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The Top 8 California Landscape Designers

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Water and Earth loves California, and we love our fellow California landscape designers. While some companies might be shy about talking about peers in their industry, we have always recognized the value of a strong landscape design community that admires and uplifts great work in the field. After all, not all California landscape design is the same, and no one company can capture the full spectrum of style and aesthetics.

During our time in the landscape design industry, we’ve been lucky enough to cultivate relationships with some incredible people doing incredible work. We wanted to take a moment today to celebrate some of these outstanding companies, designers, and creatives who make landscape design in California a cut above the rest.

Read on to learn more about eight of the best California landscape designers in the industry.

We couldn’t make a list of our favorite California landscape designers without giving ourselves a shoutout. Sometimes you need to be your own biggest fan, and we proudly stand behind our work as representative of the best that California outdoor design has to offer.

With our client-first approach, Water and Earth tackles spaces of all sizes, from postage stamp-sized paradises to large luxury pools with a view.

Starting off our list of the best California landscape designers is a company called Topophyla. Owned by partners Nahal Sobhati and Eric Arneson, Topophyla is an “analysis and process driven landscape design firm” with clients in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.

Now, California is dry. For anyone who lives here, drought is a constant reality. As a result, landscaping looks much different than it does for our clients living out in Richmond. It takes landscape designers with vision and true problem solving creativity to create landscape designs here in California that are not only unique and beautiful, but hardy enough to stand up to the weather. Topophyla does this exceptionally well.

Not only do Eric and Nahal understand the unique conditions of the state, but they are determined to do everything they can to get the most out of every space. How do they manage to do this? Well, Topophyla are leaders in incorporating modern technology into the design process.

From drone scans and heat maps to cutting edge software, if a tech advance has been made in the world of landscape design, Topophyla is using it to their advantage. It’s this kind of innovation and forward thinking that moves the field forward.

Great talent rarely goes unnoticed for long, especially when the people who have the talent are genuinely good people. The next designer on our list of our favorite California landscape designers is Mike Pyle. Mike has been making a name for himself in the landscape design space for over a decade. Most recently, Mike has joined a new program on HGTV called Inside Out, where he uses his skills as a landscape designer to convince clients to invest more of their budget in their outdoor space as opposed to their home’s interior.

Before Mike was on our television screens, however, he was simply doing great, unique, creative design work for clients in the state of California. Working mainly in the Orange County area, Mike is an all around great dude with extensive knowledge about what it takes to create beautiful, functional outdoor spaces.

Mike offers landscaping and landscape consulting services, and has recently launched his own line of custom, gas fire pits. Sleek, stylish, and made for the modern home, these fire pits would look right at home in a custom Water and Earth design.

Some people believe that modern design means sparse, boring, or cold spaces. And done poorly, modern landscape design can run the risk of becoming too simplistic. Westmod is one of a handful of landscape design companies in southern California that know how to do high end, luxury design that still feels dynamic and personal.

Specializing in luxury pools, Westmod makes use of high end materials and design concepts to bring upscale spaces to their client’s backyards. However, their designs are careful to keep people in mind. It can be easy to overdo luxury spaces. Afterall, a big budget means room to play. However, good design is knowing when to stop, and when to add more.

When looking at a Westmod space, you get the sense that the team behind the project were aware of that line, and are always careful not to cross it. The results are open, inviting landscapes that are simple without being cold or uninteresting, and luxurious without being overdone.

Another exceptional California landscape designer, Calimingo Pools is a design company based out of southern CA. Like Westmod, Calimingo specializes in building luxury pools and landscapes for their clients. However, where Westmod focuses on ultra sleek materials and many streamlined design concepts, Calimingo branches out into more organic shapes and textures.

Calimingo pools are special because they remain modern while managing to play into natural materials and organic shapes. While they certainly have many traditionally modern projects in their roster, we especially love their funkier designs.

Imagine towering rock walls flanked by sleek hot tubs and a modern outdoor kitchen. Funky slabs of marble and creative, intricate tile work coming together to create a one of a kind water feature. This sense of contrast and play sets Calimingo apart from the pack in the world of pool design.

We would again like to reiterate the importance of understanding drought-friendly landscape design when working in California. Michael Bernier is another southern Californian designer who is an expert at using xeriscaping design methods to create landscapes that take your breath away. On Michael’s website, he emphasizes that great outdoor design is harmonious, and acts as a unique extension of the home. This principle is evident in his body of work.

Michael has been in the industry the longest of everyone on this list, and seen a lot of trend cycles come and go. It’s this knowledge of the industry that has left him in the position to create timeless, classically modern California spaces.

Some of the most interesting work in Michael’s portfolio plays with elevation. Steps guide you from the home, and through each design element of the yard. Whether you’re stepping up onto a platform seaking area, or down into a sunken fire pit, these transitions manage to be distinct without feeling stilted. This is the harmony Michael works to achieve in all of his designs.

Next on our list of the best California landscape designers is Danny Wang. While all of the companies on this list have a robust instagram, Danny has the largest. Between his personal and design accounts, he has over a million followers who are interested in keeping up to date with what he is creating. This interest is not a coincidence.

Danny’s designs are some of the funkiest, most unexpected and creative on the list. By blending traditional design elements with unexpected twists, Danny is able to make luxury pool design feel fresh and unique. From bold and structural to funky, colorful, and organic, there’s something for every taste in his portfolio.

While most of the other designers on this list deal only in outdoor spaces, Danny’s work extends into interiors as well. This means that while you’re designing your dream outdoor pool, you can get consulting done on a great California pool house, as well.

The majority of the call outs on this list are designers that operate out of and around the southern California area. The truth of the matter is that a lion’s share of innovative design work is happening south of the Bay area. However, we couldn’t finish this list without shouting out a great team at work in the Bay area, which brings us to Seed Studio.

Seed Studio is a California landscape design company that brings warmth and livability to their spaces. Many of the same styles and textures used by us at Water and Earth are also skillfully explored in Seed Studio projects. From modern wood and steel pergolas, to cozy fire pits and pools with a view, Seed Studio captures the beauty of the Bay Area while making their clients happy. Their designs manage to feel fresh but lived in at the same time, which is a challenge for less seasoned landscape designers.

Seed Studio has a real knack for finding small, intimate spaces in areas like San Franscico and maximizing their potential. For clients with tiny backyards, the idea of getting everything they want functionally from their space can sometimes make them feel like they need to compromise on design. Seed Studio is helping to prove that notion wrong.

At the end of the day, we believe competition inspires innovation. All of the designers on this list push us to break new ground and take creative risks. California landscape designers are some of the best in the country. From the talent listed above, we feel proud to be designing in a state with such good company.

Stay up to date with all of our latest designs and projects on our Instagram, or browse in-depth design walkthroughs on our blog.

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