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Bay Area District Launches
“Fire in the Landscape” Series

By Robin Salsburg
APLD Bay Area District

On January 9, the APLD Bay Area District held the first presentation in its “Fire In The Landscape” series. In response to the devastating wildfires in California, the District is hosting these events to inform members about the effects, challenges and opportunities fire has on the landscape.  

For the first segment, “Pre-Fire: Wildfire Landscaping and Land Management,” Maureen Gilmer, author of California Wildfire Landscaping, discussed the dynamics of wildfires and proven strategies to save our homes, property and lives with fire-prevention techniques and wildfire-resistant landscape designs. Maureen is a landscape architect with over thirty years of experience in arid climate gardening and the author of numerous books and articles on plants, design and wildfires.  

Maureen gave an overview of how wildfires in California have changed over time. Native Americans used regular burns to clear forest understories, mimicking natural fire cycles. In more recent times, the natural fire cycles have been interrupted, allowing dense vegetation to build up and leading to periodic massive deadly wildfires. In addition, subdivisions are being built closer and closer to these fuel-loaded wildlands, so when a fire does start in a natural area, there is very little buffer zone to protect the structures and inhabitants from the blaze.

When considering landscaping in such fire-prone areas, Maureen reminded us that there are no fire-resistant plants. Landscape designers should focus on using plants that will be slower to combust, such as succulents and plants whose roots will survive a fire, such as Cercis occidentalis, because they will grow back and hold onto a slope during the winter rains. Leaving large open spaces between shrubs is also important, to avoid creating a potential wall of fire. Shrubs should be planted with at least five times their height between them. Grasses or low perennials may be planted in between. Remarkably, the height of the flame generated by plant material is roughly three times the height of the plant.

The Bay Area District’s next “Fire In The Landscape” Event will be on April 19, where we will explore fire features such as grills, pizza ovens, fire pits and space heaters and how to use and install them safely.  

Photo: Diego Tabango


APLD So Cal at Palm Springs
Modernism Week


The Greater Los Angeles and San Diego Districts are thrilled to return to Palm Springs on February 17 during Modernism Week 2018. This year we have expanded our presence and are looking for 18 designers to fill the two-hour shifts and other positions. We anticipate selling out again and hope to accommodate walk-ins. Friday evening prior to the event, Laura Morton will open her lovely Palm Springs home to APLD members who would like to relax after the drive with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres. 

The “Ask a Landscape Designer” Event will be located at CAMP, 230 Museum Way, Palm Springs. We are right in the center of the action! Participating designers may bring simple sketching and drawing tools, books, iPads. The majority of the homeowners purchase tickets in advance and are well prepared to meet with us, often with site plans and photos in hand.

GLA and SD are excited to represent APLD again at such a popular event and share with homeowners the beauty of watershed principles in the garden.

Sign up for an Ask a Landscape Designer time slot

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Greywater Made Easy
in EcoAssistant Presentation

By Bernadette Balics,
APLD Sacramento District

In November, APLD-CA Sacramento District sponsored a laundry-to-landscape greywater-installation workshop. This hands-on event, presented by Leslie Crenna of EcoAssistant, covered greywater regulations in the California Plumbing Code, potential water savings, system design, and a complete system installation. Ten participants measured, drilled, cut pipe and happily dug mulch basins in loamy soil under sunny winter skies. We learned just how easy it can be to reuse washing machine rinse water, and had fun trying out Blu-Lock pipe and fittings—a glue-free, recyclable alternative to PVC. The fittings are reusable too. One attendee plans to build greywater systems in his neighborhood in the Philippines!

Photo: Dan Vierria, Sacramento Bee

Left: An outlet in the landscape with the first laundry rinse water exiting the newly installed system. Right: APLD Sacramento District President Martin Carrion van Rijn in the trenches with greywater distribution pipes.  Photos: Leslie Crenna

Left: An outlet in the landscape with the first laundry rinse water exiting the newly installed system.
Right: APLD Sacramento District President Martin Carrion van Rijn in the trenches with greywater distribution pipes. 
Photos: Leslie Crenna

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GardenSoft Demo
at San Diego District Meeting

By Kimberly Alexander,
APLD San Diego District

At the APLD San Diego District’s November meeting, each member shared five favorite plants. But it wasn’t just a show-and-tell session. Gerry Kiffe, general manager of GardenSoft (an APLD-CA Silver Sponsor) and creator of, came down from Ventura to incorporate our plants into an online plant presentation using his new PlantMaster Cloud Edition. San Diego District's Favorite Plants

The subscription-based service has been converted from its CD-ROM software into an online system with over 20,000 plant images gathered over the years for the numerous waterwise gardening websites GardenSoft publishes for water agencies. Watersmart Landscaping in San Diego County

The new cloud edition creates plant presentations including collages of thumbnail photos, plants shown in distinct garden settings and close up, slide shows of large expanded photos and plant information pages. 

In addition to client presentations, PlantMaster enables designers to create a variety of reports and plant legends. Gerry also mentioned new features in the works this year, including a maintenance-scheduling tool aimed at giving designers an opportunity for recurrent revenue.

Gerry will return to San Diego February 3 to speak more about PlantMaster at the day-long “2018-Ready or Not Here We Come” event.

From left to right: plant thumbnails; plant search; plant list.

From left to right: plant thumbnails; plant search; plant list.