Born in New Jersey, Baylis attended high school in California, where he worked for landscape designer George Carpenter. He attended junior college before studying landscape architecture at University of California, Berkeley where his instructors included H. Leland Vaughan, John Gregg, and Harry Shepherd. Graduating in 1941, Baylis was the first student to receive the American Society of Landscape Architects’ student award.
Baylis spent a year working for Thomas Church before taking a position with the San Francisco Housing Authority. After establishing his own practice, his early work was primarily residential, but later expanded to include larger industrial sites. Baylis was retained as UC Berkeley’s Supervising Landscape Architect from 1956 to 1959, while still in private practice. His modern regional designs include Civic Center Plaza and Washington Square, San Francisco; Monterey Freeway; IBM Headquarters, San Jose; and Unit-House, Hayward, a collaboration with architect Gordon Drake.
Baylis lectured at UC Berkeley and wrote for periodicals including Landscape Architecture, House Beautiful, and Better Homes and Gardens, often using illustrations by his wife, Margaret, a graphic artist. These “how-to” articles fostered in a new era of garden writing. From 1948 to 1950, he was the Director of the California Association of Landscape Architects and Vice-President from 1953 to 1956.