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Meet the Green Gardeners

Rebecca Schoenenberger | Green Gardener Spotlight

House with rock path

Practices like purposeful plant selection, sheet mulching, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) have helped reduce water and pesticide usage.

Backyard of home with concrete path

Well-planned landscape designs can reduce the amount of maintenance needed to keep a landscape healthy.

Meet Rebecca Schoenenberger. She is the proud owner of California Nativescapes – a local business specializing in sustainable native landscaping services, including maintenance, design, and construction using recycled materials. Rebecca is a Master Gardener born and raised in the Santa Clara Valley. She loves being outside and promoting the benefits of native plants. Says Rebecca, “I make sure all my employees go through [the Santa Clara Valley Green Gardener training program]. I would recommend it to other companies too… Our world has grown out of balance for too long, and we want to do our part to bring the balance back.  Whether that is using native plants, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), or drip irrigation.”

Tree root sculpture with bench under trees

Ethnobotanical garden at Castle Rock State Park.

Rebecca shares her Green Gardener know-how with all her clients. She teaches her clients how certain types of plants thrive better in certain places and under certain climates. Well-planned yard designs can reduce the amount of maintenance needed to keep a landscape healthy. Rebecca also encourages her clients to “Get excited about good bugs,” referencing the natural benefits of critters such as butterflies and ladybugs. Practices like purposeful plant selection, sheet mulching, and IPM have helped reduce her clients’ water and pesticide usage. “Educating our clients about beneficial alternatives and changing perspectives is the most long-lasting impact we make – far beyond the garden.”

Path near trees

Ethnobotanical garden at Castle Rock State Park.

In addition, Rebecca notes the importance of supporting Indigenous communities. Says Rebecca, “It is our obligation and duty to give back to the Indigenous community, especially whose land we live on.”  One landscaping project that Rebecca was honored to be a part of was the creation of an ethnobotanical demonstration garden at Castle Rock State Park. This was a collaborative project for the Amah Mutsun Land Trust (a Native-led organization) and members of the Muwekma Ohlone tribe. The 3,500-square-foot entrance garden incorporates sustainable design and over 60 native plant species. Not only are these species adapted to grow locally with less maintenance, but they are culturally significant, valued by Indigenous communities as foods, medicines, and crafting materials. Eco-conscious design and maintenance practices can lead to meaningful, beautiful, and revitalized landscapes.

Meet Wendy Vuong | Green Gardener Spotlight

Flowers along sidewalkWendy Vuong, President of JJ&J Landscape Management, has an eye for sustainable design and maintenance.

Wendy enjoys working with commercial site managers and homeowners to bring their landscaping visions to life. She loves all flowers, shrubs, and trees equally, and she appreciates the unique benefits that each plant can bring. Wendy says, “Different plants can create different moods and styles, like paints on a canvas.”

As an experienced horticulturist, Wendy also knows that each plant has individual needs and growth conditions to consider. She teaches her customers the importance of placing plants in areas for which they are well suited. For example, a sunny site with sandy soil would be an ideal place for native, drought-tolerant plants. She understands that following the “Right plant, right place” green gardening concept improves water use efficiency, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides, and ensures long-term plant survival.

Wendy cares for each yard and project as though it were her own. “It’s not a job. It’s a garden,” she says. In addition to good planning, Wendy believes that proper maintenance techniques can transform her customers’ landscape dreams into reality. Her team offers assistance with installing drip irrigation, applying mulch, pruning, and amending the soil to keep plants strong and healthy.

Flowers blooming outside of building

JJ&J Landscape Management is in Fremont and provides service throughout the Bay Area. To learn more, visit www.3JLandscape.com

Wendy and her team aim to create beautiful, sustainable landscapes across the Bay Area.

Meet Shelkie Tao | Green Gardener Spotlight

Rain garden

Shelkie loves that California is a biodiversity hotspot, with a wide variety of native plants to choose from.

