Water is a precious resource and many people don’t have enough of it. Most households in the U.S. waste a huge amount of water each year. If you’ve considered increasing your curb appeal with a drought-tolerant yard, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s time to say sayonara to water-guzzling lawns and join the likes of other happy people who have cut their water bills by up to 50 percent. Not only are drought-tolerant landscapes beautiful, but they’re also earth-friendly and sustainable and can increase property value significantly.
Our guest, Rama Nayeri, discovered her passion for working outdoors with plants and earned her landscape architecture degree from Cal Poly Pomona. Today, Rama is active in the green community and deeply committed to promoting drought-tolerant landscape design within Southern California.
- Should we trash our lawns and if so, what are the best replacements?
- How the Covid pandemic has affected the landscape industry.
- Sustainable practices and features that can be incorporated into gardens.
- What native plants are and how to incorporate them into a garden with existing plants.
- Homeowners can take advantage of municipal program incentives concerning turf removal and sustainability.
- Tips for someone looking to transform their garden on a shoestring budget.
- The process of working with a landscape designer/contractor.
- What a homeowner should do before meeting with a designer/contractor.
Rama’s provides initial consultations, full landscape design, and small-space patio design. Her landscape design offerings service Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Diego County.
This episode of Healthy Home Hacks is brought to you by Veris Residential, a forward-thinking and socially responsible real estate investment trust that provides holistically inspired Class A multifamily properties that meet the sustainability-conscious lifestyle needs of today’s residents. It is the company’s mission to serve ‘Properties, People, and The Planet.’ Veris Residential has done the work to integrate eco-friendly amenities into its properties so that you can reduce your carbon footprint simply by walking through its doors. The company’s newest development Haus25 in Jersey City features SOURCE hydropanels (an advanced renewable technology that uses solar power to extract net-zero water from the air), 24 electric vehicle Blink IQ 200 charging stations, 375 bike parking spaces, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, Energy Star appliances, and 37,000 square feet of gardens and outdoor amenities (including green roof). Visit www.Haus25.com or www.Verisresidential.com to learn more.
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How would you like to improve your health and keep your family safe? You're listening to the Healthy Home Hacks podcast where we firmly believe in joining optimal health shouldn't be a luxury. Healthy Home authorities and husband and wife team Ron and Lisa will help you create a home environment that will level up your health. It's time to hear from the experts. Listen in on honest conversations and gain the best tips and advice. If you're ready to dive in and improve your well-being and increase your energy, you're in the right place. All right, here are your hosts, building biologists, authors, media darlings, vicarious vegans and avocado aficionados, Ron and Lisa Beres.
Lisa Beres 00:51
This episode of Healthy Home Hacks is brought to you by Veris Residential, a forward-thinking and socially responsible real estate investment trust that provides holistically inspired Class A multifamily properties that meet the sustainability-conscious lifestyle needs of today�s residents. It is the company�s mission to serve �Properties, People, and The Planet.� Veris Residential has done the work to integrate eco-friendly amenities into its properties so that you can reduce your carbon footprint simply by walking through its doors. The company�s newest development Haus25 in Jersey City features SOURCE hydropanels (an advanced renewable technology that uses solar power to extract net-zero water from the air), 24 electric vehicle Blink IQ 200 charging stations, 375 bike parking spaces, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, Energy Star appliances, and 37,000 square feet of gardens and outdoor amenities (including green roof). Visit www.Haus25.com or www.Verisresidential.com to learn more.
Ron Beres 01:56
The term landscape as it's entered in the English language is misleading. It assumes the viewer is somehow outside or separate from a territory he or she surveys viewers are as much a part of the landscape as the boulders they stand on. There is no high mesa edge or mountain peak where one can stand and not immediately be part of all that surrounds. - Leslie Marmon Silko
Lisa Beres 02:24
Water is a precious resource and many people don't have enough of it. In fact, according to drought.gov 29 states are experiencing severe to exceptional drought. Today, most households in the US waste a huge amount of water each year and it's time we start doing something about it. You can start today with your yard. If you've considered increasing your curb appeal with a drought tolerant yard you've come to the right place. Let's face it, it's time to say sayonara to water guzzling lawns.
Ron Beres 02:57
Join the likes of other happy people who have cut their water bills by up to 50%. Not only are drought tolerant landscapes beautiful they�re earth friendly and sustainable. As a bonus, they can increase your property value significantly without breaking the bank. Our guest today is going to shed some green light on this issue.
