Highest recommendation possible. Brian and his crew are super easy to work with, very creative, and have a great attention to detail with everything they do - schedule, design, cleanliness, craftsmanship, plant selection, lighting, irrigation, drought resistance planning. Timeline and budget were perfectly aligned with our expectations. Met with a few other (stuffy) SF companies with much higher bids on the job, so glad we went with Zenscape.
They did a complete overhaul of our yard, removing a big 60’s brick patio, a dangerous palm tree, a crusty old lemon tree, and a plum tree that was past its prime. Brian and the team were very informative throughout the entire process, keeping us posted on their work schedule, how they were keeping to the proposed schedule and budget, and all the time allowing for tweaks to the design and work as we moved forward. They were able to use some of the existing plants and incorporate them into a design that was ideal for our family. It was a great experience working with them and we couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
— Tony, San Francisco
Brian is one of the most thoughtful, proactive and active listeners I have ever met. My son has some special needs and he took the time to really understand what type of equipment he needs and how to fit it in and still make a beautiful design. His crew work harder than I have ever seen, ahead of schedule from very early on. Brian also sent regular e-mails to update me on progress and checked in on important aspects while being able to also make judgement calls on certain items he knew I wouldn’t want involvement in. Throughout the process I felt involved without being overwhelmed. Can’t say enough good things about Brian, his crew and zenscape, would give 15 stars if I could.
— Sharon, San Francisco
Brian is amazing. He totally transformed our overgrown backyard into a beautiful garden retreat. He listened to what we wanted (hot tub, colorful plants, a lawn that would survive our dogs running on it) and not only delivered, but completely exceeded our expectations. He stayed on budget and finished on time. He was truly a pleasure to work with!
— Kristin, San Francisco
Brian’s work ethic, attention to detail, and integrity also far exceeded our expectations. My wife is extremely picky when it comes to construction details - this is probably the first time that we met a contractor who was actually pickier than us! Brian wanted to create the perfect backyard experience for us and spared no time or expense in making this so. Brian also spent a lot of time making sure that the new backyard was not just going to have a pretty face. It turns out that the “soil” in our yard was mostly clay, which is why we were having so many drainage problems. Brian’s team replaced most of the clay with good soil and put in extra drainage pipes to ensure that there would be no future problems. It goes without saying that we highly, highly recommend Brian and his Zenscape team for your next landscape project. You’ll be fortunate to have him on your team.
— Rolo, San Mateo
Brian is amazing! In the last two months, he’s transformed our blah backyard into gorgeous Zen retreat - from our cool, curvy ipe deck to our amazing slate walkway and stone water feature. We’re so thrilled with what he’s created for us! He is a true visionary with an amazing eye for design.
— Kathleen, San Francisco
I am writing this because I want people to know about the great service that Brian and his Zenscape provided to us this summer when they worked on our San Francisco Bernal Heights backyard.
First, Brian’s responsiveness. Back in the early summer of 2013, I was contacting various landscapers for our backyard project, some of whom were referrals from friends or professionals. Very few called back. Brian, who was referred to me from a friend, was one of the ones who called back promptly. We scheduled a consultation pretty quickly, and he scheduled our project soon thereafter. During the project itself, Brian communicated options to me whenever they arose, and he quickly called back whenever I had questions or things to talk about. I should note that during one week of the project, I was out of town, and so this communication was key.
Second, Brian’s landscaping design and installation work. In looking for a landscaping professional, I searched for someone who could come up with ideas despite vague and often unknowledgable input from me, the client. I am far from an expert in this area and don’t have much time to do things myself, and I therefore needed someone who could think of ideas that fit my general preferences and style. From my uninspiring mulch-covered backyard, Brian created a very peaceful outdoor family room, with a slate garden, a beautiful moss rock wall that looks like it had been there forever, ipe and slate benches, new foliage including a new Japanese maple as the centerpiece, and, per our choice after Brian’s consultation and suggestion, a low-maintenance and artificial grass play area for our daughter. Brian also added a drip irrigation system, lighting to highlight the foliage at night, and timers for both. Brian’s work reflected the vision that we had expressed to him, made better by Brian’s knowledge of what would look and work best with the existing backyard that we had. And importantly, he gave us a beautiful, low maintenance backyard that we could use for relaxing, entertaining, or playing with our daughter and our dog.
