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.

 

Construction Team

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Joel IslasConstruction Supervisor


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

I work in the landscape business because I love to work outdoors. I really enjoy seeing how a landscape plan comes alive once the plants are installed. It seems to work like magic. As a teenager I was invited to work on a volunteer project and that’s when I got hooked. I decided that working in landscaping is how I would make my living. I enjoy learning about the latest industry standards and working alongside other professionals who also enjoy this line of work.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

I’ve been working with Nature Designs for over 22 years. I love the unique challenges that each project presents. I am never bored!

Biggest reward in working with clients?

The biggest reward is hearing compliments from our clients. Nothing compares to the feeling when clients are amazed by our completed work and hearing how pleased they are with their beautiful landscape.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

I’ve had so many challenges throughout my working career with NDL. But there is one challenge I remember in particular. A few years ago, I worked on a project in Alpine. The client had a very specific request: we must finish on time because of his son’s wedding. If the project was not completed on time, NDL would be fined $1,000.00 each day over the dead line. As it turned out, the client rewarded NDL since we completed the project before finish date! The project turned out so beautifully that the client described his property as if it “was touched by magic.”

My favorite project/client is:

My favorite project was the one in Alpine. It won first place in the CA state competition. The type of projects I love are the ones where we install water features.

My duties as a Construction Supervisor are:

My duties as a supervisor are vast. Overall, the most important to me are: finishing projects on time, within budget, providing the best quality, with no accidents, and reviewing projects to improve the estimation process.

My training:

I am landscape industry certified in hardscape, irrigation, soft scape and an irrigation designer. I am currently attending Cuyamaca College seeking a degree in water technology.

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Todd PetersConstruction Supervisor


Contact Todd at toddp@naturedesigns.net

Why I entered into the landscape business?

After a long career in the construction industry building infrastructures for master plan communities, I felt it was time to focus more on the details of just one aspect of construction. I have always enjoyed the landscape portion of building communities so a career at Nature Designs seemed like a good fit.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

I have known the General Manager, Ron Zaccaro, for many years. I really liked how he described Nature Designs and what the company stands for starting with accountability from everyone, including the owner. I felt I could be an asset for the team.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

I take a lot of pride in the finished product and that requires many moving parts, including the client. I get satisfaction working with our clients by showing them the process along the way. I love it when they really understand the process and flash a really big smile.

My favorite project/client

They are each my favorite when I am in the process of creating a wonderful landscape for the client to enjoy for years to come.

My training:

I have a Certificate from SDSU in Construction Practices and 35 years in the construction industry.

When I am not working:

I love going for a ride on my Harley Davidson motorcycle, touring the many wineries of Southern California, and spending time with my girlfriend.

 

Design Services

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Marilyn GuidrozDesigner/ Project Manager


Contact Marilyn at marilyng@naturedesigns.net

Why I entered into the landscape business?

I am an artist and an outdoor person. When I discovered Landscape Architecture in college it was a perfect career fit for my Horticulture Degree. The landscape business satisfies both my creativity and my love for nature. I have been in most every part of the landscape industry since graduating and have not wanted to do anything else.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

When I met Steve Jacobs at a landscape industry Sustainability Conference and he described his projects with such a personal appreciation for his company and the beautiful results, I wanted to design for him. I have been an independent landscape design business owner since 2004 and now I am proud to be a part of the Nature Designs team.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

Making people happy is what I do. If we can create an outdoor environment that invites people to enjoy their home even more by relaxing, entertaining or just watching the birds and butterflies play, what better reward could there be? I have learned how to listen, to really listen. I have also learned how to be practical and work with a client’s budget.

My favorite project/client

Every single project and every single client become my favorite. I give each project and each client my full attention and focus at every step of the project from beginning of design to end of construction. It does not stop there, however, as each garden is a living, growing entity and I like to visit over the years and watch it mature with my clients.

My training:

My Horticulture Degree with Honors from the University of Arizona in Tucson had me heading for research and development in food crops from pathology to soils. Once I discovered the joy of arranging plants and patios in landscapes I thought I had gone to heaven! I have been working in the field with contractors, in the office with designers and architects, in the homes of clients and in my own gardens to further that education.

I’m involved with these organizations

Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). I am a certified member and a founding board member of the San Diego District. Currently I am the Treasurer of this district. We provide design consultations at the Spring and Fall Home/Garden Show to the community.

San Diego Horticultural Society (SDHS). I am currently sitting on the board as the Secretary. I have either designed, installed, mentored or judged the Fair Display for the SDHS for many years. I have presented design topics at the monthly meetings and volunteered at many local events.

MiraCosta Community College. I am an associate faculty member and sit on the Industry Advisory Board for the Horticulture Department. I have been involved in Internship and mentoring programs for the students and volunteer to represent the college at High School Career fairs.

Dos Valles Garden Club (DVGC). I am an active member of our local garden club in Valley Center and Pauma Valley. We are a part of local community events as well as offer exciting talks and articles to promote good gardening practices in harmony with our dry climate.

When I am not working:

I am spending time in my own garden in Valley Center or with my husband and family.

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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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Dana EstradaAccount Manager


Contact Dana at (760) 945-4321

Why I entered into the landscape business?

1) I come from a long line of avid gardeners. When I was in college, I was offered a position at a local nursery by my future mother-in law. Part-time turned into full time and eventually became a position of substantial responsibility as the manager. I was hooked on day one. It was so exciting to see the ever changing plant material that would thrive in Southern California.

Why I work with Nature Designs?

2) Nature designs has a great reputation. I knew many of the people who had worked for them and they all were genuinely happy people. A friend had mentioned they might be looking to expand their personnel. When I spoke to Ron, the general manager, I knew I would click with the people who work there. The employees went out of their way to make me feel like part of the family.

Biggest reward in working with clients?

3) I enjoy how every home owner’s vision is vastly different. I love being able to deliver their expectations of a dream garden. I find it very rewarding to educate clients on plant varieties. I absolutely love making people happy.

Biggest challenge/what was learned?

4) I have learned thru the years that you cannot put a time frame on any garden. I don’t like pressuring clients. It can take several attempts to get the vision just right! I am willing to do what it takes to make their dream a reality.

My favorite project/client

5) I love all projects. They all have an element that is exciting in one way or another. If I had to choose, I would have to go with a tropical garden. There’s just something about a lush garden that I love!

A little about me:

6) I was born and raised in Southern California. I have worked in the industry for over 18 years. From retail sales at local nurseries, I ventured into commercial landscape only to be drawn back to residential. I graduated from California State San Marcos with a major in Sociology and a minor in Business. I am currently pursuing more education in the horticulture industry.

When I am not working:

7) When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and very energetic son. I am an animal lover and currently have 3 cats and 2 macaws. I would have more if my husband would approve. I enjoy being outdoors and working in my own garden.

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Pedro GutierrezProduction Manager


Contact Ever at (760) 945-4321

Pedro has been in the landscape industry for over 25 years. In those years, he has been challenged in all aspects of landscape. He has knowledge in all areas of the industry including irrigation, plant disease diagnosis, plant identification and client relations.

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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’s experience spans over more than 20 years in the Rancho Santa Fe area as a maintenance provider.