Lisa Beres 03:22
Rama Nayeri was born in Iran and migrated to the US in 1984 settling right here in Irvine, California, where she grew up. As the daughter of a surgeon and teacher Rama found her talents reach beyond the scalpel and the pencil and straight into the soil. As a creative, Rama discovered her passion for working outdoors with plants and earned her landscape architecture degree from Cal Poly Pomona. Today, Rama is active in the green community and deeply committed to promoting drought tolerant landscape design within southern California.
Ron Beres 03:56
Welcome to the show Rama.
Rama Nayeri 04:00
Thank you for having me.
Lisa Beres 04:02
Welcome Rama, thank you for being with us. We've known Rama for many, many years, although we haven't really been in touch. We met her through green community here locally in Southern California. And we were just getting caught up before the show. So, we were always fascinated with the work that she does. And I know you guys are going to love this too. So, let's just get started. The million-dollar question Rama. Should we all just trash our lawns and if so, is synthetic turf, a good replacement.
Rama Nayeri 04:31
So, I would suggest if you absolutely need to have lawn because you have kids or grandkids that are going to run around and play in it, then that gives you a reason to keep it. However, it also depends whether you trash it or not based on what you can afford because what a lot of people don't realize this. It's easy to say that okay, I'm going to kill my lawn and replace it. But at the end of the day that has a cost value to the designer who might design some sort of other drought tolerant, sustainable landscape, but then also to the contractor who has to implement it. So normally what I tell people to do is to look at how much can you realistically afford. And maybe we don't take out all the lawn, maybe we take out a quarter of it. And then the following year or the year after that, we revisit the issue. If you decide you want to take out more and you can financially afford it. Now, the other thing is the Municipal Water District of Orange County is actually giving rebates for turf removal. It depends on what water district.
Lisa Beres 05:36
In Orange County, California, because there's also in Florida.
Rama Nayeri 05:38
Yes, so for example, the Irvine Ranch Water District is offering $5 per square foot of turf, you remove and replace with something else. So, like, let's say you have 1000 square feet of turf times $5. That's a significant chunk of change.
Lisa Beres 05:56
Right? Wow. See, people don't know about this.
Rama Nayeri 06:01
And the other thing of it is the water district is currently offering a free design service, where if you sign up to have your turf removed, you can apply to get a free professional design.
Lisa Beres 06:14
Oh, that's really nice.
Ron Beres 06:15
I know everyone outside of Orange County, California is saying well, okay, that's great for you guys. This is a pretty common program across the country. Do you know?
Rama Nayeri 06:23
I know that it's common across la Orange County Long Beach. And like the way the city of Long Beach does it is you hire the designer, and then up to $1,500 of what you paid the designers reimbursed by Long Beach. Right.
Lisa Beres 06:39
So, let's do this. Okay, so we're going to let's just plug her services right now, I was going to do that at the end. But this is a good time. So, Rama's business is Creations landscape designs, Creations landscape designs, and we'll put the link to that in the show notes. So, if you're living in one of those counties, and you want to take advantage of this incredible program.
Rama Nayeri 06:59
And it's a great program, because the water district pays for the design, so the homeowner doesn't have to, the only thing the homeowner would pay for is whatever the cost of the construction is.
Lisa Beres 07:10
Right? Minus the removal if they're removing. Wow. So, going back to the synthetic turf versus real turf. How do you feel about that? Because you know, you're seeing this synthetic turf. It's gotten really good. He's gotten beautiful looking. You can't even tell the difference half the time visually.
Rama Nayeri 07:26
In some cases, it's great. The only problem with most synthetic turfs is if it's ridiculously hot out. The synthetic turf will get hot to the touch. Oh, interesting. Okay, so if you're walking, so let's say it's the summertime like the last few weeks, that's been super-hot. If you walk on the synthetic turf barefoot, your feet are going to be at least warm.
Lisa Beres 07:49
You do not want that in Arizona. I grew up in Arizona, that sounds like disaster waiting. It's already so hot there.
Rama Nayeri 07:57
But sometimes it's nice to have the synthetic turf if you don't want the maintenance of the real turf. I mean, in some cases, you could have like a little patch of it where that's where the dog is going to go exclusively.
Lisa Beres 08:08
Yeah, exactly. I was thinking I was curious what your take on that was going to be because obviously I was saying at the top of the show, we met Rama through a green networking group here in Orange County. And obviously, the turf is synthetic. It's derived from some kind of plastic as far as I know. But I think now I'm seeing that there are many brands that are 100% recyclable.
