We are thrilled to share that Alida Aldrich has recently become a part of the Santa Barbara Zoo's remarkable Committee for Building & Grounds! It's an honor to join this dedicated team, united by our passion for the Zoo's mission of preserving the natural world and its precious treasures. The Aldrich Company is committed to bringing fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and a relentless passion for conservation to the table.
We’re proud to let you know about a review we just received on Houzz!
Nearly a decade ago, Alida designed and installed a lovely garden for our client living in Santa Barbara. Some weeks ago, she called looking for a 'springtime refresh’ to the original plantings. She was so happy with the result that she wrote a glowing review.
See this, and other complimentary, 5-star Houzz reviews - plus stunning photos of our landscape designs in Montecito, Hope Ranch, and Santa Barbara by clicking here!
Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, Photo by Daryl Metzger
Exquisite Landscape Design
We specialize in creating artistic - yet sustainable, cost effective gardens - with special attention paid to native and drought sensitive plantings.
We provide Conceptual Landscape Plans, Complete Working Drawings and Installation Oversight. Principal designer, Alida Aldrich, is a local designer with an “A" team of reliable artisans. Visit our website to see many of our graceful gardens.
There is a growing movement to replace traditional, thirsty, fertilizer-hungry lawns with native grasses, groundcovers, and 'meadow' mixes. Here we'll explore several options for replacing your lawn and making your garden more attractive and sustainable.
Note: All zones mentioned refer to Sunset Western Garden zones.
Meadow Mixes/Ecology Lawn
The right mixture of herbs and fine fescue makes a stunning display. The benefits of such a lawn is that it is beautiful, does not require mowing or only requires some mowing (once a month in summer), increases and enhances wildlife, it takes less water, it doesn't require fertilizer, and you and your family can still walk and play on it.
Yarrow (Alchillea millefolium) Lawn (All Zones)
Yarrow forms a beautiful green mat that looks and feels very soft. If you keep it mowed regularly, it won't be able to flower, but it does make a stunning, prairie-like display in the warmer months. It remains green and lush with low-moderate foot traffic and little watering. It is a tough, versatile plant that keeps out the weeds and endures the heat.
Carex Lawns (zones 4-9, 14-24)
These are drought tolerant grasses that can look splendid all year round. Some of the grasses might go dormant in the summer without some supplemental watering, but the good news is that these mixes take about 70% less water than traditional lawns.
Light Traffic Alternate Groundcovers
Or ditch a uniform cover and opt for a beautiful mix of drought tolerant grasses, shrubs, and trees like The Aldrich Company's design here. Click on the picture for more design ideas!
In Praise of Plants
Back by popular demand! Alida Aldrich will begin teaching again this fall! Turn Your Yard into a Garden: Essential Landscape Design starts October 9, 2021 and runs for 3 weeks online, two hours each week through SBCC Extended Learning.
Whether starting from scratch or renovating an existing garden, learn how to apply essential design principles from the initial daydreaming stage to the final garden installation.
Vitamin D. Wildlife keeps its watchful eyes on newborns; leaves appear on deciduous trees, absorbing the carbon dioxide; and flowers and bulbs start to bloom everywhere!
If you don’t already have one, it’s time to buy The Sunset Western Garden Book, the must-have reference book for Santa Barbara garden enthusiasts and professionals. After 25-plus years in the industry, I still refer to it for answers.
If you’re looking for a different, garden-related book, pick up The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. This non-fiction murder mystery centers on the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and goes into fascinating detail about how Frederick Law Olmsted helped engineer and supervise the plantings of some about 600 acres on the fairgrounds.
Today, Olmstead is recognized as the father of American landscape architecture, who not only laid out the World’s Fair but designed New York City’s Central Park.
I turn to his ideas and philosophies to guide me whenever I begin a new project.
Prepare for Drought
Summer will surely follow spring and bring its own seasonal offerings. Due to the small amounts of rain we experienced last fall and winter, experts predict that we’ll have a serious drought this summer. We need to prepare our garden now for the summer season. Accessing enough affordable water has become a problem in the region. In general, irrigating our landscapes and gardens is a major use of residential
water in Santa Barbara, with green lawns being the thirstiest plant of all.
I’d like to propose a soul-saving alternative to some of the lawns and planting beds in your garden: a pollinator garden! As you may have read, the populations of birds, bees, and butterflies have been nearly decimated by man’s use of chemical pesticides and the loss of natural habitats. There are specific plants that these delicate, winged creatures need and desire, plants that are drought-tolerant and well-suited to our Mediterranean climate zone. These three different species thrive on many of the same plants. Of course, milkweed is a favorite of the butterflies, while the bees and the birds (especially hummingbirds) like to visit and collect pollen from salvia, penstemon, cosmos, and lavender. There are a lot of other flowering plants they love, too. Just search on the web for “pollinator plants.”
If space is a concern, then pots are the answer. A pollinator garden can be a do-good family project that will pay you back with hours of viewing pleasure. You can find many other native, pollinator-friendly plants on a stroll through our esteemed Santa Barbara Botanic Garden In the past, the garden has held an annual Spring Native Plant Sale, but this year consider combining a nature walk there with a buying trip. For the adventurous, drive to Figueroa Mountain in Santa Ynez. You should find a spectacular display of wildflowers this spring.
There’s another concern looming this summer: the potential for fires. Those of you with properties on the hillsides can find excellent information about how to create defensible space zones around your home; choose fire-resistant plants; and ember-resistant building materials at www.montecitofire.com.
Doomsday tales aside, fate has brought us to this extraordinary spot on the planet. Treat yourself by getting outside and enjoying these glorious days.
– It’s time to fertilize the garden. I use a general-purpose fertilizer mix
10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium). You may have plants that require a more complex mix;
– Plant your herbs and vegetables now for fresh, yummy, dishes in the summer;
– Update the times set on your automated irrigation system.
Later, I’ll write about how to tackle your garden maintenance patrol.
If you’re a garden hobbyist (or would like to be), I’ll be teaching a course on the Essential Principles of Landscape Design through SB City College (online via Zoom) beginning May 22 for five weeks. The classes are two hours each week. In early April, you can find out more specifics by clicking here.