Design Philosophy

Our goal is to create gardens which unite the land and ecological systems surrounding the home with its human inhabitants, fostering a deeper relationship and connection between them.

Our design philosophy consists of five elements:

Gardens should be beautiful: Traditional garden design uses visual characteristics of plants (form, texture, habit, foliage and flower colors, etc.) and placement of plants and other garden elements to create spaces that are visually appealing. We apply these same concepts, using plants that serve multiple functions in the landscape (i.e. food producing, soil-building, beneficial insect attractors, etc.). We aim for four-season interest – constant flower bloom throughout the growing season, attractive bark and branch structures that provide winter appeal, and creating dynamic spaces that change throughout the year to provide constant delight.

Gardens should be lived in and experienced: Too many of our typical landscapes encourage only passive interaction, if any, with our yards. Often, the only time we spend outdoors is time spent doing chores – mowing the lawn, hacking back the English Ivy, and so on. We really like the concept of creating “outdoor rooms” – spaces within the garden that encourage active participation. Whether you are entertaining guests, relaxing with a bottle of wine, or picking fresh blueberries for your morning cereal, the garden should be an enjoyable space that you want to spend time in.

Gardens should produce high, diverse yields: Most landscapes provide no tangible benefits to the homeowner other than the aesthetic. Many people have a small vegetable garden tucked in the back corner of the yard, but there are many more possibilities for food production in the home landscape. In addition to four-season visual interest, we attempt to create opportunities for four-season harvesting. Fruits, nuts, berries, roots, tubers, leafy greens, edible flowers, mushrooms, and annual and perennial vegetable crops can be harvested, eaten or stored throughout the year. In addition to food, we can meet many of our other needs, too – medicine, firewood, animal food, dyes, cut flowers, etc. Fun, too, is a yield, and an important one: we can harvest enjoyment and pleasure from our gardens as we spend time in them.

Gardens should be low-maintenance: While there is no such thing as a truly maintenance-free garden, we can design gardens so that they do not require intensive maintenance. A good design takes maintenance activities into account (weeding, mowing, mulching, harvesting, pest and disease management, etc.) and sets the garden up to minimize the amount of effort necessary to perform these activities. By viewing the garden as an ecosystem and designing in that context, we can eliminate or reduce many of the problems that often plague landscapes and gardens, and thereby reducing the need for exhaustive management.

Gardens should be ecologically healthy: By designing in an ecosystem context, we can create gardens that are not only sustainable, but regenerative – actively helping to heal local ecosystems. We improve soil fertility and structure, increase regional biodiversity, and provide food and habitat for local wildlife. By designing ecologically, we reduce or eliminate entirely the need for harsh chemical inputs (fertilizers and pesticides which are harmful to all life, including people). Our gardens seek to model the structures, functions, and relationships found in natural ecosystems, creating healthy, stable, resilient garden ecosystems that fit into the larger bioregion.


People that Inspire Us:

Dave Jacke

Eric Toensmeier

Robert Kourik

Rosalind Creasy

Bill Mollison

David Holmgren

Toby Hemenway

John Jeavons

Patrick Whitefield

Michael Phillips

Lee Reich

Stephen Harrod Buhner

Brad Lancaster

James Van Sweden

Michael Pollan

Joel Salatin

Eliot Coleman

Barbara Damrosch

Masanobu Fukuoka

Scott & Lauren Springer Ogden

Stephanie Cohen

W. Gary Smith

Art Ludwig

J. William Thompson

Martin Crawford

Kelly Coyne & Eric Knutzen

Scott Kellogg

Robert Thayer

Rosemary Alexander

Paul Stamets

Gary Paul Nabhan

Christopher Alexander

Darrell Frey

John Seed

Aldo Leopold