Ecology + Design

Our BEST landscape design & build projects of 2023 | Westchester & Fairfield Counties

2023 was another year of boundary pushing for Green Jay Landscape Design on many levels. We sold our first design in Essex County, NJ; we branched into more inventive designs, including a naturalistic children’s play area; we expanded our staff; we provided cost-of-living bonuses to all returning employees…it has been a productive and rewarding year at GJLD! None of it would be possible without our clients, who continue to prioritize responsible land stewardship by choosing ecological solutions for their landscape renovations. We feel so fortunate to work on unique and sometimes perplexing landscapes, to combine our science and art brains to design solutions that appeal to all of our senses and values. It was difficult to narrow down all of our landscape design projects from the year, but we felt these five landscapes really stood out for their ingenuity, complexity of site conditions, and craftsmanship. Please enjoy our best landscape design projects of the year! Feeling inspired? Contact us to discuss your landscape today.

Re-designed front entrance area features low-maintenance native plants that boost biodiversity.

#5 – Home Sweet Home, Where the Heart Is

Grading, Native Plantings & Masonry | Hastings, NY

This full property renovation involved major grading and drainage in the backyard, to lift and level the lawn into a more functional play area. We also added woodland seating nooks that transform the corners of the property into useable space.

Boulder seating area beneath River Birch with native ferns.

In the front yard, we upgraded the foundation and entry plantings for a more naturalistic, composed look. Custom flagstone stairs ease the transition from the top of the property to the rear.

Learn more about the project on our blog here.

Gravel sculpture garden doubles as a septic tank cover.
Clients’ sculptures are incorporated into a gravel garden. Ground covers will fill in beneath the sculptures while maintaining access to the septic covers.

#4 – Through the Season, Into the Mystic

Zen Garden, Pool Landscaping, Meadow Renovation | Ridgefield, CT

Each phase of this project offered unique design frameworks that challenged our creativity and construction techniques. The first priority was to renovate the large seeded meadow along the driveway, which the clients found weedy and unattractive. We interjected some structural plants (grasses and shrubs) as well as early season bloomers, which were lacking.

PROCESS PHOTO: GJLD crew works on selectively editing the meadow and adding structural plants.
PROCESS PHOTO: GJLD crew works on selectively editing the meadow and adding structural plants.

The next priority was expanding a Zen garden space outside, and in view of, the clients’ office.  We designed a gravel garden with hot and dry native plants, and incorporated the clients existing sculptures.

Natural stone path laid out by GJLD masons.
Natural stone path laid out by GJLD masons.

Matching the existing gravel proved challenging but we love the unique gold color! Finally, zones around the pool area had been neglected, so we designed a layered planting to better transition the eye from lawn to the mature trees.

Read more about the project on our blog here.

Terraced hillside backyard with native plant gardens and natural stone masonry.

#3 – Brining Nature Home, the Presence of Paradise, the Provenance of Peace

Terraced Woodland Slope, Patio Construction, Front Yard Pollinator Garden | Hastings, NY

This backyard is one of the narrowest and steepest we’ve worked on! We managed to maximize functional space in the backyard by constructing terraces in the slope, for both garden beds and seating areas. We planted the slope with native understory plants that make the whole hillside a focal point, while also stabilizes the soil and integrity of the slope.

Irregular flagstone patio was newly constructed in the same footprint as the previous warped patio.

The existing patio and retaining wall were warped and crumbling – both were rebuilt with natural flagstone by GJLD. In the front yard, we removed the narrow strips of lawn and designed a full sun pollinator garden. We love how it looks against the white picket fence!

Front yard lawn replacement with native plants.

See more photos and details of the project on our blog post.

Newly planted native front entry with river rock border for drainage.

#2Modern Living in the New World, to Touch the Earth, the Embrace of Nature

Contemporary Native Landscape, Wetland Buffer, Pool Landscaping | Greenwich, CT

It was a pleasure collaborating with Trillium Architects for this project, who reach out to us early on, while the passive home was still under construction. With such a large project, it is critical to coordinate phases of landscape installation with other construction contractors, so that quality and efficiency of the work are optimized. For example, it was critical to us to protect the wetlands and the pool area as the first step. Site protection is essential for low impact development – it was our responsibility to make sure the bare ground of the construction site did not transport into the wetland zones.

“Living Fence” vegetative border marks the edge of the retaining wall and start of the wetland.

By installing sod around the pool area, we enabled the clients to enjoy the pool area during the summer, while the rest of the home was still being completed.

Installing sod with clover around the pool area to protect the newly build pool while construction continues.

We also designed a number of wildlife border gardens, as well as a contemporary foundation and entry plantings.

Front foundation planting features native shrubs, perennials and grasses for a layered habitat.


Learn more about the landscape design and installation on our blog post.

A trio of sitting boulders invites reflection and relaxation in the front yard woodland.

#1 – Invitation to Nature, Whimiscally Wild Woodland, a Partnership of Superb Pairing

Woodland Trails, Front Lawn Reduction, Native Understory | Briarcliff Manor, NY

What a fun, whimsical landscape design – it had to be #1 out of all our projects for 2023! This property is tucked into the woods of Westchester, but the woodland zones had been ignored and underutilized. We selectively removed Norway Maples in the woodland to allow more dappled light in, and designed a woodland understory planting. Since one of the woodland zones is in the front yard, the planting involved significant large evergreen trees, to add seclusion and privacy to the area. Most importantly, we installed a woodchip path to meander through the woodland, with an optional stop at contemplative sitting boulders. It feels like a private nature preserve!

New front entry garden is framed by the unique lawn shape inside.

We also loved re-imagining this front entry landscape, which previously had a lot of lawn surrounded by mature trees. We drastically reduced the lawn area – leaving enough for the clients to play with their dog – and replacing the rest with layered native plantings that fill in the ground plane and mid layer of the landscape, while framing the front door.

Lawn area is functional and more interesting by limiting its extent.

Read and see more about the project on our blog here.

Now Scheduling Landscape Consultations for Spring 2024

Our spring installation schedule is nearly full, and we are currently accepting design work for the 2024 season! Contact us today to schedule your consultation and get started on the landscape of your dreams! 914-560-6570.

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