Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella -A Stylish Impression

Interview with Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella Landscape Development.

Jason and Lila Jarvis

A Stylish Impression With San Diego’s Award-Winning Landscaper

 Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella Landscape Development knows first impressions are important and pays attention to detail. Malcom Gladwell wrote a whole book about first impressions in Blink. Richard Branson famously explained that his “gut instinct” nearly always won out in debates over business ventures in Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. However you spin it, first impressions happen too often to be ignored or marginalized by the idealism of second chances. The bottom line: first impressions only happen once.

Landscape by San Diego top designer Jason Jarvis

When I met with Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development, I observed that he was tall—really tall—and he was waiting to shake my hand as I strode up the driveway of his impeccably landscaped home in Rancho Santa Fe. Some people might expect successful business owners to live in spotless, contemporary glass homes, free of personality or casual comfort, substituted instead for the red tape of order that defines a profitable empire. On this morning, the spirit of his children’s enthusiasm was present throughout the home as we walked to his office, complete with priceless finger-painted masterpieces that hung adoringly on the office walls.

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

Landscaping Is Hard Work

“I truly believe that if you work hard, stay at it and persevere, that you can’t fail in life,” said Jarvis. “Everything in life you want, you can have.” Jarvis is not what you might expect when you think of someone digging out a swimming pool or planting desert succulents. With a background in fashion from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), the luxury landscaper has traded in fabrics for foliage—fashion for fashionable landscaping.

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

“We are a pool and landscape contractor,” Jason Jarvis explained. “We build pools, spas, landscapes, pretty much anything in the yard. We build resorts. Wait till you see my backyard!”

His list of clients is impressive. Almost as impressive as his wine cellar.

“I’ve worked for a lot of the big builders here in Rancho . . . I recently renovated The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. My company is deeply embedded throughout the city. My Wife [Lila] is on the Board of Directors for the Community Center, and she’s my back office at Terra Bella.”

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

Landscaping and Fashion

Jarvis likes fashion, and he clearly likes design. His casual yet pink-collared ensemble matched the comfortable office space painted in Tiffany Blue. It’s hard to say if the leopard-print carpet was mixed accidentally or represents a particular personality trait Jarvis wanted to highlight in his home. Either way, the mix of worldly antiques—like the red painted chair from China that I sat in—and contemporary building and functional amenities was rather well thought out for a guy with sports memorabilia hanging from his walls and sitting on shelves in his study. Stereotypes be damned. The big guy has great taste.

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“It seems rather simple,” said Jarvis, “but not everybody gets it. It’s like dressing. We use complementary colors. I wear brown leather boots. I pair them with a shirt that has a brown stripe in it. That’s what separates us from everybody else. I worked in fashion, then finance and now landscaping. I have a really weird background.”

Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella Landscape Development

Weird is one way of putting it. And if first impressions are all about representing who we are in one singular moment, Jarvis was going to need more time.

Terra Bella Landscape Development

“I love art,” he said. “The aesthetics in life. I love beauty. For the most part my clients are some of the most successful people in the world. They are all high fashion. We [Terra Bella Landscape Development] are like the Neiman Marcus of Landscaping. We’re expensive—but you get what you pay for.”

Jason Jarvis San Diego Landscaper

With 17 trucks and more than 60 employees, Terra Bella Landscape has come a long way since its inception in 2005. The beautiful architectural drawings spread across Jarvis’s desk are like mini works of art. These prepared drawings cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 and represent the first step in Jarvis’s creative process. Terra Bella Landscape is fluent in “San Diego-scaping” with advanced knowledge in environmental sustainability, though never compromising aesthetics.

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I suggested that he acquire the trademark for the term “San Diego-scaping.”

Best Landscaper in San Diego

“We try to find plants that don’t require a lot of water, succulents really,” he said. “I call it living art. It’s my passion right now. I create these colorful walls using these different succulent plants—agave, aloe.”

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

Jason Jarvis noted other popular trends like fruit trees done espalier style, Belgian trellises or crisscross latticework, raised herb boxes and other drought-resistant plants. We walked outside to take a look at Jarvis’s living masterpieces growing in his own backyard.

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

“We can do everything from Mediterranean and tropical to a mixture of everything in between,” he said. As we walked about his backyard paradise, from the white sand beach to the raised patio of green grass and white roses, it was apparent that a mixture of things is where Jason Jarvis seems most comfortable.

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

“I have really eclectic taste. Just take a look around my house. I have things from China, the Pacific Asian Rim. I grew up on the beach in Laguna, so I love the ocean and I really like the color turquoise . . . I love walking into a house and feeling something, the outside or landscaping is the exact same thing. You can’t be afraid to combine colors and textures in new ways. And that’s what separates me from everyone else—I do things differently.”

Jason Jarvis, owner of Terra Bella Landscape Development

Doing things differently is inevitably what will make some companies successful and others not. Ask Richard Branson about it sometime. Jason Jarvis may be the owner and dream weaver behind the beautiful exteriors of Terra Bella Landscape, but he’s also a guy you might not expect to pair your roses with olive trees. First impressions only take a second; building a successful company takes a whole lot longer, and Jason Jarvis is certainly enjoying the fruit of his stylish labor.   


Jason Jarvis of Terra Bella -A Stylish Impression

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