• Principles

  • Process

  • Profile

  • Enduring, water-wise design.
  • Native and compatible plant species.
  • Access for special needs.
  • Benefits of organic plant care and integrated pest management.
  • Low-allergen planting.
  • Edibles planting.

With regret…

Janis Hatlestad, Better Earth Garden Design, is unable for personal reasons to accept new clients for full Garden Design services at this time. Garden consultations may be available on a very limited hours basis. — January 21, 2015


If you are looking for a custom-designed garden, you have come to the right place! Design and design coaching is all I do. While I do not perform installation myself, I can work in collaboration with licensed installation professionals. If you are looking for someone to create and install an “off the shelf” or standard plan, you may be better served to check on-line resources or your local garden center or nursery for landscapers in your area. Likewise, if you plan to ask an unlicensed gardener to perform the installation. I am most happy to provide design coaching to homeowners who will do their own installation. However, owing to issues of liability, I am unable to provide any coaching or direction to unlicensed professionals. If you are still with me, let’s get started.

Initial consultation and pre-meeting checklist: This is the initial catalyst to the design development process. Checklist is a way for the Client to take stock of desires in terms of both the garden’s form and function, and to communicate the same with the Designer. Once the Client expresses needs and desires, the Designer can begin to understand the scope of the project. This step is a process in itself. Investment in the landscape around one’s home may be one of the largest made in tangible resources. It is well worth spending considerable time to evaluate needs, desired functionality, and preferred aesthetic for something with which to be surrounded and to enjoy for decades to come. There is no one-size-fits-all garden.

Proposal development: The services offered will depend on client needs and the scope of the project. Services may include developing a complete, detailed garden design communicated through drafted and labeled concept and planting plans, both, or planting plan only, at a base fee plus add-ons for negotiated additional services. Or, it may be limited to on-site design consulting, on an hourly rate basis. For example, if the client will do the plant layout, I can provide coaching and feedback as well as a list of plants appropriate to site conditions and desired aesthetic and function, with suggested spacing and/or size information.

Design Concept/Entire Garden: It is best to think in terms of the entire garden – the landscape surrounding the home to the front, rear and sides. Many garden designs are implemented in phases, even years apart! Even so, when one develops a total design plan, it keeps a cohesive theme running throughout. The overall design can anticipate the challenges of working around already existing structures and large, specimen plants. In addition for example, we can allow for a temporary installation to provide ground coverage in a way that suits the overall design, while waiting for a later phase to be completed. Entire garden focus along with prioritization of goals also helps determine what to include in each phase. During concept development, several alternative garden layouts and the relative positioning of key elements may be discussed.

Preliminary Design: The client is presented the best of the garden layouts considered, in drafted form without detail. A preliminary list of plants and other material choices is discussed.

Final Design: Presentation of final, drafted plans, with details. Specific plants and other material choices are “called out” on the plans, with information such as plant size and spacing.

Above are steps in the full-service design process, which are modified or eliminated in the case of more limited scope of service.

Recognizing resource limitations and valuing shared open spaces, Janis Hatlestad has designed high-intensity, intimate gardens of enduring beauty. She holds a certificate in Landscape Design from California State University, Northridge, earned with distinction. Janis promotes lawn replacement/reduction. Lawnless herself for over seven years, she raises both native and exotic drought-adapted ornamentals, fruit trees and other edibles in her tiny Woodland Hills home garden.

Through her Garden Design practice, begarden, Janis is working toward a better earth, growing one healthful garden at a time. She is happy to have had her “San Miguel Garden” shown on the 2011 Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour.

Janis feels blessed with many gifts of grace – a loving family, caring friends and the ability to see and share beauty in the world. She is grateful for all of life’s joys, privileges and lessons. She has helped coordinate a monthly luncheon for homeless and others in need through Loaves & Fishes ministry of St. Luke Lutheran Church. She has taught rowing to at-risk youth and facilitated art projects through the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s TopSail Youth Program in San Pedro, CA. Janis shares rides, companionship, and her own garden harvest with community seniors.

The name “begarden” is somewhat of a portmanteau, combining the words “better”, “earth”, and “garden.” The name also is a play on the British English term, “bespoke” used in reference to custom designed clothing or furniture.