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Landscaping for People and Planet

Regenerative Landscapes

  • Food Forest, Garden Bed
  • Native Ecoscape, Ecolawn
  • Butterfly Garden, Rain Garden

Beyond Green / Organic

  • Reverse Climate Change
  • Restore Habitats / Wildlife
  • Low Maintenance, Save Water
  • No Pesticide / Herbicide

10+ Years of Experience. Licensed (#9913), Insured, Bonded.

Certified Professional for the Backyard Habitat Program.

See Our Recent Work

Design · Installation · Maintenance

Residential & Commercial
Portland Metro Areas

Food Forests and Garden Beds

We use Regenerative Ecology to create edible ecosystems that are more resilient and productive than conventional methods. See our edible ecoscapes and raised beds.

Native Ecoscapes and Ecolawns

A backyard native ecosystem helps restore habitats and wildlife. It requires minimal maintenance. No need for fertilizers or pesticides. See our native ecoscapes and ecolawns.

Trellises, Arbors, and Hardscapes

We use repurposed or up-cycled materials for positive environmental impact and a back-to-nature look. See our relevant projects.

Conventional / Traditional / Commercial Landscapes

Our plant expertise can also make traditional landscapes more maintainable and beautiful.
See our traditional landscapes and commercial landscapes.

What is a Food Forest?

More Harvest · Less Work

On a conventional farm, whether it is in an apple orchard or a lettuce farm, you often see rows of evenly spaced plants of the same height. Yet in nature, plants grow all different sizes with many varieties of species. You often see short trees under tall trees, tall shrubs under short trees, short shrubs under tall shrubs, etc.

A food forest mimics a natural forest to create an ecosystem for effective food production. One arrangement of a food forest can be tall nut trees, dwarf fruit trees, berry shrubs, supportive herbs, vegetables, edible ground covers, mushrooms.

This compact layering of plants maximizes sunlight and nutrient utilization to create higher yield with less land. It also creates a habitat where the plants, insects, fungi, and bacteria interact and benefit from each other. Such a balanced system leaves no room for weeds, attracts beneficial organisms that minimize pests,  increases water retention, and restores soil nutrients.

We offer many varieties of food systems, including perennial vegetable gardens, medicine gardens, herb gardens, fruit tree guilds, or a combination of the above.

What is a Native Ecoscape?

Restore Habitats · Minimal Maintenance

Native plants take the least amount of time and money to maintain, simply because they are already adapted to the climate and soil conditions of their region. They also don’t need fertilizers or pesticides.

Native plants attract butterflies, birds, pollinators, and beneficial insects by providing food and habitat for them. They help restore plant and animal habitats in your local ecosystems. Some native plants can also be used as food and medicines for humans.

We carefully select and install plants that thrive in the particular microclimate of your yard. We pair plants together that have beneficial relationship to each other. This creates a resilient ecosystem, an ecoscape, that requires little to no maintenance once established.

We offer many varieties of native ecoscapes, including butterfly gardens, bird gardens, meadowscapes, woodlands, rain gardens etc. You can also combine native ecoscapes with food forests to create your ultimate low maintenance homestead.

Regenerative Ecological Practice

How and Why We Landscape

The term “regenerative” describes systems that replenish and reproduce their own sources of energy and materials. For example, in a forest, plants are eaten (repurposed) by animals. The “waste” from animals gets further repurposed by worms, fungi and bacteria into nutrient dense soil, which is then repurposed by plants again.

Hardly anything is “wasted” in this regenerative system. The energy and materials are instead moved and transformed from one part of the system to the next, and eventually spiral back to the originator.

This spiraling regeneration is in direct contrast to many conventional / industrial processes. Even ones labeled “green”, “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, “organic” still operate in one direction – consume then dispose. At best, these processes produce zero negative impact – zero carbon – doing no harm.

However, zero negative impact is not enough. We need positive impact. We need to recapture carbon, reverse climate change, and restore our crippled planetary system. Regenerative Ecological Practice can do just that.

Conventional vs Green vs Sustainable vs Restorative vs Regenerative

Regenerative Ecological Practice (REP) is the process of learning, designing, creating, and facilitating resilient systems using the patterns that already work well in nature – systems that replenish and reproduce renewable resources, systems that persist and evolve without much external intervention, systems that nurture all of their inhabitants, etc.

We know REP works, because many natural systems of our planet have persisted for tens of millions of years with the same principles. For example, the Amazon rainforest persisted for 50 million years.

Humans (especially indigenous people) have also been using REP for landscaping and farming for tens of thousands of years. Only in modern times, had it been replaced by degenerative practices that deplete soil nutrients, waste water, pollute the environment, destroy wildlife, and exacerbate climate change with constant application of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.

REP, on the other hand, regenerates soil and water, recaptures carbon, and revitalizes the planet again. Fortunately, REP is having a come back recently. You may have heard it as different terms – permaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, system thinking, holistic design, resilience design, etc. A big part of SymbiOp’s mission is to fully utilize REP in our landscaping services and spread its knowledge further.

