BillyGoodnickBilly Goodnick, Santa Barbara, CA, US
Billy Goodnick does a lot of stuff and always has fun doing it. He’s also very serious about encouraging people to design, create and care for their landscapes sustainably.
Whether writing his Design Workshop articles for Fine Gardening and other magazines and websites, or teaching and lecturing throughout sunny southern California, the message is clear: Everyone can have a garden that is beautiful, functional and treads lightly on the planet. His new book, "Yards: Turn Any Outdoor Space Into the Garden of Your Dreams: debuts March 2013, filled with great design ideas, money saving tips, all presented in his upbeat, hilarious style.
Billy started life at a very early age, was abducted by circus clowns, escaped to become an in-demand studio drummer in LA, and then discovered the incredible art of bonsai. Turning on a dime, he dropped his drumsticks and started his foray into horticulture.
His career has included retail nursery sales as well as landscape maintenance and installation—dodging seagulls at the city dump was his specialty. Billy has been the Landscape Architect for the City of Santa Barbara since 1987.
Interesting work, but there’s room on the plate. He has been demystifying garden design for two decades using his light-hearted teaching style to show homeowners how to design like a pro.
He offers landscape design coaching and consulting for Santa Barbara area clients and has a whole bunch of awards to show for it. People like his work. His clients become his friends.
He co-hosts Garden Wise Guys, a comedic sustainable landscaping show in the Santa Barbara region, and freelance writes for magazines and on-line publications (Edhat.com).
Taking the sage advice of his youth—“Take the thing you love most in life and make it your hobby”—Billy drums for Santa Barbara-based retro-rock band King Bee, laying down his funky grooves.
Eager to improve your design chops? There’s nothing better than taking in a local garden show. That’s where you’ll find talented designers and builders displaying a broad range of garden styles to inspire you.
Eager to improve your design chops? There’s nothing better than taking in a local garden show. That’s where you’ll find talented designers and builders displaying a broad range of garden styles to inspire you. Part I of II
You don't have to be a techie to put this power-packed plant-finding app to great use. "Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens" makes it easy.
In part one of this article, I introduced you to a not uncommon situation I've encountered in my design work: the "Women Are From Venus and Men Are from Mars" dilemma. But if partners play nicely, they can have it all.
Sometimes garden designers are confronted with a "Women are from Venus; men are from Mars" situation -- a couple with decidedly different visions for their garden. Sound like something you're dealing with? Not to worry. Read on, then watch for Part II.
Are you thinking about buying a new home? Whether you're upsizing, downsizing or relocating, here are some vital tips on what to look for before you make an offer.
It's open house day and you've been impressed by the curb appeal, considered how you'll live in your garden and how weather patterns affect your comfort and which plants you can grow. Now let's look at the practical side: infrastructure, safety and maintenance.
Let's finish up by looking at how surrounding properties can affect your garden, the pluses and minuses of mature trees and whether you'll be inheriting maintenance headaches.
Once you've gotten your potential home buyer out of the car, it's time to make them feel like this is a place where they can fulfill their dreams and set down roots, figuratively and literally. Read on for tips about how to make them love your garden the way you have.
With housing sales picking up, you might be considering putting your house on the market. The garden you've loved and labored over can help you sell or it might be a turn-off for your potential buyer.
Sometimes getting lost leads to fantastic treasures, like stumbling upon the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida
Before getting carried away creating stunning foliage and floral compositions, it pays to figure out the "stuff-to-space" ratio.
It didn’t take long to get into the Hollywood vibe at the kick-off of the 2013 Northwest Flower & Garden Show this week. From the moment they arrived, excited visitors were treated to a riotous display of color right off the Technicolor screen of the Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, Roman Holiday and dozens of silver screen-themed exhibition gardens.
Dan Heims, founder of Terra Nova Nursery in Portland, says his "rock star" idol is Luther Burbank. Well, Dan's another hybridizing hero, churning out great plants for gardeners across the country. Check out my picks for 2013...
Jeavonna Chapman received a great holiday gift. Her own free copy of No Nonsense Gardening. Though she killed her first plant at age 4, that didn't stop her.
Wanna know how to make your own soil? Got a few thousand years to wait? That's okay; with this book, you'll be a raging success anyway.
I sort of think I blew through Dayton in the 70s when I was drumming in a rock band. But I know I didn't stop to enjoy the gardens. All that changed last weekend when I visited two jewels in the MetroParks crown.
I can’t explain the sensation that washes over me when I’m in the presence of masterfully design Japanese gardens. Perhaps it’s my appreciation for how the human mind can look at an actual tree or natural landscape, find its essence and distill it into living art. Regardless of the style you aspire to, there are lessons to be learned.
