10.20.11Gregory Ray

Mother Nature is Watching Us

Cactus Nature is WatchingMoorpark Highlands Regeneration Moorpark Highlands RegenerationCreating a Home Creating a Home

As populations move into undeveloped areas, we need to be cognoscente of Mother Nature. We must remember that nature will eventually win out if we move in the opposite direction. Why not accept nature and utilize its best qualities to make our lives more fulfilled?  A regenerative landscape, or one that gives back, seems to be the key.

Because each native plant has different needs and habits, it fills a particular ecological niche.  The right combination of plants keep diseases from spreading while shutting out invasive weeds, so pesticides are rarely necessary. Native plants also have roots that go down up to 30 feet, finding water when there is none to be had above ground. This is the single most important aspect to remember when designing landscapes in areas disturbed by development.

There is more to water management than smart controllers and the reduction of lawns in front yards. 70% or more of water use is directed at ornamental landscapes. And the majority of that landscape is bordering natural open space.

Why not make those landscapes Regenerative?  Why not let those landscapes give back and flow seamlessly to those neighboring native areas?

ValleyCrest is doing just that in Moorpark, California where we have taken 250,000 sq ft of landscape that was originally designed with exotic water loving plants, and changed it back to an enhanced regenerative landscape. By doing this, the HOA will enjoy habitat around their community that will give back both financially with water and maintenance savings and environmentally with trails that run through native habitat for the enjoyment of those who live there.

On a personal note, I know regenerative landscapes give back because of the differences I see in my own landscape at home. I have a no turf drought tolerant landscape and my water and maintenance costs have been reduced by more than half. More importantly, the wildlife has come back into the landscape and made it their home. When this happens, you realize that life can be more than it was in the past, and you can appreciate Mother Nature in your own habitat.

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Gregory Ray

What do you call a landscape architect who understands how to design memorable environments that are also constructible and highly functional spaces? The answer is Gregory Ray. Greg recently came to ValleyCrest from the home building industry where he led the landscape program for a major home builder. Prior to earning his degree as a landscape architect, Greg founded a landscape construction company to earn his way through college. With over 30 years of experience, Greg has found his passion in reintroducing an attractive native plant palette in drought prone communities throughout the Southwest and Western regions.


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  1. Monday, 3:30 Alan Harris

    Since native plants prefer native soils do you find there are issues with some natives planted in soils altered by construction and grading activities?

    On a side note it is my experience and recommendation to create a transition zone between native wildlife areas and activity zones like walkways. Some people are not comfortable with “nature” running or slithering in front of them.

  2. Tuesday, 1:28 Gregory Ray

    Alan – Cut slopes can be a challenge. Because the initial topsoil is taken, the micronutrients take some time to establish. This can be mitigated by adding microrisie to the soil.

    In neighborhood sidewalk situations, you are correct – a transition zone is beneficial. In native walking trail areas, it is refreshing to be able to leave the concrete behind and experience nature with all it’s slithering and running.

  3. Tuesday, 6:33 Richard Restuccia

    Great post you bring up lots of interesting points. Its also important to hear you are saving water in your own yard. Where can others learn more about regenerative landscapes? Thanks

  4. Tuesday, 9:25 Gregory Ray

    Richard – ValleyCrest is in the process of creating a guideline for designers to follow when thinking in terms of regenerative landscapes. Regenerative landscape is specific to each region – the first step is to identify the native plants growing and thriving in any given region. Mother nature will take over eventually, what we are trying to do in design and construction is expedite the process. In order to do this successfully – we must fully understand the science of native plant communities. Good resources may include nursery websites such as Native Sons ( and Tree of Life ( I will be blogging further on this in the near future.

  5. Wednesday, 7:28 Alan Harris

    I enjoyed the #landscapechat on Twitter on this subject. Here are the top takeaways from the chat –

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