Shelkie Tao of Water Efficient Garden is a professional landscaper, sustainable gardening enthusiast, and a recent graduate of the Santa Clara Valley Green Gardener training program.  Shelkie enjoys gardening as a way to relax, stay healthy, and connect with nature – and all while adding beauty to the world.  She describes designing landscapes as akin to painting or writing.  “When the plants have grown and bloomed, it feels a little like what an artist might feel who has just finished a satisfactory piece.”  In her craft, Shelkie works to help her customers create yards that are beautiful, practical and environmentally-friendly.

Average home with barren front yard

Before: A large, barren plot of sand.

Green Gardener participants learn effective ways to reduce air pollution, water pollution, and water runoff while gardening.  For instance, growing California native plants is a great way to minimize pesticide and water usage because they have adapted to the local climate and ecology.  Many of Shelkie’s favorite flowers are natives, including California Lilacs (Ceanothus spp.), Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus), and Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis).  She says that these and many other native plants make wonderful elements in a garden.

Average house with California native plants

After: A rain garden with hardy plants like California native Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus). For more details on this garden, read Shelkie’s blog post.

Shelkie’s specialty?  Low-water landscapes and rain gardens. If a customer wants a new lawn or yard design, Shelkie uses drought tolerant grasses and native plants whenever possible. For pavements, she discusses the option of permeable surfaces to capture water and reduce runoff. For irrigation, she recommends smart controllers with rain sensors to prevent overwatering. Shelkie explains that water-efficient gardens can have many benefits: enhanced property values, lower water bills and maintenance costs, and a positive impact on the environment.

Shelkie treats water as a precious resource in all areas of her life. In 2017, she ran in the New York Marathon by fundraising for a sustainable water organization.  And whenever planning a landscape, Shelkie always considers eco-conscious water usage. Her home garden includes many drought-tolerant, native plants and a small rain garden to help store rainwater, reduce urban runoff, and prevent polluting local waterways. Shelkie believes that, with the right approach, we can all do our part to protect the vibrant, beautiful ecosystem of San Francisco Bay.

Front of newly landscaped home.

Read gardening tips on Water Efficient Gardens’ Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook.

Water Efficient Garden is in the South Bay Area.  Learn more about Shelkie’s landscaping design services, low-water garden planning, and sustainable landscape rebate programs at WaterEfficientGarden.com

Maryanne Quincy Q-Gardens Landscape Design | Green Gardener Spotlight

Mary likes to incorporate pervious surfaces and native grasses in her garden designs

Mary likes to incorporate pervious surfaces and native grasses in her garden designs

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of landscape design, Maryanne Quincy knows how to incorporate both her clients’ visions and her knowledge of horticulture to deliver comfortable, beautiful and sustainable garden spaces. Her business, called Q-Gardens, focuses on residential landscape design, garden layout, and fine gardening.

Maryanne incorporates sustainable practices in her designs. Her clients appreciate her use of plants with low-water requirements. Many of her clients even participated in the 2015 water rebate program, switching to low-water and low-maintenance landscapes in their yards and home gardens. “People were ready to change to something new,” Maryanne says, “which was exciting to see.” She is happy that her landscape designs help reduce human impacts on our natural environment, including local creeks and the San Francisco Bay.

GG Maryanne Quincy 3Maryanne participated in Green Gardener training in 2008. She says the Green Gardener program taught her a lot about organic fertilizers, pest management, and sustainable ways to eradicate and suppress weeds. “These choices also lead to financial savings,” Maryanne explains, “a more sustainable garden saves money.” By using mulch, integrated pest management, and low-water plants, clients initially save money on fertilizer costs and water bills, and prevent pest problems down the road.

At the end of the day, Maryanne likes the reward that gardening gives you. “You see the results of your work and you’re affecting all the people that live around that garden,” she says. In addition to being a Certified Green Gardener, Maryanne also has a degree in ornamental horticulture and is a Certified Member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD®).

Using mulch...

