Garden Designer Molly Wood Shares Her Secrets for Outdoor Rooms

Molly Wood Garden Design, based in Costa, Mesa, California, is a boutique design firm that has completed more than 500 landscape design projects throughout Orange County, as well as properties in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties. Started by Garden Designer Molly Wood, who studied art and design at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco before moving to Laguna Beach, California, getting what she calls her “practical education” of working at a local nursery and literally “digging in the dirt.”

Molly Wood, founder and owner of Molly Wood Garden Designs

The company’s work has been featured in Sunset magazine, Coastal Living, Luxe and Better Homes and Gardens, as well as being featured on Western Interiors Gold List as one of the west coast’s most influential landscape designers. Molly was also the recipient of the 2012 Stars of Design award by the Pacific Design Center Los Angeles. Molly shared a little of her insights into landscape design and her style with us.

Tell us a little about your design business and how you got started.
Molly Wood: We create personalized outdoor spaces and complete landscape design, including conceptual landscape plans, construction documents, installation and final decoration. I started solo in 1995 as a one woman operation after working at a local nursery and maintaining private gardens.  In the past 20+ years Molly Wood Garden Design sprouted and has grown into what we have today along with two retail shops in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach.

How would you describe your design style?
Molly Wood: My constant hashtag is #californiagarden. I am fascinated with the beauty and simplicity of symmetry, the sense of place and permanence that structure provides, and the concept of creating spaces that evoke emotion. Most of all I am inspired by the effortless perfection of nature.  I would like to think my style reflects both- that artful overlap of the man-made and natural.

Molly Wood Garden Designs Shop Garden

What would you say differentiates landscape design in California from the rest of the country?
Molly Wood: California landscape design is so unique because of our perfect Mediterranean climate! There is this diverse array of plant life that thrives here, and with the consistent sunshine and inspiring coast- we live in an environment that invites us to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors year round. We have an outdoor living lifestyle where the landscape design is just as (if not more so) crucial than the interior design. Our gardens are such important extensions of our home because we spend so much time there.

Name a few of your favorite plants that you think every garden needs.
Molly Wood: I use a combination of mounting shrubs, verticals, and graphic shapes- examples are pittosporum crassifolium ‘nana’ miscanthus adagio and agave attenuate.

Garden design in progress

How do you customize outdoor rooms for your clients?
Molly Wood: I start by walking the space with the client during an initial consultation at their home. I take a lot of pictures and listen them about their needs and goals for the space. They will receive a proposal following the consultation and if they move forward it is a lot of coordinating with the client to personalize their outdoor space to fit their wishes.

When it comes to outdoor furnishings, what do you look for?
Molly Wood: I look for style, practicality and comfort! Also blending old with new- I think that these pieces are not only relevant now but have an everlasting aura that keep things from dating.

What are a few of your favorite details that you think every landscape design should have?
Molly Wood: Love 🙂

And, for the holidays, it looks like you have several events. Can you tell us a little about your holiday tabletop designs?
Molly Wood: I show how to take the look from Harvest to holiday with a few changes of elements.