References – What Our Customers Have to Say About Their Landscapes

These are letters our customers have sent us after we finished work on their yards. Each of these testimonials talk about the work Cal-Native Landscaping did…and how they're the envy of the neighborhood now!


We are very pleased with the landscaping performed by Cal-Native and Dave Raphael. Weeks after the completion, cars are still stopping or slowing down as they drive by our new front landscaping. The selection of rock walls and plants is almost magical, and beyond what we had expected. Most of all, we enjoy both the uniqueness of our yard and the Cal-Native look that has caught our attention for years. Even our landscaping-knowledgeable friends and neighbors were impressed by the end product.

I am glad you are easy to work with and thanks for consulting us on a few key decisions. Your landscaping crew was very courteous. We are very happy with the new look your design has given to our home.

Dave, you are a magician.

Chris and Vangie

If you are looking for an incredibly talented and amazing landscape designer, look no further. Dave Raphael of Cal Native Landscaping is all that and more.

Dave and team just finished our landscaping project and they did an outstanding job. They have transformed our plain old backyard and front yard into an immaculate heavenly garden. We never thought our backyard and front yard could look this beautiful. It's truly breathtaking. The first thing we do every morning before going to work, and right after we get back, is go outside to enjoy and appreciate our new enchanted gardens created by Dave. We absolutely love it.

We interviewed many landscape designers, and we didn't feel like any of them could deliver on their vision and get even close to what we wanted and envisioned. We wanted to get our landscaping done, but needless to say we were getting really frustrated with not finding the right person. Then Dave came along. He is not like any other landscape designer you'll meet; a true artist, straightforward, knows what he is doing, and has a vision that he can confidently deliver on. He immediately saw the potential in our backyard and gave us a glimpse of what it could possibly look like once he is done with it. We hired him right on the spot. Best decision made!

Dave has a terrific crew, they work well together efficiently and effectively to get the job done on time and on budget as promised. Thank you Dave and crew, for a doing such a fantastic job. You went well above and beyond our expectations.

Marv and Clara

Dave Raphael has landscaped my yard not just once, but twice. Frankly, I am very picky when it comes to landscaping and Dave is the only one who has exceeded my expectations. Quite simply he is the best, hands down. There are a number of competitors who try to imitate him but you can't top the original. There's Cal Native, and then there's everyone else. If you want to transform your yard and increase your home's value, there is no one better.

Seth N.

Dear Dave,

I cannot thank you enough for the beautiful garden and stone work you did for me. I knew it would be beautiful because I have seen some of your work. But I never dreamed that you could take a small, mostly flat front yard and turn it into an enchanted garden. It is absolutely more than I could ever have imagined. I am glad that I gave you a free hand to do what you thought best, because I could never have suggested anything close to what you have created.

I really love all of the texture you added by creating different levels of ground with stones, and with so many different types of plants. Your men were wonderful. They worked very hard and accomplished so much in a small amount of time. They took time to answer my questions. They cleaned up at the end of every day. I also appreciated the fact that you spent so much time on the site while the work was being done. Hiring Cal-Native was the best landscaping decision I have ever made.

Judy Anderson

As you pass through neighborhoods up and down the Peninsula, certain yards arrest your attention, make you stop to admire the lush beauty of the plants and the natural placement of the stone. Cal Native gardens stand out; Dave Raphael's artistic landscaping is immediately recognizable.

I've taken great pleasure in my Cal Native landscaping for the past 6 years. I look forward to the fiery red of my coral bark maples in the gray winter months and the heavenly scent of daphnes on the earliest spring days. Whether your garden is in sun or shade, Dave can completely transform it from bland to spectacular in a few short days, with minimal disruption. He studies the grounds and develops a vision for the space with creative placement of rocks, pebbles and boulders and with an eye for color, texture and plant shape in all seasons. He personally selects high quality plants in generous quantities and scours nurseries for unique and unusual specimens, so no two gardens look alike. Because he starts with full-size plants, your garden will look beautiful immediately and will not deteriorate over time because plants outgrow their locations. He is committed to your long-term satisfaction.

