A newly renovated home requires an updated landscape design to compliment it. In this case, the front façade of the home was given a modern update with unique architectural elements – major inspiration for the designers at Green Jay Landscaping!
We have worked with this client for many years, developing the landscape in phases. The initial phases focused on the backyard, where we constructed a seawall, a six-foot deep natural swimming pond and bog garden, a salt-tolerant, pollinator-attracting perennial border, and brand new bluestone patio for entertaining.
New Home, New Walkway, New Landscape!
After renovating their home, it was obvious that the existing front walkway, constructed of brick, looked tired and outdated.
The client, an environmental advocate and nature-lover, was also ready to ditch the front lawn for good and replace it with a more ecologically valuable landscape design.
Custom Bluestone Masonry
Green Jay Landscaping designers drew inspiration from the circular port window above the front door, and decided to echo it in the new bluestone walkway. GJL created a forked walkway, radiating out form the circular landing to the driveway and street. The circular design element encourages a lingering rest to take in the lovely architectural facade of the newly renovated home.
The front walkway is constructed of irregular flagstone with subtle color variation. The organic lines and shapes give the appearance of naturally blending into the beautiful low growing native flower garden.
We chose to construct the walkway on a “soft base” of gravel, item #4 and stone dust. Whenever possible we avoid the use of concrete, because of the high emissions associated with cement production, and the toxic ingredients that put workers at risk, especially during demolition.
Pollinator Plants & Ground Cover for a Front Yard Shade Garden
With existing mature river birches, the front yard receives mostly dappled lighting – the perfect setting for a woodland shade garden (only briefly in late afternoon does it get illuminated like in the photo). GJL designers also wanted to keep the plant height relatively low, to accentuate, not overpower the stunning new architecture.
With that in mind, we included several types of ground cover as well as shorter, clump-forming perennials. Of course, ecological value and habitat creation for pollinators, birds and wildlife was at the forefront of our decision making. After all, this is a Certified Wildlife Habitat in the backyard – the front yard had to measure up!
Front Yard Native Garden Planting Pallet
Huechera (Coral Bells) – Native to north America, over fifty species. Flowers attract native bees and hummingbirds. Excellent shade garden plant with wonderful foliage in a variety of colors.
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle) – North American Native. Attracts butterflies and is deer and rabbit resistant (important as there are many rabbits in this neighborhood!). Charming scallop-shaped foliage, mounding habit and tiny chartreuse flowers.
Solidago (Goldenrod) – Goldenrod is a superstar plant for attracting a huge range of native pollinators including over 115 species of butterflies and moths, as well as 11 species native bees. Butterfly species include: American Snout, Bronze Copper, Gray Hairstreak , Orange Sulphur, Horace’s Duskywing, West Coast Lady, American Lady, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.
Goldenrod blooms in fall which is very important for successional pollen sources! If you allow Goldenrod go to seed, the birds will have food too! There is a common misconception that goldenrod is the cause of seasonal allergies. In fact, it is animal-pollinated, not wind pollinated, and the pollen is actually too heavy to become airborne. Ragweed (which blooms at a similar time) is the true culprit of most seasonal allergies.
Geranium – North American native that attracts bees, butterflies (including monarchs!) and hummingbirds. Blooms for eight to ten weeks! Lobed foliage is an attractive garden feature in itself.
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Sedge) – Sweeping grass-like ground cover for dry shade areas, native to Northeastern US.
Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’ (Varigated Dogwood) – Cultivar of a native shrub dogwood. Flowers turn to drupes which attract many bird species. Red stems provide winter interest.
Pulmonaria (Lungwort) – Beautiful spotted foliage is attractive even without the violet flowers! Blooms in spring.
Ajuga (Bugelweed) – Spreading groundcover with a range of shiny foliage colors from green to mauve to purple. Spikes of violet flowers attract native bees and moths! Sometimes a repeat bloomer.
Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff) – flowering ground cover, spreading but non-invasive. Repeat bloomer. Wonderful fresh and sweet smell.
Lawn Removal & Organic Garden Preparation
The key to replacing a lawn with a garden is first, removing the turf without disturbing the seed bank underneath — otherwise you may encourage weed seed growth and make maintenance a nightmare! For smaller, flat areas like this front yard, we use a sod cutter machine. Next, we top with organic compost with biochar (to boost soil microbial communities) and any other natural-source soil amendments necessary, as determined by the soil test.
Thinking about transforming your lawn to a colorful, ecologically valuable garden for wildlife? We can help! Contact us about your ecological landscape design project: 914-560-6570.
Green Jay Landscaping
Where Design Meets Ecology