developing a plan that takes into account the existing site conditions such as soil health, established vegetation, topography, sun exposure, built features, and activity areas. Through utilizing careful plant selections, soil amendments and mulches, grouping plants by water needs, permeable hardscape materials, and efficient irrigation systems we create water-wise designs in harmony with the natural conditions of the Bay Area. Additionally, we specialize in installing drip irrigation systems which many customers find help reduce their water bills and keep their plants healthier as compared with inefficient sprinklers.
California native plants are unlike any other in the world in their astounding diversity, beauty, and adaptations that make them naturally hardy and drought tolerant, resistant to local pests and disease, and low maintenance. According to the EPA, replacing traditional landscape and lawns with California native plants can reduce the average homeowner’s water consumption by 60%. Mazingira’s expertise with integrating native plants into designs that are customized to meet each client’s unique needs and personal style provides many long-term benefits. With the design and installation of your own California plant community you can enjoy a space that acts as a habitat for wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, and other pollinators that keep your outdoor space healthy. Once established, many California native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall.
How is fine gardening different?
While landscape and garden care professionals have different approaches, Mazingira employs fine gardening specialty services that are customized to care for your outdoor space. Unlike basic “mow and blow” visits that other companies offer, Mazingira staff’s extensive plant knowledge allows us to provide truly hands-on care. Beyond keeping your yard looking clean and tidy, our crew has the expertise to utilize plant specific pruning techniques, to diagnose nutrient deficiencies, to get rid of detrimental insects while preserving beneficial ones, and to determine why your trees are not bearing fruit. We are skilled in using soil amendments and mulch to help ensure that your plantings have the needed nutrients and moisture to thrive. Unlike the one size fits all companies that treat every site, plant, and pest issue the same way, our crew gets to know each outdoor space that we maintain in order to provide services that are responsive to your unique needs. Another distinction is that Mazingira uses Integrated Pest Management (see below) and never applies the toxic pesticides that other companies use as a first resort. Through Mazingira’s fine gardening techniques your outdoor space can best reach its full potential.
What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
IPM is a scientifically-tested approach which focuses on prevention and non-toxic remediation to deal with pests and plant disease while protecting the water and air from contamination. Mazingira strives to create conditions that are unfavorable to pests and disease. We proactively take action to ensure the health of our outdoor spaces, including incorporating plants which attract beneficial insects that provide natural pest control; keeping plants healthy so they are better able to resist attacks; regularly inspecting plants for signs of sickness; addressing observed issues immediately; and maintaining the proper balance of conditions that are more favorable for plants than for pests. When control measures are required, Mazingira staff perform the work by hand which includes picking insects off of plants, washing down vegetation, and applying organic remediation such as horticultural oils, plant extracts, and soaps.
How do I let go of my lawn?
We appreciate how connected people are to their lawns. It provides a sea of green when you gaze out of a window, a place for your children to play, and satisfies expectations of neighbors and Home Owners’ Associations. Unfortunately, maintaining a traditional lawn is cost prohibitive and relies on the expenditure of numerous resources such as water, pesticides, fertilizers, and time performing aeration, mowing, re-seeding, and other maintenance efforts. Finally, conventional lawns are increasingly unrealistic for those who live in California given the many years of drought that we are experiencing and state water restrictions.
Luckily there are many great options to replace all or part of your lawn that Mazingira can provide. These alternatives range from lawn-mimicking drought tolerant California native sods, to groundcovers that withstand foot traffic, to ornamental fountain and bunch grasses, and to xeriscaping if you do not need the functionality of a lawn. Xeriscaping, or dry gardening, greatly reduces, or even eliminates, the need for irrigation. Mazingira has the know-how to create designs which include drought tolerant plants combined with hardscape features such as decorative rocks, mulch, and garden art. Xeriscaping encompasses an enormous variety of plants and materials, which allows us to customize your project to match your site and personal aesthetic preferences.
How much should I expect to pay for my landscape?
This is probably our most frequently asked question! Unfortunately, it is impossible for Mazingira to provide any accurate range given how much costs vary from one unique project to the next. We encourage all potential clients to consider the benefits of having their ideal outdoor living space, the increase to property values that great landscaping provides, and the ways in which excellent design and craftsmanship in a landscaping project constitutes a long term investment that can save money in the long run. It is very important to have some sense of your budget so we can tailor your design accordingly.