Ron Beres 08:28
Astroturf. For example, I wanted to ask you what.
Lisa Beres 08:32
Was called Astroturf. I think that's an old school name Ron. Right Rama?
Ron Beres 08:37
I was thinking of my dad's generation, I think so. After that whole texture, the feel. I do remember back in the day when it was synthetic, that if you tackled on it or did anything, you got like rug burns, almost it was very difficult, right.
Lisa Beres 08:49
That's what they use and all the dorms.
Ron Beres 08:51
I wanted to ask now, though, what is it like now? Is it softer to the touch maybe hot? You're saying don't play football in the summer on this grass in Arizona, in Arizona? But can you fall down on it as a child who's playing tag or something and be okay?
Rama Nayeri 09:05
It depends on which variety you use. I don't have too much experience with it.
Ron Beres 09:10
You do not play with kids? What's going on Rama?
Rama Nayeri 09:13
Well, I mean, I'd say the technology is better now that you get less issues. But still I'm always advocating for less plastic if possible.
Lisa Beres 09:25
Right? I figured that it's kind of a double-edged sword. It's nice that they're now 100% recyclable. Ron and to answer your question, I've seen like really long versions where it's very soft. Some of this turf you literally I've been in places where I'm like at hotels, a lot of big resorts have it now.
Ron Beres 09:40
When I played in high school a couple years ago it was different. I think that you're saying.
Lisa Beres 09:43
I think so. Tom Brady. What they used in Boston. Now they have a dome in Boston. I hope.
Ron Beres 09:53
First of all, he's in Tampa right now.
Lisa Beres 09:55
When he was. We're getting sidetracked. Okay, anyway, moving on.
Ron Beres 10:00
For sure, I had this question for you Rama. So how has the COVID pandemic really affected the landscape industry?
Rama Nayeri 10:07
So, it's, I've had this feeling during the pandemic of almost feeling guilty, because I also, aside from having my own business work part time for a landscape design company doing strictly turf rebate designs. And on the upside, I have done more designs in a given year than I have ever in the history of my business.
Ron Beres 10:31
Rama Nayeri 10:32
Which from the perspective of making money and owning a business it's great! For this specific company, I work as a contract employee, so I still get to make my own hours and not have to technically clock into a cubicle. But like, for example, last year, I did almost close to 90 designs.
Lisa Beres 10:50
Rama Nayeri 10:52
Which is, which is great from the perspective of making money, but then from the perspective of there's so many people during Covid that lost their jobs, I almost feel a little guilty, ah, that I have all this business coming in. And there are other people that don't.
Ron Beres 11:06
Well, now that you reveal the secret, I feel like you're going to have more competitor�s competition. That's where all the jobs are. I'm going there. So good tip Rama,
Rama Nayeri 11:16
The COVID has definitely increased business for most designers and contractors, because people are now working from home. So, every day, they're looking outside the office window at their landscape. And they're going okay, maybe I should do something.
Lisa Beres 11:32
Yeah. Whereas it's true. Isn't that funny?
Rama Nayeri 11:35
Yeah. Whereas before you were just getting out the door going to work at all. Just deal with this later.
Lisa Beres 11:39
Yeah, interior design, home renovation, remodels, all of that people were shopping a lot online and like, Oh, God, I never realized how horrible that corner of my living room left, you know, or how old that piece of furniture was. And everyone started to fix it.
Rama Nayeri 11:55
I'm having even situations with contractors where contractors are telling me: Look, why don't you send me the drawings and I can decide if I even want to bid this because they have so much work that they're being picky about what they'll take. Wow.
Lisa Beres 12:09
And so most people are doing turf replacement or just removal?
Rama Nayeri 12:13
Lisa Beres 12:14
Both okay, so they're just realizing because California it's not a good state for grass, obviously. I mean, is not what how many times you think it rain this year, you guys, three, four, I mean, we could count on one hand, right? It Right. He ever rains, which is great when you live here, but not so great for these types of...
Rama Nayeri 12:31
But then also the other thing of it is when you replace your turf with actual drought tolerant plant material, is that you're bringing all the local wildlife to your house. Yeah. And I and I tell my customers that the local wildlife is going to come have a party at your house and not go to someone else's.
Lisa Beres 12:49
Ron and I will give them a party we do. We'll throw a great party because we love wildlife so much. We feed our hummingbirds we read feeds our doves. We have 20 doves that run feeds every day, and I feed probably 10 hummingbirds every day. And these are literally our pets because we don't have a pet inside. And before that it was saying we got the neighborhood squirrel. We've got everybody here.
