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Dave Graham is a 36-year veteran of the landscaping industry and owner of Atlas Landscapes, a Diamond Certified company since 2008. He can be reached at (415) 742-1953 or by email.

Dave Graham

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dave Graham: Exterior Ingenuity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

MILL VALLEY — After 35 years in the landscaping industry, Dave Graham knows a thing or two about growth—both horticultural and professional. “My father was a builder, so my roots are in construction, but I later developed an interest in the landscaping field,” he says. “After studying horticulture and arboriculture, I started a tree service company with my brother. However, I found that tree work didn’t satisfy my creative side, so I transitioned into designing and building landscapes.”

In 1985, Dave left his home country of Ireland and came to the United States, where he obtained his landscape contractor’s license and started his own business. But he wasn’t content to stop there—he went on to earn an arborist certification and a general contractor’s license. “I’ve always loved learning, so it just made sense to keep growing my knowledge base,” he says. “Plus, the more licenses and certifications I earn, the more I’m able to do professionally.”

Today, as owner of Atlas Landscapes, Dave says he continues to find fulfillment in exercising his exterior ingenuity. “I love talking to people about their gardens and outdoor spaces and getting them excited about the possibilities. Plus, the work we do really stands the test of time, so it’s satisfying to know it’s going to be around long after I leave this planet.”

A resident of Mill Valley (where he lives with his son, Sebastian), Dave expresses his appreciation for the lush and diverse Bay Area landscape. “There’s a wide variety of microclimates in the Bay Area, and it took me a few years to become familiar with them all. The types of plants that thrive in each region differ greatly, so it really keeps me on my toes.”

Outside of work, Dave likes staying physically and mentally active. “I do a lot of hiking, yoga and meditation—typical Bay Area stuff,” he laughs. “I also study taekwondo. I find that practicing yoga and martial arts keeps my brain sharp and helps me stay young.” Additionally, Dave likes spending time with his son. “Sebastian and I like going on bike rides, and we go hiking together at least once a week. We’re really lucky to live in an area where there are so many great trails and parks.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Dave says it’s important to have a passion for your livelihood. “When you really enjoy and take pride in what you do, that’s when you do your best work. That’s why I think it’s vital to be passionate about your job and give it 100 percent every time.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Dave says he’ll pursue a few activities that don’t currently fit in his calendar. “I’m a pretty creative person, and I loved to paint when I was younger, so I’d like to get back into that. I’d also like to do some volunteer work in the community, as well as some traveling.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Tea. I drink green tea every day.

Q: What’s your favorite tree?
A: The Purpleleaf Plum tree. It typically flowers around the 15th of February and serves as an indication that winter has passed and summer is on its way. So, that’s something I look for every year.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Sit by the fire and read a book.

Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: I read a lot of poetry, and one book I’ve been reading my whole life is “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. It’s full of great wisdom, and I think it’s kind of timeless.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect Shona sculptures, which are made of African stone.

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The Benefits of an Outdoor Fireplace


MILL VALLEY — Fireplaces date back to ancient times, when people would sit around the fire and tell stories. Today, fewer and fewer homes have indoor fireplaces (especially in California, which has strict environmental regulations), but outdoor fireplaces are growing in popularity.… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Benefits of an Outdoor Fireplace

Complete Video Transcription:

MILL VALLEY — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re looking for a way to improve your outdoor living space, it’s worthwhile to consider the addition of a stone fireplace.… Read more

Jeff Sheehan is a lifetime veteran of the landscaping industry and owner of Confidence Landscaping, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2009. He can be reached at (408) 559-1800 or by email.

Jeff Sheehan

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jeff Sheehan: Growing Confidence

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

CAMPBELL — Jeff Sheehan started doing landscape work in his childhood, but it wasn’t until much later that he realized he’d been preparing for a lifelong career. “As a kid, I used to go around and mow all the neighborhood lawns,” he recounts. “I can remember pruning my mom’s roses and being extremely meticulous. The funny thing is, I had no idea there was a whole industry for the kind of work I was doing.”

Jeff originally wanted to pursue a career in athletics, so he attended UC Davis as a Physical Education major with aspirations of getting into coaching. However, the further he progressed, the more he felt he was in the wrong place. “About three-quarters of the way through, I realized I didn’t want to coach,” he says. “I left school and started looking around for work, and I was offered a position with the local Parks and Rec Department.” Jeff says it was at this point that a whole new world opened up to him. “It was like, ‘This is where I should have been all along!’ It just felt right.”

Later, Jeff got a job doing landscape maintenance for commercial properties, but he soon sensed there was more out there for him. “I got tired of working on large complexes where everything looked the same—500 oleanders all in a row and no room for creativity. So, I started doing residential design and installation on the side, which is where I really found my niche.” After a short-lived independent venture, Jeff started Confidence Landscaping, Inc., which is still going strong more than 35 years later.

A resident of Los Gatos, Jeff regards the Bay Area as an ideal environment for a landscape professional. “The incredible resources we have here afford us the ability to be incredibly creative, whether on a large or small scale,” he says. “Plus, the climate allows us to grow virtually anything, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Outside of work, Jeff engages in a variety of active pastimes. “You name it, I enjoy doing it, from bike riding and playing tennis to windsurfing and just going on drives around the Bay Area,” he says. “I also like to travel and explore new places when I can.” Jeff also enjoys spending time with his son, Max, who works for Confidence Landscaping, and his daughter, Kallan, who is currently attending college.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Jeff says it’s important to pay attention to the little things. “Any landscaper can install a bunch of big shrubs, but it takes a certain amount of skill and vision to address the finer details. Likewise, in terms of service, it’s the little things that often make the biggest differences, like remembering a detail that, while seemingly minor, is meaningful to the client. By paying attention to the little things, both with customer service and the work itself, we’re able to create something really special for each client.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Jeff says he’d catch up on sleep. “We work a lot of long hours, especially during the summer, so I’d definitely take a few days to rest up and recharge. Then, I guess I’d assess my next move. I’d probably do a lot more traveling, as well as spend more time relaxing and working in my garden.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I listen to a lot of talk radio just to stay up-to-date with the news, but when the weather is nice, I like to roll down the windows in my car and turn up the tunes.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Blues.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played baseball.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Over medium.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Italy. I was actually there not too long ago, but I enjoyed it so much that I want to go back!

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How to Conserve Water with Landscape Irrigation


CAMPBELL — When it comes to landscape irrigation, Californians have a tendency to overwater plants to the point of twice and even three times the amount of water they actually need. However, under the current drought conditions, this is no… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Conserving Water with Landscape Irrigation

Complete Video Transcription:

CAMPBELL — Host, Sarah Rutan: With the current drought conditions in California, it’s time to change the way we approach watering our landscapes. Today we’re in Campbell with… Read more