Category Archives: Company News

October Round Up

The GreenBuild International Conference took place last week in New Orleans. It was great for us to connect with our partners at Ewing Irrigation, who showcased many of our products in their booth, including our Boulevard wood tiles and VersiJack pedestal system.
Chris Lyon (right) with the Ewing Water Management Team
When the show traffic slowed some, we ducked out to the New Orleans Riverwalk Terrace (also known as the Spanish Plaza) to visit with Rotolo Consultants and discuss a problem that had come up on the project. Overall, the design (by Studio Outside) looks great.

Finally, we didn’t want you to miss out on what’s going on in our Hayward facility. While we might be busy working on your future projects, we are also having a little fun with our pumpkin carving contest. Anyone who follows us on Facebook has had the chance to vote for their favorites! Looks like the competition is fierce. Happy Halloween to you all!


From our latest Email Blast – Renovations & Renewals

This rooftop renovation just took a walk on the on the wild side! Pennsylvania Building Associates, owners of the property at 1275 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C., needed to hide some mechanical units on their roof. Architect Hickok Cole suggested a green wall to create a decorative “screen.” Gregory Long ofCapitol Greenroofs (who took all the pictures here) worked and James Davis Construction to create this 42′ x 8′ free standing vegetated wall. The image below was taken midway through the summer, approx. 6 months after the initial installation.


The wall, shown below several months after install, is comprised of 92 vegetatedVGM3-10 modules planted with a mixture of drought tolerant perennials including Heuchera americana, Coreopsis verticillata, Allium, Carex, Pholx and Sedum. Each module has 8″ of growing media, which will provide good insulation for both the cold winters and hot summers of Washington. Capitol Greenroofs opted to use Tournesol’s VGM Media Block on the front half of the module (the front 4″), which they commented allow for a better grow-in.


The VGM modules were hung on the frame using  stainless steel mounting rails, and the the entire custom 4″ and 6″ tube steel support structure was mounted to the concrete roof deck. Capitol Greenroofs installed a fertigation system with a Dosatron injector and a 55 gal. barrel that holds water soluble fertilizer. The fertilizer, by Plantex Solutions, is 17-5-17 and contains several different micronutrients. The system is run off a Hunter controller, and each row of the living wall has a remote zone controller. While this is relatively complex, it points out the need to have an experienced professional collaborating in the design, and performing the installation and maintenance.


Capitol Greenroofs also incorporated our FRP Wilshire pots along with CWM modular container irrigation system (seen to the left and to the right of the living wall) to create an instant oasis on the rooftop. Tournesol is proud of our ability to provide a “one-stop-shop” for both designers and contractors greening a rooftop.


Project Manager in the house!

Tournesol Siteworks is pleased to announce that Geoff Neary has joined the team as inside salesperson for our Northwest region. But, even more exciting for us, he will also be acting as our first dedicated Project Manager, responsible for estimating, providing technical support and coordinating manufacturing for large, complicated projects throughout the country.  We’re excited for him to make an impact quickly, providing support to customers on especially difficult jobs.
His background as an estimator and project manager for Green Effects in Seattle (where he worked with Tournesol Siteworks on several large, complicated projects) makes him uniquely qualified. Geoff also brings an insider’s perspective to the job having worked in the landscape industry for over 30 years. He hopes to “close the loop” having been on both sides of the process and raise the bar on the manufacturing end.


Geoff’s experience allows him the ability to analyze clients plans efficiently and with an eye toward production. Here, he can help our manufacturing team work with a customer’s specs to see what will work, what might not, where might there be issues, how can we build it better and make sure it is right. 


“I want production to double check everything. I am there to make sure there aren’t any surprises for the guys in the field. When you are installing a project on a downtown high-rise with a crane, you need to get it right the first time.” From an childhood in New England to raising his own family in Seattle, Geoff knows that from coast to coast competition is fierce and we need to make sure that the quality of our product is top notch from design and production to delivery, installation and years later on site!


Geoff is looking forward to working for Tournesol Siteworks. As he says it, “it is not a planter company, not an irrigation company, not a green wall company –  it’s all of them. Chris (Lyon) is not afraid to move into new areas, be it bike racks, recycling bins, or wood decking and tiles. It is exciting to be a part of company that has its eye on the horizon. And, not a small segment of the horizon, but 180 degrees.”


