What We Do

Born from the efforts of Santa Cruz native Ken Foster nearly 30 years ago, Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping was established with the mission of taking the practices of organic gardening, and the ethics of permaculture, into landscaping. Since then, we have been inspiring and helping the Santa Cruz community to care for its unique and beautiful environment through sustainable landscaping.

We design, install, and maintain ecological landscapes in harmony with nature. We work with the people of Santa Cruz to create beautiful landscapes which don’t harm our city with noise, air, soil, or water pollution.


Why It’s Important

Santa Cruz is abundant in natural beauty. It is blessed to be next to the spectacularly biodiverse national marine sanctuary that is Monterey Bay. Unfortunately, many properties produce runoff that collects oil, gas, and other such pollutants which run into the bay, corrupting our watershed.

A simple solution to prevent such runoff from entering the bay, and thus protect our watershed, is to to create ecological landscapes that capture and conserve precious water, which would otherwise carry the runoff into the bay.

It isn’t just about our watershed. Taking care of our resources, taking care of the soil, taking care of the air, taking care of the water- this is ultimately what ecological landscaping is about. Our work is dedicated to conserving the environment, and health, of the entire Monterey Bay community.


Ken Foster, Founder

In 1967, 10-year-old Ken Foster read The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. It took him a whole summer to read, but it inspired him to see gardening as a celebration of our coexistence with nature. In 1985, he took on an apprenticeship at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden, and there he discovered his passion. He didn’t want to do anything else but garden. He founded Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping in 1988, and has dedicated his life to caring for the environment and community through sustainable landscaping.

Besides Landscaping, Ken has also been involved in bringing a program called Monterey Bay Friendly Landscaping to Santa Cruz. The program, which is funded by the State Water Resources Control Board, promotes conservation of our watershed through rainwater harvest, grey water reuse, energy saving, and water use reduction. He also teaches a permaculture class at Cabrillo College.

Ken believes that beautiful landscapes can be made without the use of gas powered equipment and toxic chemicals that many other landscaping businesses use today. He believes in the permaculture ethic “Care for the Earth” and the principle “Produce No Waste,” and applies them to his business.

When he’s not busy with designing, installing, and maintaining ecological landscapes, Ken can be found riding his bike around town, or making mandalas out of salvaged herbs that would otherwise have been sent to the landfill.