Dave is an artist. Trust him to make your garden extraordinary!

Amy Choy

Talk about extreme make-overs—our front yard just received one from Cal-Native! We couldn't be happier with the results. At first we were a little nervous not having a plan to look at but Dave was generous with his time and showed us several of his previous jobs. All, needless to say, were remarkable. Dave has a true artist’s eye and knows how to turn an eye sore into an eye pleaser. Also he has a fantastic crew. Salvador and his team are the most efficient, considerate, hardworking people you'll ever have the pleasure of coming across. If you want your yard transformed into a living piece of artwork, you must call Dave and his miracle workers. Many thanks for our beautiful new yard. Thank you so much.

John and Anita
San Mateo, California

As I have said to you many times, the changes you have made over the years in our landscaping have done a great deal to improve my life. Seeing color, greenery and textural elements as only you can arrange them, has given me a palette of living art. Because we have invested so heavily in the improvements you have made I am concerned that we do all we can to protect that investment.

I will never forget how stunning our backyard looked the day you finished it. The front yard has been the topic of much discussion, many enquiries, and endless joy. Your novel creation, making two levels where there had been only one, makes our little corner of the world totally and completely unique. The definition created by the rock and other hardscape wowed me. There was a crispness and pristine quality which one could almost hear as well as see. Thank you so much.

San Mateo, California

I have been a Major League baseball umpire for the past 34 years. Having made calls in over 4300 games, 6 World Series, 4 All Star games and numerous playoff games. One of the best calls I made was calling Dave Raphael at Cal-Native Landscaping. Although Dave is not as bad to deal with as Billy Martin or Tommy Lasorda, I still came close to throwing him out of the game. (I mean yard!) I found that Dave has an excellent eye for detail and is a perfectionist when it comes to beautifying the home. I have now retired and Dave has transformed my yard into a beautiful place to enjoy and relax. Dave's work is never done, as he continues to check up on his work, making sure the plants and trees are flourishing.

This is one of the best calls I ever made.

Eddie Montague
Major League Umpire # 11
San Mateo, California

Dave Raphael and his hard-working, talented team just completed our landscape project and they did an amazing job. The flagstone work is far superior to any others we've seen. The team handled the cutting, shaping and placement with masterful skill. The landscaped areas are stunning. Dave's signature style of weaving natural rocks and stones establishes the garden bed and provides a backdrop for harmonious plantings that combine texture, shape and color. The beauty that this creates distinguishes him from all other designers. We've come to believe that Cal-Native Landscaping is the best design firm in the area, not just by the finished product, but by the entire process. My purpose in writing is to recommend that anyone thinking of hiring a landscape designer save time and spare themselves the aggravation by calling Dave Raphael first. I began my search for the perfect designer by interviewing several and letting them make suggestions. It became clear that their design sense was not a match with what I had envisioned. Some of what they wanted to do didn't make any sense and they wanted a lot of money for very little work.

My search became an arduous task. I admit I am picky. I have a degree in Art and didn't want cookie-cutter. I combed through a list of 60 or 70 landscapers, checking their work, licensing, etc. on the computer, and one by one crossing them off the list. My husband was getting impatient, saying that it can't be that difficult and to just find somebody. I could find ones that were nice enough, but very boring. Landscaping is an investment and I didn't want to settle. Just when I began to give up hope, up popped Cal-Native Landscaping, which somehow I had missed.

I looked on the computer expecting to see the same crap and was instantly blown away. My first reaction was, whoa, who is this guy? I was stunned. The relationship between the planting and stonework...the play of textures with unusual plants was mesmerizing. Dave gets it. He has an artistic eye and works magic, making his work come alive with personality. See for yourself... check out his website. He does what few can do.

