Our Team

As leader of Nature Designs, Steve Jacobs decided to grow his team slowly, and with purpose. Every staff member is selected based on reputation, integrity and industry knowledge. Some were past students, others were recruited based on their industry reputation, and all have made a personal commitment to continued learning in this ever-evolving field.

Here’s a quick overview of our leaders and managers:

In the Office

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Steve JacobsPresident and Owner


Contact Steve at (760) 945-4321 or stevej@naturedesigns.net
Watch Steve's Video »

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) I have always enjoyed working outside. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home that included two acres of land. I spent all the daylight hours after school in the yard. My mother had to call me in when it got dark outside. I get a very satisfying feeling growing vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals. I found that I could get an education in this area and earn a living doing it.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) I am proud of this company because of the amazing team we have. I have learned over the years that the team is far and away the most important asset we have. It has taken many years to build this company and to recruit the professionals that make Nature Designs great.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) My favorite words from a client are “Wow, I never would of thought of that.” What brings the most joy is seeing a client enjoying their new landscape.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

4) This business is about people. Sure, there are plants, soil, irrigation, patios, pools and…. It all comes down to relationships. I enjoy meeting people, solving problems and creating beautiful outdoor environments that my clients appreciate.

My favorite project/client

5) My favorite clients are the ones that really care about and appreciate their landscape. They want to see it grow and thrive. I appreciate clients who are good communicators. They immediately let me know when they are happy and if they are not. I find this type of client is the easiest to work with.

My duties as the owner are:

  1. Support my staff
  2. Assist in solving problems
  3. Make sure the direction of the company is clear
  4. Nurture a healthy and vibrant company culture

My training:

6) Bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture as well as a degree in Irrigation and Drainage Design from Cal Poly, Pomona. Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology from Palomar College. Continuing education with the organizations I am involved with.

I’m involved with these organizations

  • California Landscape Contractors Association CLCA
  • American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA
  • Domestic Estate Managers Association DEMA
  • Kiwanis Club of Escondido
  • Escondido Creek Conservancy
  • Association of Professional Landscape Designers APLD
  • San Diego Horticulture Society SDHS
  • The Water Conservation Garden
  • Cuyamaca College
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • The Energy and Resources Institute TERI

The types of projects I love:

8) Ones that our client feels there is no solution to get what they want. I love a challenge.

Personal information:

9) I was born, raised and continue to reside in Escondido. I have traveled to many parts of the world and I enjoy living in Escondido.

When I am not working:

10) I enjoy camping, sailing, traveling, gardening and working on home improvement projects with my wife. I am the father of two wonderful young men and I am married to a very special lady.

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Ron ZaccaroGeneral Manager


Contact Ron at (760) 945-4321 or ronz@naturedesigns.net
Watch Ron's Video »

Why did you enter into the landscape business?

1) I have always been fascinated by the outdoors. My Grandfather had a real knack for growing his “garden” from ornamentals to vegetables. He always had a plot for my brother and I to plant and tend to over the summer. It’s just in my blood.

Why do you work with Nature Designs?

2) I am a recent member to the NDL team. I have known the owner, Steve Jacobs, for many years working in our industry and have always loved what his values, morals, and ethics stand for. NDL is a team that you want to be part of, so when given the opportunity, it was a no brainer.

What is your background in landscape? Where did you begin and how did you end up now?

3) I have been in the landscape industry for 32 years, all of those in San Diego. I started working for a company with a shovel and a lawnmower. I was blessed to be part of some very unique landscape projects right from the beginning. I was promoted to management early on in my career because of my love for the industry, knowledge, “never settle” attitude, and strong belief in a true team environment.

What is your training?

4) I earned a degree in Nursery and Landscape Technology at San Diego Mesa College. I am a Certified Landscape Technician which I earned through the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). I am a past State test Manager and a past State test Chair and I am currently a mentor for the certification program. I was awarded as the CLCA member of the year in 2012. I hold an active Qualified Pesticide Applicators License. I am a Certified Water Manager, a reclaimed water site supervisor, and serve on the Board of Directors for the California Landscape Water Conservation Foundation. I am CPR, first aid, and Cal-OSHA safety trained.

What are your duties as the General Manager?

5) To create a positive team culture that is directly reflected to all of our clients. To build a career path and future for members of our team who want to remain in the green Industry. To ensure our team provides second to none service to all who we partner with. To create and maintain positive financial growth for NDL.

What’s the biggest reward you have in interacting with clients?

