Ecology + Design

Front Yard Native Garden & Bluestone Walkway, Lawn Replacement | Larchmont, NY

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 Landscape Design!

We have worked with this client for many years, developing the landscape in phases.  The initial phases focused on the backyard, where we repaired a seawall, 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After renovating their home, it was obvious that the existing front walkway, constructed of brick, looked tired and outdated.

BEFORE PHOTO – front entrance with brick walkway.

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.

AFTER: the front yard is now a colorful, organic perennial garden and habitat for local wildlife!

Custom Bluestone Masonry

Green Jay Landscape Design 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.

Architectural inspiriation + newly planted organic garden.
Circular landing connects forked walkway and echos the port window above the front door.

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.

Native garden featuring Heuchera, Geranium, Carex, Alchemilla, and Solidago.

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

Bee feeding on Heuchera flower. Photo courtesy of

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.

Lady’s Mantle, light green scalloped foliage in the left foreground and Coral Bells, orange foliage I the left background.

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 foliage in the center and left foreground — a fabulous fall-blooming, native perennial for pollinators!

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: Bronze Copper,  Gray Hairstreak ,  Orange Sulphur,  Horace’s Duskywing,  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.

Pink flowers and lobed foliage of native Geranium.

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 in the center midground, with spotted foliage. A great addition to any shade or part-shade garden!

Pulmonaria (Lungwort) – Beautiful spotted foliage is attractive even without the violet flowers! Blooms in spring.

Snowberry Clear Wing moth pollinating an Ajuga reptans flower. Photo by Ken Slade

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.

Gallium odoratum naturalized in a woodland setting.

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.

Laying out the organic compost and topsoil.
Our favorite organic compost blend is Organic Mechanics Biochar Blend!
Soil and compost spread, beds are ready for planting!

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 Landscape Design

Where Design Meets Ecology


Contact Us To Schedule a Free

15 Minute Discovery Call

Let’s discuss your goals and determine if we are a good fit for your project.

15 Minute Discovery Call

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Resources and insights

Popular Articles from Our Blog

string(117) ""
2022-11-29 09:00:52
Green Jay Landscape Design
Introducing: Green Jay Landscape Design | NY, CT, NJ
string(154) ""
2022-07-12 12:15:56
Green Jay Landscape Design
Our Best Backyard Landscape Designs in Westchester County, NY!
string(96) ""
2020-09-29 13:16:47
Green Jay Landscape Design
Landscape Design, Planning & Construction: When to Start the Process [VIDEO]
string(99) ""
2020-05-06 13:18:10
Green Jay Landscape Design
Design for Biodiversity with Pollinator & Wildlife Gardens | Step 3 Toward a Healthy Landscape | Fairfield County
string(115) ""
2020-01-31 08:43:32
Green Jay Landscape Design
What Does a Landscape Design Master Plan Look Like?