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Featured Landscapes Selection Criteria

Tuesday March 30, 2010


The gardens presented in Featured Landscapes have undergone a critical review by seasoned landscape professionals in order to ensure the work highlighted is unique, thought-provoking, and exhibits environmentally appropriate characteristics.  The result of the review process is a curated collection of landscapes worthy of attention and acclaim.

Those who evaluate Featured Landscapes for approval look for satisfaction of the following Landscape Requirements and responses to the Characteristics of Featured Landscape quesions.

Featured Landscape Requirements

-8 Images (minimum)

-300 Word text description (minimum)

-Submitting party must be a Premium Business Member

-Landscape must be associated with a Palette list

-The text description ("About this Landscape" text) must include responses to 5 of the 7 questions posed below.

Notes on Selection Process

-Landscapes are not reviewed for inclusion in the Featured Landscape selection until the party responsible for the landscape completes the Submittal Form and emails the document to

-The responsible party is notified via email within 72 hours with the Administrative Review decision.

-Approved Featured Landscapes are displayed in the Featured Landscapes section for 4 months.  After 4 months, the landscape is removed but remains visible in the Landscape Gallery.

-Premium Business members may make up to 6 submittals per year.

-Only one landscape per business may be featured at a time.

Characteristics of Featured Landscapes

1) Sense of Place:  Does the landscape have an identity and soul?

Just because a landscape has walls, pools, paths, terraces and other elements does not mean the landscape speaks.  A series of disparate elements is just that.  A landscape becomes a place and has an identity when all the individual elements, both built and program, are weaved together with unity and grace.

2) Maintenance Ratio:  Is the amount of maintenance required to maintain the landscape appropriate to the scale, complexity and level of use of the space? 

As stewards of the land, we must carefully monitor the level of inputs applied our landscapes in order to be efficient, economical and sustainable.  We acknowledge there is no such thing as a "No-Maintenance" landscape.  Anyone claiming to have installed such a landscape is either out of touch with reality or has designed a parking lot without vegetation.  "Low-maintenance" landscape are possible but it is too relative of a quantification.  That is why we prefer to evaluate landscapes by their Maintenance Ratio as noted above.

3) Material Selection:  Are the materials used in the landscape representative of the locale and complimentary to the style of the project?

Value is placed on landscapes that incorporate materials that are local, re-used, recycled, and carefully selected with longevity and a low-carbon footprint in mind.

4) Water Use & Treatment:  Is water honored by selecting drought tolerant plants, trapped and stored for later use, cleaned and slowed before sending off-site, or provided to increase/create habitat for fauna?

As residents of California, we are at the forefront of sweeping changes in water policy and use.  Without a doubt, fresh water will continue to increase in price and scarcity so our landscapes must evolve to celebrate our arid climate and preserve this precious resource.

5) Creativity & Uniqueness:  Does the landscape possess fresh, distinctive and inspirational qualities?

We create landscapes in a multitude of forms for countless reasons.  But differences aside, the common thread that unifies all cultivated landscape design and creation is the desire to appreciate the natural world in a manner that is unique to us.

6) Appropriate Plants:  Does the plant palette used in the landscape respect hydrozones, micro-climates, site, and geography?  Are the plants appropriate for the household's lifestyle?  Do the plants add value to the aesthetics of place?

Amazingly, even with thousands of plants to choose from, diligent availability surveys and appropriateness studies may quickly whittle down the seemingly endless list to a small handful. 

7) Habitat for Wildlife:  Does the landscape enhance or create habitat for wildlife?

Our past and current development patterns have effectively fragmented habitat into disparate bits and pieces.  However, our gardens can become refuge for the critters that are integral to the cycle of life.  With a little care and thought, a landscape's habitat value can be greatly increased by the addition of a few key plants and water that provide much needed food and cover for resident and transient fauna.


Visit current Featured Landscapes for examples.