Geoff is particularly excited about any projects that bring landscapes into downtown areas and enhance city livability. And, as we all like to hear, Geoff is excited “to be a part of a company that is constantly growing – it’s a cool place to be!”


“We’re fortunate to have Geoff join our team”, says Chris Lyon, president of Tournesol Siteworks. “He was a loyal (albeit demanding) customer, and understands what it takes to run a project smoothly. He’ll be able to raise our game immediately!”


You can reach Geoff at extension 158 at our office (800.542.2282), or contact him via email –

Chicago Road Trip!

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Things are happening in the Windy City! This summer I had the chance to spend several days traveling with our regional sales representative Brian Mitalo, visiting customers, specifiers and distribution partners. I was greeted by spectacular summer weather, an interesting, dynamic business environment, and one of the greenest cities that you’ll have the chance to visit. The landscaping throughout the Downtown area is really spectacular – you can tell that the city has made landscape maintenance a priority. The plantings along Michigan Avenue, the Millenium Park, flower baskets and hanging planters adorning every outdoor cafe – these people are serious about making the city green.

One of the companies we met with has been responsible for a number of green roof installations throughout the Midwest, including several huge projects out near O’Hare airport. Kurt Horvath and colleagues at Intrinsic Landscaping have installed several projects using Tournesol material, including a TerraScreen interior living wall at Pirch Interiors in Chicago and several large lightweight planter projects. They mentioned that things have got so busy quoting projects this spring that they have had trouble keeping up. Nice to hear our customers are keeping busy!!

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As I was driving to another appointment, I happened upon a project that had just been installed with our VertiGreen 3D Modular trellis system at a Mariano’s grocery store. The installation had only been installed the week before – but it looks terrific!

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It might not look like much yet, but within a few years, the vines should cover the trellis nicely. To get a perspective on the change, a few pictures below of another Chicago project – the Rivers Casino project. The first picture was taken several months after installation three years ago. The second was taken this summer.

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Brian and I spent a good deal of time talking about our new Boulevard structural wood tiles and decking as we were meeting customers. The architects at Wolff Landscape Architecture (located right near the river) were excited about the concept, but stressed that it would need to be Class A fire rated (it is!).  Up to that point, they’ve only ever been able to specify ipe because of this requirements. They do a lot of roofdecks in wood, so they’re looking forward to using it.

We also spent some time with one of our local distributors, Mark from Lake Street Supply. They are the closest shop to downtown, and have great relationships with all the contractors working down there. Mark has built a fantastic business by being willing to try new things and find new products for his customers. We appreciate that in him – he thinks that Boulevard could be an exciting new product for them.


We took some time for fun, too. This view from the John Hancock building  shows just a few of Chicago’s many green roofs. In total, there are over 350 vegetated roofs in Chicago providing more than 5 million sq. feet of green roof coverage.

On our way out of town we caught up on another installation from last summer. The city installed hundreds of large concrete planters around the entrances on the departures level. They are both decorative, as well as serving as a force barrier.  To keep maintenance to a minimum, each one is outfitted with our CWM container irrigation system. The plants look terrific – as do plants all over the city.

ohare web 1ohare web 2It was great to be in the field and see what’s going on with our partners and customers. I could see from their activity levels that the construction market in the midwest is really gaining steam. We’ll continue to work to be part of it!!


Monthly Blast – June 2014 Vol 2, Issue 6

On A Greening Mission

We’ve been working with  Mission Landscape Architecture  of Irvine, CA recently on several living wall projects. They are on a “mission” to enhance the So. California urban environment with living walls. Their designs resulted in two important Tournesol green walls in San Diego and Los Angeles. As they note in their project information sheets, the walls stand (no pun intended) as a “testament to the creativity of the architecture community and the continuing trend of green walls within the industry.” (emphasis ours!)

As Seen in Living Architecture Monitor
One of these green walls was just highlighted in the most recent issue of Living Architecture Monitor (Summer Health Issue, 2014). The Tournesol VGM living wall was installed at the Irvine Company’s Westwood Gateway 1. In the article (entitled “How Green Roofs & Walls Have Impacted Occupants’ Well-Being”) Sherry Mashadian, manager of operations for the Irvine Company Office Properties, reflected on how their green wall project has affected their tenants.

100_1500-1According to her, the living wall is located in a courtyard with a fountain and soft seating that give customers and staff an opportunity to take breaks, eat lunch and even conduct team meetings in a lushly landscaped environment. “The living wall is definitely one of the greater features of the building and an added value to the project. The visitors and guests are always admiring the living wall. It’s also a tour stop for our leasing team. The living wall is definitely an amenity for the tenants of the property.


The property owners specifically charged Mission Landscape with enhancing the existing courtyard. They removed an overgrown hedge to create the “canvas” for the new Tournesol living wall. Initial plans proposed covering the entire wall, but eventually they decided upon one wall panel that serves as an art piece to the adjacent cafe seating area. Surrounding the VGM panels and structural frame is a custom metal picture fame to complete the linear design. Multi-textured shade tolerant plants of green ferns, moneywort and grasses accented by plum-colored coral bells create the “living picture.”


Sherry did touch on maintenance in the article. She mentioned that they have kept a specialized contractor on to maintain the project (our friends at Greenscaped Buildings ), and that other than a few replacements in the initial period, there haven’t been many issues in the year that the wall has been up. 

And, an underground update

We acquired the  Root Solutions root barrier  business from Vespro of California nearly a year ago, and thought we’d give you an update on what’s going on with the product. Large Bay Area contractor and regular customer Jensen Landscape  was recently installing the product at a new Kaiser Permanente Hospital c omplex in Redwood City, CA and invited us in to take some pictures. They were kind enough to leave several trenches open to allow us to photograph the product in its natural environment.


Root barrier continues to be an important product. The eventual cost of tree roots damaging parking lots, sidewalks, and roads isn’t going down, and has made barrier into a very commonly-specified product for highway departments, municipalities, and commercial properties. We even hear of it being put in for many large residential developments – the minimal cost of the product saves thousands of dollars in headaches over time. Our biggest surprise in entering the market is that its use is more prevalent west of the Mississippi than to the east. It doesn’t seem like trees grow differently on one coast than another – why the discrepancy?


We’ve had to learn a lot about extrusion and manufacturing the product, as you might have guessed. Despite a few hiccups, we’re in control of the process, sourcing the 100% recycled polyethylene (mostly post-consumer), and keeping production line running. One of the important things that we’ve mastered is the blend of high density and low density polyethylene. It’s critical to make the material supple enough to be easy to install, yet strong enough to resist tree roots.   The contractors we work with tell us it slips together easy, holds well, and flexes when it needs to. In general, they tell us that they like the material better than other direct competitor’s – it’s easier to work with and less time-consuming to install. With the creatively sourced recycled material, we’ve also made sure that the pricing is highly competitive!


Architectural Record & the AIA convention

Congratulations are in order! Our continuing education course, ” Green Walls: Integrating Nature into Buildings ” has won the Audience Engagement Award  as one of the top five most popular courses offered through Architectural Record’s Continuing Education Center .  More than 150,000 CEU tests were taken in the past year through their portal, and the popularity of the course shows the high level of interest that architects have with living walls. We are pleased to be able to offer it to the AIA community.

TournesolSiteworksARJulyWe wish the best to all the AIA members who will be attending the upcoming annual convention in Chicago. We won’t be there to collect our award, but don’t miss our Australian product advertisement in the most recent issue of Arch Record!






In case you missed our May email – Tournesol in the News

May 2014 – Vol. 2 Issue 6

VGM Living Wall Spotted in San Diego Magazine

San Digeo Magazine recently focused in on our green wall at PureFitness Westgate Hotel in San Diego. The full design is a world-class sports complex with four levels, 37,000 square feet and a panoramic Sky-Deck. This state of the art facility offers a Jr. Olympic sized pool, lounge, basketball court, rubberized surface running track, and outdoor workout area. 

pure fitness


The design by the Hollander Design Group was created to add visual impact and separate the lounging area from the sports deck. Our good friend, Jim Mumford at Good Earth Plant Company and GreenScaped Buildings used 1300 plants to give the living wall texture. “The composition features four types of grasses including Mexican feather grass and blue fescue, and seven types of succulents.” Our VGM Green Wall system is uniquely engineered to handle these types of installations. The generous planting profile (4-8″) encourages healthier plant growth with lower maintenance issues. The recycled plastic planting modules can be grown in prior to mounting and then provide instant, complete coverage of any vertical surface.purefitness

LA Times features Tournesol collaborator, Luxxbox

Congratulations to our partner, Luxxbox! They had a great showing at WantedDesign in NYC, and got a fantastic response including the front page of the LA Times Home Section (read their story here.) 


At this up and coming event, Jason Bird showcased his new designs; The k-base from his cafe collection (above, coming soon to Tournesol Siteworks), The South Chair (below), Pillow Stool and the ever popular Buzz Bike Bench. The South Chair has made it through to the Top 5 in New York’s The Battery Conservancy’s ‘Draw Up a Chair’ Competition. Bird designed the chair to be a unique, contemporary form of outdoor movable seating. Featured in the New York Times, the South Chair is formed from an infinite tube look that seems to defy gravity. The chair has cleanliness with a study steel frame – versatile and lightweight. When not in use the chairs can stack (with a physical stop to prevent wedging.). The overall winner will be announced this fall and will be installed throughout Battery Park, and we look forward to providing this well-honored piece to our customers as well! 


Tournesol’s ever-widening range of site furnishings offers a variety options that including benches cast in GFRC concrete, polyethylene and our new thermally modified North American hardwood called Boulevard Wood. We also are advancing our line of trash receptacles, bike bollards and furniture with the help of our design collaborators Street and Garden Furniture and Luxxbox.

And one of our favorites this month…

Azalea Regional Shopping Center is a 32-acre property located in South Gate, CA. The center features modern architecture with amenities such as a pop-jet fountain, recessed amphitheater and reflection pool. Almost completed, the project includes national anchor tenants, local retail, restaurants and several living walls! Specified by Conceptual Design & Planning Company , the project is being installed in phases by KPRS Builders. 


The vertical green walls were designed to create ‘living art elements’ and are located on four of seven buildings throughout the plaza area.  These ‘living art walls’ were designed to wrap the buildings in several locations creating visual cues which lead users through a variety of spaces. The planting palette was selected to create consistency in the planting concept regardless of sun exposure.  The planting design consists of horizontal bands of succulents and grasses to create interest with color and texture. The green walls are complemented by the use reclaimed barnwood and corten steel elements on the architecture. The design team worked closely with the Primestor Development, Nadel Architects, Tournesol Siteworks and Instant Jungle to ensure seamless integration of the panels with the architecture.


The 32-acre project replaces a current vacant site with a modern shopping center. In totality, this development includes water features, an open plaza for community gatherings, wi-fi, and incorporates green initiatives and environmentally-friendly products. It is intended to be LEED certified.


Notes from our Production Staff

With the building season upon us, things are heating up at our manufacturing facility in Hayward. While we’re happy with the amount of business, it has put added pressure on our manufacturing team to meet our standard lead times. We have added staff, begun working two shifts and Saturdays, yet still our production times have crept out out by a week or two on many orders. Please make sure you check with your salesperson if you have a critical order approaching. We appreciate your deadlines and will do everything we can to make sure you get the same quality and service you have come to expect from Tournesol Siteworks.


Want more information on Tournesol Siteworks?

 Please send us an email   

Alternately, you can download a copy of our catalog at:




Cincinnati Home & Garden

Spring is here and so are the Home & Garden shows! Our friends at Green Streets Environmental Services were excited to be involved in this year’s Cincinnati Home & Garden Show.  As a founding partner in The Sustainability Partnership of Cincinnati (TSPC), they are a leader in green build and construction – from LEED and Passive Architecture through finished construction.

For his year’s conference, Green Streets and TSPC worked up a full sustainably-minded garden and eco house. The “Milky Way Garden and Star Powered Home” name given by partner Lohre & Associates of Cincinnati, was designed with input from all of the partners. “This has really helped spark imagination” said Tre Sheldon, one of the principles at Green Streets. 


