Sustainable home landscape design is more than just saving water by using drought tolerant plantings and employing water efficient irrigation systems. Sustainability goes beyond the limits of your own property. Here are some sustainable landscape elements that you may want to consider.

For example, water that is not otherwise used to irrigate your landscape runs off the property into drainage swales and storm drains and finds its way into streams or groundwater aquifers. Sustainability involves ecological, economical and social issues. But primarily homeowners will receive the most tangible benefits of sustainability by focusing on water conservation techniques they can apply to their  home landscape as they are the easiest to put into place.

1) Drip Irrigation – A drip system delivers water at a rate based on gallons per hour compared to gallons per minute as does a conventional spray head system. Both use the same kind of valves, but a drip system’s valves need to have a pressure reducer to bring the pressure after the valve to around 25-30 psi. Drip emitters then deliver water right to the root zone and so are therefore much more efficient than overhead spray heads.

2) Smart Controllers – A “smart” controller is a conventional automatic irrigation controller that is equipped with a computer that you can program that makes use of rainfall data in your region thus helping to improve the efficiency in delivery and conserve water by changing the settings as the level of soil moisture changes.

3) Rain Sensors – when used with a Smart Controller they can overide the default settings in order to save water based on rainfall. A rain sensor can also be used in conjunction with a conventional irrigation controller and will override the controller’s settings when it senses sufficient amount of rainfall.

4) Soil Moisture Sensors – Probing the soil with either a manual rain sensor or one connected to a controller will allow you to adjust your irrigation settings for each zone you are testing. Zones are important in irrigation and planting design to provide adequate water for the plant’s requirements.

5) High Efficiency Nozzles – Spray heads that can be efficient for shrubs and lawn areas by using low precipitation rate nozzles. Make sure they are labeled as such.

6) Rainwater Harvesting – Use rain barrels or larger storage tanks so you can utilize the captured water during periods between rains. Raingardens and Bioswales use the natural runoff from a site to irrigate the plants.

7) Permeable Pavers – Capture rainwater so you can either direct it back into the soil or into a RainXchange underground storage system where the water can then be pumped to use as you wish.

8) Graywater – Water diverted from your washing machine, sinks and showers can be used for irrigation in the landscape. Local building codes vary by state. Not all states allow graywater use, but it is allowed in Arizona.

9) Food Gardens – Providing for at least some of your own food is not only healthy because of its freshness and hopefully grown organically, but is in the spirit of buy local. Not everyone can grow a majority of their own food since most of us live in urban areas, but each of us can do own part regardless how small a contribution.

10) Organic Non-Toxic Methods – Growing organically and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides or inorganic fertilizers helps our water resources to remain unpolluted.

11) Recycle, Reuse, Reduce — Composting is an essential feature for any sustainable landscape that will not only reduce burdens on landfills, but improves the soil in your food garden and other planting areas.

On the big picture level, sustainability is a global concern for the continuation of the earth’s resources to provide for the needs of our planet, both human and environmental needs. Sustainability is also a lifestyle choice that affects how we behave and our attitudes. By focusing on a sustainable home landscape, you can help the sustainability of your local region.

Fire pit and pool designed by JSL Landscape and built by Waterline International
Fire and water is always a good combination

Several years ago after I moved my business from Scottsdale, AZ to Sedona, AZ, I had to find a pool builder with whom I could work. I had been used to working with several of the top pool builders down in the Phoenix area including Shasta Pools, Thunderbird Pools and Mossman Brothers Pools. But they don’t work this far up north in Arizona so I had to start over.

Not that I design a lot of pools, but what I do as a landscape designer often allows me to design a master plan of someone’s yard that often may incorporate a pool – that is if they haven’t already hooked up with a pool builder. You don’t have to be a pool contractor to be able to design a pool.

As a landscape contractor with a Masters in Landscape Architecture, I have the knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to provide not only a master plan of an exquisite outdoor living environment, but also to put together a team of highly skilled craftsmen who can build the design.

My company name JSL Landscape Design Build reflects exactly what I do. I design it then build it and that’s exactly what people want – someone who has the designer’s perspective and creative expression yet who knows construction and how to get through the permit process.

My intention is to help Norm Olsen, owner of Waterline International get more pools built here in Sedona as well as Northern Arizona and perhaps some of those projects will need a little bit of landscaping don’t you think? Like firepits, waterfeatures, bbq islands and all the rest that will make the pool well integrated into a real creative outdoor living space.

Check out his new website: sedonapoolsandspas.com

We are not legal partners per se as in a legal partnership nor is he a member of my LLC nor I a member of his LLC. We just enjoy working together and I enjoying creating websites in my spare time.

Fences and walls are often play a significant role in the landscape. Whether you want privacy, screen an ugly view, protect your pets or simply want to delineate your property any fence or wall is subject to local zoning ordinances and in most cases, will require a permit. In fact, in the City of Sedona, any fence or wall greater than 30” high requires a permit. Knowing that, let’s look at some of the rules.

Fence Regulations in the City of Sedona

Fences and walls up to 6’ feet high are allowed along the rear and side property lines. Within the front yard setback, no higher than 4 feet is allowed with some exceptions. If you are on a corner lot, you may have a 6 foot high fence along the street side yard setback but you must check with the City to confirm which side or the corner is considered your front yard. Just because your front door and mailbox are on one side of the corner, does not necessarily mean the City considers that to be your front yard. Corner lots are also subject to a “visibility triangle” for traffic safety purposes. Check with the building department for your particular zoning to see what is allowed before you hire anyone to build a fence or wall.