Third, Brian’s professional and courteous service. In addition to being responsive and communicative, Brian offered great ideas, like having a water feature that we chose not to do, without pushing them or pressuring. I always felt like I was getting the work that I chose to have done. I also felt that Brian went the extra mile in his work. For example, Brian spent more time, effort, and, I think, money on his end (when our contract was already fixed) to get a perfectly-shaped and beautiful Japanese maple tree for our yard. He and his workers Noe and Noe manually carried that tree up our back steps and through a narrow gate to get the tree placed, and that was hard work. I know because I voluntarily helped. Another example is Brian’s work on our deck. Brian repainted our deck to compliment our backyard, and although I didn’t expect it, he also offered to paint additional decking on the side of the house that was not part of the backyard. I very much appreciated that. Finally, Brian was visibly courteous and respectful to his crew, who I thought he treated as partners in the work effort. Noe and Noe were both great, and I could tell that they respected Brian and enjoyed working for Zenscape.
Finally, Brian is a very nice and personable guy, and, similar to what others have posted, I thought he was easy to be around and very pleasant to work with. He was also very honest and trustworthy, which was important to me due to budget issues and the time we were away from home during the project.
I would highly recommend Brian and Zenscape to anyone who, like me, wants to have a peaceful and beautiful backyard. I was not one who was looking for a Zen space in my house or anything of that spiritual variety, but I certainly got one, as well as a backyard that I am now very happy with. Thanks, Brian and Zenscape!
— Mike, San Francisco
Brian finished my patio garden in the back of my NOPA condo and he definitely exceeded my expectations. Brian brings an artists creativity, broad knowledge of plants and garden landscaping, and a business like efficiency to getting things done on time and on budget. I highly recommend working with Brian and his team to create an amazing space for your backyard too.
— Alex, San Francisco
After talking with several different landscapers our TIC decided to go with Brian from Zenscape. Brian and his crew completely transformed our backyard into a functional and beautiful space. It was done very quickly and for a great price. The best part of the experience was Brian himself. He is a great guy, easy to communicate with and sincere. He is very creative and has a lot of passion for his work. I am very happy with the end result.
— Tara, San Francisco
Brian is a rare mix of artistic genius, Zen gardener, and master carpenter. After getting bids and hearing ideas from different landscapers, we chose Brian based on his concept, vision, and price. The finished Zen garden far surpassed my expectations. He and his crew were professional, courteous, and efficient. And at every step of the process I felt included - Brian listens and understands exactly what you are wanting and is able to execute on the vision perfectly. He also knows his stuff - building materials, soils, plants and trees, climate, garden maintenance. After the project wrapped up he helped me learn exactly how to maintain the garden space. I sit out there every day now and meditate.. I enthusiastically recommend Brian and Zenscape!
— Aaron, East Bay
Brian from Zenscape is a gifted and passionate landscape designer. He transformed our backyard from an asphalt slap into an oasis—a beautiful slate patio with several seating areas and a fire pit all surrounded by beautiful vegetation. Over the 5+ years since he installed our new backyard, the plants have filled out and it has turned into a lush retreat that I enjoy every day. He made the best possible use out of our San Francisco backyard so the space is appealing to look at while also versatile for many uses. I go out in the backyard regularly to enjoy meals, relax and meditate, do Qi gong, have parties, and even do the occasional weekend project like fix my bike. I show everyone who comes to my house the backyard and they love it. Brian’s excitement about how the vision comes together makes him a pleasure to work with and shines through in the details. The yard is easy to take care of and Brian has done regular maintenance once a year to help us make sure that the plants and trees are happy. I highly recommend Brian for his excellent design ascetic, good workmanship, and commitment to get the job done quickly.
— Christina, San Francisco
We had Zenscape landscape our restaurant’s courtyard. Brian, the owner, could not have been more helpful or talented. He took on the project like it was his own restaurant and made our outdoor dining space an absolute oasis for our customers. I cannot recommend the Zenscape team more - they are an absolute pleasure to work with! It is nice to find a business with so much heart, professionalism, and sheer talent. Brian is an absolute artist!
— Jennifer, Berkeley
Brian Ott at Zenscape completed our Mission District backyard this past June. We are extremely happy with the result. I met with several designers before choosing Brian, who was by far the most creative and excited about his work. When choosing a landscape person, you really want an artist as well as someone who knows how to work with stone (if you are doing hardscape). Brian is both an artist and a craftsmen who took extreme care in every step of the project. He is also an excellent listener. He provided a number of interesting designs, all of which seemed cool. We decided on an iron slate patio with decomposed granite and decomposed granite for our toddlers to play on. Ooh, we have a gorgeous and simple water feature - a basalt rock fountain surrounded by stones. Instead of a sand box, he recommended a round vat of small shiny rocks for the kids to play in, a much cleaner “sand box.” He also created a small raised deck made of epay, which is beautiful. We have lush drought tolerant plants and redwood boxes for our organic garden. He worked within our budget and met the challenge of working with two families (we share our backyard with our friends and downstairs neighbors). Our yard is completely transformed. As an added and very thoughtful touch - Brian brought redwood driftwood back from a camping vacation to complete the design! We use our yard every day and gather outside with our friends. Regarding cost, Brian’s rate is pretty standard based on the several bids we sought. We’ve added about 1,000 square feet of more useful space.