Did the drive-by thing to confirm what I already knew. Met with Dave and worked out the details. He doesn't use a plan which is fine with me as it tends to give the garden a paint-by-number look. Instead, he lets each space dictate what it needs and creates as he goes. Our backyard needed to be terraced. When I asked how many retaining walls there would be, his answer was, whatever it needs. Great answer. Others recommended CT Bluestone or Arizona flagstone even though they didn't compliment my house. In two seconds, Dave suggested the perfect stone that looks fabulous with the house. He had solutions for everything I felt was a problem; he worked within our budget, and promised he wouldn't leave the site until we were happy with the job. I had found the perfect landscape designer... what a relief. When the job was done, the transformation was incredible. The whole team worked so hard, and was so courteous that I can't thank them enough. To me, the success of the job would be measured in seeing my husband's reaction. He had been on a business trip and, being a scientist who is usually in a hurry to get to work, I wasn't sure what he would say.

Well, my husband arrives home and gets out of the cab, and upon seeing the yard for the first time says, "H-o-l-y S-h-i-t" three times as he slowly walks around the house in total amazement. After touring the yard he said, "This guy is big time... it's so worth the money." After receiving countless compliments, I have only one thing to add, call Dave.

Pacifica, California

Dear Dave,

It's been 6 months since you transformed our front yard, and I still smile to myself as I drive up our driveway. You've done such an amazing job. The colors, even in the dead of winter, are gorgeous! There are so many places to look that bring us immense joy. Dave, you truly are an artist! When we first met, you told us to "trust" you and that you'd promise to make our yard "look really nice." Well, you definitely delivered on your promise! You and your crew were always prompt, professional, attentive, and very easy to work with. Once the work began, your crew worked tirelessly every day and always cleaned up before leaving. The amount of time it took for the transformation was amazing. Only 2 weeks from the start and you were moving on to your next lucky client. We had other companies tell us it would be 4 to 6 weeks. Not having a driveway for a good portion of that time was not what we wanted to hear. One of the primary reasons we chose you was the speed in which you said you could get the job done. And, we were only without our driveway for one week, which included 2 days of demolition. We still get comments from people walking up the street as to how fast the work was done and how beautiful it looks. Your price came right in at what your quote was, and you even did a couple of additional things as you got into the job. Unexpectedly, you created a flagstone walkway to get us around the lawn. Everything just flows so nicely, we couldn't be any happier. We have already recommended you and mention your name whenever people ask. We look forward to working with you again!

Steve and Julie
Redwood City, California


In truth we were a bit lost. We met with a number of landscape professionals and they asked what we liked and what we wanted. We didn't really know how to answer. We had a few unorganized ideas. So we iterated on sketch after sketch for month after month, but it felt like we were standing still.

Then came Dave in his Cal-Native shirt. He had great ideas for us. He listened to what we liked and then he created the design. He does well working independently. At first I wanted to go to the nursery with him to choose plants, but once I saw what he was doing, I knew I did not need to set foot in a nursery. He was choosing the perfect plants that complemented each other beautifully. He places incredible attention and focus on the design, and is a master.

He basically said "Trust me, I know what I'm doing and I'll make this place beautiful". We asked, "Can we see a drawing?" Dave answered he doesn't do drawings. Wow, no drawings and working on "trust me" was not really in either of our natures. Yet there was something about Dave and his approach that compelled us both to take the leap of faith and go for it. Just a gut feeling helped immensely by seeing a number of examples of Dave's work at other locations. Trusting our gut feeling by trusting Dave was absolutely the right thing to do. His team's work completely transformed our home. I love driving up to the house now. Walking the path to the front door. Just sitting on the front porch. Looking out at the back yard. There is no area or detail where I think "if I could only change that." Rocks that I first questioned before the work was complete now look perfect. I couldn't imagine changing anything.

And it is not just us. Neighbors and cars passing by slow down. I was jogging behind another jogger and she literally stopped in her tracks to look at our yard / Dave's work. She asked if that was my garden and immediately wanted Dave's contact information. Neighbors have thanked us for this gift to the whole neighborhood. Bottom line, Dave definitely has his own style, but he's a natural at what he does. My mother-in-law simply commented to Dave "you're an artist." Dave replied "I'm just a guy with a high school education." Luckily the two aren't mutually exclusive. Dave also has a great team that works together very efficiently. We were amazed at how fast the work was completed, while maintaining the expertise that is a signature of Cal-Native's work.

