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
Watch Steve's Video »
Why I entered into the landscape business?
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?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?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?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/clientMy 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:
- Support my staff
- Assist in solving problems
- Make sure the direction of the company is clear
- Nurture a healthy and vibrant company culture
My training: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:Ones that our client feels there is no solution to get what they want. I love a challenge.
Personal information: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: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.
Why I entered into the landscape business?I was first introduced to the landscape industry via a new Water Recycling Technology focused on Irrigation Run-off Recycling. The technology was birthed out of the mind of a 3rd generation landscape contractor in Escondido, CA and I was hired to bring the technology to market. This ultimately led to my deep involvement in the landscape contracting side of the business and eventually I became the Office Manager & Business Development Director for a landscaping business.
Why I work with Nature Designs?I was introduced to Nature Designs by a mutual friend of Mr. Steve Jacobs (owner/operator of NDL), and after several interactions including phone conversations and a meeting at the NDL Office in Vista, I was SOLD by the integrity, honesty & ethics of the man himself. Steve creates an atmosphere of trust, respect and a deep commitment to our clients and the work we do for them, while surrounding himself with a team that reflects those same commitments. I can't think of a better work environment to dive into and thrive within!
Biggest reward in working with clients?When you're in the middle of a large landscape installation, it is easy to stay intently focused on the tasks at hand... but for the home owner and/or client, they are in need of clear & constant communication, to ensure them that the "big picture" has not been lost in the midst of those daily tasks. When this difficult balance is achieved... the results are priceless!
Biggest challenge/what was learned?My experience in this industry has been primarily from the Office/Marketing/Business perspective... so, to change gears and focus on the actual production process itself has been a rewarding challenge. I had always felt great respect for the "guys in the field"... but I have now gained a new level of respect for the crews, and the sheer quantity and quality of work they complete on a daily basis.
My duties as General Manager are:Oversee daily operations of the business, Ensure the creation and implementation of strategies designed to grow the business, Coordinate the development of key performance goals and provide direct management & support for our Office, Sales, Construction, Maintenance & Enhancement Teams, Ensure the overall execution and quality of the services we offer to our San Diego Residential Clients, Oversee management level hiring and talent development, Create NDL brand development & marketing strategies, Maintain top down procedures in order to optimize production and client satisfaction, Engage regularly with corporate officers in broader organizational strategic planning, and to personally spearhead the creation of a rich business culture that supports, protects, develops, guides and strengthens each and every person that calls Nature Designs home! 🙂
My training:My professional experience/training ranges from Manufacturing Engineer to Executive Chef... from Web Design & Marketing Consultant to Sales & Customer Service Manager... and from Business Development Director to Small Business Owner. I’ve been blessed to have what some folks might call a "diverse" professional background.
A little about me:I was born in San Diego, raised in Mississippi, schooled in San Francisco and have made my Home Sweet Home in Vista, CA. I've been to every state in the United States, 9 of the 10 provinces of Canada, and most of Mexico in a motor home (except Hawaii, of course!). My wife and I LOVE to travel for food! I enjoy reading and learning about ancient history and mythology, global culinary cultures and traditions, Asiatic languages and biblical studies. I'm very involved in my church and I love inspiring people to be the very best they can be!
When I am not working:I’m playing disc golf, reading my bible, listening to funky music, watching Japanese anime, playing with my son, finding epic restaurants, hanging out with my friends, loving my wife, praising my God and smiling from Ear-2-Ear.
Why I work with Nature Designs?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?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?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: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: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: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.
Why I entered the landscape business?This is the first job that I have had in landscaping, but I have always enjoyed working outside and gardening. I love that our focus is working with clients to transform their outdoor living space into something beautiful.
Why I work with Nature Designs?I have known Philip Jordan for a few years and when I heard that there was an opportunity to work with him, for a company that he loved, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. What makes Nature Designs a great place to work are the people. I trust the integrity and ethics of the leadership and I value their desire to make sure that the client is pleased with the final results at the completion of a project.
Biggest rewards in working with clients?The biggest reward for me is being a part of a team that can deliver a client's dream landscape. There is a level of trust that must be developed because we are working at someone's home. It is their living space and their retreat.
Biggest challenge; what was learned?The biggest challenge of being an estimator is knowing all aspects of landscaping. Not just the design of each project and the materials that will be used, but also approximations of the amount of time that each task will take. I enjoy this because I have to see the whole picture of the job and work with the project supervisor to plan out how the job will be done.
