Concept Drawing

Concept Drawing

Colored Pencil Concept Drawing

Colored Pencil Concept Drawing

Concept drawings

This planting bed was such a small space that multiple drawings from different vantage points were unnecessary.

Not every project receives a colored concept drawing but the terra cotta pot was to remain in the composition dictating the need to have the color of the pot repeated throughout the design with the foliage or bloom color of the selected plants.

Before plant installation

Before plant installation

After installation and before the application of rock top dressing

After installation and before the application of rock top dressing

Low water-use plant & succulent planting

The homeowner for this small planting bed asked for the design to be approached in the same manner that container gardens are approached using the design elements of thriller (tall accent plant), filler (mid-level plants), spiller (plants that are low-growing or spill over the edge).

A Beagle resides on this property who has free reign in the backyard running through the planting beds and frequently takes naps in them. This required the selection of plants that were not prone to snapping when brushed against, or that contained spines or toxic sap.

Traditional landscape design services offer a landscape plan to the homeowner, which shows a birds-eye view of the property identifying structures and hardscape in outline form and plants in varying sizes of circles. I approach the process by supplying the client with a plant list and then take photos of the areas needing new plantings. Next, I print the photos in black and white on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, place tracing paper over the printed photos and draw in the existing elements such as fencing or mature trees that will remain on site. Then I execute drawings from different vantage points, if necessary, showing the new plants in their mature sizes in the suggested placement. This allows the homeowner the ability to see what the plants will look like a few years after installation, as if they were standing there in the future.


This Walnut Creek townhouse with a north-facing sloped front yard was planted with turf and had two issues contributing to the failing health of the lawn. The area did not receive enough hours of direct sunlight to keep the lawn lush and the slope caused irregular irrigation. The spotty remnants of turf were removed and aggregate stepping stones, matching the existing hard surfaces, were installed to form a walkway from the front porch to the street. This new walkway would be used often to access a car that the residents frequently parked at curbside.

The homeowner desired a new landscape to flank the driveway that would be low maintenance and thrive in the mostly shaded environment. The newly installed stepping stones were bordered with Liriope spicata 'Silver Dragon' to highlight the path. Taller shrubs were installed in front of the wood fence that when mature will provide some fragrance such as Sarcococca ruscifolia and Daphne odora 'Aureo-marginata'. Both of these shrubs are slow growing and stay at 3'-5' in height preventing the need to prune any time in the near future. A third shrub, Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress',  was planted throughout to provide a different texture that does not exceed a mature height of 3-3 1/2 feet tall.

Linnea is exactly what I was looking for in a landscape designer! She considered all of the site requirements and my desire for a low-maintenance landscape design, gave me lots of options, and based on my preferences came up with a dynamic design including plants with varying height, color, and foliage. I appreciate Linnea's artful approach to landscape design. Her plans are presented like pieces of art while being easy to understand and follow.

Succulent Mini Berms

An added design feature to an existing landscape

Ever heard of or seen a succulent mini berm? I had not but came up with the idea as a solution to an unhappy succulent planting at the home of one of my clients. They had installed succulents at the edge of a couple of planting beds. The succulents were languishing and “pouting” for a number of years. It dawned on me that they were at grade sitting in the native clay soil located where the rain runoff flowed away from the house out to the center of the yard, across or through the beds. The succulents were battling against a condition that was preventing them from thriving and developing to their full potential – planted in soil that was not fast draining and sitting with wet feet for too long. The homeowners were agreeable to experimenting with my suggestion of creating a mini berm built with the proper planting mix for succulents, thereby elevating the plants up above grade. The first step was to remove the existing succulents and dig a trench six inches deep by twelve inches wide. Bancroft Bedding Blend was purchased from Contra Costa Topsoil in Martinez to fill the trench and to mound it to six inches above grade. This now gave the succulents a depth of at least six inches of fast-draining soil depending on where they were installed on the berm – at the top or at the edge.  The bottom two photos show the new mini berm in place prior to the return of the existing succulents mixed in with some new pals to play with. The berms follow the very edge of the planting beds while wending around a select number of more mature plants following a bit of a gently winding and playful path.

The bottom left photo shows the existing succulents back in place and the bottom right photo shows the addition of blue ceramic fish and glass balls scattered about to add color and sparkle to the new garden feature.

It is difficult to see the berm in the next photo prior to the rock top dressing in place, which will make it stand out from the rest of the planting bed. But the photo well illustrates the gently winding path the berm takes by starting behind the Heucheras, moving in front of the Astelia and then back again behind the Carex oshmensis.

Succulent Mini Berm Before Rock Top Dressing

Succulent Mini Berm Before Rock Top Dressing

The next four photos were taken immediately after the new succulents and the rock top dressing were added to the berms. And more garden art - driftwood, a metal Echinocactus grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus), mosaic tiled frog and a pot of succulents at the far end!

The first two succulent mini berms were such a success that the homeowners decided to incorporate a third one next to the front walkway. The photo below left is a detail of one of the first berms and the photo on the right is the berm added to the front walkway.

The succulents in this newest berm have since spread and increased in size as they flourish in their elements of fast-draining soil and rock top dressing!

The succulents in this newest berm have since spread and increased in size as they flourish in their elements of fast-draining soil and rock top dressing!