6) Getting to use my many years of experience in the landscape industry and seeing the “light bulb go off” in a client’s mind when explaining a situation in a manner to what they really understand what the outcome will be.

What’s the biggest reward you have in interacting/managing your staff?

7) Creating a true team culture by ensuring that we are all on the same team, but just playing different positions.

What’s your biggest challenge for working with clients?

8) I haven’t found one yet. I love what I do, and so called challenges to most, are teaching and learning opportunities to me. Some days I get to teach and most days I get to learn.

Tell us a little bit about what you are involved in and what you do when you’re not working….

9) I give a lot back to the landscape industry working with the CLCA. When not doing that, I love to play competitive darts, fish and spend time with my wife.

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Renee WilsonBusiness Leader


Contact Renee at (760) 945-4321 or reneew@naturedesigns.net
Watch Renee's Video »

Why I work with Nature Designs?

1) I began working for Nature Designs in 1990 on a part-time basis and it turned into a permanent full-time job.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

2) I manage the day-to-day administrative operations of the company including transaction accounting, human resources coordination, office communications, and reception, and other functions. I support the operating departments because the employees of Nature Designs are ‘my clients.’ It’s a fast-paced office and I love working with the entire staff.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

3) I provide immediate support to our team so any time the phone rings or someone enters my office, my direction changes. I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

My training:

4) I earned an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and a Certificate in Child Development from Palomar College. I also earned a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Accounting from National University.

A little about me:

5) I was born in Utah but moved to Escondido with my family when I was ten months old. I have lived in the Escondido/San Marcos area ever since.

When I am not working:

6) I am the mother of four wonderful children; three daughters and a son. All of my children have now graduated from high school and moved on to college and beyond. My husband and I now enjoy spending more time together traveling, visiting family and enjoying activities that the San Diego area has to offer.

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Dayna MediciAssistant Office Manager

Why I work with Nature Designs?

I’ve worked in many different industries before but never in landscaping. I continue to learn something new each day from both my co-workers as well as the clients and vendors. I like and get along with all of my co-workers which is nice when having to spend so much time and interact with them on a daily basis.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

The biggest reward in working with clients is being exposed to new and different types of people on a regular basis.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

Because we have around 50 employees, most of who work out in the field, the biggest challenge is making sure all paper work is turned into me in a timely fashion so that I can continue to help run the office smoothly and perform my job accurately and efficiently.

My duties as Assistant Office Manager are:

My duties as Assistant Office Manager Are: Payroll, Accounts Receivable, Maintenance billing, Accounts Payable, HR, Administrative Tasks, Supporting each department with their daily needs, to name a few.

My training:

My training includes over 14 years in finance with an AA in Financial Services and a BS in both Human Services and Management from University of Phoenix.

A little about me:

I grew up in Colorado but have lived in Southern California since 1998. I love cats, both making and listening to music, good food, and making new friends.

When I am not working:

You can find me at a local restaurant sipping a cocktail and enjoying great food with friends, or relaxing in bed with my cat watching Netflix or playing music.

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Vilenia LeopoldAdministrative Specialist

Why I work with Nature Designs?

From the first time I set foot at Nature Designs, I knew I’d enjoy working here. There’s a family-like atmosphere, everyone is friendly and always available to answer any questions.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

Often being the initial point of contact to potential clients, the biggest reward is hearing the excitement in their voice when they call Nature Designs to begin their landscaping project.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

This is my first time working in the landscape industry, and therefore the biggest challenge for me was learning the industry’s jargon; I learn something new every day.

My training:

I earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration and Liberal Arts from MiraCosta College. I am currently working towards a Bachelor of Science Degree with an emphasis in Accounting at CSUSM.

A little about me:

I was born and raised in Oceanside but now reside in Vista, with my husband and boxer-mix.

When I am not working:

I enjoy spending time with family, volunteering, and traveling. I love being outdoors, so I try to go hiking every chance I get.

 

Sales and Project Management

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Jay ThomasProject Manager


Contact Jay at (760) 224-7664 or jayt@naturedesigns.net
Watch Jay's Video »

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) After years of working in the automotive industry I was given the opportunity to go back to school. Growing up in a family where landscape design and gardening was a large part of my childhood. I have really enjoyed having a ‘non-cubicle’ career.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) Moving here from Michigan it was important to me to align myself with a company with a strong reputation to give clients more than any other contractor. I met Steve Jacobs and knew this was a great company. Nature Designs is large enough company to make a positive impact on this industry and yet small enough to foster a family-like work setting that cares for its employees and supports their growth and well-being.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) I work with clients to help them change their lifestyle. We start with “I don’t know where to begin,” and end up with “I had no idea my property could be so amazing.”

