Q&A with Landscape Architect David Young

The designer behind DWY Landscape Architects believes in design that deepens our relationship with the great outdoors


With offices in Naples and Sarasota, DWY Landscape Architects is well-versed in the alfresco design needs (and whims) of Southwest Florida homeowners. Heading up the award-winning firm is David Young, a seasoned professional who advocates for green spaces that blur indoor/outdoor boundaries and establish a connection to our environment.

What’s your company’s philosophy on landscape architecture?

Good design is not arbitrary; it’s the derivative of an informed creative process in which client programming is studied and defined within the context of the natural systems of a site to give rise to a form whose aesthetic has the qualities of purpose and beauty.

You call yourself and your team “stewards of the land.” What does that mean?

That’s just a term we learn in school that applies to the profession overall. We work for the good of the land, not against it.

Can you tell us a bit about DWY’s approach to sustainability?

Generally speaking, we appreciate Florida’s wonderful and unique natural systems, and we do all that we can to not only do no harm but to mitigate or repair the damage done by construction.

Specifically, what are some of your green practices?

We do our best to use regionally sourced materials, native species, and low-volume, water-wise irrigation techniques. Additionally, we think of low-impact development methods when dealing with development overall. And we work hard at reducing impervious surfaces and specifically addressing stormwater design in a way that slows the flow of stormwater, allowing it to infiltrate back into the ground.

What are some of the specific challenges to landscape design in Southwest Florida?

There’s a myriad of them. Storms during hurricane season, saltwater intrusion, insects and plant diseases that spread across the state, water use restrictions, lighting restrictions for turtle nests compliance, and many others.

What species of plant life do you like to work with and why?

We like to use a plant palette that is roughly 75 to 90 percent native mixed with Florida-friendly non-native supporting species. We try to create experiences that are memorable and enjoyable. For instance, we just finished a series of garden spaces that wrap around an all-glass wine venue in Naples where the idea was to create enjoyable contemplative environments where visitors could enjoy a glass of wine while immersed in a rich and verdant landscape.   

What about hardscape and surface materials? What do you gravitate toward?

Regional or regionally inspired materials like limestone and shell to evoke the feeling of Florida. 

A great deal of your work features some impressive reflecting pools. What’s the idea behind that?

We just feel they’re a great way to create an experience and integrate the surrounding landscape by reflecting it on the feature. Done well, they add to the richness of the space and provide sensory aspects for the home’s residents and visitors.

You’ve had your company for more than 23 years. What keeps you inspired day after day?

Our clients and the artistic qualities of the work keep things fresh and interesting. I also enjoy working with other creatives like architects, interior designers, artists, and craftspeople to achieve a common vision for a project. That’s very rewarding. dwyla.com

Story Credits: 

Text by Christopher Day

Photos courtesy of DWY Landscape Architects

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