Backyard X-Scapes in the News!

Backyard X-Scapes has another media coup! Michael James Rocha wrote and published an article for the Outdoor Living sections of The Union Tribune and SignOn San Diego that exclusively features Backyard X-Scapes and our sister company Bamboo and Tikis. The piece appeared in the May 20th edition of the paper and was simultaneously posted on signonsandiego.com. We hope you got the chance to see our name in print this past weekend!

Michael’s piece details the passion for everything tropical harbored by native San Diegan, Bruce Birch. It tells the story of how he began collecting rare palm trees 20 years ago and eventually started building palapas and designing his own backyard escape. Bruce brought his tropical inspiration to Backyard X-Scapes and has been using our thatch, tiki supplies and other island-themed décor for years to construct of his personal paradise.


As a native San Diego company, we love hearing success stories from other native San Diegans. Share your story on our facebook page.

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Backyard X-Scapes Donates Tropical Decor to the Granite Hills High School Surf Team

Backyard X-Scapes recently partnered with the Granite Hills High School Surf Team to furnish their annual banquet and fundraiser. The surf team’s year end event was island-themed, appropriate to demonstrate their love and respect for the ocean and the culture that surrounds it. The team borrowed various tiki masks, tropical signs and other pieces of tropical décor from Backyard X-Scapes to add a little extra spark to the decorations.

The event was held in the DreamCatcher at Viejas on Wednesday March 30 and drew an event-high 125 guests. The banquet is the team’s main fundraiser for the year and they were able to raise thousands of dollars through a well-stocked silent auction. Prizes included various types of surf equipment such as wetsuits, leashes, boards and beach chairs as well as larger prizes like a 3 day stay at the Mission Beach House on the Boardwalk and 2 beach cruisers. The proceeds from the banquet will be the operating money for the Granite Hill High School Surf Team’s 2011-2012 school year as they do not receive any school funding for the program.

Backyard X-Scapes was happy to help the Granite Hills High School Surf Team in whatever way they needed. It is unfortunate that so many school-associated, extra-curricular activities in California and nationwide require donations from outside and private sources for almost 100% of their funding. We are glad to have been a part of making the students banquet a memorable one and hope that our tropical décor and tiki decorations only added to the good time had by all.

The Granite Hills High School Surf Team has three more surf contests and a state championship coming up before the end of the school year. To see how they do, visit their facebook page and be sure to check out the Backyard X-Scapes banner on their website!

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How to Help Japan

While terrifying news of earthquakes, tsunamis, fires and a potential nuclear disaster keeps pouring in via the newsrooms, newspapers, Facebook and Twitter, we can’t help but be shocked and horrified about the events of the past week; everything looks so bad. Being thousands of miles away may put our minds at ease for our own safety but most of us are over whelmed with feelings of sympathy, empathy, helplessness or even pity. But how do we help Japan? Here is a partial list of some organizations that are accepting donations in order to respond to the disaster caused by the Japanese earthquake:

The Red Cross - Operates 2000 shelters in Japan to which 370,000 people have been evacuated; has handed out 46,000 blankets so far; deployed 95 medical teams; provides psychosocial support to survivors from trained nurses. To Donate: Visit Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) – Provides food and shelter for train passengers stranded in Tokyo after the earthquake. To Donate: Visit adra.org.

Operation USA – Encourages corporations to collect bulk shipments of health care supplies to be shipped to the disaster region. To Donate: Visit OpUSA.org.

Other organizations standing by with emergency teams, staff and supplies include: International Rescue Committee, Peace Winds Japan, Convoy of Hope, AmeriCares, AMURT, Islamic Relief USA and World Vision. Visit any of these organizations websites or visit networkforgood.org to donate.

In times of crisis, the international community showcases the very best of humanity. If you have the means, we highly encourage you to help Japan cope with this disaster.


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What to Do with Your Chirstmas Tree

Decorations, guests, presents, eggnog and December 25th have all come and gone and now we are just left with the holiday memories, leftovers and general debris. We know to save our bows and wrapping paper for next year, to keep boxes and packaging for future presents and to reuse what we can for other creative projects. If you have an artificial tree, you’re beginning to think of taking off the tinsel and ornaments and packing it safely away for next year. But if you bought a tree from the lot, you may be a little lost as to what to do with it.

Placing your tree on the side of the road and crossing your fingers is not the best way to go. This year earth 911 has put together the most comprehensive list to date of local recycling centers, reaching out to every city in America with a population of over 30,000. Remember, that just because someone hauls your Christmas tree away, does NOT mean it has been properly recycled; it may still end up in a landfill.