— Greg, San Francisco
Zenscape transformed the ‘ugliest back yard in the world’ to an oasis that draws us outside for hours every day.
We have retired in my husband’s childhood home, built in 1940, in the Outer Richmond. We’ve done a lot of work on the inside but the back yard remained a long, flat, sandy expanse. Recently we resolved to work on it, interviewed 4 landscape contractors, and thankfully choose Brian. He agreed with my idea of a slate patio and a meandering path leading to a smaller patio in the back. His talented stone worker, Louis, took irregular slate slabs, laid them out like a jigsaw puzzle, and then began the tedious cutting process and laid out not only the patios and winding path, but an additional spot for a slate bench (which he made), for my bird- watching, as well as a place for my husband’s herb garden.
Then Brian and his plant ‘maestro’ Noe went to work. They laid 4 huge, rolling, raised beds containing a myriad of trees, bushes, flowering pants, and succulents laced among interesting rocks and stones. Noe is an artist who places each plant and stone with the greatest care. Brian has a true genius for his designs as well as his ability to follow through to ‘make it happen’ and to incorporate his client’s needs. All 3 of them are hard workers who are truly invested in making you the most lovely space possible.
The real test was to show the results to our son, who lived in the house for a while, and my sister-in-law, who grew up in the house. They were truly in awe of the transformation, and found it almost impossible to believe that this was the same yard. The phrase, ‘work of art’ was spoken many times.
My husband and I whole-heartedly recommend Brian, Noe, and Lous, the Zenscape crew. Not only is our yard beautiful, but the plants are guaranteed for 2 years, the price for it was competitive, and the work completed as quickly as weather and the holidays allowed. You just cannot do any better!
— Kathleen, San Francisco
We ran across Zenscape through Yelp! and fell in love with the portfolio posted at This was the style we were searching for....something tranquil and zen with a modern twist. Our original front and side yards were boring and stale, and the backyard was an unusable slate of cement and pebbles. The main guy of Zenscape is Brian Ott. Super down to earth, friendly, and honest. He brought a book full of his other projects, many of which were not on his website, and we were convinced that we had to hire him.
Beyond just redoing the yard, Zenscape installed a new cedar fence, small deck with his signature curve, an elevated veggie garden and a small putting green (he outsourced this). Brian had free reign for his design; the only thing I requested was a few large boulders and some bamboo. It wasn’t like on HGTV where the homeowners are given a detailed diagram of exactly what the yard was going to look like. It was more blind faith that you entrusted in him - we knew we liked his style of work and let him run with it. I have to admit, it was a little nerve-racking not having the exact plans, but Brian is an artist and very passionate about his craft. He moved around fully planted trees and big rocks several times until he got it to his taste.
We wholeheartedly recommend Zenscape. We paid another landscaper around $10k the first time we did our yard as we thought we could handle the main design and pick out the plants....what a disaster and complete waste of money (especially since most of it has now been gutted). Zenscape is multiple of this but you get what you pay for. All the new plants and veggies (except the ones that we personally planted, go figure) are thriving. They installed more rocks/boulders than what I would have thought, the black bamboo was taller than expected, and most importantly, we love our yard!
— YW, San Francisco
Brian delivered everything he said he would and more. He was gracious and hardworking. My embarassing backyard is now an easy-care, thing of beauty!
— Judith, Daly City
Brian is an artist who is committed to creating a sacred garden space for you to find peace in and entertain in! He turned our mess of a backyard into a gorgeous oasis. I meditate and have meals in the space, and we added a hot tub and have held many wonderful parties in our backyard. Brian will listen to your vision and add his passion to its execution. He is knowledgeable about plants and uses materials that create a very zen feeling. He also has a sweet presence that makes it a pleasure to work with him!
— Lucey, San Francisco
Brian and his worker David were awesome! They totally worked around our schedule. This was our third attempt at doing something with the backyard. We could have saved a lot of money and time if he had just found him first! We wanted - Asian, a unique water feature, low maintenance, and color. We got - EVERYTHING! Including a drip emmiter system with hardwired accent lighting.
— Rod, San Francisco
Brian runs a heartfelt, dedicated, creative and environmentally sound business. We chose Zenscape for our back garden/porch greening project in Bernal Heights. Brian worked closely with us to find out what we were type of landscape and greening we were looking for, made experienced and smart suggestions, and followed through to see that we were happy. This was two years ago, and we are still overjoyed with our garden!
— Elyse, San Francisco