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How We Work

Welcome to our practice. In the short writings below, you will find our approach to the practice of Landscape Design and our specialized field of expertise, Ecoliterate Landscape Design.



Design Driven | Client Inclusive | Ecologically Literate  

Design Driven because we are, first, professional designers hired to do a job for which we will be held accountable for the outcomes. This work is our profession, our passion, and for myself, my purpose.


Our practice is the philosophical, practical, moral, and strategic base we use to guide us down a structured path while allowing for the fluid evolution of your design. Since we make a career and a life out of designing things that have not yet existed, we need this grounded practice to return to. By starting from this point, we can have a solid ground of accountability.


Design Driven places the practice of design at the forefront. Designers should serve their clients, and at Elder Creek, we happily do so. But we MUST serve the practice first, or all is lost, including your investment and our reputation. The practice of design is served by both the designer and the clients. Through this commitment to the practice, the design emerges. This emergence is the highest service we can offer you.


If the professional practice and processes are left aside, or worse, cannibalized by the designer and client, it is rendered a mere shadow of itself. This leaves us no guiding path to manage the dynamic tensions that are at the core of landscape design.


Design is an amalgam of craft and art. If it is left without a professional structure, it is merely an idea, often stuck in the early phases of vision with no chance at becoming reality. If it is met with control and heavy-handedness, it will wither and die, failing to produce anything close to what is possible. This practice is meant to give us a framework to maintain balance.



Design Driven | Client Inclusive | Ecologically Literate

Client Inclusive is the critical, empathy-driven component of our work.

We are designing outdoor living spaces customized for you. Therefore, we choose to include you and your preferences at every turn. A healthy client relationship is one of the most beautiful parts of our work and we strive to balance inclusivity with judicious use of your time.


Designing a space that is an intimate part of your life requires empathy, mutual honesty, competency, vulnerability, and trust.  Trust that we are listening, trust that we have the professional skills to deliver, the interpersonal skills to stay engaged, and overall, trust in our process.



Design Driven | Client Inclusive | Ecologically Literate

How can Elder Creek place eco-literacy last in this sequence?


In practice, eco-literacy is not last- it is integrated into everything we do. Elder Creek does not have an externally derived checklist of items that we implement, it is woven into our DNA. We have been navigating the intersections of client desires, available technologies, eco-literacy, and practical application for close to a quarter century in this current practice alone.


It is a hard truth for us that you probably don't hire us, first, for eco-literacy. Primarily, you hire us because we are experienced professionals that can deliver. Eco-literacy is often the second or third tenant we are chosen for. This is a result of the practical state of the world and times we live in.


We would expect nothing different and are grateful that you place eco-literacy as an important tenant for choosing your design team.


Eco-literacy is not about guilt; it is about informed decision-making. 



Design Driven | Client Inclusive | Ecologically Literate

When we engage all three, we are leveraged to our highest potential as a design firm and are well-positioned to achieve the highest desired results for you and your project; A beautiful and functional outdoor living space that is custom fit to your lifestyle, integrated with the land and architecture, and incorporates multiple ecosystem services.


Within every design project, there exists a myriad of dynamic tensions. Some of the more common interfaces are your wants and needs, budgets and timelines, eco-literacy, land constraints and opportunities, team personalities and processes, and the evolving clarity and effectiveness of our practice. Attempting to eliminate most of these tensions is a fool’s errand- they are a part of the nature of design and are not to be avoided or even dulled. Instead, they are to be masterfully navigated, and act as key indicators and predecessors of the finished design.


Navigating these dynamic tensions is part the professionals' work. They reveal the reasons for the "why this design." These tensions are some of the unseen critical components that we harness to fuel creative solutions...


It is the pressure in the hand that you lean against while partner-dancing, it is the heat that creates molten metal rendering it ready to take a new form.

By engaging these forces, we feel the limitations and opportunities at levels unseen with shallow engagement. These tensions constitute the invisible frame that dances with the project's physical constraints.


Through this lens, we find our path to gracefully merge your needs and desires, the spirit of the architecture, and the ecosystem it rests within.


We embrace the amorphous chaos of early design and utilize our practice and our processes to move it to an ordered state in an artistic, efficient, and time-sensitive manner.



Are we right for you?

We aren't right for everyone and we can only serve a select few each year.

Our first goal together is to explore whether we are a match.


If we sound like your people, please reach out. I will personally walk you through our process and help us discover if we are a good fit for your project.




Rick Taylor


Elder Creek

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Photo: Erica Ohlsen; Elder Creek Native Meadow Project

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