Our last Spotlight of the year is at a group of homes in Goleta. Each house has a private back garden area that the homeowners take care of.

All the front gardens and many communal areas are designed and maintained by Acorn Landscape Management.

There are many beautiful old oak trees on the property. These originally had star jasmine and other water-hungry plants beneath them. These plants are gradually getting cleaned away so that the oaks can stay drier, watered by Mother Nature, as they prefer.

New areas are targeted for redesign regularly so that appropriate, moderate water use, disease-resistant plants can be installed. Many of the existing plants, like daylilies and agapanthus can be split and used in the redesigned areas.

Marjorie Bowe Hoffman, owner of Acorn Landscape Management is very dedicated to the Green Gardener Program and will not take on a contract that would violate the program principles. All of her gardeners go through the program and several, including Gustavo Chavez, the manager of this project, have Advanced Gardener Certification. Hoffman01

This large area of green space for children to play on was watered very poorly before Marjorie and Gustavo took over. The top was brown and dried out and the bottom of the slope was waterlogged. Now it looks really lush and attractive, while using much less water than before. By using the correct sprinkler heads and timers it is possible to water any lawn space evenly despite the rolling slopes.

The many large trees and the surrounding green areas give the effect of countryside to the homes and cut down on the noise of the city outside.


Marjorie has very strong opinions about the long-lasting toxicity of pesticides and will not use them at all in her work.

Even in the case of whiteflies, the most problematic of plant pests, she will try everything in her integrated pest management arsenal to restore the plants to health. First, by spraying vigorously with water from a hose every day, which requires the homeowner's cooperation. Then, by planting plants that attract beneficial predator insects close by. If whiteflies are still a problem then she will advise removal of the plant.

In the photo on the right you can see how plants are trimmed so that there is a clear air space between the plant and any nearby wall. Planting too close to a wall leads to fungus and other pest problems.

With their many years of dedication to the Green Gardener Program, Acorn Landscape Management staff are continually finding new ways to keep large landscapes naturally beautiful and pest-free.

You will find Acorn Landscape Management on the Advanced Green Gardener list.