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  • Writer's pictureMatt Daly

Richmond VA. Landscape Design

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Richmond! We are home! Where have we been? California!

Hi, I'm Matt

For those of you that don't know me, my name is Matt Daly and I love Richmond VA. and I love custom designed backyards in Richmond also!

After graduating from VCU in 2009, I jumped straight into the landscaping world locally and over a course of several years dabbled in multiple corners of the industry learning everything I could. I started a short lived landscape business before realizing my real passion was on the design/consulting side of the business.

After 15 years in the industry I have Richmond VA to thanks for the majority of them giving me a solid foundation with a short stint in California to give me a taste of something new. Here's a quick read on what I was up to before I left Richmond for California, what I was doing there and what I'm doing back.

Where It All Started

While getting through VCU's art program I took multiple summer jobs as a landscape laborer (most notably American Dream Landscaping which is now Outdoor Dreams) and realized quickly that I wanted to be outside as much as possible after I graduated. I started a small landscaping business that was short lived called Plant Richmond with limited services.

I quickly came to the conclusion that running a construction business wasn't of interest and immediately moved to a project management/landscape design roll with InSite Companies directly tied to Douglas Aquatics, one of the areas premier swimming pool builders. I went from mulching flower beds to working with some of the areas best planners and tradesman learning outdoor construction techniques that were way over my head, almost overnight. Even though I may have fibbed a little about my qualifications to land that gig, I soaked it up and knew this was where I wanted to be, in nature. Unfortunately that situation came to an end after several months and I continued on to gain as much landscape design project experience as possible.

How it continued over the next 6 years...

My first true landscape design gig was working for a local Richmond VA based paver reseller who has since gone out of business. I was designing small patios and learning about local materials, their uses and getting a crash course in how different materials change the outdoor space.

From there I went over to Stone Earth and Water out of Richmond, VA (also now out of business). This was my first salaried opportunity as a landscape designer. At Stone Earth and Water I got to learn even more about the local landscape industry and learned a lot quickly watching the company and how they handled their landscape installation services.

I had the opportunity to design and sell multiple projects throughout this experience and it was an excellent start to building my portfolio. I will be forever grateful to those guys for giving me my first real shot.

My next stop in the industry would be back to Douglas Aquatics in Richmond VA, but this time rather than supporting the landscape installation side of the business, I would be brought back in as a landscape/pool designer. This is where the love of swimming pools would really start to take hold as the company believed it was important that I knew every pipe and fitting of a vessel, what they did and how it affected the rest of the space.

Luckily I would have the opportunity to work along side a few well known landscape architects here and this furthered my curiosity. Not only pools but water features, retaining walls, structural elements, hardscape, planting and how these all played an important role in outdoor designs. I designed and managed the construction of multiple pool projects during this time and it was quite the experience.

After working there for about two years, I told the owner I wanted to maintain the relationship but I also wanted to continue learning other spaces in the industry as well as meet other pool builders. As a result I would move on to build a relationship with the fine folks over at Ultimate Pools as well as multiple other landscaping companies local to and/or serving the Richmond, Virginia area as well as surrounding areas. This included landscapers, lighting installers, concrete installers, A/V companies, outdoor kitchen specialists and many more.

For the next few years I would spend my time as a freelance designer and bring in my trusted relationships to handle execution.

landscape design, pool and patio in Richmond Virginia
Midlothian VA custom outdoor living space with pool, pool deck, seating and tanning areas.

landscape design Richmond va
Manakin Sabot outdoor space with pool, hot tub, tanning space and covered pavilion

landscape design Richmond va
Outdoor living space with pool and seating/tanning space

When things started getting serious..

After my first stint as a self employed individual, I knew it was something I wanted for the future but I thought I belonged back in a Design/Build company that I could grow with and this is when Rock Creek Innovations offered me a position to handle their landscape design and sales.

This was the first time in the industry that I had full confidence in my abilities and I knew any employer had full confidence in me. If you don't know Ellis Wiltshire that heads that operation, you should. He's a stand up guy and gave me the key to the universe that I was seeking. Over those few years I designed multiple projects that still live in my portfolio and have nothing but good things to say about their capabilities as project managers and their landscape installation services.