My duties as Junior Estimator are:As a Junior Estimator my role is to take the plan that the designer has created for projects and then create an estimated cost for the build. I am also responsible for finding all the materials needed to complete each project.
A little about me:I am a native of San Diego and have lived here almost all of my life. I have worked in a variety of fields from being a youth pastor to computer networking and being an electro-mechanical technician. I enjoy learning new things and reading all kinds of books.
When I am not working:When I’m not working you can find me spending time with my wife, hiking, running trails, playing disc golf, watching movies and exploring new areas of San Diego.
Why did I enter the landscape business?I grew up with a hammer in my hand working with my dad’s construction business & loved every minute of it. After working as a District Sales Coordinator for a Fortune 500 company for about 5 years, I was ready to hang up my silk button down shirts and heels to put my work boots back on!
Why I work with Nature Design?Now that answer is simply. Fantastic coworkers + a fantastic company = Best place to work! Can’t get any better than that .
Biggest reward with working with clients?The biggest reward with working with clients is seeing their vision finally come to life! The look in their eyes when the project is complete is priceless.
Biggest challenge/what did I learn?The biggest challenge is something that happens often in the construction world and that is, loss of time. When there is an unexpected problem that comes up, you have to be quick on your toes to find a solution and learn to be adaptable. It is important to trust your gut and be able to make difficult decisions quickly.
My duties as a Production Manager are:As a Production Manager I am basically the middle man/support to the Design team, Construction team, and the General Manager.
A little about me:Born and raised in Southern California. Happily married to my partner in crime, Sam, going on 4 years. Love anything outdoor & hanging with my amazing family & friends.
When I am not working:You can find me chilling outdoors with a glass of wine in my hand or binge-watching Netflix!
Why I entered into the landscape business?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 and softscape. I have earned a degree in irrigation design at Cuyamaca College, and I am currently seeking a degree in water technology.
Why I entered into the landscape business?I entered into the landscape business fresh out of high school. My father was a lead mechanic at a landscape company where I had the opportunity to work at as a part time employee. While working, I went to school to get my degree in auto mechanic.
Why I work with Nature Design’s?I was given the opportunity to become part of this wonderful team by assisting with equipment maintenance on the weekends. Working side by side with Steve Jacobs (President/Owner), I’ve been able to learn a whole new set of skills, from becoming a Diesel Mechanic, to building endless pools. Nature Designs stays true to their mission Statement which is Growing people; building dreams.
Biggest reward in working with clients?To me the biggest reward is when a client shares their appreciation for the job being completed and getting that feeling of accomplishment and pride of being part of the process.
Biggest challenge/what I learned?My biggest challenge and learning experience has been prioritizing my tasks accordingly to their level of importance. It is my ultimate goal to provide the best service to my clients.
My duties as a lead are?To assist the completion of projects from beginning to, ensure that clients are getting their needs met and exceeding their expectations, and to have a close loop communication with the team in regards to the construction of endless pools.
A little about me?I was born and raised in San Diego.Married and a proud father of a 6 years old. On my free time I enjoy riding my quad, watching movies with my wife can’t forget the popcorn and cruising around the bay.
When I am not working…I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, off-roading, listening to music, and trying different food.
Why I entered into the landscape business?I've always felt a strong connection to the outdoors. From an early age, I could be found climbing trees and digging holes in my backyard. This passion for the outdoors, and my love of plants, led me to further my education in that direction. From 1996 to 2002, I attended Auburn University and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Design & a Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture.
Why I work with Nature Designs?I appreciate that Nature Designs values and supports every member of the team. I've known the owner Steve for over a decade and his reputation is unmatched. When at a crossroads in my career, our paths crossed again. After some discussion with Steve, and after some soul searching of what I really want for my future, the move to Nature Designs was an obvious one.
Biggest reward in working with clients?I enjoy developing relationships with my clients that allows me to tap into what they both need and want in their landscape. I like involving my clients in the creative production of design and enjoy guiding them through the organic process to watch their design visions become reality. By really listening to them from the first meeting, through the design and into the installation, I'm able to design and construct a landscape that exceeds their expectations.
