Landscape designer’s canvas is the land
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013

Landscape designer’s canvas is the land

Veronica Westendorff, who lives in the Antiquity subdivision, has many jobs. Besides her most important job, being a full-time mom of two daughters, Morgan and Brooke, she’s a full-time high school biology teacher and a registered landscape architect.

Back in college at Virginia Tech, Westendorff was an art and biology major, but “I wanted to find a way to put the two together. A professor suggested landscape architecture, and I fell in love with it. It’s art on the land.”

“When I interned, I started to explore plants. Lots of landscape architects don’t do as much with plants. I can do roads and storm water, and I do like all that, but I do residences and public spaces to work with plants.”

Westendorff loves color, but “I don’t just work with the plant’s color, but with texture and purpose and (the plant’s) life cycle. I ask, ‘What purpose does the plant serve,’ and go from there.”

When beginning a design project, Westendorff starts with a meeting to find out people’s needs, to see the site, and to understand how people use it. “The site sits in my head for hours. When I see a yard, I remember it. Pull it back up in my head. It’s a process, constantly. I look at pictures, look around at other yards, and look at websites. In the middle of the night, I may wake up and it comes to me and I say, ‘Ooo, they really need a water feature’ or something else special.”

“I have this friend who has a side yard with stuff stored in it; the place needs some love. It’s shady. It needs attention. I can’t get it out of my head until I decide what she should do.”

When designing, Westendorff keeps in mind “color and low maintenance and something for four seasons. We live in a place where we can be outside all year long. Our outdoor places need to function for us and be places we can enjoy, not places we are slaves to.”

Westendorff said one of her pet peeves is that “I get really frustrated when the wrong plant is put in a wrong location, and it forever has to be pruned. Crepe Myrtle drives me nuts when people hack off the plant into what looks like gnarled fingers.”

“When my daughter, Morgan, was 7, she decided to prune one of my shrubs. Not only did she have pruners that could have cut off her fingers, she cut the leaves in half. She made the shrub look flat. I thought I was going to cry. She could have really hurt herself. We had a lesson in how to use pruners and correctly prune.”

To see some of Westendorff’s work, check out the Davidson Post Office Plaza and the Southeast Greenway, also in Davidson. For info on Westendorff’s work, contact her at

Lisa Daidone is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Lisa? Email her at

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