Healdsburg landscaper Jake Moss builds top garden at San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

Healdsburg landscape designer and contractor Jake Moss, who mastered the wizardry of creating overnight landscapes on the DIY Network and HGTV, has won the top honor at this weekend’s San Francisco Flower and Garden Show for a 900-square-foot landscape he installed in two days.

Working with wife Brandi and a team of four guys, Moss put in the show-stopping garden by creating detailed drawings ahead of time.

“You have to be able to set this up like a Lego set,” said Moss by phone from the show, which runs through Sunday at the San Mateo Convention Center. “We have these borders, and every piece is marked out.”

The design was awarded The Golden Gate Cup, the equivalent of best of show.

Moss ( is well practiced in creating instant projects under insane deadlines and conditions. Moss was the host of DIY’s “Yardcore” for four seasons and appeared regularly on “Yard Crashers,” “Bath Crashers” and “Turf War.”

“Doing all those shows, it can be a nightmare, and it’s fun at the same time,” he said. “I’m a little masochistic. I must like to torment myself. But all that schooled me and forced me into what I do now because it’s not a normal situation. It’s very stressful and yet made me better. It was like boot camp Special Forces stuff.”

His winning M.O. involves holding a strategy meeting with his crew a month ahead of time, like a general laying out his battle plan. He also made sure all the major elements were built ahead of time. Those included a 5-foot-tall Agave sculpture by his brother Joel Moss and a 10-foot tall water wall.

He calls the 900-square-foot garden “Ancient Modern” to reflect the mix of primitive and contemporary elements representing water, earth and stone. All of the plants are types that have existed since ancient times, like Sago palms, bamboo and succulents.

Among the striking elements are copper art panels cut with high impact water jets by P&L Specialties of Santa Rosa, which specializes in manufacturing stainless steel equipment.

The panels are placed on reclaimed crane mats that are big timber bolted together and used by heavy equipment to drive over soft surfaces at construction sites. Moss bought his at Channel Lumber in Richmond.

“These particular mats were used to make the San Francisco Presidio tunnel,” he said. “They’re weathered beautifully and have a nice patina and character.” Moss also used the mats to make planting borders and an outdoor dining set.

Everything in the display garden could be installed in an actual yard. In fact, you could buy the entire thing for $85,000, including installation in most average settings. Individual elements are also for sale or special order, like the table and chair set ($2,990) and the sculpture ($3,990).

Two other Sonoma County companies have showcase gardens at the show. Randy Shadrick of Outdoor Environments of Cotati built a display landscape show called “The Garden of Villa Bella Corte, which features a bocce ball court and fire pit. Debbie and Marty Thorsson of DMT Design in Petaluma also entered a garden.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at or 521-5204.

Meg McConahey

Features, The Press Democrat

Like most everyone, I love a good feature story that takes me somewhere I’ve never been or tells me something I don’t know. Where can I take you? Who in Sonoma County would you like to know better? I cover the people, places and ideas that make up Sonoma County, with general features, people profiles and home and garden, interior design and architecture stories. Hit me up with your tips, ideas and burning questions.


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