alumni

Changing Landscapes

By JoAnn Lloyd

Alumna Sara Bendrick (Landscape Architecture, ‘10), host of a hit DIY Network television series, might be young, but what she lacks in years, she more than makes up for with energy, passion, drive and talent.

The 30-year-old San Diego resident balances a hectic schedule running a successful residential landscape business and starring in “I Hate My Yard,” a 30-minute series in which she transforms lackluster backyards into beautiful outdoor living spaces.

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Before

2AfterWide

After

Bendrick landed the television gig after seeing a notice for it in a professional journal. She quickly fired off an email indicating her interest, and within three weeks, she was in Los Angeles meeting with the show’s producers.

“I guess I had what they were looking for,” Bendrick said.  “I love doing the show. It’s a lot of fun — and a lot of work.”

Here Bendrick shares five tips for getting your yard ready for summer:

1Keep up with your weeds!
Catch them before they go to seed because when they spread their seeds, it creates even more maintenance later.

2Plant herbs and vegetables!
It is not too late to get your plants in the ground for a late summer harvest.

3Feed your plants!
Spring and summer are great for growing. Set your plants up for a strong growing season by using an organic fertilizer. My favorite is worm castings.

4Get outside!
Pick out an easy weekend do-it-yourself project and involve the whole family.

5Clean up your patio!
Power wash, repaint or refinish outdoor furniture so it looks good and lasts longer.


After graduating from Cal Poly, she earned a landscape contractor’s license to follow her dream of building and creating.

The outdoor living spaces she creates for her clients are not typical lawns, shrubs and flower beds. Her projects include kitchens, fire pits, and elaborate structures featuring tongue-and-groove ceilings and incorporating budgets ranging from $20,000 to $200,000.

“I am honored that people let me spend their money on their yards,” Bendrick said. “Sometimes they can’t afford what they want, so I have the opportunity to be creative.”

She admits that California’s severe drought has been good for business.

“The economy has rebounded to some degree, and people don’t want to look at dead lawns,” Bendrick said. “So they’re ripping them out, installing patios, planting drought-tolerant succulents and cacti. This is the direction we need to be going in; people are doing the right thing by conserving water.”

Bendrick, known for her artful approach to projects, enjoys the variety her work demands.

“I like that no two jobs are the same,” she said. “I view every new project as a new opportunity, a new canvas. I get to embrace and accentuate every client’s personality and taste.”

Bendrick is grateful to Landscape Architecture Department Chair and Professor Omar Faruque for his challenging classes.

“He was tough, but I liked the challenge,” she said. “He weeded out the students who wouldn’t make it through the major’s tough classes.”

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