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

4) I love a challenge and every project presents an opportunity to learn something new about people.

My favorite project/client

5) All of them…Each is unique.

My duties as a Project Manager are:

6) Overseeing projects from a mere thought to a reality.

My training:

7) My degree is in Landscape Design. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland, Michigan with certificate in Horticulture

I’m involved with these organizations

8) National Association of The Remodeling Industry

The types of projects I love:

9) Any which allow us to really think outside of the box to do something different.

About me:

10) I’m from Macomb, Michigan and transplanted here in September 2011. No, I don’t miss the snow.

When I am not working:

11) I am usually biking, hiking, enjoying beach life, and of course music is important to me. I go to concerts and play the drums.

 

Construction Team

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Joel IslasConstruction Supervisor


Contact Joel at (760) 672-3016 or joela@naturedesigns.net

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) I work in landscape business because I love to work outdoor. I really enjoy seeing how a landscape plan comes alive once the plants are installed. It’s like a magic touch. As a teenager I was invited to work on a volunteer project that had me hooked and from there I decided that landscape was how I would make my living. I enjoy learning new industry standards and working with other professionals who enjoy their work.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) I’ve been working with Nature Designs 18 years. I love the unique challenges that each project presents. Nothing is boring!

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) The biggest rewards are the client’s compliments. Nothing compares to when clients are amazed at our completed work and when they tell you how beautiful their landscape is.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

4) I’ve had so many challenges thru my working carrier with NLD. But there is one challenge I remember in special. A few years ago, I did a project In Alpine. Client was very specific, finish on time because of his son’s wedding, if not NLD was going to be penalizing 1000.00 each day over finish day. At last the homeowner gave extra money to NDL because we finish before finish date. Project end up so beautiful that homeowner comment was “it is like magic.”

My favorite project/client is:

5) My favorite project Slaughter (the job in Alpine). It won the first place in the CA state. The type of projects I love are the ones with water features.

My duties as a Construction Supervisor are:

6) My duties as a supervisor are quite a few. Overall the most important to me are, finish projects on time, on budget, with good quality, no accident and review projects on estimation process.

My training:

7) I’m a hardscape tech, irrigation tech, soft scape tech and irrigation designer. Currently I attend Cuyamaca College to get my degree on water technology.

I’m involved with these organizations

  • California Landscape Contractors Association CLCA

About me:

9) I’m from Mexico. I moved to San Diego in 1993.

When I am not working:

10) When I’m not working, I’m usually at the park, beach or movie theaters with my daughters. Also I enjoy playing soccer twice a week.

 

Design Services

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Michelle LangdonDesigner


Contact Michelle at (619) 823-7266 or michellel@naturedesigns.net

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) I was always interested in design and construction. I would watch any design or construction shows on television, the few there were, and I was rearranging my bedroom several times a year as soon as I was big enough to move furniture. Thinking I wanted to go in a construction direction, my first college major was Building Materials and Wood Technology. This required design classes which introduced me to Landscape Architecture and the amazing outdoor spaces on our campus. I loved that the designs and spaces changed with time and through the seasons and realized I picked the wrong major. I switched the next year to a Landscape Architecture major and haven’t looked back!

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) I really appreciated Nature Designs’ reputation for producing great spaces with quality craftsmanship, and that they support sustainability and education to stay current in the business. I feel confident knowing that my designs will be well-constructed to complete my client’s vision and the original design intent. The company’s support in further expanding my education and career is a great benefit.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) The biggest reward is showing clients a plan that reflects all of their wants and needs and feeling their excitement about the project. I also love the challenge and diversity of each client and each new space I design. I learn something new on every project.

My favorite project/client

4) Every client and project has at least one element that makes it/them special.

My training:

5) My degree is in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts, the area where I grew up. Soon after college I moved to San Diego and I have been working as a landscape designer for Landscape Architecture firms and residential design companies for the past 10 years. I am also a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor.

I’m involved with these organizations

6) Irrigation Association, American Society of Landscape Architects.

The types of projects I love:

8) I love projects that are both sustainable and beautiful. People often think that you need a desert style landscape to use less water, when in fact it can apply to almost any style.

A little about me:

9) I am from Burlington, Massachusetts and went to college in Amherst, Massachusetts.

