Dowson Design has been creating landscapes for several years for clients throughout the Sacramento and Bay areas.

We are passionate about horticulture and have expertise in climate zones and regional planting to ensure that plants introduced to new areas thrive. Each clients’ needs are unique to their space, and here at Dowson Design we integrate art, functionality and personal style to create beautiful outdoor environments that entice our clients, their family and friends to step outside.

We approach design with an artist’s sensibility and scope, and a horticulturalist’s knowledge, blending your desires with our love for color and form to create outdoor living spaces and garden retreats that you want to spend time in. Our philosophy is that your space should have a peaceful sense of interdependence as all environmental elements work together in harmony.

Our sensitivity to a space’s personality and energy allow a holistic approach to emerge, thus creating atmospheres of peace and serenity while maintaining optimal functionality. Outdoor spaces can also be playful and whimsical, yet our knowledge and application of feng shui principles and movement are always present.





From spacious yards to intimate gardens, Dowson Design can create the space that is right for you.


Learn how we deliver great results. The step by step process from initial consult to final plan.



Check out Dowson Design’s Donna Dowson on HGTV and DIY Network’s Turf War and Yard Crashers.

Bali Escape


A young California couple has a backyard that is overgrown and neglected. There\’s tons of space and room for improvement, but with an old weathered deck, a corner tether ball court and overgrown vegetation, they just don\’t know where to start. The challenge here is to get rid of the forgotten elements of this yard while making room for the change to come. The final outcome is a Bali-style retreat for the couple, fused with a few elements that their children can enjoy. The end result is a classy reinterpretation of this backyard, complete with a meditation deck with its own rain feature, climbing wall for the kids, wine barrels turned into swings, and a curving custom poured patio.



Playground Paradise


Young new parents have a large backyard full of run down hardscape, weeds and no shelter from the sun. This blank slate gets turned into both an adult and kid-friendly paradise complete with pond, bar area with fire ring and pergola for adult fun and a kid playground with monkey bars and balance beam. The lush pond and large trees create a private and beautiful space, and unsightly areas of the yard get hidden behind a new fence and bar area, creating a playground paradise for adults and kids alike.



Italian Villa Vista


A boring backyard is transformed from a non-usable space to a little piece of the Italian countryside with various areas to both entertain and to relax. The creation of a large elevated patio covered in pavers and an outdoor fireplace create a lounging area that provides a view reminiscent of the Italian countryside. The addition of large raised garden boxes and a multi-tiered fountain and benches create a strolling garden. With posts and wire framing a grapevine planting, a new stain on the existing patio and a handmade rustic wooden dining table, the yard becomes the perfect piece of Italy to use for entertaining.



Modern Outdoor Entertaining


In this extremely large backyard the challenge was making it feel cozy and not overwhelming.  Creating a large bar area with built in BBQ right off the back door makes for easy entertaining of large groups.  A custom built mosaic topped dining table was outfitted with a copper troth down the center to store cold beverages or plant material.  At the end of the gravel patio sit 4 large raised planter beds helping to anchor the entertaining space and provide a ‘wall’ to the outdoor room.  Across the expanse of green lawn sits a large concrete bench with a high back around the substantial square fire pit/table.  Water runs the length of the seat back and drops off one end into gravel creating a soothing noise to enjoy while relaxing by the fire.



Street of Dreams – Auburn, CA – 2006

The site is on a hill that overlooks a golf course.  The yard was designed to wrap around the 4,000 square foot home that was built at the same time as the landscape installation. The large blue boulder waterfall feature at the front merges perfectly with the structural retaining wall that was needed to support the driveway.  A large side patio overlooking a private putting green and additional streams and waterfalls acts as a tranquil spot for a quiet moment. Off the back of the house another large waterfall rambles over the hillside to empty into a heated spa which then overflows into a moderate sized in ground pool. The contour of the back hill enabled a negative edge to be used on the backside of the pool creating yet another destination in the backyard. The large flagstone patio gives ample room for entertaining, lounging, or sitting by the gas fire pit near the edge of the water. An assortment of colorful foliage and flowering plants soften the hard edges of stone and concrete to create an inviting retreat overlooking a span of gentle greens making up the golf course below.



“A garden, where one may enter in and forget the whole world, cannot be made in a week, nor a month, nor a year; it must be planned for, waited for and loved into being.”
— Chinese Proverb