Rama Nayeri 13:09
It's interesting. My mom, she has squirrels outside her home and she feed them.
Lisa Beres 13:16
Yeah. Oh yeah, I would feed this little guy. Wait, he has a name. His name is Skippy. Skippy the squirrel. He's adorable. And I don't know if he's eating the bird food.
Ron Beres 13:24
He probably is eating the bird's food, but that's why he's here. Right? He's been on the bird food action.
Lisa Beres 13:29
Yeah, we're only the best for animals to Rama. Everything's like organic. I use only filtered water my hummingbird feeder. And they all come here. So, they know. But anyways, moving on. So, for someone tuning in going, what the heck is native landscaping? And what is this drought tolerant yard that you're talking about? Explain to them what are native plants? And how can listeners incorporate them into their garden with existing plants too?
Rama Nayeri 13:54
So native plants are essentially plants that were in the state of California, the ones that are specifically native to California, that were here, probably before we even inhabited the area. And these are plants that are already acclimated to the local soils, that some specific wildlife even prefers over the non-natives. And all native plants are very drought tolerant, don't need a lot of water don't need too much maintenance. The problem in using native plants is some homeowners associate the native garden with the Arizona desert kind of look.
Lisa Beres 14:33
Rama Nayeri 14:34
And they assume oh, it's just going to be a bunch of succulents and cacti, but then I try and educate my customers and tell them it's not like that unless you wanted it to be like that.
Lisa Beres 14:43
Right. I thought that I did. I don't know why native because we think of Native American. I don't know, I thought that.
Rama Nayeri 14:50
But most native plants are green year-round. They don't need a lot of care and as long as you have a system that waters them once or twice a week. They'll be fine. They produce flowers that the local hummingbirds and butterflies love to eat from, or they produce flowers that the pollinators love. And in terms of incorporating the natives with the non-natives, if you have existing plants in your yard, chances are there are some native plants that visually in terms of size, texture, leaf shape looks similar. So, you can incorporate some of those and kind of mimic the look of what you have.
Lisa Beres 15:27
Okay, because your gardens when you create a garden yard for someone, there's a theme, right? Maybe we're going to go like a Mediterranean or whatever. Okay, so that's interesting. So, what's the biggest no-no that you see a lot of here that you're like, Oh, it's so bad for hogging water, but people love it, and they use a lot of it. Besides grass?
Rama Nayeri 15:47
Well, one of the things I see is when people plant their garden, and they put twice as many plants as what the garden realistically will take, because the one thing you have to imagine is if you get a one gallon, let's say salvia clevelandii now that plan eventually will get about five feet tall and wide. But in a small one-gallon container, it doesn't look like that. So, people think, Oh, this is small, I need to plant a few together. And if you don't leave sufficient room for the plant to grow, then you end up with a nightmare of having to constantly trim it because it grows into each other.
Lisa Beres 16:23
Yeah, okay, I'm having that problem with my snake plant. Not too bad. But he's in a pot. And he's having baby. Well, she's, I guess it's a she's having baby. Because it's like, it has the little What do you call it? The leaves go and then they produce another plant. And I didn't know that. I was like, what were all the snake plants coming from? And I love it. And sure enough, oh, yeah, they have little babies.
Rama Nayeri 16:43
It's interesting. There's another name for a snake plant called Mother in law tongue.
Lisa Beres 16:48
Yeah. I show it to my mother in law every time she comes. Her name is Terry and I got this my Terry plant because it has a sharp tongue, right?
Ron Beres 16:59
Lisa Beres 17:00
So, like in that situation, Rama, Snake plants can get really big. Would you say? You're always repeating it? Or is there a point where you're like, No, no, it's in a big enough pot. We're just going to keep it here and just maintain it.
Rama Nayeri 17:12
For me, it's always a point where I just leave it and let it do what you do.
Lisa Beres 17:16
Rama Nayeri 17:16
Unless it starts breaking the pot that it's in and it needs to be replaced, then I replace it. But otherwise I just leave it alone.
Lisa Beres 17:24
Okay, it'll kind of tell you right? It'll let you know if it's outgrown. Okay, that's a really good.
Rama Nayeri 17:28
Like, you'll know if it's grown because visually, you'll just know from listening.
