The challenge was to create an attractive contemporary landscape with the flavor of a Early American, post Thomas Jefferson era landscape for the United Methodist Center in White Plains, New York.

Early American landscapes necessarily shared features consistent with permaculture and ecological landscape design. This was a time when pesticides and man-made contaminants were not an issue. There was regular processing and recycling of natural material resources on site: composting, cover crops to improve soil etc.

We started with a suggested list of historically traditional shrubs, perennials and annuals. A landscape design was produced for the entire property. Once again, in anticipation of planting,
We tested the water pressure and determined a deficiency in delivery of sufficient pressure. This was surprising (not in a good way) since this commercial building in downtown, urban, White Plains is serviced by city water. The plumbing was reconfigured to accommodate.

The soil condition posed challenges. Starting with a Rutgers chemical soil test,  we found low calcium, high pH, etc. This was probably a result of buried construction debris surrounding the foundation of the structure. To alleviate these conditions, we amended the soil with a combination of gypsum, Stone Barns Compost, Organic Mechanics BioChar Mix, Soilutions Organic Soil Enhancer, and natural, organic source fertilizers.

To ensure successful sustainability, low maintenance and what we refer to as enduring longevity, we incorporated aggressive ground covers as green mulch to gradually replace the need to re-mulch year after year (where appropriate), introduced selected long-blooming perennials to attract pollinators and employed river rock and gravel mulch in a splash pad/apron surrounding the gutter/leaderless structure.

This attractive, decorative border was underlaid with a EPDM pond liner. The apron/border was pitched towards the landscape planting beds. This helped to conserve water in passive irrigation. This turned out to be useful to cool the planting due to excessive summer reflective heat from the cement and blacktop dominating the commercial site. Grades were changed with a morterless, natural retaining wall with gravel under drains.

Existing trees and shrubs were pruned to regenerate heath and improve appearance. Existing plants were salvaged and repurposed wherever possible. A metal landscape border edging was installed to contain the decorative gravel paths in the rear landscape.

Seasonal color was supplied by placing containers above an exposed grate which was partially covered with removable flagging.
The deliverable result was a dramatic increase in appearance and health of the immediately surrounding landscape environment.

Jay Archer

Landscape Ecologist, Designer, President

Green Jay Landscaping

914-560-6570