Front Yard Garden Design Help

Apr 10, 2017

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (MGCC)

Client's Request:  I am a dedicated organic gardener, and I'm looking for a landscape professional  to help design my front yard, which will include vegetable garden areas. I would appreciate any suggestions Master Gardeners may have on how to employ a landscape professional.

MGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk with your request about hiring a landscape professional.

The UC Master Gardeners Program cannot recommend any particular landscape designer, construction or maintenance company. However, the following organizations, listed in alphabetical order, provide references to these professionals. This list is neither comprehensive nor all-inclusive, and no endorsement of any business or professional is intended.
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the national professional association for landscape architects. Landscape architects typically hold a degree in landscape architecture, covering a broad range including design, planning, grading and drainage, construction, and horticulture. Each state requires a landscape architect to earn a license to practice. The ASLA website maintains a searchable list of members as well as photos of award winning residential projects. To find ASLA member:  amd for ASLA specifically for home gardeners
Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) This 25-year-old organization established a peer reviewed certification program based on built projects. The organization also “…encourages all members adhere to a code of professional standards, to actively participate in continuing education, and to be current with state-of-the-art developments and trends throughout the field.” Their website has a search function that will help you find a local designer.
Rescape California is a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable landscaping. Qualified landscape professionals must complete a comprehensive training program and use sustainable practices.
See  for information on their qualification program and for an online directory of Bay-Friendly Qualified Professionals.
Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour is a local (Alameda & Contra Costa Counties) organization that seeks to educate and encourage the use of California native plants in home gardens. The organization provides contact information for those landscape professionals whose gardens have been featured in the tours. See for contact information and links to photos of gardens created by each designer.

California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) is a non-profit trade organization of licensed landscape and landscape-related contractors and professionals. See for general information and for a directory of members.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) graduates have been trained in water-wise landscape practices including plant selection, irrigation system design and water management. QWEL maintains an online list of certified professionals in the East Bay. While the website lists all professionals under the category of non-residential, many perform residential services. For more information, see and for a list of certified professionals.

We wish you the best on your project and applaud the addition of edibles in to your landscape design needs!

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SLH)

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 646-6586, email:, or on the web at MGCC Blogs can be found at You can also subscribe to the Blog  (// 

By Steve I Morse
Author - Contra Costa County Master Gardener