Lisa Beres 17:33
Okay. Yeah, it's funny what you said about I think people do that a lot with their gardens. What you said, I got an olive tree gifted to me, and it's so beautiful. It's one of my favorite trees looking. And I wanted it really little, but it's what three feet tall. And it's in the house and a pot and it's gorgeous. But like this thing is going to get so big. You can tell like it's going to need to be moved outside in the yard at some point.
Ron Beres 17:57
And Rama, we have two years until we get olives from that tree. Right. Basically, two years,
Rama Nayeri 18:01
I think so if it's a producing all that, yes.
Ron Beres 18:03
Oh, so we don't even know what's producing right?
Rama Nayeri 18:06
Well, there are some all varieties of olive trees that have been sprayed to prevent them from actually producing any fruit. Because sometimes people want an ornamental olive in their yard. They just don't want to deal with the fruit.
Lisa Beres 18:19
Because they do get messy, don't they? Right? Yeah, yeah, they get those olives get all over, but they are gorgeous. Now that is that a native plant?
Rama Nayeri 18:26
Lisa Beres 18:26
Because it is, okay.
Rama Nayeri 18:28
It's very drought tolerant? No, okay. But it's just not native to California.
Lisa Beres 18:33
Okay, would you use that in landscape design?
Rama Nayeri 18:35
Absolutely. Okay, but I would use varieties that there's a variety of all it's called Swan Hill. And I would use such varieties that don't fruit in case the homeowner doesn't want to deal with the mess of the fruit.
Lisa Beres 18:50
Okay, gotcha. That's good tips. Yeah.
Ron Beres 18:52
Really good tips. Well, what are some sustainable practices and features that can be incorporated in a garden?
Rama Nayeri 18:58
So, there's lots of things you can do within a garden, a couple of the things is having a rain barrel, even though it doesn't rain that often you could have a rain barrel that's connected to the gutter.
Ron Beres 19:08
Rain barrel. Oh, I thought you said rainbow firs. I was like, well how I going to control that that?
Lisa Beres 19:13
Ron Beres 19:14
You need a leprechaun on your lawn and then the rainbow comes. Okay, sorry, Rama.
Lisa Beres 19:19
Rama Nayeri 19:20
So, the first is a rain barrel you connect it to the gutter. And then at the bottom of the rain barrel is a spigot that you can connect the hose to. And then you can use the water when the barrel fills up to do whatever you wish to do with it. Another feature you can have is called the dry riverbed and it kind of flows through the center of the yard. It has a slight swale to it and the width of it can be whatever suits your fancy, where then when it rains, it collects the water in a pool. And the idea is then the water will percolate through the gravel that's used in the driver bed instead of running off into the street. Hmm.
Lisa Beres 19:58
Oh, nice. Okay.
Rama Nayeri 20:00
And then another option for a sustainability feature in the yard is to have what's called a rock garden, where instead of using woodchips as mulch in your garden, you would basically mulch it with whatever size of gravel you like. And then that also helps with being able to keep the water from running out.
Lisa Beres 20:19
Hmm. Okay, because that's good to do in your pot sometimes too, isn't it? Rama? Right? Absolutely. Soil you would want a little, just a little bit is fine. Yes, it's a little Yeah, cuz I had a flower box that I got in Crate and Barrel. And for some reason, it didn't have any drainage holes in it. That Okay, and I would put the soil and have the flowers in it. And oh, my god, most people, I'm sure I was over watering it anyway. And then I'm like, oh, no, the water has nowhere to go. And it started resting. Actually, it started resting and actually ended up caving in and making the hole. And but I thought I'd read Yeah, if I had put gravel down pebbles or something on the bottom and then put the soil it would have a little drainage in there. Right, right?
Rama Nayeri 20:59
Exactly. Normally, you put like a handful, depending on the size of the pot, and then that allows for drainage, and then whatever excess water collects down there, you assumed that the plant roots will eventually reach it and take what they need.
Lisa Beres 21:11
Right? Okay. So, what would you say is the percentage of people that overwater their plants and our yard?
Rama Nayeri 21:17
I'd say at least 30% of people. But what I always recommend to my clients is never hand water. First of all, because it gets very tedious over a period of time and talking hand watering a traditional garden where you have actual land. And I always recommend if you can have an irrigation system, because the benefit of having an actual irrigation system in your garden in ground is that the system turns on and off. So, you don't have to worry about it. And now they have technologies where if it's raining, the system will automatically shut off.
Lisa Beres 21:53
Oh, wow. Like, by sensor probably.
Rama Nayeri 21:56
Right. So, it senses excess moisture, and then it just shuts off until it senses that there is no moisture.