One hundred and twenty-one readers left comments in hopes of winner Container Gardening for All Seasons. Lucky number 43 is now thumbing through the pages, planning her own beautiful pots.
You've researched every plant that grows in your zone and lusted over the ones that won't. Now what? Read my sure-fire tips for great plant composition.
Brenda Haas didn’t set out to create a gardening information phenomenon. But in two years, she's created an on-line community of gardeners who share their knowledge and have a few laughs along the way.
Caught this on my iPhone walking the neighborhood.
Read a review of this book and post a comment by July 31 for a chance to win a copy.
Do you live in an area vulnerable to fire? If you said, "That's not me; I don't live in the Wild West," think again. Last September, 100,000 acres of northern Minnesota raged, spreading choking blankets of smoke into Chicago.
I was cerebrally unprepared to absorb his jawdroppingly rich and exotic images. Where do I begin?...
National Public Gardens Day is a great excuse to take a walk in a park, arboretum, or public garden and stop and smell the ___ (fill in the blank).
More than 300 readers were hoping they would win a copy of Beautiful No-Mow Lawns. Here are the lucky FIVE who did and a peek at some of their gardens.
Imagine designing gardens that come to life almost overnight, then just as quickly disappear. Months of planning, locating beautiful plants and tons of soil and rock, followed by a mad dash to bring...
The newest Sunset Western Garden Book is an indispensable reference for every gardener from the Rockies to the Pacific and from San Diego to Alaska. The new edition has some sweet bonuses you can't be without.
The first "take my breath away" moment hit me at the Bird Marsh at the Bloedel Reserve. Nothing disturbed the mirrored surface and no bird songs interrupted the muffled drops of rain on the duff.
It’s hard to read Beautiful No-Mow Yards and not want to run outside and Kevorkianize that patch of green that sucks the life out of precious weekends and strains checkbooks.
My week at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show was wonderful, but some folks think there's something wrong with a guy who doesn't buy any plants or gizmos.
Gold is a precious commodity in a winter garden, bringing visual warmth and cheer when skies are gray. It's just the effect I need in the new garden I'm designing.
Attending a major flower and garden show can be a lot like grocery shopping while hungry. Here's how you can "purchase with purpose" while getting the most out of your visit.
On its surface, America In Bloom's national competition appears to be simply a horticulture program aimed at beautifying towns and cities around the country. But the deeper benefits for those who embrace the challenge can lead to an economic boost and heightened community pride.
I was always grateful my former neighbor Janie, the elephant tender at the Santa Barbara Zoo, didn't bring her work home with her. But visiting her at her job gave me some great landscaping ideas.
Nothing new about having a phone with your camera. But what if that camera was also a time machine that shot you back a few decades?
The American Christmas Tree Association says PVC trees are perfectly safe. No mention of petrochemicals, carcinogens, or worker safety. Gimme something that smells like a walk in the woods.
This magnificent Erythrina caffra was well established when I was asked to redesign this west facing garden off the master bedroom. It became the centerpiece for a composition using grasses, succulents and snow-in-summer ground cover.
Regular size people recognize me by my hat. But really teeny tiny people know me for my distinctive, perforated footwear. I'm a Crocs kinda guy. But rather than throw out the old ones, I keep them in service as micro vertical gardens.
There's not a lot of room on a nursery tag, but sometimes it’s all the information we have when the “ME NEED PLANT” neurons commence to firing. So, what if you could fire up your smart phone, scan a QR code, and tap a deep mine of information?
I kick myself knowing that while I was living out my rock and roll fantasy, I'd come within flower plucking distance of places like Longwood Gardens, the JC Raulston Arboretum, the Memphis Botanical Garden, and scores of places I'd love to visit today. As George Bernard Shaw reminds us, "Youth is wasted on the young."
I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art housing over 50,000 works representing a variety of cultures and 5000 years of art history. But I'll have to take their word for it, since I spent my time trying to make a dent in 152 acres of gardens, woodlands, wetlands, lake shore, meadows, and even their parking lot.
Other than a place to teach your dog to play lacrosse, I don't see much use for conventional turf lawns. So I knew just what I'd write about when the Garden Designers Roundtable asked me to write an article about lawn alternatives. And the perfect topic for getting the discussion in gear is Reimagining the California Lawn, even if you garden 3000 miles away.
Saxon Holt and Tammi Hartung's book about herbs is the perfect excuse to share my recent speaking trip to the Bay Area. And I got a whole day to just play.
Linda Chalker-Scott, didn't set out to be a matador, hell-bent on goring gardening's sacred cows. But somebody needed to bust the myths we carry into our gardens.
