Our mission is to create inspirational landscapes that cultivate the natural beauty of California’s Central Coast
Create in our mission statement refers to the entire design/build process. Design is often the first phase of Madrone’s services. Our initial consultations begin the process that will produce a plan. We work closely with our clients through give-and-take interactions to refine their original concepts and solidify the scope of work.
Create also refers to our work on site. Whether through planting, irrigation, or construction, all phases can be approached and implemented creatively and with innovation, artistic elements, and inspiration.
Inspiration originates from a personal state of mind and is unique, based on perspectives and influences. As a company of green professionals, we’re grateful for the daily inspiration we find in being able to promote and enhance the beauty and health of the Central Coast—culturally as well as biologically. It is an honor to help cultivate one of the best places on Earth to live.
We prioritize inspired creation in our approach to design/build landscaping. Madrone designers and field crews alike tap into inspiration by asking the following question about every single project we contract: What is the “stoke factor” of this job? Every project and client has them, and it’s our job to find and maximize that “stoke”—or inspirational factor—for and with our clients.
Landscapes enhance the effects of the sites they beautify, inspiring those who visit or inhabit them. One of the most common ways is through memorials to loved ones. Whether it is a tree planted in someone’s name, small, personalized elements, or dedicated gardens, these memorials can keep us in touch with our loved ones in the most beautiful and gratifying ways. Memorials can contribute to a sense of home or place and help create an Outdoor Sanctuary. Now more than ever, it’s important to create a personal sense of safety and comfort. Let your garden give you inspiration.
Cultivate helps emphasize both the physical nature of our work and our goals of promoting, protecting, and enhancing the natural beauty of the Central Coast. Development done incorrectly, whether commercial or residential, can impact and damage the environment. Our approach to landscaping seeks to recognize and understand development impacts and mitigate or avoid negative effects as much as possible.
California’s Central Coast provides one of the best climates for humans to live and thrive. As community members, we include a social component in our cultivation of life here. We strive to give back and have made doing so a practice. From building and dedicating gardens to contributing support for addressing social and cultural concerns, we believe it is incumbent on us to continue to earn our place as positive members of our community. Free enterprise includes the responsibility to give as well as the privilege to take.
It is with gratitude and determination that at Madrone Landscapes, we are continuing our mission into a new year and beyond.
It’s a beautiful summer day to Meet the Team! This month we are highlighting our General Manager – fearless leader and plant guru – Daniel. His passion for our work is deep-rooted and contagious: it is felt by everyone who has the pleasure of working with him. Our team wouldn’t be the same without our pun-loving, surf-styling manager! Read more below to get to know a bit about him!
How long have you been working at Madrone?
I have been working at Madrone for 11 ½ years. I started in December 2007 right at the beginning of the Great Recession. With a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture and a couple years of running and working in small design build landscape companies, it was a tough time to be starting out on your own. Before Madrone, work simply ran out. I reached out to a former Landscape Architect professor, Stratton Semmes, and she told me to come and talk to Rick Mathews at Madrone Landscapes. I interviewed with Rick in my nicest button up shirt, slacks, and shoes, willing to help out however I could as a 25-year old young adult. The next day, I came in with work boots and jeans and started running landscape construction jobs. As time went on, I took on design, estimating, and sales while managing construction projects. Madrone was about 10 people and we all did what we could to survive in the dismal economy of 2007-2010. Sure enough, things turned around and the phone started ringing. We started working with business consultants to organize our roles and the company makeup to handle more work. We started building the team of key people we still have today and it helped us get past the hurdle of being an awkwardly small company where everyone wears a lot of hats.
Today we have about 25 people and 4 distinct departments: Design, Construction, Maintenance, and Service. Our capability, organization, and talent has grown. I have been the General Manager for the last 4 years and it has been an honor to work with such great people and see how much we can accomplish working together.
2. What is your favorite thing about working at Madrone?
My favorite thing about working at Madrone Landscapes is the culture. We have some unique characters and everyone is free to be themselves. We spend most of our adult lives at work, so it is important that we make the best of it. The support I feel from everyone, and the comradery I see really makes me feel good about working here.
