Ecology + Design

Native Gardens, Organic Lawn Lift & Level w. Wilder Designs | Larchmont, NY

Collaboration divides the tasks and multiplies the successes. The saying certainly rings true for this three-way collaboration project between Green Jay Landscape Design, Wilder Designs, and Rock Shelter, featuring native gardens, an organic lawn installation, hardscape and carpentry work.

The landscape design and construction project in Larchmont, NY was designed by Nantucket-based Rita ­­­Higgins of Wilder Designs. Rita’s ecologically-based company produces stunning natural designs, specializing in meadows, and we have long-admired her work. 

Rita’s design for this residential Larchmont property featured meandering brick walkways and trellises to support espaliered pear trees, all underplanted with native gardens. The design also involved lifting and grading an area to support an organic lawn playing field.  

Brick work completed by Rock Shelter.

Rock Shelter completed the masonry and carpentry work, while Green Jay Landscape Design installed the softscape: native plant gardens and the lifted and leveled organic lawn. 

The client necessitated a level playing field for an important function: a temporary ice-skating rink (25’x50’) for her children in winter, and a ball field the rest of year. Most areas in nature are not perfectly level.  This particular field required 80 yards of topsoil to achieve the necessary lift and uniformity for the skating rink.  

Jay grades the new soil as part of the organic lawn playing field installation.

Green Jay Landscape Design graded the screened, premium topsoil to the desired effect, and seeded for a 100% organic lawn. 

Seeding the new lifted and leveled organic lawn — perfect for a skating rink or soccer game!

All of the gardens were amended with organic compost, biochar, and pH modifiers where necessary (ie Mountain Laurel prefers acidic conditions).

Mulching the native plant garden beneath the trellises.
Process shot of the native underplanting garden — designed to attract pollinators and birds!

The gardens featured many native plant superstars including:

Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia– An evergreen, flowering shrub native to the Eastern – Mid Western US, Mountain Laurel is a fabulous garden choice.  In spring / early summer the shrub explodes in bowl-like fused petal flowers that are often visited by native pollinators. 

Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’ has a beautiful color and is a favorite of bees!

Summersweet Clethra – Sweet smelling clethra, with its glossy foliage and range of cultivars including ‘Hummingbird’ and the pink flowered ‘Ruby Spice’.  This native shrub is always covered in bees and is even visited by hummingbirds!  

Clethra ‘Sixteen Candles’ has a wonderful scent and lovely glossy foliage.
Native plant gardens are amended with organic compost, biochar and other amendments as required.

Choke Berry Aronia – Choke berry comes in either dark purple berries or vibrant red; they are a lasting food source for birds through fall and winter.  Aronia has delicate white flowers and shiny leaves. 

Witch Hazel’s fall blooms are pollinated by moths! Photo by UNH Extension.

Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana– This stunner blooms in fall when literally nothing else does, and it smells amazing.  Fun fact: American witch hazel is pollinated by winter moths. Native to US woodlands, it is a hearty shrub perfect for part-shade sites like this one. 

Process shot of native plant garden installation along walkways and beneath trellises.

It was a pleasure collaborating with Wilder Designs and Rock Shelter on this landscape design, masonry, grading and planting project!

Contact us about your native landscape design project — 914-560-6570.

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