Are Suburbs still wanted?

Our local editoraial staff wrote t his very interesting article, regarding suburbs…are they still wanted?  Do people still want to live in these new developments?  We continue to work with great developers, great clients and want to make sure that we are on the most current trends!  What do you think?  Where would you rather live?  In a suburb?  in downtown in a high rise?   Please let us know!?


We appreciate your input!


Steve Kovanis receives Bay-Friendly Certifications

Steve Kovanis
Steve Kovanis

We are proud to announce that Steve Kovanis, Landscape Designer, has been certified as a Bay Friendly Qualified Professional in both the design and maintenance of landscapes.  Steve is a Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, graduate with a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture. Steve’s decade of experience in the landscape industry, including all facets, provides our clients with an extraordinary depth of knowledge. As a Bay-Friendly Qualified Professional (BFQP), Steve presents our clients with sustainable, maintainable and water efficient landscape designs.Nobody would argue that the Bay Area is an unbelievable place to live, work and play with an abundance of unrivaled scenery, climate, wildlife, and diversity. Utilizing the Bay-Friendly principles in the design, installation and maintenance of our landscapes helps reverse detrimental trends in the traditional landscape industry such as over fertilization of our soils, inefficient use of irrigation water, sending landscape waste to our landfills, and loss of habitat for local species. Following the Bay-Friendly guidelines helps protect our invaluable watershed for future generations.

Tired of maintaining and watering your lawn but don’t know what to do about it? Ever wonder how you can get rid of those pesky weeds around your property but don’t want to expose your family and pets to dangerous chemicals? Want to have an abundance of song birds, hummingbirds and butterflies to enjoy in your yard but don’t know how to bring them in? How about the desire to transform a tired looking landscape into an amazingly gorgeous, low water and low maintenance garden featuring native plants?

If you would like to learn more about the Bay-Friendly principles or Firma Design Group, we have the answers to these questions and would love to assist you with your landscape projects and desires.

Bay-Friendly is a “California nonprofit organization focused specifically on promoting sustainable landscaping and gardening practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Coalition encourages behavior changes through a watershed approach that reduces waste and pollution, conserves natural resources and creates vibrant landscapes and gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

BFQP_Seal_140pxThe Bay-Friendly Coalition addresses the following challenges:

  • California’s water supply is limited and under increasing pressure. Up to 30% of urban water use goes to landscaping. (This is our drinking water!)
  • Landfill space is scarce and there are significant economic and environmental costs to transporting and landfilling plant debris. In Alameda County alone, 110,000 tons of plant debris goes to the landfill each year.
  • Local creeks and the bay are impacted by inappropriate use of pesticides, affecting human health and wildlife populations.
  • Traditional landscape construction and maintenance practices of mow, shear, and blow contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
  • Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and aesthetic values of Bay Area natural resources are at risk.

See more at:

Smarter Irrigation Systems






Smart Irrigation Systems

A Greener Idea

If you’re a typical homeowner, you probably put your automatic sprinkler system into the same category as your home’s heating and cooling system. You expect it to work reliably and efficiently with minimum fuss. The latest technology offers just that — and more.

Automated irrigation systems offer convenience while protecting your landscape investment. A well-maintained system keeps your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste.

To raise awareness of the benefits of efficient watering practices, the Irrigation Association has named July Smart Irrigation Month. Make time this summer to be sure you’re getting the most out of your irrigation system, while keeping utility bills low and helping to protect the environment.

Sprinklers Get Smart

The new generation of “smart” irrigation systems monitor weather, soil conditions, evaporation and plant water use and automatically adjust your watering schedule.

The secret to smart systems is the controller. Smart controllers use weather and/or site data to determine when and how long to water. Then, sprinklers apply just enough water at exactly the right time in each zone of your yard.

Smart controllers:

Save water. Smart systems automatically suspend watering during rain, freezing or high wind conditions. Careful scheduling minimizes evaporation and encourages water to soak in, reducing the total amount of water needed. Preventing overwatering actually keeps plants healthier by encouraging stronger roots and discouraging weeds, disease and fungus growth.


  • Save money. Smart systems can reduce your annual water bill by as much as 30 percent by preventing water waste. Plus, many local water providers offer rebates for purchasing specific smart controllers.


  • Save time. Once an irrigation installer has programmed your site data into the smart system, the controller adjusts the watering schedule based upon weather conditions and soil moisture without manual intervention.


  • Add convenience. Smart controllers adapt to seasonal weather changes without requiring reprogramming. And their “set and forget” technology is perfect for complying with any local watering restrictions, as well as for frequent travelers and vacation or second homes.


You may be able to upgrade your current irrigation system with a smart controller. Some new components are designed as easy add-ons to existing systems.

IA Select Certified Logo_CMYK







Firma Design Group is here to help and are happy to discuss any design and irrigation issues with you!  Michael Cook is a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor and is expert at auditing irrigation systems and designing efficient irrigation systems.   This article adapted from the Irrigation Association, with permission.