Many cities have curb-side pick-up options, but most have size and condition requirements (all trees must be void of lights, ornaments, tinsel, etc). In other cases, local volunteer organizations, such as the boy scouts, will pick up trees for a small donation. If all else fails, you can cut up the tree yourself and place It in your organic waste trash bin.

Other ideas on how to keep your tree out of a landfill include placing it in your backyard as a bird feeder/refuge, using small branches in your fish tank or aquarium as fish habitats and feeding areas or chipping it yourself and turning it into mulch for your garden.

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Global Climate Change Conference in Progress in Cancun

Mixed emotions and hesitant results are being emitted from the United Nations Climate Change Conference happening now in Cancun, Mexico. While most of the top ministers are yet to arrive, the United States Special Envoy and the Indian Environment Minister are already in the country and ready to begin working on the loose framework of an agreement designed to “hold the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” The agreement at hand is currently 33 pages of potential goals that still require debate and compromise on concrete accomplishment methodology. Everything from emission reduction milestones to the recalculation of financial responsibilities from developed and developing countries is up for debate.

One early positive accomplishment was made public by Brazil on December 1. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil’s deforestation rates were the lowest on record since tracking began in 1988, totaling 2,490 miles of deforested land between August 2009 and July 2010. This landmark announcement for Brazil makes it the only developed country presenting emission reduction information at the Conference. Brazil will also announce its new policies to promote sustainable development in the Amazon region while simultaneously generating food, jobs and income.

On the other hand, some smaller nations on the short end of the climate change stick are set to reveal a list of demands in order to fulfill their carbon reduction goals, including approximately $3 billion dollars needed by Kenya alone. Another contingency at the Cancun Conference is the potential extension of the Kyoto Protocol that requires major industrialized nations to cut their carbon emissions between 2008 and 2012. The United States signed the deal in Japan in 1997 but the Senate has refused to ratify it, for fear of causing an economic downturn for the sake of complying with steep emission reduction requirements. The United States is unlikely to agree to an extension of the agreement, while China is pushing uncompromisingly for one.

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Backyard X-Scapes and Harmonium Partner To Serve Our Children

Harmonium’s Baker Child Care Program offers creative and educational yet affordable child care to families in Southeast San Diego. Recently, Harmonium coordinated and executed seven “Serve-a-thon” projects to re-vamp and rejuvenate various parts of their child care facilities, including the “Baby Bloomer Garden and Playground” where Backyard X-Scapes’ own bamboo fencing is now proudly on display.

Backyard X-Scapes happily donated 20 rolls of our natural, black and mahogany rolled bamboo fencing to be used as a decorative accent against the previously harsh chain-link fence that bordered the playground. After it’s make-over, the Baby Bloomer Playground is now used every day as an integral part of Harmonium’s mission to bring wellness and healthy habits to our community’s children. 

In addition to the Baby Bloomer Playground, Backyard X-Scapes bamboo fencing made the short trip to Balboa Elementary school to beautiful an additional Infant/Toddler Garden Area.  Backyard X-Scapes was able to donate so much bamboo fencing that two playgrounds in our community are now viable and visually appealing.
Volunteer San Diego staged is annual volunteer weekend throughout San Diego on October 8 and 9th. This year’s projects included seven Harmonium Serve-a-thon projects, utilizing 170 volunteers from throughout San Diego county. In addition to enhancing the Baby Bloomer Playground, volunteers created a Krafty Kitchen Counter to show children organic vegetable farming techniques, resuscitated a dilapidated garden area to be used for planting and storytelling at the Balboa Early Childhood Program site and brought to life other outdoor areas that will be enjoyed by children for years to come.


Backyard X-Scapes is glad to have helped make a difference in the community in which we operate. We fully support Harmonium’s core values of respect, self-sufficiency, creativity and continuous improvement and hope that our donation helps Harmonium further their efforts to promote the physical, mental and emotional well-being children and adults in our community.

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Backyard Xscapes eXperiences 2010 Landscaping eXpo

Backyard Xscapes participated in the 50th annual Landscape Expo held in Long Beach this past October 6-7. The Expo included exhibits from over 200 vendors displaying products and providing help and ideas to private and corporate consumers wishing to “design, build or maintain” their respective landscapes.

Many vendors held raffles and contests to create interest and discussion around various new products and eco-friendly landscaping ideas. Backyard Xscapes gave away an environmentally friendly bamboo Tiki Bar valued at $500 to one lucky winner in addition to providing our customary top-notch customer service and educational materials.

