About Us

Sprezzatura is an Italian word meaning, “the art of effortless mastery”.  My landscape design company’s name, Sprezzaterra™, is a spinoff on that and refers to unique, meaningful and creative landscape design.

I specialize in landscape design projects that are client and site-driven, ecologically sustainable, and restorative.  Under the broad umbrella of small scale design, our main areas of expertise and passions are residential landscape design, planting design, therapeutic gardens and rain gardens.

General information

Anne Spafford holds a B.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture and an M.L.A. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois.  She teaches in the Department of Horticultural Sciences as well as the Department of Landscape Architecture at North Carolina State University.  Her current classes range from an introductory course in landscape design to planting design; but she has also taught a site design and construction materials course and a landscape construction studio.  She also advises approximately 40 undergraduate students and serves as a chair on several graduate student (MHS) projects.

Her book with colleague Helen Kraus, Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge, and Everything in Between, has received several awards, including the Gold Medal from the Garden Writers Association (2010).

When not in the classroom, she travels the Southeast lecturing on rain gardens, surveying built works, and works with communities and individuals in the design and installation of a wide range of garden types.  She has appeared on “In the Garden with Bryce Lane” multiple times, and UNC-TV’s broadcast of Will Hooker’s Permaculture Course (rain garden episode).   She has been heard on several NPR-affiliate radio stations across the Southeast, and even a California-based garden radio show, which has listening audiences in Canada and Northern Europe.  She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the induction into the Academy of Outstanding Teachers at NC State University (2007).

She has been designing/installing/maintaining gardens for 21 years.

Originally from central Illinois, she has lived all over the globe, including Pakistan, Thailand, and Louisiana.  She currently calls Raleigh, North Carolina home.


  • M.L.A. Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Environment/Behavior Track 1997 (Master’s Thesis: “The Prison Landscape and the Captive Audience: Is Nature Necessity or Amenity?” First Place Winner, ASLA National Student Design Competition)
  • B.S. Ornamental Horticulture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 1991

Membership and Affiliations

  • Certified Rain Garden Professional (#086) since 2009
  • American Society of Horticultural Science
  • American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture
  • North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture