Hi everyone- Not only am I new to this site, I am new to forums in general. I am looking forward to exchanging ideas and getting feedback from you knowledgeable and helpful people. I've lived in Southern California my entire life and last year my husband and I were able to move our family out of our cramped 1300 sq. ft. home to a new, beautiful 3200 sq. ft. house on a cul-de-sac with an incredible view. What a blessing! It's a lot of work and sacrifice, but well worth it. We've put a huge amount of effort into the yard--almost 1/2 acre pie-shaped lot that is mostly downslope and baking in the hot Calif. sun. We cut in switchbacks for access and planted mostly low maintainance, drought tolerant plants. The kids love running around out there, especially the last few days as we just acquired our first dog (a 3-month lab mix from a local shelter.) I have a few questions and concerns about the house I'll be bringing up in the appropriate areas in the forum, but for now. . .it's nice to be here!