Profiles in Design: Landscape Designer Donna Lynn

Donna Lynn’s Landscape Design Uses Online Consultation for Statewide Clients


Specialties: Online landscape design; residential lawns; garden rooms, nooks, and lookout spots for outdoor living

Notable Projects: Statewide residential projects — large and small

Donna Lynn takes any perceived intimidation of working with a landscaper out of the equation by focusing on her unusual landscaping consultations. “I do it via web conferencing,” says Lynn. “And there aren’t too many people who do it.”

Lynn starts a project by asking her clients to email her photos and a site plan, and then she sets up a video consultation to assess her clients’ needs. In most cases, all subsequent meetings occur online.

“It’s a very interactive process where the client is invited to my computer desktop,” she said of her practice of photo-imaging plans and sketching out 3D hardscaping. Through their online meetings, Lynn can also show clients the CAD (computer-aided design) drawings, and together they can build out the malleable designs using various plant photos. In this way, the client can be a direct part of the design process.

Lynn’s online design studio has allowed her to branch out her practice without being hindered by proximity to her clients. Her most remote client to date has been from Colorado, though she now focuses her services mostly on Californians.

“These days people want drought-tolerant,” she says of many of her area clients’ main desires. As watering grassy backyards continues to be problematic for many Santa Barbara homeowners, Lynn says that plenty of her recent projects have involved converting large areas of grass into more climate-appropriate designs.

She recently completed a residential project that converted a large backyard with burned grass into a design to collect rainwater. The water now collects into an excavated basin filled with mulch that feeds the newly planted fruit trees, native plants, and drought-tolerant perennials. She also added large pathways for her client’s children to use as a backyard bike path, a concept that garnered interest with subsequent clients.

Lynn also tends to focus on a welcoming entrance. “It’s what you see when you come home or what guests see when they drive up,” she says of the importance of having a cozy front yard.

She also creates garden rooms, nooks, and lookout spots for outdoor living. She says a successful job requires that she carefully plan the site and help create shade, seated areas, and room for meditation and stargazing. However, sometimes clients prefer an orchard with raised beds for vegetables, tomatoes in a pot, or flowering perennials to attract birds and beneficial insects.

Lynn admits that maintenance is an important factor in client satisfaction. “It’s the trend to be low-maintenance,” she says. “But some people derive enjoyment from working in the garden, and they don’t want to pay the gardener to keep it impeccably maintained.” In these cases, she may stay on the project after it’s finished to serve as a monthly consultant to help coach clients through the process and to keep everything looking its best.

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