landscape designer/architect in Bay Area

kennyjr748September 7, 2010


I am looking for some referrals for a landscape designer or architect in the bay area, specifically Burlingame. Our house has a large steep hill in our backyard that we would like to terrace. There are some older retaining walls in place that are starting to fail and we would ideally like to push the walls farther back to gain more patio space. We have already gotten a soils report for our backyard and would like to proceed with our project. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thank you,


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John Black, does a great job, is very knowledgeable, is mellow and easy to work with, and you can hire him by the hour or by the job.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 11:34PM
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Thank you Francesca. Any other recommendations? Should I focus on a landscape architect over a designer?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 6:43PM
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I am no expert, but, I'd say it depends on how far along your plans are, your level of knowledge and what you want to accomplish.

Landscape Architect
Designs the garden, taking into account different elevations, planned usage, climate and drainage. They should forecast how the landscape will look in 10 or 20 years, so as not to plant trees that are too big or shrubs that take over.

Landscape Contractor
Does the actual landscaping. Creates suitable ground conditions such as proper water drainage, digs the right sized holes for the trees and bushes, adds the proper amendments, and does eerything to ensure the long term health of the plants.
Here's a recommendation: Zack Smith, What I like about Zack is his knowledge, enthusiasm, and ability to first understand your vision then to add practical suggestions. He seemed to know every tree I mentioned and whether the location and orientation in our yard was right for it. He had some great suggestions as alternatives to the usual lawn which will be difficult for us to maintain in an all-shady area.

If in doubt, have a short conversation with John Black. If he is not the right person for your project, he will cheerfully suggest what kind of expertise you will need and specific professionals who can help. It's refreshing because you see that sort of generosity so infrequently!

Also - I found a terrific wholesale nursery! It's Ogawa-Mune in Fremont, off of 880 near Stevenson Blvd. Yes, it's a bit of a trip, but well worth it. They offer acres and acres of very healthy specimens, some of which are very different from what you see in the usual nurseries. And, the prices are terrific. They can deliver for a small fee, or will waive delivery fees if you order a certain minimum amount.

Wish I had more to offer. I hope it goes well for you.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 10:27PM
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Thank you again Francesca. I will be scheduling a consultation with John Black to see what he thinks about our project.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 7:00PM
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