When I am not working:

10) I am enjoying time with my husband and our two daughters. We are often working on projects in our own house and yard!

 

Maintenance

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Robert WrightsonMaintenance Leader


Contact Robert at (760) 672-3027 or robertw@naturedesigns.net

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) A friend talked me into working for them at their family-owned commercial landscape company. I was impressed from the first project and enjoyed seeing all of the different plant shapes and colors.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) A few years after my first day in the industry I was taking a horticulture class at a community college where I met a project manager new to Nature Designs. She described what they were building on their job sites and my interest started to grow. It sounded new and exciting; like a good place for me to grow. Three weeks later I was reporting to work in their uniform.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) Seeing the smiles! I love solving problems and coming up with solutions to each client’s wants and needs.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

4) My greatest challenge is learning how to do each job as quickly, efficiently, and correctly as possible. I started in this industry at the bottom and have worked my way up. I have worked on an enhancement crew, mowing crew, and general maintenance crew commercial and large-scaled HOA accounts and residential properties as an irrigation technician, a foreman, and a field Supervisor. I have continued my education by completing an irrigation and arboriculture class since being here at Nature Designs. I am now a certified arborist and am studying for my Qualified Applicators License which teaches me about pests and diseases and how to treat them.

Types of projects that I love

5) Anything that enhances the aesthetics of the project. I like to be challenged and I like seeing the results. It’s amazing what some plants can do to improve a property.

A little about me:

6) I am San Diego-born and raised. I lived in Park City Utah for a short time and fell in love with skiing and mountain biking, but I also enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, spear fishing, paintballing, and I have recently gotten into white water rafting.

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Arynne MehlMaintenance Manager

Why I entered into the landscape business?

I entered landscaping as a lucky happenstance, being in the right place in my life at the same time that a good friend of the family needed help in their commercial landscape business. I started off in the office and soon re-discovered my natural love of plants and the beauty that could be found in creating outdoor spaces. As opportunities to grow within the company became available, I was able to learn more about the landscape business and make the decision to embark on a career in landscaping.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

I wanted to work with the best, and am fortunate that Nature Designs was looking for someone to join their maintenance team when I was looking to grow my career. The landscaping at Nature Designs properties is definitely something to be proud of and which I am happy to say I can have a hand in beautifying and maintaining.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

Hearing and seeing how the beautiful outdoor gardens are being used and enjoyed. There is nothing quite like knowing that your work can put a smile on someone’s face or relax them after a stressful day

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

An ongoing challenge is balancing the taste preferences of clients with the needs of the plant material. The team at Nature Designs works hard to customize our maintenance practices so that we can create spaces that are beautiful and fit with what each client is looking for while still doing what is best for the health of the plant material. I am fortunate that this challenge allows me to be constantly learning and expanding my knowledge.

Types of projects that I love

I love re-thinking outdoor spaces that were once unloved or unusable and creating areas where clients can really enjoy the beauty that is outdoors. And I love when that project involves a unique challenge.

A little about me:

I was born and raised in San Diego and have been blessed with one son who is the best challenge life has ever thrown at me. I discovered a love of growing things when I was young after spending a weekend digging up a corner of the yard and a season tending to the vegetable and flower garden I had created. The fruit of my bounty was a never-ending supply of summer squash and a couple of the yummiest tomatoes I had ever tasted. That experience left a special place in my heart for plants that grow food.

When I am not working:

My large backyard is full of chickens, goats and pigs and I take a bit of each day to just spend time with the animals as I am caring for them. They do tend to wreck havoc on my plants when they inevitably escape their boundaries, which allows me to constantly re-think the garden. On weekends I love exploring different parts of the county with my son or taking short road trips to see new things.

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Ever AmayaMaintenance Supervisor


Contact Ever at (760) 945-4321

Ever started with Nature Designs in 2004 and is a Maintenance Supervisor who also handles our estate properties. He is a Certified Irrigation Technician. Our client’s love him for his attention to detail.

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Hugo LopezMaintenance Supervisor


Contact Hugo at (760) 945-4321

Hugo has been with Nature Designs since 2004. As Maintenance Supervisor, he not only maintains beautiful landscapes, but is focused on reducing their need for excess water and fertilization. Hugo is a Certified Landscape Technician in turf management.

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Juan OlmedaIrrigation Technician


Contact Juan at (760) 945-4321

Juan joined Nature Designs in 2012 as our Irrigation Technician. Juan experiences spans over more than 20 years in the Rancho Santa Fe area as a maintenance provider.