A Sunset Plaza Makeover


Once Upon A Time

High in the Hollywood Hills, above Sunset Plaza, an international film producer and his family had grown tired of the mundane landscaping surrounding their home and decided it was time to produce a "Makeover." So the film producer Googled "Los Angeles Landscape Designer" and, lo and behold, up popped my website. Well, he loved what he saw and gave me a call. We met and we chatted and chatted and chatted some more and I came up with a plan and ... so it began.

And we began by ripping out the back yard, but for the swimming pool, and creating a series of descending concrete terraces. When completed, these terraces will include a wall of water, a fire place, a seating area, a barbecue pit and it will all be surrounded by a number of full grown trees that frame and enclose the property.

Over the years, I've often been asked what it takes to bring full-grown trees onto a property, and as this makeover provides a "teachable moment", I've decided to take this opportunity to show you exactly what's involved. And what's involved is neither easy nor inexpensive!

The purchase of the two D.D. Blanchard Magnolias, their delivery and the rental of the crane and its operator came to $8,200 and just their installation required a total of 96 man hours. And this is just two of the dozen or so tress that will eventually be planted.

And Here's What It Takes

The Site Before Planting

The Site Cleared for Planting

Selecting the Magnolias

Trucking the Magnolias

Craining in the Magnolias

Planting the Magnolias

The Site with the Magnolias

To Be Continued

When "Once Upon A Time" becomes a reality, I'll show you how our Makeover transformed an ugly duckling backyard into an extraordinary and livable landscape.

Garden Consultation

If you'd like to set up a phone consultation or arrange a site inspection, now is the time to give a call (323-461-6556) or email me.  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.

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Plant Of The Month

California Poppy

D.D. Blanchard

If you're looking for a truly magnificent evergreen to compliment your landscaping, the D.D. Blanchard Magnolia grandiflora may be just what you need.

The leaves are dark green, oversized and oh-so-glossy and offer attractive, rust-colored undersides. Robbins Nursery in North Carolina is where the D.D. Blanchard originated and now it can be found across the southern portions of the United States. They are the perfect choice for large-sized residential properties, businesses, medians, estates and parks. Smaller environments will easily be dwarfed by a tree of this size.

The D.D. Blanchard grandiflora is accented with waxy and fragrant, enormous, white flowers that blossom near the end of spring and remain well into fall. Then, when winter brings cooler temperatures, the flowers may disappear but cone-like fruits take their place. These hang like perfect ornaments, just in time for the holidays!

D.D. Blanchard

Planting the D.D. Blanchard Magnolia grandiflora should be done in an area that offers full or at least partial sun. These trees prefer well-drained soil that consists of clay, sand or loam. Depending on your terrain, you may want to read how to amend clay soil.

  • Dig the hole about three times the width of the tree's rootball. You do not need to worry much about depth, these roots grow outward.
  • Gently remove your D.D. Blanchard from it's current container and set it in the hole so that it's level with the ground, spreading the roots outward.
  • Fill the hole back up with soil that has been amended with organic matter and pack firmly around the roots.
  • Water very thoroughly and slowly to help any air pockets settle.
  • Lay a three inch layer of mulch on the soil but do not bring it right up around the trunk.
  • Water well.

As a side note, you may want to consider staking your evergreen. These are heavy trees and if you have undesirable weather, they would appreciate the support to help with the wind.

General Care

Once mature, you do not need to water the D.D. Blanchard all that frequently but when you do, it should be thoroughly. Use a hose and water deeply, allowing the water time to penetrate the soil. If you fail to take this advice, there is a good chance your tree will end up with shallow roots or even root diseases. Let the soil dry a few inches before you irrigate.

You will find that once these evergreens are established, they can actually go weeks without you having to provide them with supplemental watering unless you really hit a dry spell with Mother Nature. While they are young though, two to three times weekly is recommended.

Fertilizing should be done in the spring, prior to blooming however, it doesn't hurt to offer a little throughout the entire growing season. A fertilizer with a higher phosphorus rating is ideal.

If you choose to prune your D.D. Blanchard Magnolia grandiflora, do so in the winter. Don't be scared to cut these evergreens back, you can cut them back to the trunk if you want and new growth will flourish where you made the cuts. These are hardy trees!


For more information, please check out HuB Pages, which is a resource for this material and Wikipedia.

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