Get Reacquainted With Naturally Green

Naturally Green is embarking on a third phase! I started as a lawn and landscape design company in 1989. Then in 1994 things moved to the airwaves and the Naturally Green radio show began. Weekly the hour-long show talked about all things gardening in the Rochester area and ran twenty-six years.

During the lawn and landscape phase, I maintained over a hundred lawns for quite a few years. Lawns require a significant amount of maintenance when they have sun and decent soil, but even more work when poor soils, shade, tree roots, lack of rain, and pests challenge the goal of a green carpet. I regularly encouraged people to do something else in shady areas or on steep slopes.

(The seed companies should really market the “shady” grass seed as “less sunny” grass seed, but of course they would sell less of it.)

My Own Lawn-lessness

When we bought our house in 1992, it had the traditional lawn with a couple of shrubs along the foundation of the house. Immediately I used newspaper covered with mulch to smother the grass and let it compost in place. I wasn’t trying to create a nature sanctuary then–I just didn’t want to mow the yard 25-30 times a year! Through my landscape business I found trees and shrubs that needed a second chance and brought them home for a new life. Our Hinoki Cypress and Japanese Maples were being thrown away by a nursery and the Kousa Dogwood had to be replaced with a new one for a landscape customer.

My favorite plant in our front yard was a gift from a lawn customer. I mentioned how beautiful their Ironwood (Carpinus Caroliniana) was in their backyard. It was easy to recognize because a nursery owner in Rome, NY (Parker Scripture) had planted one of these in my parent’s yard sometime around 1975. I loved watching that tree change throughout the seasons. Several years after I noticed the Ironwood my clients found a seedling of the tree and gave it to me. This 3-4 inch seedling thrived amidst the Goldenrod and wild Asters, as well as St. John’s Wort, Siberian Iris, and Sweet Woodruff, but you couldn’t see it for most of the year. Twenty-five years later it is thirty feet high and has forced the Goldenrod to move out to the tree belt.

I didn’t set out to create a landscape that would change so drastically over several decades, but I’ve grown to love the changes that have transpired. For the past 10-15 years I have only watered the front yard a couple of times if we were experiencing a severe drought. Even though last summer was extremely dry, I didn’t need to water at all. There are virtually no weeds because the ground is covered with plants. My tree lawn area has some field grasses in it that have been hard to remove because they are grown intertwined with lots of daffodils, Black-Eyed Susans, and Common Milkweed, but these grasses fit in with all the other plants in this same space like Queen Anne’s Lace, Saffron Crocus, Perennial Geranium, and Wild Asters.

Naturally Green: Phase 3

Starting in 2023 I will be doing consultations and designs for people that want to have less lawn and more nature.

Some people may want me to visit several times a year or once a month to show them examples of nature at work in their yard, or alert them about what to look for during that season. I will be collaborating with a long time partner in Laurie Broccolo of Broccolo Tree and Lawn to do installations of plantings, as well as patios and other hardscaping features to make your yard a living space for you as well as the birds, butterflies, and everything else.

I’m glad you’ve stumbled across the website for this endeavor and I hope you find the resources I’ll be collecting here to be useful. If you’re looking for any kind of support in transforming your lawn into a more sustainable landscape, please reach out. I’m excited about how Naturally Green has transformed over the decades, the same way we can transform your lawn into a sustainable landscape!

  • Michael Warren Thomas

    Michael Warren Thomas lives in Rochester, New York where he offers consultation, maintenance, and education to those looking to transform their lawn into a vibrant, natural landscape.