Verdance Landscape Design creates landscapes to live in. Our goal is to inspire life in every landscape… whether that means sumptuous dinners prepared al fresco with friends, afternoon pool parties for the young at heart, or delightful visits from iridescent hummingbirds and butterflies.
We're expert in landscapes that are low-water, low-maintenance, breathtakingly gorgeous and brilliant in both plan and execution. And while each of our designs naturally fulfills the needs and wishes of the home owner, Verdance also takes responsibility to nurture our environment, designing solutions that replenish groundwater… support pollinators and other beneficial wildlife… enrich the soil food web… and are not only drought-tolerant but actually thrive in the Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate.
Our work, and the people who do it, are guided by seven core values. Perhaps they resonate with you as well:
We begin with the end in mind and imbue our work with a sense of purpose and intention. We uphold our explicit and implicit commitments, and seek and embody truth, respect and kindness.
We are open to knowledge, change and correction, without fear or shame. We cultivate a beginner's mindset to continually expand our awareness. We respond appropriately to feedback and own the consequences of our actions and inaction.
We encourage curiosity, imagination, exploration and play to inspire ourselves and others. We believe in our — and others' — innate potential for unique expression.
We take responsibility for enriching our environment, and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. We seek to conserve natural resources, and champion efficiency.
We work in harmony with others, including natural forces. We know what matters most and differentiate between “urgent” and “important." We believe a healthy environment fosters our own wellness and the achievement of our potential.
We enjoy creating fine experiences and products for our clients and ourselves. We surround ourselves with extraordinary people and materials, and distinguish our firm by delivering superior service, insightful solutions and exceptional execution.
We are enlivened by our work, and our product and process delight our clients. We solve problems with humor and grace. We seek light and lightness in our work, our relationships, and within ourselves. We exemplify positivity to others and our world.
Our process is thorough and methodical, to deliver each client a beautiful, uniquely personal landscape they love to come home to. The phases of our work are:
Design Consultation & Proposal
Our work begins with a consultation at your home to discuss your wishes, identify your site’s challenges and opportunities, suggest appropriate design directions, and provide resources and strategies to help you move forward. The consultation is billed hourly, with most lasting about two hours. After the scope of work has been defined, we can send you a proposal detailing our services and fees. Please note that while the consultation does not oblige you to continue with Verdance, in consideration of your time and money we generally only schedule consultations for projects that are closely aligned with our strengths. To determine whether a landscape design consultation is the right first step for you, please read about who typically achieves the best results working with Verdance.
Predesign & Site Analysis
Upon your acceptance of the proposal, we build on the information taken in during the design consultation, developing "idea books" and sourcing precedents. We will measure, map and analyze your site, including adjacent and environmental conditions, and research municipal ordinances that may affect your project. Ultimately we'll draft a base plan of the existing landscape, which provides the foundation for our conceptual exploration.
Schematic Design Concepts
Especially if we’re creating new outdoor living spaces for you, we will want to sketch several concepts that explore how the spaces may best relate to each other and to your home. These schematic diagrams will show the primary features we propose, including circulation patterns and lines of sight. With your feedback, we’ll either develop additional schemes or identify one direction to evolve into the Preliminary Design.
The Preliminary Design embodies our master vision for your landscape. Drawn to scale, it shows all the major hardscape and landscape elements, including primary features and types of plants. Along with additional drawings or images to help convey the look and feel we envision, you’ll get a clear picture of our design intent, with enough information for a landscape contractor to estimate installation costs.
With your approval of the Preliminary Design, Verdance will develop the specifics of the plan and help you find landscape contractors with the appropriate expertise. Based on preliminary cost estimates, we’ll update the Preliminary Design as needed and identify the materials that best suit your tastes and budget — from paving and plantings to fixtures, furnishings, lighting effects and other details.
Verdance will prepare detailed installation drawings for you to bid with one or more landscape contractors. These typically include a layout plan including locations and finishes of the built features; a planting plan including the locations, names and quantities of all new plants, with an irrigation plan if necessary to satisfy your local WELO (water efficient landscape ordinance) requirement; a lighting plan including fixtures and desired effects; and any other information such as furnishings, containers, or other accessories that will complete the design.
Throughout installation, Verdance remains on hand to coordinate the project, answer questions, make adjustments, and provide any other guidance to ensure your new landscape thoroughly delights you. Even when your contractor’s work is done, ours isn’t: we can find you a great maintenance gardener, purchase additional plants or accessories, or help you understand how your garden will perform over time.
Our people are the heart and soul of every landscape design we create, and dedicated to making each project an extraordinary experience from start to finish.
John Black, APLD
A California native and Palo Alto homeowner, John established Verdance in 2002 to bring more beautiful, healthy, well-designed landscapes to the Bay Area and beyond. He is certified by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), credentialed as a LEED Green Associate, and a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). John graduated with distinction from the Landscape Architecture program at UC Berkeley Extension, and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Stanford University. Since 2013 he has served on the Advisory Board for Foothill College's Environmental Horticulture and Design department. In addition to being featured in numerous episodes of HGTV's "Landscape Smart," John was a winning designer on HGTV's prestigious "Landscapers' Challenge” and has been featured in local and national media.
Kaitlin loves working to bring imaginative, inspiring and functional landscapes to life for Verdance’s clients. While serving as an Agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa, she was drawn to pursue a career in landscape design as a way to combine her passions for art, science and the outdoor built environment. A member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), Kaitlin joined Verdance in 2016 as a Design Intern while enrolled in Foothill College’s Environmental Horticulture and Design program. She earned her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine, with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies and Visual Art, and a Biology minor.
Verdance contracts with surveyors, contractors, engineers, architects, and/or designers to ensure that every project receives the expertise it deserves. To be considered as a consultant for future projects, please contact us.