Biggest challenge/what was learned?For a long time, I felt I needed to oversee and direct every detail of my projects. One of the biggest challenges has been letting go of control. However, by placing faith in the other team members to take on some of this responsibility, they take on ownership. By allowing for more collaboration, the outcome is even better than I had imagined on my own.
My duties as Project Coordinator are:I'm responsible for creating beautiful and usable landscapes that my clients are ecstatic about, and that stay on budget. My primary duties are design and sales, but in the end, I wear a lot of hats. I like to say my duties are "whatever needs to get done"! It's exciting because no two days are the same.
My training:I've worked with the National Park Service, San Diego Botanical Gardens, Landscape Architects, Design/Build firms, & individual homeowners. All of my experiences have made me a well-rounded player in the landscape profession.
A little about me:I'm a Licensed Landscape Architect, a husband, and a father of two boys and two labrador retrievers. I moved from Atlanta to San Diego in 2002, and haven't looked back since. I love all that San Diego has to offer; it's a perfect fit for me.
When I am not working:I enjoy spending time with my family as well as surfing, diving, & travelling. In addition, I'm a homeowner and constantly doing projects around the yard. This gives me an appreciation for what it really takes to do the work, and the reward that comes from investing my efforts in my own property.
Why I entered into the landscape business?Growing up, I was inspired by family that includes teachers, gardeners, carpenters, crafters and a NASA Engineer. Every week, my goal was to dream, design and build something. Way too young, I was given access to power tools and building materials. I reshaped earth, planted and built wood structures in my yard. After studying Architecture, Product Design, Horticulture and Furniture Design, I applied all my creative passions into the design of Outdoor Living Spaces.
Why I work with Nature Designs?Nature Designs prioritizes unrushed time with each client. Within our collaborative team, I contribute my five senses design approach as well as leading our efforts to address the universal six human needs in all landscape designs. Nature Designs’ culture is very supportive, kind and creative.
Biggest reward in working with clients?With an open-mind, I enjoy a deep exploration into our clients’ imagination. The process is a fun collaboration with lots of discoveries. The landscape design solutions are a culmination of each client’s unique style, goals and reach beyond expectations.
Biggest challenge/what was learned?I grew up short, awkward and shy. I leaned into drawing, creating and building. As I become more skilled in these areas, I made lots of friends that were curious and wanted to be involved in projects with me. Many of my long-time friends have found great success in creative fields. I’ve learned to value people with strong curiosity, unique ideas and diverse backgrounds.
My duties as Project Coordinator are:Client Collaboration, Landscape Design, Construction Drawing Development, Collaboration with Team, Project Management through construction completion and improving/expanding my skills.
My training and experience:College studies included Architecture, Product Design, Horticulture and Furniture Design. The first half of my career focused on the design of home accessories and furnishings collections for Crate & Barrel, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus & Restoration Hardware. The second half, I focused on Outdoor Living Space Design for residential clients.
A little about me:I grew up on Long Island and lived 25 years in Boston. In 2020, I moved to San Diego with my family including ten year old twins. I’ve travelled to 27 countries and know the best Hip Hop club and craft cocktail bar in each. I’m a total nerd about, all things Design, wood, restaurants, herbs, DIY/home remodeling, business models, Hip Hop culture/history.
When I am not working:With my kids, I love swimming, biking, pickleball, basketball, dancing, fun pranks and introducing them to old movies and tv shows. With family and friends, I enjoy improvisational cooking & mixology.
Why I entered into the landscape business?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?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?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?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/clientI 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: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: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.
Why did I enter the landscape field?I’ve always had a strong love of nature, and I like to see others appreciate it as well. The right design makes people feel good, and comfortable in their own environment. With the changing seasons, there will always be something new and interesting to showcase in the landscape.
Why do I work for Nature Designs?It’s a terrific company with a great reputation. I had heard about them for years, and now I’m excited to be a part of the team.
What’s the biggest reward in working with clients?I am totally committed to doing what is best for my client. Teaching a homeowner something about the process and watching them get it is a pleasure. I try to make them feel that they have been a part of the process.
What are the biggest challenges/ what was learned?Every garden is different, every client is different – the combinations are endless. Each new assignment comes with its own set of situations, and I look forward to that. Good communication is essential and it’s up to me to be sure that the client and I are on the same page as much as possible.
My duties as project manager are:As an account manager I want to make sure that the client’s expectations are not only met, but exceeded. As leader of my maintenance team, my goal is to teach as well as lead: I want my team members to know what I know, to see what I see, and to be proactive in the field.