Below are some photos I designed that were executed by the team during my time there.

Richmond, VA custom backyard.

Richmond, VA. custom backyard

Glen Allen, VA. custom backyard

Wait, what? California!?

After a while I was a little burned out on Richmond and had been thinking about expanding my horizons in other parts of the state. At the same time my girlfriend had received an offer from her employer to move out to San Jose, CA. (aka Silicon Valley) for six months and this is when everything changed.

Long story short, our six month opportunity would ultimately lead me to start my company Water and Earth Landscape Design and we would stick around for 4 years and I would have the opportunity to hire other landscape designers to support me as we worked all the folks working for the big tech companies in San Jose and surrounding areas. Such a blast to explore the new surroundings and unique places in the Bay Area.

In this time I was able to take everything I learned in Richmond and apply it to a new market where modern is king and I fell in love with it and the vision. Coming from a traditional setting creating gardens to match the local architecture, I know had the opportunity to learn something completely new and as a result dive into new ideas. The Bay Area community allowed me to spread my rings and really push the boundaries of spaces.

As outdoor living designers and professionals in the Bay Area we developed a thorough landscape design process and quickly set ourselves apart from other companies as providing clients with creativity, knowledge, and ultimately an easier experience through their projects. As landscape designers we are regularly brought in to offer a differing opinion than the local landscape architects. Our landscape design team has worked with local homeowners and continues to do so as we figure out challenging spaces in a challenging environment. Over these last few years we have had the opportunity to create some amazing outdoor spaces and offer services tailored to the local region.

San Jose, CA. custom backyard

San Jose, CA. custom backyard

San Jose, CA. custom backyard

Campbell, CA custom outdoor space

Los Altos, CA custom outdoor space

Los Gatos, CA custom outdoor space

Back to Richmond, VA.

As the Water and Earth Landscape Design team continues to service the Bay Area market and support those projects, we have since moved beck to Richmond, Virginia to build out our East Coast Water and Earth team and begin new projects. We have spent the last year back home working on modern outdoor living spaces here in Richmond.

We work with local clients to help reimagine their landscaping and to create a design plan. Once the design plan is complete we aid our clients in finding services to help our clients get their project installed.

We start with an initial consultation to learn about our clients job needs and once we engage with the project we specialize in working through a thorough design experience, vetting potential contractors and staying engaged until the project is completed.

Below are some Richmond, VA landscape designs we have been working on in 2020/2021.

Richmond VA, custom backyard currently under construction

Check us out on Instagram and Houzz

Water and Earth Landscape Design is a professional organization of landscape designers that focuses on your backyard or front yard. While we probably can't consult on the health of your lawn, we specialize in detail, forward thinking ideas and exactly what the Richmond Virginia market has needed for a long time - Modern Outdoor landscapes. We look forward to help clients discover opportunities with their potential outdoor living spaces. We get excited about entertaining you, your friends, family and neighbors in a new custom space.

Make sure to check out our past projects!

Other companies mentioned in this post:

Landscaper providing landscape design/build services,landscaping, maintenance, hardscape services in Central VA. Experts in managing job cost and aiding clients in getting their custom yard installed. The team has installed many of our

Richmond, VA based landscape design/build company offering outdoor installation services, landscaping, garden installation, pool installation, water features and compliments their projects with shrubs and trees.

Custom swimming pool builder specializing in custom residential and commercial pool installs based in Richmond, VA. Excellent at monitoring job cost and making sure projects are built precisely to specifications through an organized process.

Another custom pool builder serving central VirginMidlothiania. Very popular company that is known for their job speed as well as their communication. They have installed multiple of our designed pools.

InSite Companies (now Lion Head)

Richmond, VA based general contractor specializing in high end custom home construction and renovation. Also talented in landscape architecture and landscape installation across plants, landscaping,

Water and Earth Landscape Design (Me!) (Richmond, VA)

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