Equinox Landscape is a design/build company that can take your vision for your property from the idea stages through to completion.
Click here to learn how our design process works.
What distinguishes us from most other landscape design/build companies in Marin and Sonoma counties is the incorporation of organic gardening knowledge and Permaculture concepts into our landscape designs. Our designers will meet with you to collect your ideas, measure the space and make suggestions for plants, materials and features, all specific to your unique location. Depending on your needs, our designs can include drought-tolerant plants, native plants, edible plants, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens to minimize water use, while maximizing food production. Our ecological designs may include a dry creek bed to raise the water table on your property or route rainwater to other parts of the garden. Plants are grouped together to create not only beauty, but to attract beneficial insects and provide nutrients to the soil. Patios, trellises, pathways, decks, ponds and waterfeatures are artfully integrated as well.
Our designs are unique, practical and beautiful, reflecting years of landscaping installation experience and ecological awareness.
Equinox Landscape installs both gardens it designs and those designed by other architects. We guarantee high quality craftsmanship with attention to detail, while using environmentally friendly, ecological garden installation techniques. Our installation crew is a group of seasoned professionals who are trained in masonry, carpentry, planting, drainage, concrete pouring, low voltage lighting, and water features.
Here are some of ways in which we build landscapes while
maintaining the integrity of the environment:
- Healthy soil can be created without bringing in new topsoil. When appropriate, we use a Permaculture technique called sheet mulching to revitalize the earth. Sheet mulching involves laying cardboard or newspapers on the existing soil, covering unwanted weeds, watering the cardboard/newspapers, then covering it with mulch. The cardboard/newspaper blocks the sun from getting to the weeds and eventually decomposes into the soil adding nitrogen, an important element needed in healthy soil.
- Recycled plastic (polymer) can be used for bender boards and, when requested, for decks.
- Plants are hand-selected from the finest local nurseries. Buying locally saves on pollution caused by the shipping process and guarantees that the plants are acclimated to your climate.
- Mycorrhizal fungi and compost tea are used to condition the soil for new plants.
Our gardens are beautiful, compelling, well designed and in balance with nature.
Equinox Landscape maintains landscapes in both Marin and Sonoma County using fine organic gardening techniques and permaculture principles. Our outstanding maintenance work continues to win awards from the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) year after year. As leaders in sustainable landscaping, we are proud that our maintenance division has won awards in both the sustainability categories and the regular maintenance categories, demonstrating that organic gardening is in no way less effective or less attractive than conventional gardening using pesticides. Our hope is that all gardeners will eventually switch to safe, organic methods of gardening to help nurture the earth back to health.
Equinox clients can expect complete landscape maintenance that includes fine organic gardening with in-depth plant knowledge and care, pruning, fertilizing, mulching, pest management, soil amendment, irrigation maintenance and general clean-up, all provided in an environmentally sensitive way.
If you are interested in our Organic Landscape Maintenance Services, please call us at (415) 456-6480 in Marin or (707) 789-9786 in Sonoma to arrange for an appointment.
Trained by the Marin Municipal Water District in water conservation, Equinox Landscape is skilled at balancing beautiful landscapes with water conservation. Marin and Sonoma Counties face water shortages routinely, causing the price of water to continually increase. To manage the use of water in your garden, your irrigation system should have a rain gauge and a timer that is programmed at different seasons to ensure a reliable source of water for your trees, flowers and shrubs, without over- or under- watering. Satellite controlled irrigation systems with soil sensors are also available to get exact watering needs for different parts of your gardens. But even the best irrigation systems eventually need maintenance. Punctured pipes, broken sprayer heads, timers malfunctioning are just some of the problems that occur over the years. In addition, relocating plants may require an adjustment to or replacement of your irrigation system as well. At Equinox, we have trained staff who specialize in meeting your irrigation needs.
Permaculture strives to examine all aspects of how we as human beings can live in harmony with the earth and its limited resources. Though there are many different ways that practitioners define Permaculture, one sweeping definition might be "creating sustainable human habitats by following nature’s patterns."
The Permaculture landscape designer works towards optimal methods for integrating water catchment, human shelter and energy systems with tree crops, edible and useful perennials, self-seeding annuals, aquaculture and animals—sustainable landscaping. Plants are arranged in patterns that can catch water, filter toxins, absorb nutrients and sunlight and block the wind. Combinations of trees, perennial vines, shrubs and ground covers that are known to nourish and protect one another are clustered together. Excess or waste products from plants and animals are used as nutrients for the soil. Composted food from the kitchen is reworked into the soil to recycle its valuable nutrients.
At Equinox Landscape, we use Permaculture design concepts to best integrate buildings, plants, animals, soils, water and microclimates. Our focus is not on these elements themselves, but rather on a harmonious relationship created among them by the way they are placed in a garden. Equinox's owner, Patrick Picard is a Certified Permaculture Designer.
Of all the water-saving measures a homeowner can take, a laundry-to-landscape greywater system is the smartest. It is inexpensive, requires little maintenance and is ongoing due the continuous creation of greywater in our homes year round. Laundry-to-landscape greywater systems route water from the washing machine out into mulch basins that surround the roots of trees, shrubs and perennials that need watering. The water filters through the soil to the roots of the plants, taking care of their irrigation needs. A hand-activated 3-way valve allows homeowners to decide when the greywater goes to the garden or to the sewer.