Ocotillo fence

What materials are allowed?

Typical wood fences, whether they are solid, picketed or any combination of vertical or horizontal planks are allowed except that they must be of conventional construction built with commonly used materials. Fences built using old wooden pallets are not allowed. Wood may be left unpainted to weather naturally, but if you intend to paint it, you must follow the rules regarding the Light Reflective Value of the paint. A paint sample will be required upon submittal of your building permit. Although the Ocotillo fence pictured here may be the perfect complement to your rustic estate, the City may consider it to be too unconventional so check beforehand.

Metal fences follow the same general rules as well as conforming to the color of the paint or finish. Chain link fences are not allowed in front yard setbacks but are allowed in the rear and side yards in certain zoning districts however, they must be vinyl coated with a black, brown or dark green color. Razor wire fencing is not allowed nor unpainted corrugated metal roofing material.

Block walls are allowed but must be finished and not left in their raw manufactured state. Walls that face a public right of way, street or public trail longer than 20 feet must be buffered with landscaping. If more than 40 feet long, it must contain some sort of articulation such as columns, pilasters or jogging and offsets to break up the massing as well as contain some shrubbery.

You must build within your legal boundaries of your property

If your property corners are not evident by surveyor’s pins, you should consider getting your property surveyed. Just because an existing fence appears to be built along the property lines, don’t count on it as being legal. It may be encroaching one side or the other. It is also important to discuss your plans with your neighbor. Neighbors can sometimes be very territorial and object to your plans even thought you have a legal right to build withing the bounds of your property. That is why its a good idea to build the fence a few inches inside of the property line. That way, the surveyor pins don’t get covered up.

Your property typically does not go all the way to the pavement. Most lots with City maintained streets have a portion of land between the pavement and your front property line known as the Right of Way. This is City owned and is not legally part of your lot. You may not build a fence or wall within the Right of Way.

Right of Ways often contain utilities such as electric, gas and cable. Utility lines can also be located in easement that are not within the public Right of Way such as paralleling a side of your property or along the rear. If you are planning on building a fence or wall within such a utility easement, the City will require you to get permission from the various utility companies who may have a right to that easement.

For more information check out the City’s recently updated Land Development Code at this link:

http://www.sedonaaz.gov/home/showdocument?id=36240

JSL Landscape Design & Build is a licensed fencing contractor ROC 313211

Portals as sacred space can be distinct areas in a garden designed as a powerful vortex to draw in energy, creating a sacred space or as a portal through which one may connect with the Divine. I call these Personal Vortex Gardens as they should be designed to reflect one’s own belief systems and degree of spiritual cultivation.

sacred space garden portal

Here is a sacred space that balances the 5 elements of Feng Shui (fire, water, earth, wood and metal), but has as its theme, the element of water and the sacred circle. Here is the symbolism used in the design:

* The concentric circle patio reflects the sacred circle as the inclusiveness of the Universe and the center of creation in numerous cultures. It also symbolizes the cycle of life in terms of birth, growth and death. In Wicca, a magic circle is created to form a shield of protection and generate an energy field usually 9 feet in diameter as this one shows.

* The Balinese water maiden statue is pouring a ritual libation from a vase symbolizing an offering to the gods or the earth.

* The circle forms represent the element of metal in Feng Shui.

* The wooden beams and plants represent the element of wood in Feng Shui.

* The upright cactus and reddish rust colors represent the element of fire in Feng Shui.

* The adobe clay columns and slate stone planter represent the earth element in Feng Shui.

* The blue and white mosaic represents flowing water not only by the colors, but by the pattern in Feng Shui.

 

Portals are a spiritual doorway that trigger a remembrance of who we really are beyond our egoic mind. But its more than a memory, its an awakening and these triggers can be found in nature in the form of a flower, the ripples on a pond or any other “thing” we are perceiving. The portal is the physical environment in which you are in and within the sensitive consciousness of awareness, triggers become evident. What lies behind the trigger points to the realm of Spirit. For more visit ET:  Eckhart Tolle

Casual courtyard with flagstoneCourtyards as sacred space remind us of the town square where everyone could get together and connect. To feel a part of the greater community is what makes it sacred. A private courtyard in someone’s home evokes the same feelings, yet is more private and secure to the degree that it is walled off.

 

Courtyards by definition are open air, outdoor spaces which evolved from atrium like spaces within a building that was open to the sky. Courtyards provided air, light, privacy, security and tranquility. They were used as places to gather, to meet, to garden and to relax. They create what may also be considered a type of sanctuary. A sacred space that one could go to find respite, to reflect all within the confines of security and privacy. Thus courtyards as sacred space can also be sanctuaries and a garden within a courtyard could be called a sanctuary garden.

For many smaller lot residential subdivisions, the front yard near the entrance can be walled off from the street to create a courtyard and add much more usable space that would otherwise not be private.

 

formal courtyards as sacred spaceThis courtyard features the central fountain designed in a European style with colorful tiles and classic statuary. The flower beds soften the otherwise large expanse of clay surface and creates an inner walking area. A courtyard may also have a firepit or even a wishing well forming a focal point.

 

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