Create an Instant-Oasis with Koi Ponds and Waterfalls

Create an Instant-Oasis with Professionally Installed Koi Ponds and Waterfalls Backyard ponds and waterfalls are the most impressive of all hardscape installations. Ponds and water features can be designed to accommodate a wide range of styles from traditional Mediterranean to sleek, contemporary fountains and water walls. Fountains and ponds are equally effective in formal landscapes and quaint backyard courtyards with limited space. Water features can take the shape of informal ponds with rocky banks or formal reflecting pools with structured angles.

For centuries, water features have been an integral part of landscape design. From formal reflecting ponds at French palatial palaces like Versailles to natural ponds and fountain shrines constructed around Asian temples, water features, koi ponds, and fountains are essential landscape elements that add the soothing sound of bubbling water into the garden atmosphere.

Koi fish are an essential part of many water features and informal ponds. Colored koi were first bred in Japan in the 1820s, but the trend remained a regional specialty until an international exhibition in Tokyo in 1914. Today, koi fish are available in many colors, including white, yellow gold, red, black, and various combinations. According to Chinese lore, koi represent prosperity and provide a balance of yin and yang for healthy energy flow. Colored koi represent different aspects of nature; for example, golden koi represent wealth while red and white speckled koi represent family, relationships, and love. Traditionally, a ratio of one black koi to nine orange koi is regarded is regarded as the most harmonious. Koi ponds can also incorporate bridges, natural walkways, and waterfalls for more impact in the landscape.

To accommodate any taste, backyard ponds can be designed with natural rocks and spillways evocative of a tropical jungle, or they can be built to mimic the formal reflecting pools and sculpted fountains found in Rome and across the Mediterranean region. Options for custom designed water features range from compact, self-contained fountains to koi ponds that hold thousands of gallons of water. Depending on the aesthetic styling, ponds can incorporate minimalist styling or lush palms, tropical foliage plants, bog plants, and aquatic flowers to create a natural oasis that completes the look of the backyard landscape. Lush banana trees, flowering cannas, papyrus, water lilies, lotuses, oxygenating foliage plants, and many other unique aquatic plant species can be incorporated into the final design on your water feature.

At Green Acres, landscape designers and a team of installation professionals will work with you through every step of the process from the initial consultation to installation and setup to create a pond that fits your budget and design requirements. From formal fountains to informal ponds and waterfalls, the Green Acres is Awesome at pond/waterfall design and installation. Contact us at


6 Steps to Turn Clay Soils into “Black Gold”

6 Steps to Turn Clay Soils into “Black Gold”

Soils in southern California are predominately clay. Great for making pottery but terrible for supporting plant life. Because of its small particle size, clay becomes easily compacted, and thus drains slowly or not at all. Also, clay soils prevent air from reaching the roots, which slows plant growth and retards microorganism growth.

Recipe for “Black Gold”
Prepare the planting hole by adding a teaspoon of bugs, a handful of 2,000 year old moss, and some decomposed plants and animals. Nothing is more important than soil preparation to ensure that your plants and trees take-off like a rocket and remain healthy throughout their life cycles. By careful preparation of the planting holes it is possible to create a perfect growing environment for plants and trees.

The goal is to break up and loosen earth that has become compacted. Replenish it with un-compacted soil rich in minerals, nutrients, and superior water holding capacity.

The 6 part recipe for “Black Gold”:
1. Add Gypsum for Drainage:
Most all of southern California have soils high in clay. These soils do not drain well and are high in alkalinity. Clay soils are tiny mineral particles that are less than 0.002 millimeters in size and have an electric charge that is negative. The negative charge makes positively charged minerals like iron, phosphorus, and potassium stick to them. This sticky nature makes clay soils high in mineral content.

The problem with too much clay in the soil is excess sodium. Sodium in clay acts like glue, binding particles together and inhibiting water flow. In addition because clay particles have an electric charge, they act like a magnet pulling the particles together via a strong magnetic bond. These sticky, bonded particles keep water from draining.

Clay soils need gypsum at installation, and every two years thereafter. Best to put gypsum in the bottom of each planting hole and work it into the soil on the bottom of the hole before planting. Adding gypsum to clay soils results is a chemical exchange. The gypsum releases calcium which takes the place of the bonded sodium stuck to the clay particles. This process loosens the soil by breaking apart theses tightly bonded particles.