More complex greywater systems are also an option, diverting water from bathroom sinks or tubs as well. Pumps, surge tanks and irrigation tubing all play a role re-routing this precious water to re-use on site, reducing your water bills and helping save water during a drought. More information about greywater
Whether it's a traditional vegetable garden that is dedicated to a particular area in your yard, or a landscape that weaves vegetables, fruits and herbs throughout your garden, creating edible gardens are some of our favorite projects here at Equinox. Well designed edible gardens combine beauty and artistry with practical foods that homeowners love to eat. Perennial herbs provide ongoing culinary delights year after year. Fruit trees bring beauty, texture and seasonal shade to your landscape. Vegetables, such as artichokes and kale add gorgeous foliage and provide you with an abundance of vitamins in your diet. All of it can save you hundreds of dollars in grocery bills a year.
We have studied how to design and maintain edible gardens and know from our experience that the secret to growing a bountiful and vibrant garden lies in the combining of vegetables and fruits with herbs, perennials and flowers. Done properly edible gardens attract beneficial insects, repel destructive insects and create the ideal environment for each edible to thrive. Give us a call when you are ready to get your edible garden underway.
Free water falls on your property every rainy season. If your landscape is like most, this water is ushered off the land into storm drains and sent to surrounding creeks, streams or rivers and eventually into the Bay, taking with it toxins like car oil and pesticides which pollute our waterways and kill marine wildlife. When the rainy season is over, you then pay for water that is treated with chemicals to get sent back to you to water your landscapes. Seems wasteful doesn't it?
Rainwater harvesting captures rain for on-site use, free of a monthly charge and free of chemicals. It can be done with Earthworks or with water catchment systems. Earthworks, (see below for a full description,) keeps rainwater on the property so that it can soak into the soil and raise the water table, thereby diminishing the need for irrigation. Rainwater catchment uses the downspouts from rooftops to catch and store rain in tanks (above or below ground) for later use. Harvesting rainwater creates a more sustainable source of water for landscapes and when stored can also serve as a source of water in the case of an emergency. Rainwater harvesting can save you thousands of dollars in water bills over the years while simultaneously conserving a valuable resource.
For more information about rainwater harvesting, visit www.harvestingrainwater.com.
Earthworks is an ancient strategy of directing and collecting rainwater through the topography of the soil. It is the foundation of a sustainable landscape, as it supports a system less dependent on outside water sources. Earthworks incorporates the use of swales, berms and basins, contour plantings and vernal ponds to slow water, spread it out and sink it into the soil. It can be the cheapest and most effective way to slash water bills, reduce the use of nonrenewable water supplies, decrease down-slope flooding, and improve water quality.
While the term rain garden may conjure up images of ponds and waterfalls, a rain garden is actually a garden that is designed to capture run-off from impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roof tops and patios and filter contaminants through its soil and plantings. A rain garden can be a beautiful addition to a landscape with many benefits: it cuts down on the need for irrigation, helps raise the aquifer and reduces the amount of pollutants reaching creeks, streams and the Bay. Rain gardens are planted in a depression (anywhere from 4” up to 2’ deep) and use a mix of native flowering perennials, grasses and shrubs that are low maintenance and increase wildlife and biodiversity. Root systems from the plants help filter toxins as water slowly percolates through the soil layers. Installing a rain garden can be one of the easiest, most cost-efficient things you can do to reduce your contribution to stormwater pollution.
For more information about rain gardens, visit www.raingardennetwork.com.
Plants that are native to Northern California are truly sustainable choices for landscapes. They are fully adapted to the soil and weather conditions, and have co-evolved with the surrounding wildlife. Though many people think of California natives as drought tolerant, there are a wide variety of natives that span the many microclimates of the region. Some require more water, like those from riparian corridors and wetlands such as California Rush, Leopard Lily, and Sedge. Others require less, like those from the desert and chaparral such as Ceanothus, Manzanita and Sedums. If planted properly in a landscape, they can require no additional watering after the first two years in the ground. Additionally they attract beneficial insects, birds and butterflies, create habitat for these creatures and add nutrients to the soil.
Fifty to sixty percent of fresh water in California is used for landscape irrigation, most of which goes to keep lawns green. Many cities and counties now offer “cash for grass” rebates for replacing existing lawns with native or low water use gardens. Converting a lawn can save hundreds of dollars in water bills and simultaneously help create biodiversity.
Replacing a lawn does not require hauling old sod to the dump. Existing lawn can be covered with sheet mulch and planted. Sheet mulching consists of layering compost, cardboard and mulch to block out sunlight and kill the lawn. The sod slowly composts with the cardboard over time, regenerating the soil with nitrogen. New plants can be planted right into the sheet mulch, which instantly gives them a layer of mulch that helps keep moisture in and weeds out.
Food forests are gardens modeled after mature hardwood forests, designed with multi-leveled canopies of plants and trees to take advantage of varying sun exposure throughout the day. They are healthy ecosystems of edibles that are self-renewing, self fertilizing, and when mature, self-maintaining.
The upper canopy in a food forest is made up of nitrogen-fixing trees which create shade that helps prevent weeds from growing underneath where no soil is left bare. The middle canopy consists of fruit and nut trees. Beneath that is the edible shrub layer that includes bushes such as raspberries or blueberries. An edible vine layer also plays a part growing vines such as kiwis, grapes or runner beans vertically. A ground layer is made up of edibles like strawberries and chamomile. And lastly there is a bulb layer within the soil containing plants such as garlic and onions.
Plants within a food forest are grouped into guilds that assist each other in growing. Each guild consists of nitrogen fixers (plants that take nitrogen out of the air and send it into the soil, making it available for use by the surrounding plants,) dynamic accumulators (plants that send their roots deep into the sub-soil and extract minerals such as calcium, drawing it up to the topsoil,) insectary plants (which attract beneficial insects and pollinators critical for food production, ) and mulching plants (which drop their thick leaves onto the ground, creating a natural blanket for plants.) Together they work to symbiotically and thrive.