When I designed this garden, I knew who the star of the show would be.
Last week I was rummaging through an old box and found a time machine. It looked like an old, primitively drawn landscape plan. But for me, it was like taking Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine to 1975, when my love affair with gardens began.
We love our pets, but are we aware of all the common foods, products, and plants that put them in harm's way? I learned the hard way.
I had heard so many wondrous things about Cornerstone: Festival of Gardens. It was one of those breathlessly spoken, Oh, you have to go there, places my designer friends insisted I visit.
Summer's almost here, so what better way to get kids outside than growing your own butterfly garden? Joan Calder's book will entertain kids and guarantees some good, clean, dirty fun.
There's vertical and there's vertical. Artist Marcia Donahue's Berkeley, California, garden is a botanical and imaginative wonderland filled with humor, whimsy, and sensitivity to nature.
It started when I read Susan Harris' rippingly reasoned blog post at Garden Rant. Dandelion was the key word. Next thing I know, here I am blowing off steam about my pet peeve -- useless lawns.
Stacy Walters' website is filled with everything you need to garden strong, garden smart, and garden safely. There's no reason to stall the start of spring with a case of sore muscles.
On my 2010 trip, a Bay Area friend and I hooked up at Flora's. The place just knocked me out. It's about time I paid homage to The Divine Ms. Grubb and her matchless approach to horticulture, gardens, and the educational value of inspiring displays.
I’ve yet to see a documentary on the ancient migratory trail of the Wisterians, who evidently passed through Santa Barbara, leaving barely a trace. Without a reliable body of research I can only conjecture that they appeared about 14,000 years ago.
Jeffrey Gordon Smith’s designs are not about what he calls “the flavor of the month,” like “Muscany” (Morocco meets Tuscany). “I don’t think garden designers should be pushing the past on gardens,” referring to the typical cookie-cutter gimmicks some designers reach for.
What if the gnomes in your garden were practical jokers? You can outsmart them by planting a garden where form and foliage reign.
I'm sorry. I'm really late. I should have posted this blog before you sent your letter to Santa. But there's a book that needs to be in every California gardener's collection, right next to the big green one I'm not going to mention by name. (Hint: it rhymes with "Unset Cistern Pardon Crook").
"Honey, I'm so proud of you taking a sculpture class. And I'm sure there's a perfect spot near the hose bibb." Unfortunately, that's how a lot of "art" winds up in the garden.
At this very moment some of the most imaginative garden designers are hunkered down at their drawing boards putting the finishing touches on displays that'll knock your socks off.
The eastern face of Telegraph Hill looked wild and inaccessible, like El Capitan rising from the floor of Yosemite Valley. The rock face cascaded with ribbons of green, framed by the shimmering golden foliage of poplar trees. Fortunately, we weren't going to need a Sherpa or oxygen masks to mount our assault - we'd hoof it a couple of blocks to the Filbert Steps and take the more civilized route.
If you're interested in reducing your energy bills and making your landscaping more beautiful, Sue Reed's book, Energy-Wise Landscape Design belongs on your holiday gift list.
What if a truck dumped 8,000 different plants in front of your house. Could you sort through them and create a garden that works for you, doesn't eat up all your time and money and makes your knees quiver?
A drizzly day in San Diego, a camera, and mass confusion about what to write about. Then I noticed what brilliant structural engineers plants could be. It's all about resisting The Big G -- GRAVITY!
I'm a slug, not a lizard. I'd rather be under a boulder than baking on top of it. My ideal weather is the cool temps of a SoCal winter; my favorite sound is rain softly thumping on fallen leaves...
For all you folks who live where the summer norm is 90-plus temps and 2437.3% humidity, I am in awe of you. I've been back from the Garden Writers Association annual symposium in Dallas for a few weeks and I just don't know how y'all do it. My raging souvenir cold has run its course, induced, no doubt, by slogging from the uber air conditioned hotel, to vegetable-crisper busses, to jungle-steamy-hot gardens best described as "air you can wear."
Since I also love taking pot shots at those who I perceive as bad guys, imagine my delight when I saw that the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company was sponsoring breakfast at the annual Garden Writers Association symposium in Dallas last week. "Great," I thought, anticipating fuel to top off my next Molotov cocktail rant.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but something's up. Why would those tricky devils at the Garden Writers Association derive so much pleasure from watching me perspire? A little background: I...
