Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kick the Water Habit! 12 Easy Steps to Help Conserve our Water

It's an odd sort of addiction. We don't ordinarily think that "using" it hurts anyone. But water is growing scarcer and we have to conserve, especially in our yards- which can account for 70% of home water usage in the West's driest regions. Here are 12 simple steps to help show you how to lessen your water footprint, save cash, and have a beautiful yard!

1. Admit the West has a problem. Arm yourself with helpful statistics:
-California is in its third year of drought.
-The Colorado River has run low 9 out of the last 10 years.
-By 2050, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is projected to be depleted by at least 25% because of climate change.
-Urban growth has reduced the groundwater feeding Arizona's San Pedro River by 30%. The river already runs dry in places.

2. Look for inspiration.
(Dry Las Vegas got support from its innovative water district.)

3. In times of weakness, remember what an addiction can do.
(Lake Mead, the largest reservoir on the Colorado River - and in the U.S.- is now only 46% full, down about 110 feet since 2000.)

4. Cut back on your personal use.
(This is, on average, how much water you're using daily and how much rainfall your city receives annually.)
5. Readjust your habits so that they're healthy and safe.
(Think about "catching" and recycling water rather than just turning on the hose.)

6. Make every drop count.
(Overwatering and other careless habits waste 50% of landscape water.)

"Almost all the things we do with water require less water than we use to do them. I think improving efficiency is the most important tool in our arsenal. Let's do more with less water- grow more food, flush more toilets, wash more clothes- do more of everything with less" - Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, which works toward environmental protection, economic development, and social equity

7. Imagine a less-dependent future.
(There are models of 21st century backyards, that use the latest water-wise elements.)

8. Lay down roots that'll support your future.
(These superstar natives are tough and versatile, with low water needs and showy flowers.)

9. Use natural assets to your advantage.
(When designing your backyard, think of water as sacred. You follow its path, it shouldn't follow you.)

10. Take baby steps to reach your goal.
(You're on your way to kicking the water habit- these 5 tips will make your backyard use less water.)
-Put the right plant in the right place. (Add low-water-use plants. Group plants with similar plants with similar water needs, so nothing gets over or under watered.)
-Water efficiently. (Irrgate deeply and infrequently, then allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Water early in the morning, when the air is calm and temperatures are cool.)
-Shrink the lawn. (Across the West, lawns are the number-one consumer of residential water outdoors. Reducing their size, restricting them to spaces where you actually need them (like kids' play areas), or eliminating them altogether are the most effective ways to reduce your own outdoor water use.)
-Mulch, Mulch, Mulch. (Organic mulches (ground bark, wood chips, compost) save water by cooling the soil, reducing evaporation and encouraging healthy roots. They also help eliminate water-hungry weeds.)
-Check your sprinklers. (You can often tell if your system is not working efficiently by watching it run. Or look for signs: Brown spots mean your lawn isn't getting enough water; wet spots and runoff signal too much water.)

11. Sometimes, it's okay to take the easy way out. (These high-tech gadgets will give you an edge in saving water.)
-Smart Controllers, Drip Systems, High-Tech sprinklers, Rain Shutoffs

12. Help is a click away. Here are some helpful websites you can visit for more ideas.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Lavish Get-Away Just Outside Your Door

With the first day of summer looming larger and larger on the horizon, many Southern Californians are already taking advantage of the gorgeous weather ahead. A recent article in Sunset Magazine entitled "Bargain Bali" outlines some quick and easy tips to make your front porch into a tropical sanctuary. Malibu locals can easily follow these tips with many of their local businesses.

Tip #1: Fresh Paint
Our showroom carries Yolo Paint, a 0 voc paint that carries no odor and spreads flawlessly (see the blog below for further information). A gallon or two of their rich hues can make any plain wooden arbor seem exotic. For more information, visit:

Tip #2: Bargain Plants
One of the greatest outdoor design centers in Malibu is Malibu Market and Design. Located on Pacific Coast Highway, just a tad North of Pepperdine University, Malibu Market and Design is basically an outdoor showroom. The "display" is arrainged on 3 tiers of land on a hillside, connected by charming wooden steps. The three tiers have an eclectic array of products ranging from outdoor furniture to tropical plants.

Tip #3: Recycled Furniture
ArtifacTree, a popular second-hand store located in the famous Cross Creek complex, has a ton of recycled furniture at affordable price. Here is their website:

Tip #4: Colored Concrete
A nice stain adds character dusty, bland concrete. Although our company can provide these services for you, if you would rather the DIY route, SoyCrete would be the product of choice. SoyCrete is a non-toxic, acid-free, concrete stain that can be used indoors or out. It can be used on a variety of materials such as: masonry, brick, stucco, and cement. SoyCrete comes in six vibrant colors. For more information, visit this link:

Tip #5: Mood Lighting
The abovementioned, Malibu Market and Design, carries a variety of eclectic hanging ornaments and lighting instruments. From tiki torches, to gigantic spheres of impersonated cow-hide, you'll find the best lanterns, candles, etc. for your evening ambiance. Although not particularly close to Malibu, Lamps Plus in Chatsworth released a new line of eco-friendly outdoor lamps. These lamps cast light downward, and prevent excess amounts of spill light. Experts and nature advocates have said that these lamps will help reduce light pollution and save energy. To visit their website, follow this link:

Tip #6: Accessories
The accessories are truly up to the individual. Only yourself and your patio can dictate what you will supply for it. Any of the above stores would be helpful in your request for accessories. Outdoor cushions, wicker baskets, and mini-sculptues can add a lot of character, with a little effort.