Using mulch…

For more information about Maryanne Quincy and Q-Gardens, visit her website at:

Mark R. McCabe Landscape Contractor | Green Gardener Spotlight

Mark uses pavers and gravel to reduce paved surfaces and allow water to soak into the ground

Mark uses pavers and gravel to reduce paved surfaces and allow water to soak into the ground

Mark McCabe installs landscapes with beauty, function, and value in mind. Mark has more than 40 years of experience. His firm, Mark R. McCabe Landscape Contractor, offers full-service landscape installation, specializing in small to medium-size single-family homes and condos.

Serving San Jose and the surrounding area, Mark’s work features native and low water use plants. He also provides irrigation system installation services. “Water is a shared, limited resource. We reduce runoff, pollution and water bills, and improve plant health by properly designing, installing, and maintaining an irrigation system (drip or spray),” Mark says.

A Bay Area native, Mark has enjoyed gardening since childhood. Over the years he’s gathered a wealth of horticultural knowledge and practical landscape installation skills. While holding college degrees in both ornamental horticulture and business administration, he enjoys continuing his education through books, magazines, and training such as the Green Gardener program. Mark enjoyed the Green Gardener training, and the program has had a positive effect on his business through client referrals.

Mulch can prevent weeds and reduce watering.

Mulch can prevent weeds and reduce watering.

Mark’s team has the knowledge and tools to evaluate and improve the physical and biological conditions of your garden’s soil. He also uses techniques taught in the Green Gardener program to make your landscape healthier and more resistant to pest problems. He believes that when a garden is built the right way, with proper soil preparation, mulching and a good irrigation, it will need less maintenance and save his clients time and money. He also places special emphasis on choosing the right plants. “Proper plant selection and placement is one of the most important ways to conserve resources and prevent pollution,” he says.

Learn more about Mark’s services and environmentally conscious practices at markmccabelandscape.com

Bonnie Brock Landscape Design | Green Gardener Spotlight

Beautiful backyard without lawns

Beautiful backyard without lawns

As the owner of Bonnie Brock Landscape Design (BBLD), Bonnie has been practicing proactive water conservation strategies since she established BBLD in 2005. Her comprehensive design services include everything from conceptual drawings, budgeting, permitting, and project management. She can work with your contractor to implement the landscape design or introduce you to landscape installation professionals.

Beautiful backyard without lawns

Beautiful backyard without lawns

Bonnie became a Green Gardener in 2010. She thinks that one of the best qualities of the Green Gardener program is that it teaches hands-on, practical approaches to all facets of gardening. “I paid for two of the people I work with to do the training in Spanish too, because I think it’s a great program,” she says. In addition to being a certified Green Gardener, Bonnie is also a Certified Irrigation Auditor and a Bay Friendly Qualified Professional.

Bonnie uses mulch and stones to reduce hardscapes

Bonnie uses mulch and stones to reduce hardscapes

Since 2006, Bonnie has helped more than 200 clients obtain rebates from the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Landscape Rebate Program by converting high water-using landscape to low water-using landscape. Through the selection of drought tolerant plants, efficient irrigation components, and soil amendment practices, Bonnie is able to demonstrate to her clients that they can have a positive impact on the environment, which encourages them to look for even more ways to conserve water.

Bonnie uses mulch and stones to reduce hardscapes

Bonnie uses mulch and stones to reduce hardscapes

Her customers appreciate her beautiful creations and water-saving design skills. “She developed a vision of what my yard could be, and brought that vision to life in a way that far exceeded any of my expectations,” said Barbara from Menlo Park of Bonnie’s services. “After getting to know me, she intuited that I really needed a low-maintenance garden. Boy, did she ever come through! All the plants are on timers that are connected to a weather station, so the amount of water they get is automatically adjusted depending on the weather! I couldn’t be more delighted with the garden she designed and had built for me. “

Bonnie Brock Landscape Design is located in Palo Alto and services the surrounding area including Menlo Park, Los Altos, and Mountain View. Learn more about Bonnie’s landscaping design services at her website: bbrockdesign.com or 650-465-9073 .