Selecting Plants for a 2 Acre Landscaping Project in Santa Cruz

I've got a big landscaping gig up in the local mountains above Santa Cruz. I'm really completely overwhelmed by the prospects of planning such a large gardening project, as I have little experience, but its a WONDERFUL summer job. How can I refuse? But I need HELP. I have some friends good with a lot of experience who might be able to help me, but I'd figure I'd post here too.
The place is large and pretty shady. Its at about 1500 ft. Pretty dry, above the fog belt, no summer rains, occasional winter frost. The soil seems pretty good and of the standard type around here... not sure about the PH, though... does anyone know? The tree cover is Madrone, Tan Oak, Doug Fir, and a few young planted redwoods. There is one spot with some southern exposure, another with some western exposure, and another with little of either.
I've been thinking rhododenrdons mainly, and I have some insansely long lists of shade loving plants. Can anybody help narrow down my selection? Please explain why your suggestion would be good in this place.
Thanks,
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Do you have a conceptual scheme for the site? What are the uses of the site?
Dave

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
You really should begin with a soil test through your county extension service. The analysis will give you Ph and a nutrient analysis.
dennis

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

BSing your way into a landscape architect's job is a little more work than you bargained for, huh? You're getting paid to figure this out, and if you can't, then obviously the job is above your knowledge level and you should turn it down rather than coming to a newsgroup for dubious assistance.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dubs) wrote in message

Call your county extension office and ask if they have a Master Gardener organization operating from their office. If so, get the name & phone number of a couple of members. They are trained in all aspects of plants, including landscaping, and give free advice.
Bob S.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm not sure that rhododendrons would be a good choice for a dry site. They generally prefer moist soils with good drainage. I would google dry shade plants to help narrow your list. Even though there may be irrigation possibilities, it seems to me that California goes through periods every few years where water is rationed. There are more drought resistant evergreen flowering plants, if that is what you are considering. Camellias, for instance, which need a fair amount of water their first few years, eventually root in deeply enough to be relatively drought tolerant.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OK, number one, I'm not BSing anyone. The guy who is hiring me knows full well he is hiring students and not serious professional landscapers, which he does not want to pay for.
That said, I've learned QUITE a lot since my last post. Rhodos are out. Much of the area spotted with oaks and madrones, which don't like watering during the dry summers. The PH is btw 6 and 7. The soil is sandy loam and well drained. As I said in my last post:

I'm using the Sunset Wester Gardens (2001) section on "Plants for Growing Beneath Oaks" (pg. 150-151) for plant selection. I know that many of these plants which are drought tolerant need to be watered for the first year. Does anyone know will it affect the oaks to get watered for one summer?
One plant I'm particularly partial to Nandina Domestica - Sacred Bamboo or Heavenly Bamboo. Its quite lovely. Does anybody have any experience with this stuff? I'm also very interested in Japanese Aucuba, Darwin Barberry, Bush Anemone, Rockrose, Currants, Butchers Broom (Ruscus), maybe some Aloe, and some others. If anybody has any opinions or info on these plants, please feel free to share. The one most important question is what to use for a ground cover. I really like the Dwarf Plumbago, but will probably go with something more drought tolerant like strawberries or oregon grape.
I'd love to hear any suggestions, opinions, etc.
Thanks Dub

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.