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 Green Gardener Spotlight

 Antonio Coronel 

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Many people know the basics of gardening. The difference between the average gardener and a trained gardener, like Antonio Coronel, is knowing how to garden for a specific climate. Antonio knows the best plants for Santa Barbara and how to care for them. His watering, fertilizing, and pruning techniques are tailored to our climate.  

The Montecito estate pictured here is a typical example of the type of property managed by Gosnell Tree Trimming and Landscaping. Antonio, a foreman for the company, took over maintenance of this property six months ago. At that time, the plants were suffering due to improper care.  The plants are now clearly thriving. The difference is due to both large scale changes and improved day to day care.

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Antonio improved the overall water efficiency of the property by reducing the size of the lawn, and grouping plants together in the beds. Grouping plants based on their water needs reduces water loss and prevents weeds from growing in between.    

He also removed strips of grass between pavements in the driveway. These grass sections were always difficult to maintain, and as a result, constantly water stressed. Replacing them with stone work eliminated the maintenance problem and reduced water consumption.

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Replacing potted annual plants with succulents also improved water efficiency. Small pots don't hold much water and therefore need to be watered constantly. By planting succulents the water problem was eliminated, and the pots are easier to maintain.  

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Antonio even improved stormwater drainage on the property. Near the front of the house is a tiered hedge. During rain events water would run to the bottom section of the hedge and flood the plants and pavement there. This problem was fixed by installing a French drain. The water is now redirected instead of flooding the garden and pavement.  

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  Antonio6 Due to these change the property is not only healthier and more water efficient, but also more appropriate for Santa Barbara's climate. The end result is a lower water bill and easier maintenance. This property clearly shows that efficiency can be achieved without compromising function or beauty.  

 

 

Daily adjustments are just as important as overall changes. Antonio assesses pruning, watering and fertilizing needs on a daily basis. He points out that it is important to only apply fertilizer as needed, not in a set cycle. While touring the property, Antonio explains the benefits of smart watering and careful observation of plants. In a shade garden along the side of the house there are succulents that can use varying amounts of water. Antonio explains that the goal with this type of plant is to stretch the time between watering and if they start to look stressed, a small amount of water will perk them back up.

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Antonio learned these sustainable gardening techniques through Santa Barbara County's Green Gardener Program. When discussing the benefits of the Green Gardener Program, Antonio emphasized the importance of learning how to garden for Santa Barbara's climate. He points out that many people try to adapt plants and gardening styles to Santa Barbara that are intended for regions like the east coast. In the class he learned how to adjust sprinklers seasonally and daily as needed. Additionally, Antonio found the compost and mulch section of the class to be especially helpful. Gosnell uses plant trimmings from pruning to create both mulch and compost. Larger and thicker debris can be ground into course much and applied to soil topically. Smaller organic matter can be mixed into compost piles to decompose. These practices improve soil health and water retention in a sustainable way.  

The benefits of the Green Gardener class combined with the expertise of Gosnell are clear when Antonio takes over a property previously managed by another company. Based on Antonio's education and experience he is able to correct the problems that caused others to fail. One of the most common problems Gosnell encounters when taking over a property is that sprinkler heads are not oriented properly, and irrigation timers are programmed incorrectly. After fixing irrigation problems Gosnell next address lawn size and high water use plants. They encourage clients to reduce the size of their lawns and plant water efficient and native species.  

Ten years ago clients all wanted roses and lawns, now clients are interested in native plants and Gosnell's staff are qualified to implement them. On the left is the Australian Rosemary Westringia Fruticosa. On the right is Strawberry Madrone Arbutus Marina.   Antonio8   Antonio9

Gosnell's success where others have failed is indicative of their philosophy as a company. Gosnell staff are always looking for ways to further their education. Three of Gosnell'semployees have completed the Green Gardener certification course, and they will be sending three more through the next course. This shows Gosnell's ability to recognize a valuable program that will benefit their company and employees, and a willingness to invest in it. On top of this, both Gosnell's employees and clients feel confident what to expect from the company. The same staff always go to the same property. The clients know who is responsible for their garden, and the staff know the specifics of the property. Having a maintenance crew consistently attend the same property means they know what changes to make and can see their success in the consistent health of the landscaping. Antonio's favorite part about his work is transforming a landscape that was poorly managed into something beautiful. He says that when he takes over a new property that is not in good condition, and makes it look beautiful, that is something to be proud of.   
  

 

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