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About Common Sense Gardens


Common Sense Gardens is about Place-based solutions:
Building community one garden at a time

Common Sense Garden designs are inspired by whole system design principles that focus on the relationship between people, places, and plants…. We use permaculture assessments and client feedback to help you create garden spaces that make sense for your lifestyle at your home or workspace. The design process includes client education, place-based design (using native, ornamental and mixed plant guilds) and site-specific remedies that result in a unique landscaping experience.

See the portfolio of projects to learn more about specific projects completed over the past few years!




About Denissia Withers

As a garden designer, coach/mentor and educator, my focus is on sustainability practices. Landscape design – both ornamental and edible  – that focuses on community food systems for wildlife habitat and for people. I bring the knowledge and skills gained over many years of practical and academic experience to help guide the process of emergent design.  By spending time in our environment, we gain important knowledge of our landscape spaces.  For instance, microclimates, plant communities and soil conditions show us how to problem solve and design for our yards—especially in small scale landscapes.   Understanding the need for diversity in our environment and in our communities is an important concept for CSG designs. I am motivated by social and environmental sustainability in order to create livable and environmentally safe places to reside, learn and play in.

Since 1974 I have practiced organic gardening and horticultural practices.  Living on 5 acres in the high desert of Oregon had a big influence on prudent use of water, soil and resources.  Another influence was the sun. We had lots of sun, cold temperatures and although not much rainfall – we tapped amazing volumes of water underground.  At that time, we received grant money to build a passive solar greenhouse and animal barn – a mixed use structure.  It was a successful project and extended our growing season from 90 days to 240 day growing season!  We had tomatoes until early October – in Central Oregon this was a very big deal.  This applied technology appeals to my design sensibility. 

Living in Portland since 2002, I am challenged to learn all the names of the  trees, shrubs and perennials!  There are many plant communities to discover. And although, we have a long growing season we do face summer droughts, I advocate for prudent use of water.  This year I am  passionate for Native plants and have grown a native backyard habitat landscape with many northwest favorites mixed in.  

For further information or questions: Contact

Denissia Withers

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