Garden design of planting beds is both art and science driven by existing soil conditions, sunlight, tree roots, views, structures and the owners’ plant preferences.


Donna specializes in thoughtful planting plans that specify the right plant for the right place. The landscape of her own home demonstrates the benefits of site-specific plant selection.

Shown shortly after purchase, Donna’s house had a typicaly landscaped yard planted with lawn and severely tortured shrubs. Mal-pruned azaleas tend to die-out in the center making them difficult to revive. The lawn was difficult to access and was shaped like an old boot.

Years later the shrubs that were retained have assumed more natural proportions and the lawn has been replaced with a gravel path, courtyard and an informal planting style, creating a place to relax and chat with the community. Sustainable, drought tolerant and pollinator-friendly plants add year-round color.

Designs for sun

Siberian iris, carex and an espaliered winter blooming camellia on a custom trellis enhance a blank wall. The paver patio provides a warm micro-climate.

River birch, grasses shrubs and perennials create a lawn-free front yard that natural, casual and low maintenance. A river cobble drainage swale handles runoff and is naturalized with grasses.

‘Baggesen’s Gold’ honeysuckle shrub and ‘Bowle’s Golden’ sedge balance a fine textured landscape against the coarse heaviness of this Post Modern block house. Chartreuse leaves provide winter brightness.

The round form of blue fescue ‘Elijah Blue’ is reaffirmed by sculpture in the landscape. This designed garden is visually pleasing due to the repetition of form, yet it is casual.

This urban hell-strip planting is drought tolerant and only 9 months old. Soil amendment is the key to success. Ceanothus, lavender, sedum and santolina are all drought tolerant in this sustainable garden.

Vertical foliage of carex, liriope and flax break up the horizontal lines of the wall. The contrast of color and texture create a pleasing front yard.

Lavender and Italian cypress in the landscape reinforce this home’s Mediterranean Style. Coneflower and lavender make a haven for pollinators.

Vibrant heathers, chartreuse cypress and phormium create a bold combination for a front yard landscape. This garden design has year-round color.

A raised vegetable bed, purple sage, Spanish lavender, creeping thyme and heathers soften the sunny side of a flagstone patio.

A useless, sloping front lawn was replaced by grasses, heathers and perennials for a variety of color and texture. This creates year-round interest.

Blue grasses and chartreuse foliage compliment the house colors and create a showy and bright front yard design. The repetition of round forms create a unique landscape design.

Designs for shade

This varied woodland garden provides a lush carpet year-round. A plant combination of ferns, gingers and epimedium create textural interest.

A shaded out lawn has been replaced with a firepit, seating area and shade loving plants. Carex, ferns and lacewing-resistant rhododendron plants assist in providing sanctuary for birds and people.

Hosta ‘June’, adds boldness to a traditional shady plant design with the hosta as a summer focal point.

Shady areas need not be devoid of a lush undergrowth. Here, a variety of leaf size, shape and color create interest in this landscape. A disappearing woodland path adds a sense of mystery and perspective.

Designs for mixed sun and shade

A variety of sedges can handle both shade and sun throughout the day. Irrigation can be a bit tricky in a changing light situation with shady areas requiring less water.

Large deciduous trees create an ever changing light and shade balance. A mix of sunny and shady areas are filled with a tapestry of low maintenance plants in this front yard design.

Vine maple, sedge and sword fern provide contrast against a brick background in a landscape that receives morning but not afternoon sun. In the summer, these plants appreciate morning light and an afternoon respite from the heat.

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