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Branching out: Los Altos native's art celebrates the outdoors

Steve Schick/Special to the Town Crier
HGTV recently featured the organic twig art of Los Altos native Paul Schick on its Lake Tahoe “Dream Home” program. Schickfashions wall hangings from twigs he finds on hillsides, coastlines and in forests in Northern California.

For Los Altos native Paul Schick, a walk in the woods is more than a leisurely activity – it’s vital to his career as an artist.


Return on investment: Water conservation in the garden

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
To conserve water, use a water breaker with a gentle flow. Don’t water too high, as shown above, or risk losing water to evaporation. Instead, direct the flow of water downward and water near the roots.

Think about where you want to spend your water budget this year. In the garden, natives, edibles and herbs offer the best return on investment.


Mtn. View neighbors seek attractive, drought-tolerant front gardens

Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
The lush foliage and red flowers of a native gooseberry hide the long, sharp spines that make it a great plant for wildlife cover, protecting them from predators.

“Drought” is the gardening theme for 2014. I recently attended a meeting with Mountain View residents who are exploring waterwise gardening and considering removing their lawns.


Outdoor kitchens top list of landscape remodels

Courtesy of Julie Orr
The temperate climate in the Bay Area is ideal for outdoor cooking, adding to the growing popularity of backyard kitchens.

One of the wonderful perks of living on the Peninsula is the temperate climate. Preparing a meal for family and friends while relaxing in the beauty of the garden is one of the top ways to relax and reconnect with one another. With our busy lifestyles, it’s no wonder that outdoor kitchens are among the top-requested items for a landscape remodel.


Artful kitchen IKB project wins Best in Show

Courtesy of IKB
Los Altos’ IKB Design & Construction won the Judge’s Choice Award in a recent contest for the remodel of Oleg Kiselev and Monica Waldman’s kitchen, The design features an L-shaped island with a circular eating area and space to display Waldman’s artwork.

Two of the stovetop burners didn’t work. The refrigerator compressor died twice. And a chair was used to keep the oven door closed after the hinges gave out.

For a family of cooks, it was time either to replace the appliances or redo the kitchen. A Los Altos couple did both and ended up with an award-winning kitchen.


Arbors offer protection from the sun

Kent Fields/ Special to the Town Crier
A retractable fabric arbor adds a custom design element.

Arbors are one of the best ways to define an outdoor room if you are considering a space for dining, lounging or cooking. A typical wood arbor can be used to create shade while letting filtered light in through fixed shade boards. New designs on the market enable homeowners to determine the amount of light for their outdoor rooms.


Planting seeds: Common Ground manager offers tips for local gardeners

Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Patricia Becker, above, is manager of the Common Ground Garden Supply and Education Center, bottom right, which sells everything gardeners would need to start and maintain their outdoor havens, such as plants and edibles, below left, and seeds, below right.

The Town Crier recently conducted an email interview with Patricia Becker, manager of Common Ground Organic Garden Supply and Education Center in Palo Alto. The 42-year-old nonprofit organization’s mission is to provide education and resources to support the local community in growing gardens sustainably through the cultivation of edible and native plants.

For more information, visit


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