California Native Plants

Ask me about creating a California native plant palette suited to the area you live in.

Waterwise Transformation

Before Design

An unused lawn is replaced with a flagstone patio, flastone stepping stones, low water use plants, gravel and a small vegetable garden.

After Installation

Designing for Small Spaces

Townhouse Patio, Garden Room

Small spaces can present an interesting challenge as every square inch must be carefully considered and utilized - the end result being cozy and comfortable, outdoor garden room, living areas.

Townhouse Patio, Garden Room

Need help with your landscape?

Would you like a few ideas for a small area or a master plan for a few acres?


I offer a full line of landscape design and related services to meet a variety of needs. For more information, please visit my Services page.

Landscape Plans

Unique plant palettes, precise CAD plans, landscape photo imaging, 3D rendering and web conferencing during the design development phase.

Design Details

Online Landscape Design

This service is designed for long distance customers. Meetings are conducted online, via web conferencing, to view your site photos, imaged views and the CAD plan. Please visit the Services page for more information.

houzz interior design ideas

"Donna is professional, knowledgeable, and artistic. Her creative input was helpful and inspiring. I am excited and looking forward to implementing this new design for my garden" Joanne, Santa Barbara

Landscape Design - Plans


How do you want to use your precious land?

I find that today's residential landscapes are multi-tasking just as much as we are. In addition to providing beautiful gardens to uplift and inspire, outdoor areas for resting, entertaining and play, and providing safe and comfortable access to our homes, landscapes are increasingly placing a focus on growing food, providing wild life habitat and harvesting rain water.


If you would like to make the best possible use of your land, it's a good idea to weigh the options before jumping in. Below is a list of some of the questions and concerns I like to consider during the landscape design process.

It all starts with the site - each site is unique:

  • where do you live - city, neighborhood?
  • do you live in a high fire area?
  • what kind of unique micro climates exist in your area, on your site?
  • what kind of soil do you have?
  • where is north in relation to your residence?
  • where do you need sun, shade?
  • how does wind impact your site?
  • where does cold air settle?
  • do adjacent buildings or plants shade your site?
  • what is being irrigated on the other side of your property fence?
  • is there runoff onto your site from neighbor's roofs, driveways, garages, other?
  • how does water drain from or pool on your site?
  • do you have gutters? how many downspouts? where does the water go?
  • are there privacy or noise issues?
  • what is the topography of your area and site - sloped, flat?
  • do you have existing lawn and/or vegetation or are you starting from scratch?
  • where are existing utility lines?
  • where are the nooks, niches and lookouts - spots that feel comfortable, cozy, have views?
  • how is the site, itself, asking to be treated?
  • what are your needs/wants regarding how the space will be used and layed out?
  • what are your immediate and long term goals for the site?

What Inspires You?

  • what is your dream landscape?
  • what kind of natural setting appeals to you? beach, redwood forest, open meadows, tropical waterfalls, woodland with streams?
  • where did you grow up? what are your favorite places from childhood?
  • what is your favorite vacationing location?
  • what kind of spaces make you feel comfortable? do you prefer private, cozy, enclosed environments or lots of open space?
  • what colors appeal to you?

How will the landscape relate to your house?

  • what is the architectural style of your home?
  • what color is your house? are you considering changing it in the near future?
  • how will colors or materials used inside reflect in the landscape?
  • is there existing hardscape that you would like to keep? what are the colors?
  • what do you want to see from each window?
  • what do existing doors open to? what would you like them to open to?
  • do you need to create paths to access those doors or to traverse from one area of the house or yard to another?

Plants, Hardscape Features, Materials

  • what kind of plants would you like to use? native, drought tolerant, other? Please look at my Plants page for ideas on plant palettes to use as points of departure - one palette can be used throughout or several can be used to create a variety of individual gardens.
  • are you interested in incorporating fruit trees or areas for growing vegetables?
  • what kind of hardscape elements would you like to include - patios, walkways, shade cover, barbeque, water features?
  • what kinds of paving materials - decomposed granite, gravel, flagstone, brick, pavers, tile, other? would you like to consider permeable paving options?

Budget, Scope of Work

  • how much would you like to spend?
  • will you implement the design all at once or in stages?
  • will you be using a gardening service after the job is complete?
  • would you like to learn how to care for your landscape yourself?

 "Take the time to design" During my 25 years as a landscape designer, I have seen the benefits of taking the time to create a scale drawing-master plan for projects both large and small. I find my experience allows me to make suggestions that often save my clients money during the installation process. Attention to detail, as well as consideration of how the various elements of the completed landscape will work together can be given when the design is thought through rather than hastily installed.


The use of technology has enabled me to offer my customers a better quality product, more interactive and informative conceptualization experience as well as affordable cost. From start to finish, I rely on all that modern technology affords. 


During the design process, photo imaging or 3D software are available as design sketch tools to aid in visualizing the proposed finished product. Unique plant palettes are created for each client based on personal taste and unique site conditions. Clients are invited to view my computer desktop, via web conferencing, where I am able to display plant palette photos, site photos, the CAD plan, imaging photos or 3D renderings. In addition, we are able to visit websites pertinent to the plants or materials used in the design.


The final product is scale drawings of hardscape features (patios, paths, walls, pergolas, etc), plants and lighting, using professional CAD software, resulting in precise, easy to read plans.

In this water-wise makeover, the emphasis was on using as few low water use plants as possible yet still providing attractive curb appeal.

After lawn was removed from above and plants on slope below
Imaged Photograph

Montecito landscape remodel using a predomimately green and white palette and drought tolerant plants.

Imaged view of the landscape design

Large back yard designed with a park-like layout. The space includes a series of rain water harvesting, infiltration basins, fruit trees, native and Mediterranean trees and plants, a buffalo grass lawn for young children's play, an area for outdoor living and growing vegetables and a decomposed granite walkway.

3D rendered view of design concept

A barren back yard is transformed into a home orchard that includes Citrus, deciduous friut trees and Avocados along with designated areas for raised vegetable planters. Low water use plants and perennials for year 'round bloom are included the throughout the landscape. A small, lower water use, Aloha Paspalum lawn has been retained for children and pets. A flagstone patio for dining divides the long yard.

Camarillo Back Yard, before design
Imaged View of Area, created during the design process

Before and after using landscape photo imaging software - Camarillo CA

Planting design concept using landscape photo imaging software

Maximized living space in a small area. Below is a before photo and 3D rendering of a landscape design for a property with an extreme slope drop-off in the back. Proposed changes to the residence were depicted as well.

Mediterranean Plants

A low water use plant palette was used for the front yard for this central coast property. The plant palette consists primarily of plants from Mediterranean climates and the lawn suggestion is Buffalo Grass. Below, the before photo is followed by the first draft "photo sketch" and then the final version image.

Garden, Orchard, Outdoor Entertaining

Here, a challenge was presented to combine an enclosed, fenced-in vegetable garden with a greenhouse, orchard and entertaining area in combination with a native plant palette at the edge of a large property on the Gaviota coast.

Concept for including Edible Plants in a Residential Landscape

3D rendering of edibles in the landscape
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