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Lush but Sustainable

San Luis Obispo County, on California's Central Coast, receives almost all of its rainfall from November to April. Many residents, like Craig and Mimi Van Rooyen, are exchanging their water-hungry lawns for drought-tolerant outdoor spaces.

They chose Gabriel Frank of Gardens by Gabriel to design and install a landscape that was water-wise but also beautiful with a focus on clean, curvilinear lines, strong swaths of plants, and subtle, sweeping movement.

Frank planted native grasses that are adapted to the lack of water, senecio and agaves that store water in their leaves, and gaillardias and kangaroo paws that bloom freely, despite the heat. This garden uses less than half the water consumed by a lawn of the same size.

Other elements include radius benches custom-built with cedar and ipe by Todd Lewis; one capped with a smooth slab of concrete by Maysun Wells of Wells Concrete Works.

Wells also poured and crafted a 30-inch fountain water bowl and a 50-inch fire bowl. A concrete artisan, Wells is proud of his work's elements of sustainability.

"My mix includes fly ash as a partial substitute for the cement content," he says. "Fly ash is the residue generated in coal combustion in factories and power plants. I also get wine bottles from local bars and restaurants, break them up, and use them in my pieces as a decorative element."

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October 23, 2019, 10:04 pm PDT

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