2. Add Peat Moss amendment:
Peat moss is a natural, organic soil enhancer that has several benefits which include:

Water Absorption: Peat moss swells to 20 times its weight in water and then slowly releases its stored water to plant roots. This allows plants to have a steady supply of water over a longer period of time, resulting in reduced water usage.

Reduced Mineral Leaching: Peat moss reduces the amount of nutrients which bypass the root zone. The Peat Moss amended soil retains water and nutrients within reach of the roots, reducing the need for excess fertilizer.

3. Add Humus amendment:
Humus gives the soil the ability to absorb and retain moisture. Such soils do not dry out and require significantly less irrigation. Humus also provides a reservoir for the plant nutrients available to the roots system.

Humus plays a part in supporting soil bacteria, such as rhizobacta and mycorrhizae. This bacteria is important in forming a symbiotic relationship with host plants and are an important factor in the soil food web.  

4. Add some Tiny-Tiny Bugs:
Healthy soils provide an ideal environment for growing microorganisms. Most microorganism and plant roots are concentrated in the first couple feet of soil. Microorganisms need air, water, and food in order to thrive. Soil bacteria are the most abundant microorganism in the top soil layers. Bacteria are responsible for the breakdown of organic matter and minerals into forms which plants can use.

Mycorrhizae is a fungus which forms a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. Plant roots infected with mycorrhizae devote 15% of the plants energy to feed the fungus. In return the plant roots are better able to absorb phosphorous. Phosphorous helps fight plant diseases, promotes rapid root growth, improves water uptake to the roots, aids in blooming and fruiting, and improves nitrogen uptake from applied fertilizers.

Mycorrhizae infected plant roots are better able to absorb water making the plant more drought resistance. In addition roots are better able to absorb micronutrients such as zinc and copper. Infected roots have a longer lifespan than uninfected roots resulting in an overall increase in root density. Adding Mycorrhizae spores to the soil medium will have a huge affect on plant health and growth.

5. Make sure soil has proper aeration:
Clay soils are highly compacted limiting gas exchange between roots, microorganisms and the atmosphere. Good soil aeration allows the exchange of gasses between roots, microorganisms and the atmosphere.

As water drains from large macro-pours to micro-pours it creates a sucking vacuum which pulls atmospheric gasses from the surface into said macro-pours. This gives roots and beneficial microorganisms a reservoir of water and air to use as needed.

Roots and soil microorganisms need need the proper balance oxygen and water to thrive. As soil amendments are added it is important not to over compact the soil medium. Over compaction leads to reduced macro-pour density and thus reduced gas exchange with the atmosphere.

6. Add a layer of surface Mulch:
A top layer of mulch insulates the underlying soil and helps to moderate soil temperature. It keeps surface temperature cool on hot days and warmer on on chilly nights. As the mulch breaks down it is minerals are carried into the underlying soil, feeding the roots and microorganisms. A continuous top dressing of organic matter and mulch promotes the healthy benefits of worms castings and nematode burrowing through the amended areas. This article written by Michael Kish, President of Green Acres Nursery in Vista California. For more info visit

Automatic Irrigation: The Key to Protecting Your Landscape

Automatic Irrigation: The Key to Protecting Your Landscape

Green Acres Nursery: Vista, Ca
Installing an automatic irrigation system is the single most important thing homeowners can do to backup their investment in landscape improvements. With consistent irrigation, landscape plants grow larger, healthier, and more resistant to drought and disease. Today’s high-tech drip irrigation systems sense water needs and deliver precisely measured amounts of water directly to the root zone of growing plants. In a disaster scenario, an irrigated lawn and landscape can create a living barrier that protects you, your family, and your home from advancing wildfires. Throughout the year, automatic landscape irrigation systems will keep your lawn and landscape healthy and green.

Professionally installed drip irrigation systems simulate the natural water table by delivering water directly to the subterranean root zone. Regulated drips of water are targeted directly at the roots of growing plants to keep pests, insects, and aboveground fungal diseases to a minimum. In addition to improving plant health, drip irrigation reduces the number of unwanted plants and weeds that invade landscape beds. With sensors that detect moisture needs, plants consistently receive the right amount of water. Drip irrigation ensures your lawn and landscape will always be lush and green, and you’ll never lose another plant to over watering, under watering or inconsistent soil moisture.