3. What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on and why?
My favorite project is Halter Ranch Vineyard. Before I came on in 2007, Madrone had already installed several projects on the property. When I started working with Halter Ranch, there were several multi-firm design and construction collaborations for various projects. Everyone involved shared a pride in the work. It was fun to work with the ownership and other trades with the common goal of producing the best product we could. Halter Ranch’s internal team shares a lot of our core values like stewardship, quality, teamwork, and integrity. Not to mention, we have installed some of the most beautiful landscapes of our portfolio there. We have won 3 county and statewide CLCA awards in 2012 and 2016, notably 1st place Large Commercial Construction in 2016 for the Tasting Room Landscape. Having a stoked team that works well together and produces award winning projects is a true privilege. To add to that, the property is open to the public 7 days a week and it is great to be able to enjoy the landscape and share it with others. Win, win, win!
4. What is your favorite, or least favorite, plant and why?
My favorite plant is ever-evolving and it really comes from emotions and horticultural nerdiness. If you are not a plant nerd, you may want to skip this section ;). Generally, I get excited about seeing California native plants in their prime season. Right now in summer, Mimulus aurantiacus, Mimulus ‘Cone Peak,’ Trichostemalanatum are pretty awesome mid-summer bloomers, with the Trichstema having one of the coolest scents. In the winter and spring, Salviaspathacea is beautifully blooming and fragrant, while the Saturejadouglasii is the most refreshing herby mint scent of all. In fall, the Zauschneria (way more fun to say than Epilobium) is a showstopper. Basically, growing up in California, then learning the plants, allows me to flash back to memories exploring the woods as a kid. If I step on a Gnaphaliumcalifornicum, it smells just like maple syrup and brings me back to the walk home from the bus stop in 5th grade, where we would step on them. Native trees are also very dear to me. I grew up in a mixed evergreen forest with Quercusagrifolia, Quercuslobata, Quercuskeloggii, Acermacrophyllum, Arbutusmenziesii, Heteromelesarbutifolia, Umbellulariacalifornica, and Sequoia sempervirens. Being in a forest feels like home to me, anywhere in the world. Finally, the almighty tomato, my first introduction to gardening. I owe my career to growing tomatoes as a kid and developing a great appreciation for how good a home-grown tomato can taste. The connections to plants in my youth definitely shaped me as a person. The beauty of horticulture is that it is limitless with cool things to learn every day.
When it comes to landscape installation, I have a different set of favorites and least favorites based on performance. As I see more landscapes mature, I tend to like to design a majority of long-lived low maintenance plants with far less perennials and high maintenance flowering plants. There is nothing worse than showing up to a landscape 5 years later to see that it was not maintained to your vision and plants have died. Therefore, my pragmatic favorite plants are: Rhamnus californica ‘Leatherleaf’, Chondropetalum tectorum, Carex divulsa, Arctostaphylos (several good Manzanita), Quercus (agrifolia & lobata), Pistacia chinensis, Cedrus deodora, Cistus ‘Sunset’, Muhlenbergia rigens, Pennisetum spathiolatum, Agave ‘Frosty Blue’, and of course Arbutus ‘Marina’. My least favorite plants are invasive pests such as Cortadera selloana, Ehrhart acalcina, Arundo donax, Delairea odorata, Stipa tenuissima, and Cytisus scoparius. These plants threaten our native California landscape – which means a lot to me.
5. What’s one of the things on your bucket list?
On my bucket list is getting my Landscape Architecture
License. I haven’t needed it personally
to do my job, but it is something I could get this year with the little I have
remaining in the process. Life has a way
of changing plans, and it has been evading me thus far. Free time to study is what it will take. I will get it done, and hopefully very soon.
A better investment and landscape, from design through construction
What is Design-Build Landscaping?
Design-Build landscaping is quite common. Unfortunately, a homeowner or building owner will often hire a landscape contractor to install plants and irrigation without design. This is not the ideal scenario. As with any type of building, it is always best to begin with a design. When you hire a landscape team that does both design and installation, that is design-build landscaping.
When done by experienced professionals, the teamwork involved in the design-build process for landscape construction can add a lot of value to your finished landscape. Often an integration of architects, designers, engineers, and builders, the design-build process takes advantage of professional, licensed experts working together from concept to finished construction. The goal of this integrated process is to fulfill your priorities of landscape design and budget. At Madrone Landscapes we believe strongly in the design-build process because the benefits are twofold: it allows us to do incredible work with and build great relationships with both our peers and our clients.
Two Major Types of Landscape Construction: What are the Differences?
