About Us

Small Spot Gardens is a San Francisco based outdoor design firm that imagines, creates and cares for intimate gardens in city-sized spaces.  We love working with clients that are excited about the natural world and want a richer outdoor space at their home or workplace, whether they’re relaxing, playing, entertaining or simply enjoying the view from inside.  We believe living alongside nature, even a tiny bit of it, can help our clients and their loved ones relax, re-prioritize, refocus and generally be healthier and happier*.  These small spots of nature are also part of a bigger picture so we design and care for gardens with an understanding that our actions affect, and can contribute to, our local environment.  (CA License #998647)

Urban Natural Aesthetic

Our first priority is to design a garden that will make you happy and draw you outside.  We work with you to figure out your personal taste and design a layout that will work for your lifestyle.  Then we add in artistic elements and interesting details to make your space special and inviting, and develop a plant palette that ties everything together.  We call our style Urban Natural and it’s characterized by clean lines, some rustic textures (like reclaimed wood), abundant plants and artistic (often colorful or recycled) accents.  There’s variation in the look – some gardens have a more natural feel and some have a more modern feel – but a personal design thread runs through each so it’s good to check out our previous gardens to see if we seem like a good fit for your project.  We take pride in the gardens we create and enjoy working with clients who trust our design instincts.  Check out examples on our Portfolio Page. (If you have a set design and just need help with installation please feel free to contact us for referrals)

Our Approach

Because of Elisa’s background in botany, our outdoor designs are strongly influenced by plant biology and ecosystem science. We’re focused on the way gardens look but we understand that they’re living systems – not mere decoration – so we approach the design with both science and aesthetics in mind.  We try to continuously learn about our local flora and fauna and are constantly amazed at how everything works together.  In the process of creating your garden, we’re hoping to awaken a little curiosity about the very cool plants and animals that have been thriving right next to us for ages.

We also try our best to create spaces that will mitigate some of the harmful side effects of our urban density.  Your garden is part of a fascinating and complicated metropolitan ecosystem with a sizable environmental footprint.  It’s ambitious, but by working with natural processes your garden can actually help clean the air, filter polluted runoff, and help our local birds, bees and butterflies. Click the link to learn more about our standard garden design practices for healthy gardens – they aren’t hard and fast rules but it’s what we aim for: Small Spot Gardens’ Design Practices.

The Team

The Small Spot Gardens team is a dedicated group of professionals with experience in horticulture, edible gardens, environmental science and construction.


Elisa has a degree in botany from Cornell University and over 14 years of experience in horticulture and agriculture. She’s worked on organic farms, orchards, in greenhouses, retail nurseries and also spent some time working for the NY State Conservation Corps.  In 2009, after several years of office work helping farmers with business development and marketing, she decided to get back outside and started Small Spot Gardens.  She’s fascinated by how plants and animals continue to get by in the densest of cities and excited by the role each small green space can play to restore individuals and families.  She’s also intrigued by the potential networked small gardens have to help mitigate some of the harmful environmental impacts of big cities.











Lauren studied ecology and sustainable agriculture at UC Davis. Merging her knowledge of public policy, biology and sustainable agriculture, she helped run and became Board President of San Diego Sustainable Roots Project, an nonprofit that taught gardening and farming through farm field trips, an urban farm school, and hands-on gardening classes. She also did extensive fundraising for the program. She led the development of Wild Willow Farm and Education Center, a 5-acre organic teaching farm, and was also Program Director for Victory Gardens San Diego.

Lauren has crafted gardening curricula concerning building home, community, and school gardens, and has taught sustainable agriculture at the college level. She trained instructors to offer gardening-related courses at five sites around San Diego County.

She is currently a coordinator of the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance and an avid home gardener.



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