Thank you so much!
Denise and Eric
San Mateo, California

I cannot begin to thank you enough for the amazing job you and your team did at our home. We are beyond delighted with the results and you surpassed our expectations in every way. Just when I think I have chosen a favorite part of the landscaping, I discover another area that enchants me. I truly now understand the concept of a secret garden. Your selection of plants and trees was amazing. We reveled in how large and perfectly selected they were. The maturity of the trees makes the beautiful landscaping look as if it has been a part of our home forever, but it has only been a week! I so appreciate how you selected a perfect location for each plant and flower. You thought about what we would be looking at from each location.

One of my favorites is looking out the kitchen window and seeing the intense red of the Bougainvillea. Salvador was wonderful to work with as well. He and the crew were a pleasure to have each day. They were incredibly hard working, kind, tidy and set a new standard. I have never seen such a hard-working and efficient team. They even went beyond allowing our young sons to become involved in the project by letting them dig holes and plant a few of the plants themselves. Our sons are very proud to tell all the neighbors and passersby about their involvement, as they stop to comment about the beautiful new landscaping.

Yes, there has been lots of stopping by. All the neighbors are beyond delighted with the beauty they get to experience as well. Cars slow down to take it in. In fact, our cross the street neighbor has been sitting outside in the morning to take it in. One comment was that our house was there and then from out of nowhere came the most beautiful landscaping. As you know you were at the end of our remodel project. The project did not go smoothly to say the least. I was at my wits end. You made the frustrations of the past six months disappear. You delivered what you promised. In fact you went beyond and beyond. If only the whole home project was as easy and a pleasure!

What a wonderful way to end. Art comes in so many forms. Dave, what you have is a gift. Not all of us chose to use the gifts that have been given to us. Luckily for us you did and have shared it with us. Please feel free to use us as a reference in the future as the more homes that have been touched with your talent, the more beautiful the Bay Area will be.

Jen and Brent
San Carlos, California

We would like to thank you so much for the beautiful landscape work you and your team have created for our home. Both the front and back yards of our house have been transformed to a work of art, especially with the perfectly selected colorful plants, trees, and shrubs. Our neighbors and people driving by are inspired by the unique hallmark stone and boulder design. We are also grateful for the timely manner in which our project was completed. You and your workers were always on time and worked diligently till the end of the day.

We had originally planned on going with a contractor who prepared a set of detailed conceptual plans and blueprints, and who also wanted to go forward with the landscaping job. However, after looking at your portfolio and seeing homes you have landscaped, we were absolutely convinced that we wanted to replace the original firm with your company.

Our project using this original contractor would have taken six times as long as the time in which you completed the work for us. We could not have been more satisfied with that decision. Please feel free to use us as a reference for any of your future clients. We would be happy to enlighten them of your creativity, timeliness, and superb quality of work. Thanks again.

Mary and Jeff
Burlingame, California

Thank you for the tremendous job that you and your crew did in transforming the slab of concrete and grass behind our home to a beautifully landscaped backyard. As we enjoy the view from our kitchen window, we still cannot believe how much you surpassed our expectations. We were hesitant when we agreed to move ahead with the landscaping project because it was tough to envision how it would look, but our faith in your creative eye was well rewarded.

Not only is the final product perfect, but you surpassed our expectations in every way. You were responsive to our calls and questions. Your crew was friendly and incredibly neat as they cleaned up each day. We were also very pleased at how fast and efficient the job was done. We sincerely thank you and please feel free to use us as a reference.