Design-Bid-Build: The design-bid-build process is common in the construction industry for clients who want separate design and construction firms. A landscape designer will provide plans for you, and then you will ask contractors to bid the plans. The design can go quickly if there are no cost limitations discussed. Once the contractors provide their costs to install the project, you may be shocked to see how much it will cost to build. This is when you or the contractor decides how to change the design to fit within the construction budget (this process is called value engineering, where items are removed from a plan or less expensive options are chosen to reduce overall cost). You may also go back to the landscape designer to re-design (typically for an extra fee). In design-bid-build, you select a contractor based on the bid price. It then becomes your responsibility to orchestrate all of the design and construction activities – including introducing the contractor to the designer.
Design-Build: At Madrone Landscapes, we specialize in the design-build process. We provide construction cost estimates during the design process (for more information, see https://madronelandscapes.com/services/design/). This usually adds time to the overall design time, for good reason. Knowing construction costs during the design process allows you to make decisions on where to spend money and keeps the plan within the desired budget. A cost-informed design means the value engineering is done well before the project starts. The engineers, architects, and builders will be working together with the landscape designer to make sure that there are few unforeseen lapses between designs or construction activities. We become the expert advocate for you in design and construction and we handle scheduling and coordination with all parties involved.
Five Tips for Clients in Design-Build Landscaping
1. Know what you need/want before you start.
Often times a client will come to us with a list of items they want designed into their landscape, such as a patio, wall, fountain or pergola. What they may actually mean is that they need a shady place to entertain guests with pretty things to look at. While your spouse may want a fountain, he or she may appreciate boulders and flowers just as much. When you prioritize your goals before starting design, you can prevent being caught off guard during the design process. Design is almost always a team decision. If you can align your wants and needs before the design starts, your design will turn out better and go more quickly.
2. Establish a construction budget.
Before starting in the design process, establish a budget or range for what you intend to spend on construction, and share that information with your designer. This will help them design within range. Typically, the construction cost of landscapes is between 10 to 25 times the design fee, although this may vary.
3. Take your time with budget decisions.
During the beginning of the design process decisions are easy; we refer to this as the Honeymoon period. You may find yourself saying, “I love that stone veneer, it looks just like the picture I saw on Houzz!” After construction costs are introduced, major design elements may be on the chopping block. Do you keep the outdoor kitchen, or the stone paving? Allow yourself time, so you don’t rush these decisions.
4. Trust your gut – and your landscape team.
Taking on a big project will affect the ambiance of your daily life and the investment of your funds is hard to do alone. You need experts you can trust to help you achieve your goals. If you don’t have a level of trust with your landscape designer, it will not work. This means you need to feel comfortable giving them both positive and negative feedback, and they need to feel comfortable giving you good and bad news. Your designer will not only be helping you with the initial design, but also will be helping to navigate any obstacles encountered during construction.
5. Communicate often and clearly.
During design and construction, changes happen. In order to best facilitate these changes, we will ask a lot of questions to make sure we are designing efficiently. Whether you would like to give us artistic license on decisions, or you have particular opinions that need to be known, it is important you communicate your preferences clearly.
A Better Investment and Landscape
It’s our experience that the design-build process produces a better product with stronger teamwork and a healthy working relationship. The process takes time to do well. Expect two to six months of design before construction for custom residential updates, and often longer for new home or new commercial construction. Being well prepared can shorten this time frame. We want to establish a good relationship with you so that it can last through the design and construction. Since we’re nearly wrapping up the first quarter of 2019, getting a landscape designed and built in 2019 starts now. If you have new construction, you should consider hiring your landscape designer at the same time that you hire an architect. We strongly believe that the design-build relationship you foster with us will make you feel good about the investment and the landscape you create.
It’s a beautiful day to Meet the Team! This month, we are highlighting one of our amazing designers: Jules Welch. When she started working at Madrone, Jules dove right in. Her eye for aesthetic is absolutely remarkable, and her positivity and warm personality are sure to make you smile! She’s already helped put some gorgeous projects in the ground, with many more to come. Thanks for sharing your creative visions with us, Jules! See what she said when we asked her some questions about herself and about being part of the team:
How long have you been working at Madrone? Since May of 2018.
What is your favorite thing about working at Madrone? Getting to sit next to Ian, Megan, and Christy every day. I love the design team!
What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on and why? Gampe Residence. He was a really easy going client, and it’s a small space that emphasized quality over quantity!
What is your favorite, or least favorite, plant and why? Favorite plant: Giant sequoia because the species is as old as dinosaurs and the oldest living specimen is 3200 years old- imagine having a conversation with that tree! Least favorite plant: It’s seen a lot… society garlic. It’s smelly and sticky. Bleck.
What’s one of the things on your bucket list? Design/build a prominent public art piece at a large scale for people to take selfies with!