Filled with sustainable materials, and unique idea’s, the visitors could see solar panels, raised planters, green roofs, and living walls. The living wall used our VGM modular wall unit, and was designed and installed by Green Streets Environmental Services with special help from the West Hills Green Houses also of Cincinnati. “The versatility, durability, and design of Tournsol’s products are truly the very best on the market today” said Benjamin Haggerty of Green Streets. He went on to say “be it an interior or exterior application, we won’t work with any other supplier then Tournsol for Living Walls, there just isn’t anything better”. Thanks, Benjamin, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!


Since 1969, Cincinnati has welcomed Hart Productions Home & Garden show as a right of spring and a unique oasis that help’s shake off those winter blues. Tens of thousands come through annually to tour unique gardens and see the latest offerings and most innovative products from all over the world. Thanks to Green Streets for including Tournesol Siteworks this year!


Reflections on 20

Today Tournesol Siteworks is celebrating our 20th anniversary.

sunflowerAnyone who has spent twenty years doing something is bound to have a lot of conflicting emotions about it.  There have been plenty of good times, some tough ones, and everything in between.

Tournesol  Siteworks is no exception. In the beginning I figured we’d hit a home run with a remarkable self-watering product at retail, then sell the business once it had grown big after 5 years. When that didn’t happen (despite lots of efforts and a stint on the Home Shopping Network for me), plan B became to grow the business the hard way. I never considered walking away, although there were times when we probably should have!

In hindsight, I figure I got lucky.  I got to run a manufacturing business, which is always what I wanted to do. I never had a particular passion for landscape or plants, but I am delighted that I found myself in this business. We enhance the public good. We work at the intersection of landscape and architecture, making green possible for buildings and urban settings. We can be satisfied that we soften the constructed environment, and bring a piece of nature to city dwellers. I never have to apologize for the products we manufacture, or their effect on the environment.

I’ve really enjoyed the people who’ve shared in the experience of growing this company. I work with 50 people, most of whom (I think) are glad to be at work every day. My greatest challenge is continuing to offer them an environment where they can make the most of their talents, and earn a good living while doing it. When I think back over 20 years, I can really pick out those people that made an impact on who we are today. Some are still here, and others aren’t, but the business wouldn’t be the same without them.

Tomorrow looks better than ever. They say that it is much easier to grow a large business than a small one. We’ve been able to leverage what growth we’ve achieved, and invest it back in innovation, partnerships, and our customers. I’m as excited about the future as ever.  When I started out 20 years ago we had 8 employees – ten years later we had 11.  Today we have 50, and our plan is to continue to double in size every three years. We’re fortunate that the construction economy has come back, and we’re in the position to take advantage of it. We’ve reinvented ourselves several times over the years, and I’m sure that we’ll do it again a few times – but that’s just part of the fun.”

Thanks for joining us in celebrating our 20th year – Chris Lyon

The California TWIG

In conjunction with Kilroy Realty Corporation and Landscape architects, Brumbaugh & Associates, Tournesol Siteworks appreciates the opportunity to be a part of another landmark office complex. Skyline Tower is a 24-story building located in Bellevue’s central business district near the transit center and neighboring pedestrian areas.


Skyline Tower’s amenities include  impressive views of the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. It also offers a pedestrian friendly exterior plaza featuring our TWIG benches!

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Brumbaugh & Associates designed the exterior space and used 8 TWIG benches, in the color “Shark,” to provide not only seating, but visual interest to the area as well. TSW worked closely with the General Contractor, GLY,  in regards to production and delivery for an on-time installation for the grand opening of the plaza and its easy access to Bellevue Square.

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The TWIG bench was the first in a line of innovative products introduced by Tournesol Siteworks from the design studios of Street & Garden Furniture of Brisbane, Australia. Long a leading manufacturer down under, Tournesol is proud to have brought their fresh design perspective to the USA, manufacturing their product in California. TWIG is a highly configurable modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual lifestyle. We love this item so much it evens graces the cover of our new catalog!