Drip irrigation systems with adjustable moisture sensors transport water directly to plants with zero waste. Additional features for distributing lawn chemicals and fertilizer can be incorporated into irrigation systems to minimize regular maintenance. The professional design and installation team at Green Acres is trained to construction drip irrigation systems tailored to meet the moisture requirements of individual landscape areas. Depending on plant requirements, sensors can be programmed to deliver water in varying quantities and frequencies. Moisture sensors deliver exact amounts of water based on moisture requirements affected by plant type, soil drainage, and sun exposure. Even in windy areas, drip irrigation effectively eliminates waste from overspray and surface evaporation.

According to water use statistics, low-flow drip irrigation systems are 30 to 50% more efficient compared to high-pressure sprinkler systems. Because drip irrigation systems use smaller pipes than high-pressure sprinkler systems, the installation process is less invasive. In most cases, sod can be carefully removed and replaced to ensure seamless, non-invasive construction and a flawless lawn. Small-scale installations can be completed in as little as one day and larger systems can be done in less than a week. All irrigation systems installed by Green Acres are constructed with high-quality parts, including pumps, filters, ball valves, and other components, to provide years of reliable service.

With drip irrigation, water, fertilizer, and lawn chemicals are safely introduced underground, so water is never wasted and pollutants never enter the municipal water supply. Drip irrigation systems are so efficient they are often exempt from water restrictions and seasonal ordinances on irrigation implemented during prolonged drought. Investing in a professionally installed irrigation system is investing in the future health of your landscape and prized specimens. Without proper maintenance and irrigation, investments in landscape material will eventually deteriorate. Consistent moisture from an automatic irrigation system ensures your care-free landscape always looks its best with as little maintenance as possible.

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Drip Irrigation = Big Water Savings!

Drip Irrigation = Big Water Savings!

Lower Your Water Bill with Drip Irrigation
Irrigating systems have been used since the dawn of civilization. The Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Aztecs developed their own complex methods for delivering water to their vital crops and edible plants. Fortunately, modern irrigation systems don’t require a massive waterwheel and team of oxen to operate. Today’s modern drip irrigation systems are more efficient than ever before.

Over the past century, the agriculture industry has perfected irrigation systems through many high-tech innovations like soil moisture sensors, micro sprayers, and fertilizer injectors. Some of the first drip irrigation systems were used by the Ancient Romans. In arid regions, the Ancient Romans buried water-filled, earthen vessels in their fields to slowly transfer water to the roots of growing crops. Today’s drip irrigation systems transport water and fertilizer directly to the roots of trees, shrubs, and other landscape plants though a series of underground pipes and drip emitters.

According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the efficiency of drip irrigation systems is near 100% making drip irrigation the most effective and environmentally-friendly method of landscape irrigation. With aboveground irrigation, the average efficiency is between 50% and 70%. Traditional rotating sprinklers and pop-up irrigation systems lose approximately 30% of their total output through evaporation and off-target overspray. Studies on water consumption show drip systems can reduce water use by 50 gallons per plant each month, which results in tremendous water savings of the course of a season. For homeowners, this means lower water bills and a trouble-free landscape that always looks its best.

Drip irrigation systems also reduce the prevalence of weeds, insect damage, and foliar diseases. Overhead irrigation soaks plant foliage creating the ideal environment for mildew and fungal diseases. Insects are also attracted to the tiny puddles of excess water left behind by overhead irrigation; drip irrigation eliminates many insect problems by making the aboveground environment dry and inhospitable. By delivering water directly to the root zone of target plants, drip irrigation dramatically reduces the number of weeds that sprout between plants. Although supplemental water is one of the essential elements for a lush, green lawn, excess surface moisture creates an environment prone to beetles, grubs, webworms, and other lawn pests. Drip irrigation keeps the lawn and landscape healthy by delivering the right amount of water to each part of the landscape.

Irrigation professionals will work with you to design and build a concealed drip irrigation system that only delivers water where and when necessary. Individual soil moisture sensors automatically shut off drip emitters after rainfall or when soil is sufficiently moist. In addition to adjustable moisture sensors, emitters are installed as needed around the lawn and major landscape plantings. Automatic drip irrigation systems with integrated timers and moisture sensors insure your plants always receive the correct amount of water for worry-free landscape maintenance all year.

With professionally installed drip irrigation systems, you are guaranteed a high-quality irrigation system from the emitters and vales to the pump and filter. After installation, Green Acres clients receive full support for seasonal maintenance, repairs, and replacement parts. Investing in professional installation is investing in the future of your irrigation system and your landscape plants. A well-designed and maintained irrigation system will provide you with years of trouble-free service and a lush landscape all year long.

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