This year’s expo expanded by 50% over last year and showcased 45 industry specific seminars where attendees could earn PAPA, CLT CLP, ISA and SPLD credits. Hour-long talks were giving on topics ranging from Irrigation and Landscape Design to Tree Care and Sustainability. The Expo continued into the night as a panel led a discussion about the future of the landscaping industry for landscape contractors, superintendents, architects and design professionals in attendance at a pool side after party.

Backyard Xscapes thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the crowd at the Long Beach Convention Center as well as with other industry professionals. Congratulations to Fern Nuerro for winning herself a brand new Tiki Bar. We hope it transforms your backyard xscape into a private paradise you will enjoy for years to come.

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Bet You Didn’t Know Tiki Culture is (mostly) an American Tradition

American Tiki culture claims influence from Polynesian-style dress, culture and religion. However, the tiki tradition we know today is more an American perception of island spirit than anything out of the Polynesian islands. Born in the 1930s in Hollywood, tiki culture has influenced American bars, restaurants, fashion and home décor ever since.

1934 saw the birth of first American Tiki-themed bar and restaurant in Hollywood, California. Don the Beachcomber was opened by Donn Beach, who is credited with single-handedly inventing the tropical drink genre with his mixing of flavored syrups with rum. His inventions include such staples as the Scorpion, the Zombie and the Mai Tai. The huge success of Don the Beachcomber’s theme spawned numerous knockoffs and copycats in the LA area. The trend spread up the coast of California and took off in the Bay Area where Victor Berge opened his Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland before it became a national chain.

Later, World War II largely contributed to the spread of the tiki trend, with sailors and other veterans returning home from tours in the South Pacific. With them came stories, souvenirs and the memories of tropical tradition. Tiki bars provided them with a place reminiscent of their time spent in the islands and led to a proliferation of bars and restaurants coupling sweet cocktails and Asian-inspired food across the country. The tiki influence spread like wildfire, influencing hit movies such as Waikiki Wedding, the Polynesian/Asian/Latin-inspired jazz of Les Baxter, Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny, and the still widely-produced musical “South Pacific.”

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Oil Spill Updates

After 85 days of hemorrhaging in the Gulf of Mexico, a long term solution may finally be in sight. A new cap was put in place on July 12 that is intended to slow and then eventually stop the flow of oil. The plan is fairly simple: the cap will be placed over the broken pipe and three open valves will be slowly turned off if “integrity testing” indicates that the cap is sealed tight enough and can handle the pressure. High pressure readings will demonstrate that the cap is effectively containing the oil while a low reading would indicate that the oil is leaking somewhere else. These tests are expected to take anywhere between six and 48 hours. While this is currently the best hope for stopping the flow of oil, none of this technology has been tested a mile under water and at freezing temperatures and is therefore not a guaranteed solution.  Below, remotely controlled robots are used to install the new cap.

There are three possible outcomes from this new system. The best case scenario, obviously, is that the cap will stop the flow of oil into the gulf completely. However, it is likely that the new cap will only stanch the leak and ships on the surface will still be required to siphon the escaping oil. On the bright side, the new cap will allow four oil collection ships to attach to the well instead of the three allowed by the previous cap. Experts estimate that with the new cap in place 60,000-80,000 gallons of oil could be collected daily. In the worst case, testing could indicate that there is more damage to the well than thought previously and oil could begin flowing from multiple locations.

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Art Around Adams Showcases Local Artists and Businesses

Art Around Adams has been a San Diego tradition since 2004 in the North Park and Kensington communities. Every year local businesses turn their offices and corporate space into public art exhibition venues, complete with musical entertainment and street performers. The family-friendly event provides exposure to local artists and publicity for local business in addition to being a fun and safe celebration of the arts.

This past June 3, Backyard X-Scapes helped sponsor the event and set up a venue to showcase the very latest in bamboo furniture and eco-friendly landscaping options.  We dispensed both product information and beverages.

Everyone was decked out in their Backyard X-Scapes gear and had a great time educating the public about all the environmentally friendly bamboo options. The event drew 75 local businesses and countless local artists, musicians and performers.

The event was conceptualized to showcase local art in business storefronts and has grown from a limited budget and an audience of about 300 visitors to a thriving 1.6 mile long stretch chalked full of businesses and sponsors looking to create art awareness and appreciation.

Backyard X-Scapes thoroughly enjoyed the live music and art exhibitions. The six hour event was filled with arts and entertainment, small business flair and countless local residents looking to spend a day in the sun appreciating San Diego’s talent.

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