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Pasadena Garden Update
Pasadena, CA


Mark Rios
Jennifer Schab
Tony Paradowski
Mike Cheng


We originally designed this residential landscape in 1997, and added a sports court, an outdoor patio, and a fountain to the property in 2004, when the owner purchased the adjacent lot. The California drought of 2011-15 occasioned a complete rethinking of the Pasadena estate's large swaths of water-intensive lawns. Our design demonstrates how easy it is to create beautiful, colorful, verdant surroundings that still respect the environment, even in the most severe dry periods.

For this latest transformation, we used a myriad of drought-tolerant alternatives to achieve a 50% reduction in the total amount of lawn area, from 18,400 sq. ft to 9,244 sq. ft. Around the pool, for example, we replaced lawn with California Field Sedge (Carex praegracilis) and fountain grass (Pennisetum Massaicum).
In the front of the house, we substituted native meadow grasses like Lindheimer's muhly (Muhlenbergia Lindheimeri), and autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis). The entire yard remains planted and just as green as it ever was. Adding a vegetable garden in custom-designed planters allowed us to remove even more turf.

On the home's two patios, we alternated strips of artificial turf with poured concrete pads, creating an inviting walking surface with low water requirements. We also upgraded the irrigation system's drip lines, sprinkler heads, and control system to technology that is state of the art in its water efficiency. The result: a 31% reduction in water use over the first 10 months. That's enough to provide a family of four with water for more than two years.