Having marketed the product since 2011, we’re really now starting to see projects come to life. Recently, there has been some confusion with TWIG, and we want to set the record straight. Tournesol continues to promote, manufacture, and sell the TWIG bench. We make TWIG from lightweight GFRC concrete in Northern California. Each bench weighs only 700lbs, contributing to a low environmental footprint, both in terms of material content and shipping.

Confused about several manufacturers offering TWIG? See more details here.

In case you missed it… March 2014 Email blast – Vol. 2 Issue 4


It’s been a busy spring at Tournesol Siteworks, as we know it is for many of our customers, vendors and peers.  We’re all thrilled to see the activity of the market. As the weather starts to warm throughout the East Coast and Midwest, contractor’s thoughts turn to their summer schedule – and our phone starts ringing!

We’re adding inventory, scheduling additional shifts, and starting to hire – our typical spring routine. In fact, we’ve just added a new Inside Sales person, Troy Nottingham. He’s supporting our western regions, and is quickly coming up to speed. There’s a lot to learn! Make sure you say welcome if you have to chance to speak with him on the phone. 

Tournesol Hits the Indian Sub-Continent

One of our most important vendors is our Indian manufacturing partner, Jamunaplast. Since 1999, when they started molding several small plastic and rubber articles, we’ve come to rely on them to produce most of our irrigation components, many green wall and roof components , and now started casting blanks of many of our FRP fiberglass pots . They are located in a suburb just outside of Mumbai. After 15 years of making products for the U.S., they proposed that we work together to address the growing commercial landscape market in India.




The market for commercial landscape products in India is intriguing – still relatively small, but rapidly gaining speed. There aren’t many manufacturers that provide commercial-quality products, targeted at the more sophisticated end of the design market. While Tournesol Siteworks India will initially be selling the products that Jamunaplast manufactures for TSW-US, the intention will be to introduce products specifically targeted to the Indian design community’s requirements.

More specifically, there has been significant interest in Tournesol’s self-watering container irrigation systems . The customers in Mumbai and elsewhere appreciate the water conservation aspect of the system. We expect that product to help build a foundation for the company there, as it did for us here in the U.S. Look out for more updates in the future on our progress.

Starbucks Living Wall – Downtown Disney
This past August, the Disney Corporation announced that Starbucks would be opening a store in the  Downtown Disney District .   As this is their first location in the Disneyland Resort, the client wanted something particularly eye-catching at what is sure to be one of the busiest spots “downtown.” It’s right outside the exit of the huge World of Disney store.

Architects Orange  and  LandStudio 360  with David Ling,  conceived of a green wall that would create a visually interesting  backdrop to the outdoor seating area. We at Tournesol Siteworks were thrilled to be a player in this high profile installation as our  VGM system  was the perfect solution. David was kind enough to provide us with the amazing photo below.



In this case the stainless steel vertical hanging rails were mounted onto horizontal uni-strut framing. This framing, attached to the tube-steel substructure, allows for flexibility when aligning the hanging rail. They used our VGM3-06 wiht a 4″ soil profile, typical for warm-weather climates. The modules were shipped to the job site after 3 months of grow-in at Instant Jungle’s nursery in Santa Ana. They also pre-assemble irrigation emitters and tubing into the module, so they can quickly be attached to the main irrigation system once hung on the rails.




TWIG – Made in California since 2011

The TWIG bench was the first in a line of innovative products introduced by Tournesol Siteworks from the design studios of Street & Garden Furniture of Brisbane, Australia. Long a leading manufacturer down under, Tournesol is proud to have brought their fresh design perspective to the USA, manufacturing their product in California. TWIG is a highly configurable modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual lifestyle. We love this item so much it evens graces the cover of our new catalog!

Having marketed the product since 2011, we’re really now starting to see projects come to life. Recently, there has been some confusion with TWIG, and we want to set the record straight. Tournesol continues to promote, manufacture, and sell the TWIG bench. We make TWIG from lightweight GFRC concrete in Northern California. Each bench weighs only 700lbs, contributing to a low environmental footprint, both in terms of material content and shipping.

Confused about several manufacturers offering TWIG? See more details here.