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THE THIN GREEN LINE DISCOVERY'S `GARDEN POLICE' ARE ON PATROL FOR CRIMINALLY NEGLECTED YARDS.

Byline: Vicki Smith Paluch Correspondent

EVERY neighborhood has at least one. The lawn is dying for a sprinkler system. Weeds run amok in flower beds. Poorly pruned hedges display bare midsections. A large tree threatens to uproot a foundation wall.

``It's a crime,'' says Shirley Bovshow, a Woodland Hills landscape designer who has teamed up with Sacramento landscape architectural consultant Michael Glassman to become the hosts of ``Garden Police,'' Discovery Home Channel's new weekly show, airing at 8 p.m. Thursdays.

The program shows viewers, step-by-step, how to transform ugly gardens into suburban Edens. It also seeks to teach viewers about good garden design.

This summer, Bovshow and Glassman have been busting homeowners for botanical bungling, including Cmdr. Val Paniccia of the Los Angeles Police Department's Operations/Valley Bureau, whose home will be featured in an upcoming episode. The commander and his family were cited for neglecting a dying birch tree, failure to prune an overgrown privet and other botched jobs.

``If you've committed a botanical crime, we'll make you do the time,'' said Bovshow.

When ``Garden Police'' comes calling, homeowners have to pitch in - the better to learn how to care for their new plants. Show producer Lisa Ely calls it ``sweat equity.''

Cmdr. Paniccia's wife, Nawanda, and their daughter, Rachel, were sentenced to hard labor. And although the commander fully intended to help, he was called to duty when Los Angeles heightened security following the July 7 bombings in London.

Each episode of ``Garden Police'' takes the homeowner - and viewer - through the entire renovation process, from planning and design to demolition and the final installation of new landscape and hardscape features.

Episodes usually take two days to shoot. On the first day at the Paniccia home, the team of landscapers removed the bug-infested birch tree, the hedge, the old and sickly roses, a large 20-year-old cactus, and loads of ground cover from the family's Chatsworth home. Fortunately, the existing brick courtyard was in good condition.

The team replaced the tree with a bronze water fountain and installed an automated sprinkler system. They also provided fresh soil and proper soil amendments for the three main flower beds.

``We had a professional electrical contractor install the outlet for the water fountain,'' said Glassman. ``Many people make the mistake of running an extension cord, but that's dangerous. If it's not done correctly, you can electrocute yourself.''

The next day, despite blazing heat, the team - including Nawanda and Rachel - got to work installing more than 100 plants. ``If it weren't for the shooting schedule, we would not be planting in 100-degree weather. We'd be planning what we would be planting when it cools to 80 or 85 degrees,'' said Glassman.

But the hard work paid off.

``When I got home, I didn't recognize the place,'' Cmdr. Paniccia said. ``It is beautiful. I'm good at my job - not at yard work. But now I'm inspired.''

Using the water fountain as the focal point, Bovshow and Glassman used Nawanda's favorite colors - pink and purple - to create a Mediterranean garden, including roses, hibiscus, crape myrtle trees and Rose of Sharon trees. Vines on the wrought-iron fence add privacy, and dwarf boxwood creates the low hedge for the flower beds that contain roses and an assortment of purple perennials.

In addition, three large bronze urns and three trellises were installed. Colorful seasonal flowers filled the urns, and pink climbing roses with a backfill of pink jasmine eventually will cover the trellis and fill the garden with fragrance. The area also received a bench, end table and club chairs so the family can enjoy their new Eden.

The gardening team selected plants and flowers that are low-maintenance. Even the roses in the flower beds are ``no mess'' roses available at most nurseries. The roses bloom year-round and are self-cleaning.

``No dead-heading necessary,'' said Bovshow.

``We wanted a low-maintenance garden because my husband works for the public and gets called out, and I'm a minister. I want a nice yard and time with the Lord,'' said Nawanda. ``The sound of the water is so soothing.''

GARDEN POLICE

What: Professional landscapers seek to teach viewers about good garden design by transforming poorly maintained yards.

Where: Discovery Home Channel.

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays.

Garden cops lay down the law

To help home gardeners avoid the 10 most common garden design blunders, we asked ``Garden Police'' hosts Shirley Bovshow and Michael Glassman, and Brian Sullivan, horticultural supervisor at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, to share their expertise.

1. Failure to supply sufficient irrigation and drainage, they agreed, was the biggest problem they have seen. Invest in an automated system that separates the lawn and garden needs. Water in the early morning.

2. Insufficient modes of transportation. Design a front walkway so people don't have to squeeze by cars in the driveway to reach the front door, Glassman said. The walkway should be gently curved and wide enough for two adults, approximately 2 or 3 feet wide, Bovshow added.

3. The wrong trees and plants in the wrong places. ``People buy a tree in a 5-gallon container and think it's so small and cute,'' said Sullivan. ``They forget that it will grow to be 10 feet in diameter and plant it too close to the house. As it grows, the tree must bend out of shape. Its root system could harm the foundation or the plumbing. Know the ultimate size of the tree or shrub and place it in an appropriate place.''

4. ``No shady business; protect the life of a tree,'' Bovshow said. Don't plant grass under a tree and never plant a large shrub under a tree. The trunk, she said, could be damaged by mowing and edging, and the grass and plants will die from lack of sun.''

5. No crowding. A garden grows; plan for its future growth. ``Read the labels on the containers and seed packets; they tell the truth,'' said Bovshow.

6. Don't forget to use mulch. It will protect the plants from heat and cold, and it will soften the appearance of the flower bed. When using mulch, keep it away from the plant's crown, or stem, advised Sullivan. He likes to tip the container over the plant as if it were a hat and spread the mulch around the container.

7. Don't mix sun plants in shade areas and vice versa. In gardening, segregation is a must. Plants that need less water (succulents and cactus) will drown next to plants that need a lot of water (azaleas), Glassman said.

8. Failure to honor the scale of your home. ``A postage-stamp yard is no place for a jacaranda tree,'' Bovshow said. ``If you want a tree in a small yard, there are plenty of dwarf trees.''

9. Failure to provide structural plants in the garden. Plant short, medium and tall perennials and shrubs, mixing woody and evergreen, Bovshow suggested.

10. Failure to honor the architecture of the home. If you have beautiful windows, use shorter plants. If you have a red accent door, use red flowers. Also, create an outdoor living area in the garden. Create a destination with the use of a hammock or bench. A well-designed garden puts you in it.

All the experts agreed that home gardeners must have a copy of the ``Sunset Western Garden Book,'' which will give you the information you need regarding flowering seasons, as well as light and water requirements and final growth. ``Don't get caught committing these botanical crimes,'' warned Bovshow. ``Or else we may come knocking on your door.''

- V.S.P.

CAPTION(S):

4 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) Landscape LINEUP

`Garden Police' show neighborhood scofflaws how to clean up their act

Photo Illustration by Shane Michael Kidder

(2 -- color) ``Garden Police'' hosts Michael Glassman, left, and Shirley Bovshow, right, cited homeowners Nawana and LAPD Cmdr. Val Paniccia for neglecting a dying birch tree, failure to prune an overgrown privet and other infractions.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer

(3 -- 4 -- color) Glassman and Nawanda Paniccia plant lantanas in the front yard of her Chatsworth home, at right, while Bovshow helps Rachel Paniccia create an attractive flower arrangement, below.

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Garden cops lay down the law (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 6, 2005
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