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.


We’re Currently Hiring for Two Positions!

Horticultural Gardener

Ecological landscaping business, in operation for 30 years, is seeking an experienced horticultural gardener who is passionate about gardening. Two to three days a week minimum, but this could become a full-time job for the right person. Must be available on Thursdays, and either/or Wednesdays or Fridays. We have offices on the Westside and Live Oak, but we frequently meet at job sites which are mostly in Santa Cruz and nearby towns.

We are a great business with lots of opportunity for someone who brings intelligence, ability, passion for gardening, and skills to the job. There is room for job growth. Or you can just be a (good) gardener! That’s the main thing.

If you don’t have your own clippers, no need to keep reading: we seek a pruner with experience. A smartphone is helpful as we often communicate by text, and you must be able to send and receive email. Own vehicle that can carry basic tools is also required and mileage will be reimbursed.

We are based in Santa Cruz but work throughout the area. We are organic and do not use chemicals or blowers. We provide high quality professional service. We care about workers and have a family-oriented business culture.

The kinds of jobs you will be working on include landscape maintenance and fine gardening, as well as edibles and planting projects. Tasks include pruning, deadheading, raking and sweeping, planting, amending soils, fertilizing (including foliar feeding), irrigation fixes, etc. Business hours are 8:30-5:00.

• Must have plant knowledge (some Latin and hort school would be great)
• Must have at least one year of gardening experience – more experience is better
• Must love gardening and feel passionate about it
• Believe in ecological methods
• Polite with customers and neat appearance
• Can work independently or with another staff member or crew
• Able to take direction
• Personally accountable; can self-supervise
• Timely, responsible, reliable, dependable, friendly
• Physically energetic and able-bodied to do rigorous work; can lift up to 50 lbs.
• Able to make a 1 year minimum commitment.

Please email Jillian explaining why you are a good fit for the job, and attach a resume and three references. Thank you!

Garden Maintenance Assistant

Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping is looking for an upbeat, energetic bicycle-friendly Garden Maintenance Assistant to join our Tread Lightly team. We provide high quality service to customers without the use of toxic chemicals or gas-powered equipment, such as blowers. We practice ecological methods.

The Tread Lightly Assistant will perform landscape maintenance, traveling between clients by bicycle using a trailer. The bicycle routes are currently in the Westside and Seabright neighborhoods. Another route is served by truck in the Greater Santa Cruz area. This is a fast-moving position where you may visit 5-8 clients in a day, as one of a team of two. The work is typical garden maintenance: weeding, raking, fertilizing, pruning, deadheading, etc. Some clients have small lawns, but lawn care is not a main emphasis.

• Love working outdoors with plants
• Love bike-riding or bike-touring
• Positive, can-do attitude
• Cooperative, flexible and patient with co-workers
• Neat appearance
• Fun to work with

• 1 year garden maintenance experience
• Physically able to ride a bicycle with a trailer with tools
• Punctual, with good time management skills
• Detail-oriented, and able to follow directions
• Must have a smartphone, pruning shears, and gloves
• Can lift 50 lbs. or more
• High school diploma; some college preferred
• 1 year minimum commitment
• Must be able to use apps like T-Sheets, and must be able to receive and send occasional emails

• 1 year minimum horticulture, gardening, landscaping or nursery experience
• Horticultural education or landscaping certification
• Drip irrigation experience
• Bike touring experience

• Establish and maintain cordial, cooperative relationships with co-workers
• Communicate personal issues that may affect performance

DAYS/ HOURS: Monday-Tuesday, 8:30am-5:00pm minimum. More hours are available if desired working with us in the areas of fine gardening, installation of new landscapes, landscape clean-ups, irrigation, etc.

To apply, email Jillian explaining why you are a good fit for the position, and include a resume detailing your relevant experience, plus three references. Please include your cell phone number and personal email address.