A little about me:I attended San Dieguito High School in Encinitas, then went to Chico State University, where I graduated with a degree in Dietetics in 1993. My first job after college was in a large institutional kitchen, but I kept looking out the windows, into the incredibly varied Southern California gardens. That’s where I really wanted to be. When I got my first plant nursery job I threw away my ladles and grabbed my pruners. I was hooked.
When I am not working:My current obsession is pickleball, a fast-moving, fast-growing sport that’s sort of a cross between ping pong and tennis. Before that I could be found playing soccer, which was my passion. On weekends you can find me puttering around my quarter-acre, wildlife sanctuary yard in Escondido. It overflows with birds and butterflies. I enjoy my fruit trees and roses, maintaining the koi pond, and cuddling with my two lap-warmers, Daisy and Lily – named after flowers – of course!
WHY DID YOU ENTER INTO THE BUSINESS?I have always loved being outdoors! I learned at an early age how water gets wasted! I wanted to change that.
WHY NATURE DESIGNS?Nature Designs has a great reputation and everyone is very nice to work with.
BEST REWARD WORKING WITH CLIENTS?Making them happy. I always love seeing their face when I fix a complex repair.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE?Proving to customers that I know irrigation.
A LITTLE ABOUT YOU?I have 4 children and love spending time with them. Before I know it, they will be grown up! I used to be a caterer. I used to cook from scratch for 100’s of people. My favorite type of food to cook was any type of meat!
FAVORITE TYPE OF PROJECT?The more complex the better. There’s a great feeling when you can fix a problem.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?I love listening to music and being outdoors. Anything outside I love doing! I still enjoy to cook and spend time with my family. I also like working on my house.
Why I entered into the landscape business?My start in the landscape industry all began with caring for a beloved garden. Since childhood, my mother’s garden has been a focal place of relaxation and enjoyment with many a shared meal (and occasional food fight with my three siblings for good measure). Shortly after graduating college, I took care of her garden when she was unable to do so. During this time of caring for the plants, I began to envision adding elements: building arbors, adding a firepit, growing fruit trees. A creative switch had flipped in my mind, and it would not turn off wherever I went. As the daughter of a general contractor and a gardener, I had discovered an amazing blend of these two worlds, a space for my passion for plants and my toolbelt. With the enjoyment I received from a beautiful garden, I knew I wanted to create beautiful and inviting spaces where people could relax and enjoy nature in their own homes.
Why I work with Nature Designs?It all began with a recommendation to meet with Steve Jacobs when I first moved to San Diego and continued with our association through CLCA. I was impressed with him and his company, his focus on people, and developing values which go beyond the job. They paralleled my own values and desires for a team I would want to work with. I thrive in an environment that values and serves its people, whether clients, co-workers, or employees. It is executed by working with a supportive and collaborative team to provide excellence in service. At Nature Designs, I see this over-arching quality reflected in the quality of work, communication styles, attention to details, integrity and follow-through, and focus on service with clients and in-house.
Biggest reward in working with clients?The biggest reward in working with clients is the moment when they walk into their completed garden and a smile spreads across their face as they see the fulfillment of an entire vision process.
Biggest challenge/what was learned?The biggest learning process has been understanding the different ways people do and do not “see” a space during a design process. I have had to get creative in laying out a vision for clients, including pretending to be a tree!
My duties as Project Coordinator are:Assist clients in developing the initial project vision into a workable, constructable project, including design services, project communication, information flow, and seamless transition to construction. My goal is for a client to be able to envision a design and see it come off the paper into their gardens!
My training:Not including years of playing in the dirt, I completed my undergraduate work with B.A. in Archaeological Anthropology from Harvard University (still played in the dirt). I have an A.A. degree in Environmental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Foothill College. I have over twelve years of experience in the landscape industry with a background as a construction estimator, residential maintenance division supervisor, and landscape designer.
A little about me:I am a California girl through and through. I am from Northern California originally and love visiting my redwoods around Santa Cruz. Having family in San Diego has drawn me here, and I love the sand and surf . I love water wherever I go, but Lake Tahoe is my special place. Spending time with people I love is one of my greatest joys.
When I am not working:When I am not working, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, gardening, road biking, cooking, reading, and enjoying the great outdoors!
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/clientThey 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.