Sprawling green yards have long been evocative of a well-kept home or business. But a lush, weed-free lawn requires constant upkeep — mowing, raking, watering, fertilizing — often to the detriment of local ecology; harmful chemicals seep into watersheds, sprinklers use excessive resources, and without local fauna and pollinators, native and invasive plants alike can grow uncontrollably.
As studies continue to show the negative impact of an expansive grass yard, a movement has bloomed to restore lawns into low-maintenance native habitats that are beautiful and supportive of biodiversity. It’s called rewilding.
Plan It Wild is a Croton-on-Hudson business that helps homeowners and businesses in the greater Westchester area “rewild” their lawn. “We saw a need for a niche company focused on habitat restoration, but specifically with beautiful plants,” says co-owner Amanda Bayley.
As a landscape architect for more than 10 years, she’s been designing green infrastructure and working with wetlands throughout New York City. She noticed plenty of ecology-driven work in the city, but not much in the suburbs. She discussed this with Jeffrey Rothfeder, a former editor at Business Week and Bloomberg News, whom she met while revising the Town of Cortlandt’s tree ordinance.
They discovered a shared passion for habitat rehabilitation and gardening, and soon decided to start a landscape design business that would be environmentally friendly.
The company began by selling plant plugs at the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Farmers Market more than two years ago, but they have since refocused their efforts on reducing what Bayley calls a lawn footprint. “We’re certainly not anti-lawn — it’s nice to have a space to play ball or host a cocktail party,” Bayley explains. “But the goal is to reduce lawns to strolling areas or small spots, as opposed to the sprawling you see today that’s mostly kept flowerless, plantless, and pestless; it’s resource-dependent in a way that can be harmful.”
Today, Plan It Wild offers landscape consultations, designs with master plans, and essential rewilding gardens. Coming soon: sustainable maintenance plans. “We are offering a unique service that few others do,” Bayley says. “It’s design rooted in local ecology, made to accommodate your family’s needs, while restoring ecological balance.”