Lisa Beres 22:03
Right? Because that can cause problems. Right? Like, oh, you just watered everything. And now all of a sudden, the storms coming in. So now we have that. Yeah, okay. Oh, wow. learning a lot.
Rama Nayeri 22:11
Oh, I was going to say no, the only thing with having an irrigation system is obviously there's the expense of it. So, it's not going to be least expensive.
Lisa Beres 22:18
But what you make up in your water bill from getting rid of your turf, right? Because people have to be paying a lot of money for their turf, right?
Rama Nayeri 22:25
I mean, oh, absolutely. You water it.
Lisa Beres 22:27
What's the typical bill, say a standard sized home with a big grassy yard?
Rama Nayeri 22:33
You'd probably pay at least couple 100 bucks.
Lisa Beres 22:35
Yeah, just to water that yard.
Rama Nayeri 22:36
Because with the lawn, you have to mow it regularly. You have to water it every day. And you have to fertilize it every so often.
Lisa Beres 22:44
Yeah, that's a lot. You've got to be retired.
Ron Beres 22:48
Hey, Rama, I just thought of a question. So obviously, you do landscapes in Southern California, it's dry with a focus on water conservation. Is it more challenging in Southern California than it would be to be in the Northeast where it's cold and there's snow on the ground?
Rama Nayeri 23:01
Well, I would say it's actually less challenging in California, because part of what we have, which actually works out great is our climate, almost 24/7 is never super cold enough that you can't garden. So, we have the privilege of being able to garden year-round. If it's in an area where it snows then that's a certain period of time where you can't do anything.
Lisa Beres 23:23
Yeah. And then they've got to deal with the freezing of the plant. Right.
Rama Nayeri 23:26
And we don't have any of that. I mean, but then again, we also have to deal with the fact that maybe in the summer, you water a little bit more because it's too hot. And you have to account for that. But other than that, we can essentially garden year-round.
Lisa Beres 23:40
So, what are some tips for someone looking to transform their garden on a shoestring budget, but still have a wildlife friendly native plant garden?
Rama Nayeri 23:49
So first, I would suggest if you have any turf in your landscape and you say live in Orange County, and you want to remove the grass, I would first go to the Municipal Water District of Orange County website and inquire about the turf rebate program. Because you're getting a free design, you're getting X dollars per square foot. It's between three to $5 depending on your specific water agency, and you're getting a professional design. And essentially the designer has to consider sustainability features in your garden which are required by the water district and has to consider drought tolerant plant material as well. And usually if you want to add native plants in your garden, and if you live in Orange County, there's a nursery called Tree of Life in San Juan Capistrano. And every Saturday, they have some sort of lecture about Capistrano native plants. So, you could kind of go there during some of their lectures and learn more about native plants and that specific nursery I'd say about 90% of the plants they sell and grow are native plants. So, then you can go physically look at native plants. And when you do it, you realize it's not really a bunch of succulents and cacti, it's actually green plants.
Lisa Beres 25:06
Wow, you're right. Because as we started hiking more around, and I would notice, like how lush in the canyons around here and how lush everything stays around, we've really commented on it. And I'm like, Wow, you look down in that canyon, like, between like Newport Laguna like that whole area, like very green, like a lot of the year. You don't hear a lot of dry down. Yeah.
Ron Beres 25:28
And by the way, for those who aren't in Orange County, I'm sure you can take a chance and go to your county website, right and see if there's programs right in orange county is offering particularly in the southwest, I'm sure Arizona and Nevada. All these places that are experiencing water issues, probably have their own ideas and programs to help the homeowner too.
Lisa Beres 25:47
I would think so. Especially the 29 states that are currently in a drought. They should
Rama Nayeri 25:52
Oh, there's that many?
Lisa Beres 25:53
Yeah, I actually went to the website yesterday, because I wanted this information to be relevant. I was like, Yeah, I was 29. Yeah,
Ron Beres 25:59
This is all a good point, too. So, let's say okay, I'm concerned about my garden. I'm concerned about my landscape Rama, what is the process of working with the designer contractor? What is it like?