Warm regards,
Frank and Peggy
San Mateo, California

I am very happy with my new Cal-Native landscaping! Within a few short days, Dave and the Cal-Native Landscaping crew transformed my front yard from an overgrown hodge-podge of unsuccessful fruit trees, leggy shrubs and ordinary plants surrounding a buckled, aggregate walkway, to an elegant, sunny, private garden with a new flagstone walkway and front porch. I was so pleased with the results, that I had Dave re-landscape the back yard as well. He made use of existing large oak trees and Japanese maples to create a beautiful, contrastingly shady, soothing, fragrant, woodland garden, while screening out my children’s sports area.

Before choosing Cal-Native, I looked at hundreds of yards. Because landscaping is a significant investment, I wanted something very special, yet understated, that would add value to my home and would last and look fresh for many years. Over and over, I was drawn to Cal-Native landscapes. I was very impressed with Dave’s extensive knowledge of plants, their proper growing conditions and irrigation and maintenance needs. He selected plants suitable to my yard’s microclimate and exposure and chose trees that wouldn’t outgrow their space or create unwanted debris. He was very generous in his choice of plants, using large trees, full-size bushes and vines, and loaded gardenias. He handpicked plants and trees from several different nurseries that were not only healthy, vigorous specimens, but that were unusual and high quality types of plants, creating a balance of evergreen and deciduous trees, a blend of textures of foliage, and color throughout the year, even in winter. Dave was very creative in dealing with the unique challenges of my yard, which include underground springs and unwanted views. The Cal-Native Landscaping crew was efficient, competent and professional. My new landscaping has dramatically improved the appeal of my home and brings me pleasure every day. I heartily recommend Cal-Native.

Belmont, California

I have to tell you how absolutely beautiful our yard is now that you and your crew have transformed our backyard space. I didn’t think you would be able to top the gorgeous landscaping you created in our old home and you far surpassed our expectations….again! Everyone who comes in the yard remarks on the feeling of tranquility and beauty created in the corner near the creek. You were able to create an atmosphere that fit our lifestyle and yet still maintain your design trademark for beauty and elegance. Your innovative design transformed our yard into an extension of our home! Your crew was always there on time and worked hard. You can certainly tell they are committed to doing an exceptional job and take great pride in their work. Thank you again for creating an absolutely perfect garden.

Rick and Emily
San Carlos, California

A full year has passed and our yard continues to thrive and grow more beautiful each day. Neighbors and friends still remark upon our garden each time they walk past. Our Eichler home, located in the San Mateo Highlands, presented the Cal-Native Landscaping design crew a challenge with the soggy clay soil offering poor drainage and no system to carry the roof water from the yard.

A 360-degree landscape project, Dave Raphael and his efficient crew renovated our front, side and back yards. The project began with the installation of a French drainage system, which successfully directed the roof water and rain downpours to the street. Our Eichler slab foundation now stays dry. The driveway pavers suggested by Dave compliments the flagstone laid for the walkways and patio areas. The lighting illuminates this earthly paradise every evening. Best of all, the landscape transformation increased our living space by creating two large functional and welcoming patios.

It does not take one long to recognize the signature design of the Cal-Native Landscaping that graces so many homes on the Peninsula. Garden aesthetics appreciated in the eyes of the beholder passing by as well as the prideful homeowner. Like an artist, Dave thoughtfully considered our garden ideas and improved them beyond our expectation. With our Eichler home walls of glass, we can adore the beauty of our natural garden year round. A weekend rarely passes by without one of us remarking how much we enjoy and treasure our wonderful backyard retreat.

Michael and Laura
Redwood City, California

Unbelievable work you and your crew has performed for me! After ten years of battling the weeds, I am still in disbelief every time I walk through my beautiful gardens. I truly appreciate your artistic design with your use of such beautiful and unusual plants with their different textures and colors. The use of boulders and rocks with the moss is a wonderful touch. The design of more levels and terracing on the slopes added more dimension. The use of such large and established trees, bushes and flowering plants is something I have never seen another landscaper use when I have seen other completed projects. Other landscape projects done don't even compare to you and your crew's workmanship. Not to mention the beautiful Connecticut bluestone patio that your crew installed, absolutely gorgeous! It is the highlight of the entire yard.