Cool as it's been in my hometown of Santa Barbara, Lin and I decided to get out of town for a few days and subject ourselves to the San Francisco fog monster. Saturday was the big deal, horticulturally speaking. I've heard for years about the legendary 10,000-plus species collection ensconced at the 34-acre University of California Botanical Garden on the Berkeley campus. I headed into the wilds of the Garden with trusty camera...
Do you find yourself stumbling around your yard, arms extended zombie-like, a plant in each hand, mumbling "Where can I put these?"
I couldn't wait to get my hot little hands on The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn, (Timber Press) written by grass and meadow madman John Greenlee, and seductively photographed by Saxon Holt. The book promised tools for my landscape architect's bag of tricks-philosophical reassurance, design inspiration, a new palette of plants, how-to details.
When I start a new design, I picture the plants the same way Biff probably sees them. I imagine they will never bloom—that I'll have to rely on something other than floral color for interest. I select and combine plants using all their other visual qualities—the silhouette of the plant, its foliage shape, leaf size, density and surface texture, for example. The flowers ice the cake.
It's not easy growing succulents in the Pacific Northwest, or other cold, wet climates. Here's some advice from the best source around...
Joe Lamp'l’s newest, greenest, most ambitious TV adventure is Growing A Greener World, now showing on multiple public television stations around the country. This impeccably produced, lusciously filmed HD video, 30-minute weekly show is a top-notch visual treat, but it’s the content that has me so excited.
My last blog post offered a few design lessons from my recent Open Days Tour in Pasadena, CA. The gardens were beautiful, but what really caught my eye was a simple, free, plentiful, sustainable construction material you can find just about everywhere.
It was all Lin’s idea. After reading an eye-catching article in the Los Angeles Times, my spousal support unit suggested we spend the a next Sunday in Pasadena, strolling other people’s gardens (without fear of getting arrested for trespassing). No way I could turn down an offer like that.
Read the review, log in, and post a comment. One lucky person will win a copy of Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin.
On my second day in the cavernous halls of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, I discovered Sproutopia in a generous side room. The folks at the show thoughtfully created a space where the...
Wow! What a week I'm having in San Francisco! Garden tours, garden toys, garden people, and gardens. There's a theme in there somewhere.
I'm not exactly Mr. Botany, but the excitement of discovering a new species of plant was almost more than I could stand. At first, the magnitude of my discovery didn’t compute. I at a client’s property dragging a measuring tape with my right hand, scribbling numbers with my left, and video-recording with the other.
This new book on growing your own food gets my Cool Green Gardens seal of approval. It not only provides rock-solid information about the science and art of growing your own, but explains how to get their in sustainable style.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to get my brain around the word green. Who’s to say if a product or service is “eco-friendly” or not? This is part two of my time at the LA Go Green Expo, where I keep my BS-detector on standby.
If you're working your way to a more sustainable lifestyle, the Go Green Expo is the place to be. And what better way to spend a Saturday than hanging with Garden World Report's Shirley Bovshow?
It's not every day you get to drool over fabulous gardens, meet famous authors, learn from experts and enjoy the camaraderie of like minded gardeners. And all this for $16? You've gotta be kidding.
As I scrambled to capture this public display on my camera, images of tattered, torrid romance novels cartwheeled past my mind’s eye. You know, like the paperbacks with the square jawed hero, blond hair blowing Favio-like, poofy pirate shirt ripped to the navel. And always the ravaged, redhead damsel nearly collapsed in his sinewy, suntanned arms.
We love to pore over garden articles with luscious pictures of beautiful landscapes. Me, I get a kick out of finding the worst of the worst and holding them up for ridicule. My intention is to provide positive lessons using bad examples – the stuff that either makes you laugh out loud or contemplate gouging your own eyes out. There are so many out there to choose from.
It's nearly winter in Santa Barbara too, but you wouldn't know it from all of the hot stuff in bloom right now. Our landscapes are bursting with vibrant colors while poinsettias add their scorching red heat to the mix.
Meet the three lucky winners of the Designer Plant Combinations book give-away.
What if you could simulate the garden of your dreams using software you already have on your computer? Imagine experimenting with flower and foliage combinations without spending a dime on a single plant or digging a hole? Grab a hot cuppa cocoa and read on...
My September trip to Raleigh NC was a fading memory until I ran across these fab photos of the plants and people who made the visit so special.
Blessing or curse, I find it difficult to look at a garden without awakening the design teacher in my brain. A voice in my head instantly starts deciphering the visual principles in place as if I were explaining the tableau to my students. I imagine it’s no different for a film critic enduring their brother-in-law’s home videos. Join me as I cruise this lovely garden and share a few design ideas you can use in your own garden.
This book resonates with me on many levels - visually elegant, clearly and buoyantly written and chock full of down-to-earth plant information. You can win your own copy just by leaving a comment about your own garden combos.
