Landscapes of the Month: Preserving Native Plants and Conserving Water on This Corporate Campus - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Preserving Native Plants and Conserving Water on This Corporate Campus

Photo: Gothic Landscape

Silicon Valley is known for its technology, but this campus in Sunnyvale, California, features an urban landscape that connects people with nature. Pathline Park is a 42-acre site with 11 office buildings surrounded by meadows, forests, and modern art to provide a peaceful environment for tenants and employees. A main highlight of the property is the 280 heritage redwoods that have been preserved throughout the construction and maintenance of the campus.

Photo: Gothic Landscape

Gothic Landscape is responsible for maintaining the various landscapes, which are connected by a wide path between each building. Winning a Gold Award in the 2023 Awards of Excellence has been a validating experience for Lindsay Atherton, senior account manager for Gothic Landscape, and the rest of the team.

 “We know we have a special property & team,” Atherton says. “To have a local, state, and national award of excellence validates our feelings & pushes us to continually achieve premier quality at Pathline.”

 A particular focus is placed on native plantings and water management, which is critical in this region.

Water Conservation

To ensure water is being used efficiently, the team uses smart irrigation controllers that are adjusted daily based on the weather conditions.

Photo: Gothic Landscape

They also have water management technicians to monitor the system daily. The consistent focus on irrigation has been highly beneficial, as this site has experienced periods of severe drought and record rainfall over the last couple of years.

This system consists of 21 smart controllers that manage 107,000 ft of subsurface drip system. Gothic Landscape also has a water specialist who uses soil probes to monitor the different microsystems on campus.

“We have a strong water management team to support this location, and we routinely engage our regional irrigation team to support the day-to-day technicians at this property,” Atherton notes.

Bioswales can be found around the property to provide drainage for stormwater runoff while filtering debris and pollution.

Preserving Native Plants

The plant palette is crucial in reducing water use, as many plantings use natives and other drought-tolerant species. The campus has over 700 trees, including some massive redwoods over 80′ in height and 50″ in diameter.

Photo: Gothic Landscape

When the landscapes were constructed, careful attention was given to reducing the impact on the mature redwoods, including deep root watering, root health fitness calibration, and soil sampling. The total area of the critical root mass is about 8 acres.

Each path is designed to provide wellness benefits and a relaxed employee environment. In some of these areas, you’ll find rows of olive trees underplanted with Munstead lavender, while other spots have large drifts of native grasses that enhance the meadow effect and require little water.

Deodar Cedar towers over many of these beds with its graceful swooping branches and unique structure. Other flowering plants are mixed into the beds to add color to the grasses. As the landscapes have become established, water usage has gone down considerably.

Photo: Gothic Landscape

Many of these pathways have European sculptures, adding to the tranquil feel of the space. Tenants can also access spacious patios with seating for breaks or outdoor meetings.

Daily maintenance of the properties requires constant communication with the property managers and tenants. In addition, many of these buildings are receiving upgrades and improvements, so Gothic works with the general contractors to establish a schedule and work around each other. Having a team situated at this location is also helpful for the daily workload.

 “This allows our team to service the high-priority areas early in the morning before the end users are within the spaces,” Atherton says. “Seeing the beauty every day and knowing our team is responsible for something so well maintained is very rewarding, as is the constant feedback about the quality of our work.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2024.

Matt Olson

Matt Olson is a freelancer for NALP.