Dave, you amazed me when you kept bringing in more and more plantings throughout the project. Even up to the last hour your crew was there, you still brought in the citrus you knew I wanted. It is very much appreciated. Now when I drive down my street toward the house in the evening, I am just in awe to see how the lightings accent the yard and the house. Thank you again to you and your fabulous crew. My mother and I are enjoying our pleasant surroundings every day. You will be highly recommended by me to my neighbors and friends!

Redwood City, California

Thank you so much for giving us the backyard retreat we've always wanted. Your choice of wonderful perennial plantings has given us a natural and serene environment that brings beauty with every season. The flagstone patio that you designed provides a perfect view of the garden, and is our favorite spot for morning coffee and relaxing dinners. We appreciate your hard working crew, who were always on time in the morning, and were very courteous. They got the job done in record time, and our whole neighborhood commented on how well they cleaned up after each day's work.

Your attention to detail made our yard special, from the beautiful boulders you selected, to the different focal points you provided. There is something lovely to look at from every window, and visitors to our home are always drawn immediately outside to enjoy the space. We are very happy that we chose Cal-Native to redesign our yard. It's been a pleasure working with you.

Norm and Alice
Foster City, California

Having Cal-Native Landscape Design landscape our front yard was the easiest home improvement project we have ever done. We reviewed your portfolio of before and after photos; drove by some of your prior landscaping projects; loved your designs and plant selection; and discovered they endure the test of time!! With only a glimpse of your design ideas, we handed the whole project over to you and you did not disappoint. You promised a completed project in six days and came through with a wonderful garden that changed the entire look of our front yard, home and neighborhood.

Your employees' work ethic, efficiency, neatness/cleanliness and professionalism should set the standard in your industry. Your foreman on our job, Salvador, was especially terrific! Thank you very much for a wonderful experience and for our gorgeous front yard!! We love it, including the efficient irrigation and lighting systems, and based on the numerous unsolicited comments we have received from our neighbors and passersby, so do they!

Dean and Bev Heatherington
Belmont, California

Dave may come across as arrogant and opinionated (though you soon begin to realize it's all a big act) he can be both, but not without reason—his landscapes and his landscaping team are tops! Cal-Native Landscaping does it all and they do it really well. They use top of the line supplies for irrigation, lighting, stone work, and plantings. And they work like a well-oiled machine with company-owned trucks, tools and equipment. Before consulting with Dave, we had seen 4 of his older landscapes, done more than 5 years ago, and 4 completed in the past 2 years. They are all impressive and the older ones have matured beautifully. Dave's team was just great to work with: courteous, on time, and most of all, efficient and experienced at their work. We and our neighbors were amazed each day at the progress.

Last year we consulted a landscape architect to develop a conceptual drawing. She told us that it was unrealistic to expect that we could 'install' her plan for less than $100,000. We thought seriously about doing it ourselves and also had estimates in consideration of hiring out each job (stone work, planting, irrigation, lighting, drainage, etc.).

It's hard to find any one landscape company that does it all and does it with artistic vision. Dave, did not see our architect's conceptual drawing, (he refuses to work someone else's plan so we stayed quiet about it). But he created a magical landscape far superior to her drawing, at a fraction of the $100,000+ she predicted! We decided to "let go and let David do his thing."

Working with Dave is like working with any real artist. Don't try to tell him what to do. Look at his work then decide if it's for you. Temperamental and a perfectionist, he relies on his vision and his team. There are no sketches, drawings, measurements, picking of plants or lights, etc. But what we got was worth all of our patience and every cent!

Mark and Marian
San Mateo, California

Just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and your crew for the beautiful job you did on our landscaping. We constantly get comments from our friends and folks just walking by on how gorgeous our yard looks. In fact, you did such a great job that the City of Redwood City recognized our house as having the most beautiful landscaping in Redwood Shores. You have added not only beauty but value to our home. Thank you so much.

Ken and Yvonne
Redwood Shores, California