Welcome to another fun article and interview from my recent visit to the Garden Writers Association trade exhibit in Raleigh, NC. With my nose for news, I sniffed out this promising product, a predator-pee infused pellet that triggers the natural fears of many garden pests, including deer, woodchucks and mice.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That is the essence of one of the exhibitors that Kate Frank and I visited in Raleigh last week. Darn! Now I have to delicately bridge the thought of lemonade and cow manure.
In Star Wars, Darth Vader sensed “a shift in The Force” when Luke Skywalker tapped his Jedi powers. I felt another shift today. A big piece of the sustainable landscaping puzzle fell into place. It takes the form of a new website I’m thrilled to be a part of. After two months of long-distance scheming, the Lawn Reform Coalition (LRC), a new campaign to change the American Lawn, launched today.
Skip the soil amendment, toss the slow-release fertilizer, make your rototiller into a sculpture. Sustainable landscaping means responding to what nature gives you. Let's start using plants that are adapted to the soil and climate of your yard.
Wouldn't it be totally cool to be a professional futurist? You'd get a paycheck for predicting what the world will look like in a hundred years, then wait for everyone to die before they can tell...
You’ve probably heard people singing the praises of drip irrigation, which was developed in the early 60s in Israel. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread when it arrived on...
Yes, I'm still going on about water conservation. Well, why not? We're in the dog days of summer and I'm here to help you save a few gallons and a few bucks. Besides, if water is running off your...
The Brainiacs of Irrigation Timers How close are we to living in a Jetson's futureworld? When it comes to irrigation technology, pretty darn close. "Smart controllers" represent the next wave of...
Have you ever looked at the surface of your soil and thought, “Man, that looks dry; I’d better break out the hose”? If so, I envy your moisture-sensing x-ray vision! How else would you explain your super hero ability to know the amount of moisture below the soil just by observing the top 1/16” of crust?
Road rage: A motorist's uncontrolled anger usually provoked by the behavior of another driver. The affliction is officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. "Water rage," however, is not yet listed. But if it were, I'd probably be the poster child.
Perhaps it’s just a passing cycle, just a blip. Maybe next year the skies will open up and we’ll all be fine. I’m usually a cockeyed optimist, but not anymore—not when it comes to the big unknowns of climate change.
I was walking my dog the other afternoon and as is frequently the case, I had my trusty camera with me. Biff the Wonder Spaniel is a patient soul, waiting as I compose my shots. We were just taking a short neighborhood walk as the sun was shooing away the last of the gloom when I noticed that we were surrounded by all the hot colors of summer.
Every once in a while I run across a plant I just can't figure out how to use. The other-worldly flower of Puya alpestris dazzled and confounded me once again.
The big news from my San Diego visit was that this professional economist, wife and mother had just enrolled in the horticulture program at Cuyamaca Community College, majoring in landscape design! There’s an enthusiastic “I can DO this” demeanor that pours from Roberta Correia and convinces me that she will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
Maybe I’m missing something and you can straighten me out. I’ve been under the impression that people put plants in their yards because they want to bring a little bit of nature into their lives.
For gardeners, impulse shopping is hard to avoid when everything at the nursery is calling to you. Don't distress. There's a cure for what ails you and it doesn't require the use of pharmaceuticals.
As I swept, a wet bandanna over my smudged face, this occurred to me: The white flakes I was cursing were the remains of not only the tough chaparral that was fueling the blaze, but probably the walls, furniture, and possessions of families whose homes were now smoldering memories.
Perhaps you are thinking, "Wildfires only happen out west." The last time I checked, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was on the Atlantic coast. The fire that broke out there on April 24, 2009 burned 19,600 acres and consumed 80 homes.
I'm ready to pick my first fight. A guy in Perris California is being paid to paint the lawns of repo homes green. Why do they have front lawns when the kids are hardwired to their X-boxes? Here are a few alternatives.
Please allow me to introduce myself. Billy Goodnick here. I'm a landscape architect, educator and writer living in Santa Barbara, California. I'm about one hundred miles north of L.A., right on the...
As a designer, I'm attracted to bold combinations of plants...these do the trick.
This garden sits just a few yards from the beach in Montecito, California. The nearby deck provides views of the beach and Pacific, but puts the occupants "on stage" to all beachgoers. This new Coastal Room is...
After attending a semester of my adult education classes, the owners asked me to remake their front yard. An old lawn and junipers were removed, a new guest walkway constructed and a vegetable garden...
Santa Barbara is the best of all climates: We grow subtropical gems and can still create a bit of temperate climate drama.