Garden Design

Garden Design

Waterwise Gardens to Grow With

Gardens Designed by Nan Sterman

I design every garden as a personal space, carefully crafted to suit the owners’ tastes, complement the home’s architecture, and thrive in the site’s growing conditions. Each garden is individual; there is no one style or look, but every one is waterwise.

I approach every waterwise garden as an elegant system where sustainability is the goal:

Click this video to learn more about my philosophy and approach to garden design
  • Landforms curve and undulate, directing and collecting water, banking it in the soil to supply plant roots. The landform then becomes a stage with niches and platforms for displaying beautiful plants
  • Soils are alive with beneficial microbes that support healthy plant roots
  • Efficient irrigation provides plant roots with just the right amount of moisture, without wasting a drop
  • When it comes to hardscape, form follows function. Hard surfaces and structures are balanced by plant-filled beds for a soft, lush effect
  • Beautiful, textural, structural waterwise plants delight the eye as they fill year-round gardens with color
  • Strategically placed edible plants and vegetable gardens feed their owners
  • Mulch tops almost every surface (bare spots support precious native bees). It insulates the soil to hold moisture in and moderate the temperature.  Mulch improves poor draining soils and helps fast draining soils stay moist. As mulch breaks down, it “feeds” beneficial microbes, too. And mulch makes everything look neat and tidy - naturally
  • The right plants in the right places and allowed enough space makes gardens low maintenance
  • Wildlife abounds, from hummingbirds to lizards, bees to butterflies, and more

“I love to paint with plants.”

How We Begin

Every new garden project starts with a paid garden consultation that lasts between one and two hours. In this working session we discuss your dreams/hopes/desires while I analyze the challenges and opportunities to creating your dream garden.

By the end of the consultation, next steps are usually clear. At your request, I share my notes as a written record. From that point, some people take on the project themselves; others hire me to coach them; while still others ask for a full-blown garden design.

Before we meet, there's some homework. Think about what you envision. Take photos of gardens and plants you like, even those you don't like. Having those visuals to share is invaluable.

Come up with a budget, too. The cost of professional landscape design and installation is on par with major remodels. Design alone costs several thousand dollars, depending on the size of the project.

Your Garden Comes to Life

When you contract with me for a design, we work through the discovery, then I start to work on the design. This is an iterative process that involves your input along the way.  Once the design is complete - and has your approval - it goes to the contractor.  My work continues - I consult with the contractor regularly to ensure that the garden designed is the garden installed. I select and place all the plants as well. When changes become necessary and decisions are to be made, I'm there to ensure the integrity of the design intent.

Concierge Services

Following the garden's installation, you have the option of ongoing consultation and support on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis. Pricing depends on the need and level of service.



Let’s Discuss Your Ideal Space!

Filling out the form below is the best way to contact me but if you dislike forms, please email me directly at
  • *The cost of professional landscape design and installation is on par with major remodels. Please be realistic regarding your budget.
  • Max. 3 Photos - maximum size 10MB each
    Accepted file types: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf.
  • Please describe your idea and tell me anything else you think I should know before we talk.
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