Rama Nayeri 26:09
Okay, so I'll tell you how the process is if you are going to be working with me, because every designer and contractor does things slightly differently. But the way I work at least is I come to your house, I meet with you complimentary for an hour, some designers charge for the initial hour, some don't. And in that hour, I tried to gauge what is it that you're looking to do with your landscaping. So, I'll ask you a bunch of questions about what your intention is for the garden, what your purpose is, how do you ultimately want to be able to use this space, and I'll look at what you have that's already there. I might suggest, hey, maybe we should remove all the plants because they look kind of sad and wilted, and we replace all the plants. And then what I do from there is I write a design contract to the homeowner, at which point if they liked the design contract, and that's where I proceed. Now, I personally, along with a lot of my designer friends absolutely will not work without a contract. And what I tell my homeowner clients is what the contract does is let's say I'm proposing to charge you 1500 bucks, if it ends up costing me more money than what I had quoted you, that doesn't matter. And you signed a contract agreeing to pay 1500. And that's all you're going to pay. Yeah. So, if it cost me more money, that's no hindrance to you as a home owner.
Lisa Beres 27:34
Right? As you get in there, and you discover a big tree stump under the ground.
Ron Beres 27:39
Accountability. I'm curious if you had homeowners say: I'm going to send you pictures. And I want to quote from there. And is it ever done that way?
Rama Nayeri 27:47
I have had some people do that. And I always tell the homeowner that I need to see the garden in real life, it's always easier when you look at it in person. And when you meet with a prospective client in person, because they can also meet with you gauge who you are as a person. Yeah, and then decide if even you'd be a right fit for them. And then if I have a signed contract, then what I do is, I always measure the site plan, and I'd work everything digitally. And then I always do two options for the design, which I call a concept drawings. And this is to give the homeowner okay, you could do option A with these features, or a slight modification in some way to do option B. And I like to take homeowners to physically look at the plans I'm proposing. If that's possible, if we're proposing, let's say to use pavers in the driveway, I will actually take them to a place where they can see different samples of pavers from texture sizes, so that they can physically see what it's going to look like. And then from there, once we've hashed all that out, I will then do a detailed two dimensional drawing that I can then give to a contractor and say, Okay, we have this drawing now, how much is it going to cost for you to construct it. And then what I like to do is refer contractors to clients, because these are contractors that I know of licensed bonded insured, have workman's comp, and I've worked with them before so I can vouch for the quality of service. And I always, always recommend using a licensed contractor as opposed to someone who is it.
Lisa Beres 29:28
Yeah, that goes across the board for many, many things. Right? Mold remediators mold inspectors, all that.
Rama Nayeri 29:34
Right. And specifically, in the state of California. If you're doing major construction work to your landscape, it's actually illegal to use someone who isn't licensed.
Lisa Beres 29:43
Okay. In California. Yes. Yeah.
Ron Beres 29:46
Okay. And I'm doing the math there. You had 90 projects last year, and you're meeting each one of these homeowners. I'm assuming that all 90 said yes. Right. You didn't take vacation last year. Did you?
Rama Nayeri 29:57
I did. I did this year but not last year. But the way the 90 projects work is they get approved through the water district. So, the company that I do the torque rebate designs for how it all worked out was both me and the owner of that company had applied to be a chosen designer for the water district. I didn't get selected, but the other company did. And I was good friends with the owner of the company. In the span of a month, they gave her about 30 names of people that had applied for the rebate program. And she somehow needed to do 30 designs. And at the time, I was looking to make changes to my home. So, I needed extra cash and it worked out.
Lisa Beres 30:41
Oh, that's great Rama, that's awesome. Is it kind of like CAD then where you do the drawings? Is it like on a computer like AutoCAD?
Rama Nayeri 30:51
I actually use AutoCAD? Oh, yeah. Okay. Everything I do, even from taking notes while I'm at the job site, to even measuring the property. Everything for me is digital.
Lisa Beres 31:01
Oh, wow. You're hit Rama.
Rama Nayeri 31:04
Like, very with going digital is I have access to all my files from any device. But also, if I'm measuring the sight, and I'm writing it on a piece of paper, what happens if I lose that paper then? Yeah, essentially screwed. So
Lisa Beres 31:19
Yeah, that's true. And you have a really great YouTube account. I watched some of your videos. I'm very impressed. Because you're a one man show. Are you not? Yes, you're juggling a lot. That's great. Your videos are really helpful. So, if you want to get to know, her and her work, what's your YouTube channel? If you search my business name, it'll show up. Okay, creations landscape design. Question, how do you convince ideal clients who are not well versed in natives to go native?
Rama Nayeri 31:45
Well, sometimes if I'm, let's say, doing a trophy-based design, or dealing with customers, if the customer tells me, you know what, I just want a bunch of drought tolerant plants. And they don't have any specific preference that I just designed a native garden, and they don't know the difference. All right, you don't even need to bring up the name. I don't even need to bring it up. But in other times, if they're not well versed in native plants, and they're not sure about it, I show them lots of pretty pictures of native plants that look green year-round. That earned them that look really pretty. And that almost always convinces them.