Who We Are

Value-led · Mission-driven

SymbiOp was formed in 2020. While the company itself is young, our designers and gardeners have 10+ years of experience cultivating ecological landscapes, and even more years of experience with plant care in general. We decided to form the company so that we can create more ecological landscapes and provide more good paying jobs.

The name SymbiOp stands for Symbiosis Cooperative. We picked that because we value the idea of symbiosis – a mutually beneficial relationship for all participants.

We apply this value not only in the work we do, by creating landscapes that are beneficial to our customers, our communities, and our planet, but also in how we govern our company, as a worker cooperative, an employee-owned company.

Having equal voice and stake in the company enables us to work symbiotically. Our wages are fair. Our work environment is healthy. We take care of each other. We strive to be compassionate, inclusive, and equitable.

Symbiosis is not just a product that we sell. It is a culture that we work in. We value it so much, we put it in our bylaws, so that we legally have to consider our social / environmental impacts before our financial gains.

Meet the Team

Experts · Artists · Planet Stewards

JT
System Engineer / Business Developer
(he/him)

As a kid, JT spent many hours learning about the earth and the universe, despite growing up in the concrete jungle of Shanghai, China. After moving to the United States and getting his degree in Physics, he dedicated his life in creating resilient systems, be them ecological systems, social systems, business systems, or computer systems. During his free time, JT likes to write essays and fictions, produce music, and go camping. Checkout his blog post detailing the founding of SymbiOp!

Megan
Lead Landscape Designer
(she/her)

Born and raised on the west coast, Megan has deep connections to the local ecosystems. Her passion drove her to study ecological landscape design and later on create her own landscaping business. She has also developed a line of sustainable herbal products using the plants she cultivated. During her free time, Megan likes to tend her garden, cook, write music, and volunteer for social/environmental justice organizations.

Matt
Lead Landscape Designer
(he/him)

Before calling Portland home, Matt operated an ecological landscaping and nursery business on Vancouver Island, Canada that was featured in local publications. Though he started in traditional landscaping, he soon got tired of the unsustainable practices and toxic culture of that industry. He has been practicing ecological landscaping ever since. During his free time, Matt enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of new neighborhoods by bike and getting lost in the woods with his husband.

Lotus
Project Coordinator / Client Support
(she/her)

Lotus's relationship with nature started with teaching outdoor education to kids for many summers, helping them to connect to nature and understand their impact. She is passionate about building communities for the benefit of humans and nature. This is why outside of SymbiOp, she also serves on the boards of two community nonprofits in Portland. During her free time, Lotus likes to practice Buddhist meditation, read, write, and volunteer for animal shelters and social/environmental justice organizations.

Xaava
Crew Worker / Construction Worker
(they/them)

Xaava is a hard worker with many skills. Aside from their landscaping and farming experience, they have also worked on a wide range of construction projects, such as greenhouses, garden beds, trellises, fences, and irrigation systems. They are passionate about repurposing materials for landscaping and building projects. During their free time, Xaava likes to build tiny homes and RV remodels, host self-defense classes for the LGBTQ+ community, and spend time with their partner and their newborn baby.

Dawn
Crew Worker / Designer-in-training
(they/them)

Growing up in Portland, Dawn has always been a plant nerd. As a kid, they loved picking raspberries and processing honey with their grandparents. As an adult, they have spent years learning any skills related to plants. They have been a landscaper, farmer, nursery manager, ecological educator, medicine maker, and more.  During their free time, Dawn loves to sing, hang out with bees, spend time with loved ones, and find good swimming holes.

Forest
Crew Worker / Designer-in-training
(he/they)

Forest is passionate about native plants, herbalism, and farming. He has been an emergency medical technician, a landscape business owner, and a commercial farmer. He has found much joy in designing and installing native plant gardens.

Nico
Crew Worker / Photographer / Videographer
(he/him)

Nico's background in landscaping begins in 1928, when his grandfather immigrated from the Philippines and became a farmer during California’s agricultural boom. Nico himself grew up in an urban desert, which fueled his affinity for habitat restoration. He has worked on regenerative landscapes in Hawaii and Oregon. He is also an avid photographer and videographer. Durning his free time, Nico performs, writes, and produces music in a local band call Slow Disco.

Khalila
Project Coordinator / Corporate Administrator
(she/her)

Khalila was born to a middle eastern immigrant, and is the first generation on her father's side to be born in the United States. She didn't know a lot about sustainable landscaping before SymbiOp, so incorporating new techniques into her garden has been very rewarding. She believes in strengthening her community, whether through crisis counseling or trash cleanup.  During her free time, she enjoys game nights with friends, bouldering, and playing Pokemon Go with her daughter.

*Ladybug on Common Yarrow Photo By Hélène Rival 

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