L A Rear-view; A look at Landscape Architecture History

Roberto Burle Marx

One of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century.


jewelry designer
 landscape architect

Born in São Paulo in August 4th, 1909, Roberto Burle Marx moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1913.

During the years of 1928 and 1929 he studied painting in Berlin - Germany, where he was often seen at the Dahlem Botanic Garden's greenhouses. In this garden he noticed for the first time the beauty of the tropical plants and the Brazilian flora.

His first landscape project was a private garden for a house designed by the Architects Lucio Costa and Gregory Warchavchik in 1932. Since then, his landscape works improved as well as his painting and drawing. He converted his home into a tropical plant centre, eventually surrounding it with 8,600,000 square feet (800,000 square m) of gardens brimming with thousands of rare species. He was particularly fond of Brazilian orchids, palms, water lilies, and bromeliads.

Burle Marx designed his first garden for the house of Lúcio Costa, who was later one of the architects of the Ministry of Education and Health building (1937–43) in Rio de Janeiro. Burle Marx designed hanging gardens for that building, using Brazilian flora exclusively. 

Among the many important commissions for gardens that followed were those for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasília, the Brazilian pavilion at the Brussels International Exposition of 1958, and the Parque del Este of Caracas, Venez., in 1959. 

In 1962 Burle Marx designed Flamengo Park, a 300-acre (122-hectare) expanse of reclaimed land along Rio de Janeiro’s waterfront. He did landscaping for the UNESCO Building, Paris (1963), the U.S. Embassy, Brasília (1967, 1972), the Iranian Embassy, Brasília (1971), and the International Airport, Rio de Janeiro (1978).

His style of bold masses of contrasting foliage was one of his trademarks of design.


Water Wise Design - Say Goodbye to Turfgrass!

In areas of the west, especially in California, homeowners will change the way they perceive their yards.  As costs increase for turf, irrigation, their  maintenance and water alike, the usefulness of a lawn will diminish remarkably. This will begin a new era in residential landscaping.  Most parts of California receive less than 15 inches of rain in a year.  Which is about half the rainfall of most mid-west states. (Average is above 30 inches per year). 

A healthy, high-quality bluegrass or rye grass may require 1.25 to 2.50 inches of water per week depending on the weather and location.

Turf-type tall fescue boasts of its ability to perform well with less water than a bluegrass lawn. That is, if it can grow a deep root system.  In many cases, however, the installer doesn't provide the soil prep required of turf-type tall fescue. The heavy soils don't allow it to grow deep roots, so turf-type tall fescue requires as much water as bluegrass to look good.  Hybrid bermuda grass needs about 20 to 35 percent less water than turf-type tall fescue, depending on the hybrid.  Buffalo grass, another alternative type, can remain green for weeks without watering, even during the hottest summer weather. 
Bermuda and Buffalo grass both go brown during the cooler months and stop growing - which makes them somewhat unpopular in residential gardens (historically speaking).


Let’s say we are fairly conservative about using water for our lawn.

(Remember 1.25 to 2.5 inches per week is the range)
1.2 inches of water per week in the spring, 
2.0 inches per week in the summer,
0.9 inches per week in the fall months. 
(1.2 in/wk) (13 wk) = 15 inches of water (March 21 to June 20)
(2.0 in/wk) (13 wk) = 26 inches of water (June21 to Sept20)
(0.9 in/wk) (13 wk) = 11 inches of water (Sept 21 to Dec 20)
That's 52 inches per year!

Some Homeowner's don't even realize that they are using potable (drinking) water on the yard!  However, in some areas of California, measures have been taken to help provide a recycled water source.  Some Counties and City governments have been utilizing reclaimed water from sewer systems for landscaping The iconic purple pipe and purple markings are easy identifiers of this reclaimed water resource.  Others are encouraging rain barrels and rain storage systems, and placing some limits on non-permeable pavement in suburban areas. The idea here is simply to catch the water from rainfall and get it into the ground water cycle and not into the storm drains.

Alternative turf grasses for warmer climates:



Here an interesting article I found from 
U.S.News & World Report.

Homeowners should pay close attention to how they water their lawns and gardens to ensure that they are not accidentally wasting resources, experts say. "In many parts of the country, more than 50 percent of residential water use—that's treated drinking water—goes out on the lawn," says Mary Ann Dickinson, the executive director of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. "That's the equivalent of taking a bottle of expensive Evian and just pouring it on the grass." Experts recommend a number ways that consumers can make their outdoor water use more efficient. "When you are watering your lawn, make sure that you are not doing it in the heat of the day, so you are not losing water to evaporation," Thornton says. In addition, avoid watering the lawn when it is windy out, as moisture can be carried away from its intended destination. Finally, make sure that the water is landing only on the landscaping, and not on the driveway or street.

More on this :


Recent Design for a Homeowner in Long Beach. The entire front lawn has been transformed into a low water use design with a garden room 'sunken patio' perfect for two Adirondack chairs and a good book.
 Here is a link to a website for good plant choices :




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