Lisa Beres 32:20
Yeah, a picture's worth 1000 words, right?
Rama Nayeri 32:23
But also, the other thing is, is I have so many videos on my YouTube channel about native plants, that by the time people call me they're kind of already hip to the fact that that's primarily what I designed. So, if say there was someone that found me and didn't adamantly want native plants, they probably wouldn't even call me.
Lisa Beres 32:42
Right, exactly. Yeah. So, the word native plants kind of has a negative connotation. Still, sometimes drought tolerant, doesn't everyone's okay, okay. That's really funny. Okay, tell us one or two of your favorite natives, drought tolerant plants that's really green and beautiful.
Rama Nayeri 33:00
One of my favorites is called Cleveland sage. It smells heavenly. It gets five to six feet tall and wide. It has purple flowers that the hummingbirds love. It looks great in a garden if you have room for it. Another native plant on something
Lisa Beres 33:16
Sage What was the name?
Rama Nayeri 33:18
Lisa Beres 33:19
Cleveland sage. Sounds pretty, sounds beautiful,
Rama Nayeri 33:21
Or the fancy term is salvia clevelandii.
Lisa Beres 33:25
Yeah. Because they all have like, what is it Italian names or?
Rama Nayeri 33:28
I think it's Latin something.
Lisa Beres 33:30
Rama Nayeri 33:32
And then one of my other favorite native plants is called dudleya. And they come in different varieties and it's just basically a really small succulent that looks pretty in the garden. It works well in pots.
Lisa Beres 33:44
Oh, wow. succulents. They're so popular. Now you see the succulent walls and there's just like all the hotels have succulents. Right, yeah. And succulents what you water like because they are a cactus, right? They're part of the cactus family. So how often are you watering a succulent?
Rama Nayeri 33:59
Well, you'd water it may be like once a week. The other thing is, if you have pots in your garden, one thing you can do is stick your finger or like a stick inside the pot. If you pull it out in the stick is moist and fill moist with soil then you know that the soil inside the pod is still moist and you don't have to water it.
Lisa Beres 34:19
Yes, that's a great tip Rama. I've done that with chopsticks. I saved the chopsticks. There was a really good way to order Chinese food and you don't use those chopsticks. You can use that to test your plants. I found that I used to overwater and now I always find less is more like you can always add more but once you overwater it, you really can kill the plant. Do you have any kind of recycle program for these plants that not the plants per se but the trees like if you have a really big beautiful tree in a client's yard that is going to have to be taken down? Is there any way to repurpose that?
Rama Nayeri 34:52
Usually there isn't. Part of the problem is when you cut down a tree if you're going to reuse it like what's, uh, you completely shave it off? You have those machines that shave the trees, you have to make sure first of all that there's no seeds that are looming on the tree. Because then if you spread those seeds in the garden, then new plants can essentially grow. So that's why I typically we don't do that unless it's in like an area where it's that somebody's actual house.
Lisa Beres 35:20
Oh, I guess I meant like, repurpose the wood. Like we just interviewed interior designer and they took the wood from the house and then they there's a place in San Diego that actually repurpose it into furniture. And she has the dining room table now made out of the tree. Yeah, that's really cool, because it was such a big beautiful tree and you didn't just want to dispose of it. I guess there's a place in San Diego. I can ask her the name if you're interested. And that's what they do.
Rama Nayeri 35:45
I totally be interested.
Lisa Beres 35:47
That okay, yeah, she said it was rare to find that too. Well, I think this wraps our show. Thank you, Rama.
Rama Nayeri 35:54
Thank you. This was fun.
Lisa Beres 35:56
Yeah, this was really fun. To learn more about Rama�s work and services visit creationslandscapedesigns.com. She provides initial consultations, full landscape design in small space patio design, guys, so if you don't have a big yard, you can still create a beautiful native garden on your deck for design offerings service, Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego County.
Ron Beres 36:20
We'll have all the links in the show notes at Ranandlisa.com forward slash podcast. And stay tuned next week friends and get ready to up level your health. See you then. Bye.
Lisa Beres 36:33
This episode of the Healthy Home hacks podcast has ended. But be sure to subscribe for more healthy living strategies and tactics to help you create the healthy home you always dreamed up. And don't forget to rate and review so we can continue to bring you the best content. See you on the next episode.
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