The New Economy’s Backyards: Landscape Designers in Pacific Palisades Part II

The New Economy’s Backyards: Landscape Designers in Pacific Palisades Part II

Last time, we took a short look at what the latest trends in gardening and landscaping are in the larger context of the world’s economy. Let’s talk a bit about landscape design, Los Angeles, and what you can expect from modern landscape designers in Pacific Palisades.

There’s a curious socio-economic phenomenon happening in the backyards of the Pacific Palisades: people of two distinctly different economic classes are doing the same things, just for different reasons. Those people who are struggling to get by have realized that gardening is an effective way to turn time into resources, and they’re growing their own food in numbers we haven’t seen since the 70s. At the same time, the wealthy class has started to realize that if organic food is good, and local-brought food is better, then growing your own food — guaranteed to be organic and as local as possible — must be the best.

The trend even among show gardens these days is toward a calm set of natural lines that creates a sense of relaxation and calm rather than sense of dominion and exuberance. One major trend, of enclosing open spaces and creating soft, gentle spaces using grasses and willows to create a sanctuary, actually started in Sweden before sweeping the UK and is reaching Los Angeles just now.

The new surge of rain gardening — that is, the creation of gardens designed to guide rainwater into the ground rather than allowing it to sweep off into storm drains — is just one example of the modern environmental imperative that has taken over since the economic collapse. Landscape designers across LA and the Palisades are also seeing a massive return to native plants associated with a somewhat contrary celebration of biodiversity, leading to gardens that explore the entire length and breadth of the ornamentals and other natives that the Valley can support.

These days, to succeed as a landscaper in LA, we must be not only experts in landscape design, earth moving, gardening, and construction, but also in responsible sourcing, water conservation, biophilic heritage, carbon-negative landscaping, and human welfare. It’s a stunning expansion of what used to be an exercise in sculpting dirt and concrete until everything looked “cool” and felt “awesome” — but in some ways, it’s one that leaves us as landscapers feeling better about our jobs and our communities