Landscaping Atascadero's The Lakes development

Form and function provided by a dedicated couple at The Lakes of Atascadero

conniepillsbury22@gmail.comSeptember 19, 2012 

  • TREE TIPS FROM SHELLY VICKERY

    Here are her favorite trees:

    Catalpa speciosa, native to central United States and hearty in hot and cold weather. Huge 6-to-12-inch heart-shaped leaves provide dense shade. Clusters of white flowers followed by long beans make it a visually interesting choice. Deciduous.

    Acacia baileyana “Mimosa” shows off soft tufted pink blooms in the fall and feathery leaves that provide a lovely canopy over a garden. Deciduous.

    Cupressus macrocarpa “Taft’s Golden Cypress” is an evergreen tree with yellow tips that keeps a symmetrical conical shape like a Christmas tree.

    Arbutus “Marina” has rich colored ornamental bark and clusters of little urn-shaped pink flowers. When trimmed, the branches of this evergreen create interesting shapes almost like an artistic garden sculpture.

Behind every volunteer homeowner’s association, there are one or two people who are the driving force in getting good things accomplished. For The Lakes of Atascadero, homeowners Wayne and Shelly Vickery are that force, giving their time generously in the areas of landscape and maintenance for a25-acre common area of the gated development that backs up to the Salinas River.

Shelly, an energetic self-taught landscaper, oversees the work of the crews of maintenance contractor Martinelli Landscape of Templeton. The crew spends two full days per week maintaining the lawns, shrubs, trees and pathways around the two lakes. A second specialty crew works just on irrigation, while a third crew handles eight different irrigation clocks with 500 stations and more than 1,500 spray heads. Shelly meets weekly with the crew manager to set schedules and discuss projects.

As landscape chairperson, Shelly also identifies priorities, designs landscape plans and makes seasonal plant selections for featured areas. This is where Shelly shines, as she thoroughly researches and selects appropriate plants with contrasting foliage and blooms to brighten up the entrance gates, key walking path areas and corners. She makes sure each choice is drought tolerant, deer resistant and zone appropriate for the North County.

For example, she filled the two entry islands with a mass of color by using hot-colored calendulas backed by soft violet society garlic. Each island features a small tree, a Crape Myrtle Tuscarora on one and her favorite, Arbutus Marina, in the other. Her careful eye chose yellow-lime leaves of the Cistus “Mickie” to contrast with the deep green and red of Rosa “Flower Carpet” groundcover roses in another bed.

While Shelly is busy with foliage, flowers and trees, husband Wayne concentrates on the infrastructure. Wayne is chairman of the Infrastructure and Maintenance Committee, which oversees all the functional aspects of the two large spring-fed lakes, private roads, a sewer lift system and above ground and underground electrical. Retired from the construction industry, Wayne has a full toolbox of skills and knowledge, which along with his tenacity and strength equip him for this multi-faceted position.

On any given day, residents may see Wayne or Shelly planting new annuals, replacing light bulbs in the tree lighting, checking the extensive drip system, fine tuning the lake pumps and a multitude of other hands-on detailed tasks required for such a large property — all on their own time as volunteers.

When they are not busy on The Lakes projects and their own 3/4-acre yard, the Vickerys head out several times a week for a 40-mile bicycle ride. Relocating from San Diego, they chose The Lakes when it first opened in 2001 for the large flat lots, but they chose the area for the convenient and easy access to so many great open roads for cycling. They’ve been actively involved in both the cycling and the functioning of The Lakes infrastructure and landscaping since their arrival.

So why do people like the Vickerys volunteer to take on this kind of responsibility? For the Vickerys, it’s because they care how the environment in which they live looks and functions. It’s important to them that the beautiful property under the huge oaks is carefully stewarded for present and future residents.

“I love working with the plants, and I love to see the final results of a good plan,” Shelly says. “Basically, I’m following my passion, which is landscaping.”

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