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Dig Into This Book
A Free Resource Guide for All Landscape Aficionados

This text provides information on a wide range of landscaping facets. It covers efficient irrigation, maintenance tips for hundreds of plants, managing weeds, sustainably utilizing rainwater and much more. It is free for everyone online and certainly applies nationwide despite its name.

In collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern California Gas Company, Douglas Kent offers the general public a beautifully constructed field guide that is certainly one of the most diverse, coherent and poignant landscaping texts to be published in recent times.

California Friendly: A Maintenance Guide for Landscapers, Gardeners, and Land Managers is an extremely useful tool for landscape professionals, not only in California, but throughout the nation. The text perfectly serves as a resource handbook that contains a plethora of highly detailed, in-depth, step-by-step instructions, pictures, lists, definitions, advice, charts and tables; all in a manner that is approachable and easy to understand. Some of the pictures are hand-drawn diagrams by Kent himself, while others are actual photos of examples or features.

Douglas Kent is an adjunct professor at the John Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies on the campus of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His publications include four other books in the broader field of landscaping. Additionally, he is the owner of Douglas Kent and Associates, a company that "specializes in 21st century land management."

Kent got his inspiration for this book by driving through California and seeing the failing landscapes.

"What we do in our landscapes affects everyone. They are vital to our living conditions and provide some of the biggest benefits to our communities," said Kent in an interview with LC/DBM.


California Friendly descriptively summarizes what it takes to have proper irrigation in your landscapes and provides many photos and diagrams including this one. Kent states that uniformity, cleanliness and pressure are the three main keys to success. The water delivery device is suggested to be uniform throughout the system to ensure that performance is consistent. Using devices with dissimilar rates of delivery can create wet or dry spots and damage the landscape. Making sure that the irrigation line is clean and flushed is also important; this will reduce the risk of the line breaking. If the line ruptures due to a blockage, it could cause flooding and cost time and money to repair. Pressure also needs to be monitored, as too much pressure will cause the sprinkler heads to mist, while too little pressure will cause them to dribble.


The chapter titled "Managing Surfaces and Slowing Runoff" offers this photo, which accurately depicts good surface management. Each different type of ground covering is separated and ordered and contains plants specific to it. The strip of small rocks near the walkway reduces water runoff that could spill over onto the path, saving water for the plants and minimizing hazards. It is important that each section is separate because this reduces mold that might grow on the small rocks or gravel if organic mulch was mixed in.


The text covers four inorganic mulches and fourteen organic varieties, accompanied by tips on how to properly use and care for them. In this landscape, chipped granite mulch is being used. This popular inorganic mulch is fairly inexpensive, usually goes unaffected by weeds and is low maintenance.

Kent took two years to construct the text, and his main goal was to reverse the damage done to landscapes due to droughts and poor maintenance. He also aimed to inform the general public of healthy environmental practices whilst landscaping. The mission statement for the book reads, "California Friendly is about long-term sustainability, resiliency and livability."

Kent adds, "We need to really value our urban landscapes and the resources that it takes to sustain them. They are some of our biggest assets." He refers to the relaxing and healthy attributions that wholesome landscaping can provide for all of us.

As mentioned, in spite of its title, this book aptly applies on a national level in a way that is accessible and useful to everyone. The chapters include a vast amount of information on everything from pests to irrigation and are valuable to practitioners of all levels.

"The starting gardener will have the same information as the expert landscaper," said Kent. "We really tried to level the playing field."


A clever trick that the handbook suggests is using a small barrier to help reduce the amount of weed seeds in your landscape. As wind rushes over a small wall, a wind eddy is created, causing the wind to circle behind the wall and deposit seeds and debris. Therefore, walls or small barriers can be used advantageously to reduce the amount of weeds in your landscape, especially in windy areas because weed seeds are designed to spread in the wind.


California Friendly includes an extensive list of aggressive plants that help stifle the germination of weeds. The Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus) can be an aggressive spreader that will often successfully out-compete a variety of weed species. The book suggests using plants such as these because they can save time and money that would have otherwise been used to thwart the growth of weeds.

For instance, the chapter titled, "The Gist of Irrigation" offers a complete rundown on everything you need to know in order to properly and sustainably irrigate your landscapes. The chapter lists the different types of irrigation systems, with pros and cons for each, provides a comprehensive definition of good irrigation - how to measure soil moisture, how to identify a water problem, how to remedy a water problem and much more. It cannot be emphasized enough how much information is really confined in these 223 pages. There is even a helpful table of contents, a contacts page and an index of terms and keywords for easy navigation.

The book is available online to everyone absolutely free and under no copyright protection. Kent did this in order to allow instructors and educators the ability to utilize the text without fear of infringement.

You can acquire California Friendly: A Maintenance Guide for Landscapers, Gardeners, and Land Managers at under the toolkit section, or on the Douglas Kent and Associates website at You can also receive a hardcopy edition by signing up for one of the water wise classes available through several municipal water districts in the state of California.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, February 2018.

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August 24, 2019, 5:26 am PDT

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