Designers Illustrated Magazine

In recent years, landscape design has been split into two professions: one made up of landscape architects who draft designs that contractors build; the other made up of designers who draft and build a landscape projects themselves. The second profession is becoming more popular, but the problem is always to find someone equally skilled at both designing and building. David Kato is one of the local masters of both design and build. He has won numerous statewide and local awards for his elaborate residential gardens that incorporate not only a rich mixture of horticulture, but also water features, and steel or rock sculptures. Unlike many designers who insist on leaving their "signature", Mr. Kato takes great joy in bringing the client’s ideas to bloom as well.

The son of a well-known peninsula horticulturist, Mr. Kato grew up in the world of green houses and garden centers. He later studied landscape architecture at UC Berkeley Extension Program and began his design/build, Katoscapes, Inc. in 1983. Over the years he has acquired an extra ordinary collection of Japanese maples which are trained exclusively for his clients.

His business provides a complete range of services, including maintenance. Specific areas of expertise include propagation, irrigation, drainage, planting, carpentry, masonry, and water features.

"The real advantage of our design/build firm" says Mr. Kato" is that we can fine tune as we go. Flexibility is key. Remember that roughly 80% of a garden is decided on the drafting board, but the other 20% must be worked out during the course of the project. Traditionally, to resolve problems meant going back to the architect for redesign, which meant time and money lost. By having designer and builder in one, those problems can be worked out on the spot, right away."

One of Kato’s clients, Irene Watson, has this to say: "David is highly creative, and a pleasure to work with. He is very relaxed. A few years ago he created a remarkable garden for us, which was a measure of his talent because we live on a hill. We didn’t want formality and he created something that it natural, soft, full of color, but refined and elegant. It’s also low maintenance."

"My persona l goal" says Kato "is to create a level of fine art in the garden. Of course, there is a much greater possibility. The garden should include layers of texture, color, and sound. It should evolve and it should provide those who come to it a true refuge where one can transcend everyday life, find tranquility, and when possible encourage the mind to take a journey this is all possible through the very careful arrangement on natural and man made elements.

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