SERVICES Naturally Green provides an array of services to help transform your living space in the Finger Lakes
It can be daunting to look out at all of your grass and wonder where to start transitioning into a more natural, habitat for at least some of your property. Perhaps you would like to do the design and installation of the new plantings yourself, but you just need some guidance to make sure you are on the right track.
Michael Warren Thomas can spend an hour with you, examining your sun and shade, your soil, and other factors that might impact your plant choices. For example, a mature Black Walnut in your neighbor’s yard can severely affect gardens twice as far away as it is tall, and they can be 60 plus feet high. Michael has many strategies to eliminate existing lawn areas and can offer expert advice on their advantages and disadvantages.
Michael will leave you with some details on where to find plant material, a quick sketch of the area you are interested in planting, and some key tips for doing the job right for a fee of $125. Travel time will be an additional charge if you are over 30 minutes away from Rochester and aren’t available on a day he is in your area.
He is also available to do classes and presentations for garden clubs, social groups, and neighborhood organizations.
You might be amazed at how much is already happening in your yard, but you don’t know what to look for or where to find the plants, insects, butterflies, and birds that already live there. Michael can visit seasonally or perhaps monthly depending on the size of your property and your level of interest in nature. He lives in the City of Rochester and has just a 1/10 of an acre which is mostly covered by a house, driveway, and garage, but there are so many things going on in the rest of the yard.
In the process of looking for Monarch eggs on his Milkweed, he discovered the aphids on the underside of the leaves. Then he noticed the Ladybug larvae that look like miniature alligators and are known as aphid wolves. There were also Lacewing eggs raised off the leaf on tiny filaments. There were Milkweed bugs, and ants farming the aphids as well as tiny beneficial wasps visiting the Milkweed flowers.
A nature coach helps you find these mini ecosystems that exist in most properties that aren’t 100% lawn. The examples are countless. You might find amazingly precise sections of leaves cut out by the Leafcutter Bee on the leaves of a native Redbud tree. There might be seedlings of various trees planted by the squirrels throughout the yard, and occasionally invasive species like Swallowwort that need to be removed.
If you want to learn more about nature in your yard, set up an appointment for Michael to coach you through the clues that nature leaves for us to discover. He can help you identify the trees, shrubs, perennials, and even weeds that you may not be familiar with. A one hour appointment is $125.
Guided walks in local and regional parks are available for individuals, families, or groups.
Even if you want to do the installation of native plants yourself, having a professional design will give you a map of where things should go to maximize the potential for their long term success. There are myriad factors to consider when deciding which plants to use in your yard, including sun, soil, water, wind, wildlife pressure (deer, rabbits, etc), potential impact from nearby species (such as Black Walnut trees), slope and drainage, and proximity to structures or power lines and underground utilities.
Michael Warren Thomas can help you decrease the size of your lawn gradually or perhaps in several steps. This will allow more space for outdoor living areas for you, pathways, wildflowers, a water feature, additional trees, a privacy hedge, and potentially some herbs and vegetables. Outdoor lighting can be added to extend your ability to use the yard in the evenings.
Lawns are green (hopefully), but they don’t invite you to spend time on them unless you are mowing. With less lawn, small and large properties can have so much more diversity of plant species and longer periods of bloom, which makes the outdoor space more inviting for you. Additional features like a small fountain can distract from road noise in the neighborhood while also providing water for butterflies and birds.
There are relatively expensive ways to create instant wildlife habitats using larger plant material and removing grass. There are also inexpensive ways to transition your property into a more natural habitat using smaller plants that will in time overcome your existing grass in time in a process called plant succession. For example, Michael has a 30 foot American Hornbeam tree in his front yard that was transplanted to that spot as a 3″ seedling. The Goldenrod towered over it for several years but it has now completely shaded out the Goldenrod in that area.
It is possible to buy large shade trees that have a 4″ – 5″ thick trunk. While these expensive trees give some instant gratification, it will take at least 1 year of recovery per inch of caliper so that a much smaller and far less expensive tree will catch up with larger one in the long run. While Michael emphasizes native plantings, he can include some non-native plants if necessary, and areas of annuals for a splash of color.
Please contact Michael to discuss your goals for the yard, and he can give you more details on the cost of the design. Winter is an ideal time to work on designs and dream about how you can mow less lawn in the future.
There are some incredibly invasive plants in our area that can get established very quickly. Black Swallowwort, Oriental Bittersweet, and Japanese Knotweed are three excellent examples of invasive species that have colonized large areas of our parks and yards.
In addition to scouting for invasive plants, Michael Warren Thomas can help monitor for invasive insects like the Spotted Lanternfly and the Spongy Moth (formerly Gypsy Moth). After several years of heavy damage from the Spongy Moth, it is likely that there will be less damage in most areas in 2023. There are also a few native plants like Poison Ivy that cause serious concern. Each of these plants and insects has a fascinating story and it can take some creativity to remove or at least control them.
Michael has a sixth sense for Poison Ivy, and has found it in his yard, outside downtown churches and restaurants, as well as in suburban and rural properties. There are huge Poison Ivy vines in Mt. Hope Cemetery and along the Riverway Trail. Birds love the white berries that are produced each summer, and then they spread the seeds along with their fertilizer all over the area.
Michael will leave you with some details on options for you to remove or control the invasive species, and a simple sketch of their locations in the yard. The fee is $125 for an hour of scouting plus travel time for properties over 30 minutes away from Rochester if you aren’t available on a day he is in your area.
Service Areas Naturally Green is currently operating in the Finger Lakes Region. We are able to provide services in the following New York counties. If you're located outside of these counties, please be in touch--we may still be able to assist in some way!
- Monroe County
- Livingston County
- Wayne County
- Ontario County
- Yates County
- Steuben County
- Seneca County
- Schuyler County
- Chemung County
- Cayuga County
- Tompkins County
If you’d like to begin the discussion about transforming your lawn or if you have questions before approaching the idea, send us a message! You can use the contact form to send a note to Michael and he’ll reach out soon to set up a time to begin the conversation.
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