Creating Sunny California Shade
Without Breaking The Bank

California Native Landscape

One of the joys of living in Southern California is its weather. It's now the middle of February and the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperature is in the 80's – what more could one ask for? But an irony of our beautiful, sun-drenched out-of-doors is that we must have shade in order to enjoy it and to protect ourselves from the sun's damaging rays.

As a landscape designer and contractor, there are a variety of structures I can design and build (pergolas, gazebos, arbors, greenhouses) to satisfy my clients' desire for shade. However, these structures (hardscape) are expensive and usually entail a substantial amount of landscaping to go along with their construction.

But there are alternatives to a permanent structure and while a few of these may require a certain amount of installation, they can be added to an existing patio or deck or poolside without much fuss and without breaking your bank!

Here are the three major categories:

Shade Sails

Made of UV-ray blocking, waterproof fabrics, these triangular cloth pieces can be suspended above patios, decks, pool areas, and lawns. Available in a variety of sizes and colors, some have a stainless-steel cable sewn into the perimeter, while others have reinforced webbing around the perimeter and stainless-steel rings at the corners. They can be stretched between trees, well-grounded posts, or existing structures.


UmbrellaThe advantage is that they require little commitment; you can always take them down and stow them. Newer offset and cantilever models are strong and durable, but also create large shaded areas. Side-post and side-hanging versions offer a big expanse of shade. Solar-powered umbrellas provide energy for built-in lighting or recharge battery-operated ceiling fans. Umbrellas are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials—from plastic, cotton, vinyl, and polyester to acrylic fabrics like Sunbrella, which blocks UV rays and stands up to sun, wind, and rain.


AwningRetractable awnings are either manual (meaning they have a hand-cranked folding frame) or electric (meaning they have motorized panels with tilt mechanisms and sides that can be adjusted separately). They can be attached to a house in an afternoon. Some motorized types have sensors that automatically retract the canopy when strong winds blow or extend it when the sun's rays reach a certain intensity. They are available in a variety of widths and lengths in UV-blocking materials.

Garden Consultation & Gift Certificates

If you're interested in learning more about our landscape design, contracting and maintenance services and would like to set up a phone consultation or arrange a site inspection, please fill out our Contact Information Form and we'll be in touch.

In addition to my work as a landscape designer and contractor, I love giving advice and have provided garden consultations to any number of folks with great results.

I am also pleased to offer Garden Of Eva Gift Certificates for those of you who would like to provide a truly unique, thoughtful and very special gift—suitable for holiday giving or for any special occasion. There are three levels of Certificates, depending on the scope of the work involved. If you'd like to see what's being offered, please CLICK HERE.

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Plant Of The Month

Clivias have a well-earned reputation as rugged houseplants that demand very little attention.

Light: Clivias grow best in daylight but little or no direct sun--in a north-facing window or in an east-or west-facing window that is partially shaded by a deciduous tree. Summer your plant outdoors in a shady location but remember to bring it in before the first frost.

Water: During the growing season, which begins after the Winter Rest and continues through October, water thoroughly (until water drains freely from the hole in the bottom of the pot) when the top inch of the potting mix becomes dry to the touch.

Clivias prefer to be kept on the dry side. Potting mix that remains constantly wet can cause rot, which is first manifested by the appearance of pale green or bright orange cankers on the leaves. We strongly suggest that you avoid a weekly watering regimen and instead water only when the plant requires it. Please note that misting the leaves is neither necessary nor desirable and can encourage disease.

Winter Rest: Clivias flower more reliably if you give them a period of rest in late fall. Begin this rest period once your plant arrives, and repeat it every year thereafter. For 12-14 weeks (about 3 months), keep the plant in light in a cool room (50-65°F is ideal) and withhold water. Keep a close eye on your plant during this resting period. If you notice that it is beginning to wilt, add a scant 1-2 cups of water, just enough to moisten the soil lightly. Begin normal watering at the end of the "Winter Rest". Bloom usually, but not always, follows in 6-12 weeks.

Fertilizer: After your plant has bloomed (generally in the period from April to August), fertilize it monthly with a water-soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) mixed at 1/2 the recommended strength. Use restraint: More fertilizer is not better. Stop fertilizing by mid-September.

Grooming: Cut flower stalks off at the base after the blooms have faded to prevent the plant from expending energy on the production of seeds. Also remove leaves that withered and turned brown.

Repotting: Clivias tolerate considerable crowding of their roots and bloom best, in fact, when pot bound. As a plant grows, some of the fleshy roots may push their way up above the potting mix. This is normal. Repotting is necessary only every 3-5 years. After bloom, lift the plant from its pot and place it in a new pot that is no more thatn 2 inches in diameter larger than the old one. Use a potting mix that drains well and that is composed of at least 50% organic matter, such as peat moss or fir bark. Most potting mixes sold at garden centers meet both requirements.

Source: White Flower Farm

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