Delay Yard Cleanup!

Photo of a chrysalis with coloration very similar to dried leaves and stems.
Do Not Disturb: a chrysalis is a future butterfly, waiting for its moment to emerge.

How would you like one less item on your to-do list this week? Pollinators are still overwintering in leaf litter, stalks, and among roots underground, so you can hold off on spring garden cleanup tasks.

When will they be safely on their way? This article from the Xerces Society shares signs to look for as spring unfolds each year.


With the time you’ve freed up, you could get out your hammock or lawn chairs: it is a great time to sit and enjoy the fresh spring air in northern Michigan! Maybe all bundled up…

Thanks for joining the North By Nature team in protecting biodiversity and pollinators!


From Hazardous to Handsome

The owners of this new Harbor Springs home came to North By Nature Landscapes with several challenges around the steep slope to the right of their elegant front door:

  • stabilizing the surface in front of the entryway,
  • allowing for access to a water spigot located on the side of the stone column and
  • creating a path down the steep slope to their lower-level patio and yard.



(A closer look at the surface to be stabilized and the spigot, above.)


Our designer suggested using natural limestone outcroppings and flagstone to complement the color and texture of the beautiful stonework on the house. First, we retained the earth at the entryway level with this dry-stacked wall. The outcroppings were stacked, without the use of mortar, on a compacted base of crushed stone to assure good drainage. One course of outcroppings are buried to provide the mass needed to retain the slope.



Next, we created this flagstone extension of the poured concrete sidewalk to further stabilize the area and keep everything neat.



A photo showing a steep slope descending next to a new home. North By Nature Landscapes designed and installed a retaining wall and stairs which provide access from the front entry to the lower level patio and yard.

Then, we installed snapped limestone steps down the hill. Note the large outcropping stones set in the garden between the house and the stairs. These help to stabilize the slope and provide access both to the spigot and for maintaining the new garden.

Finally, we began plantings on the reshaped slopes on either side of the stairs.

Handsome, huh?


Sound Up! Shoreline Pollinator Garden Sound Effects.

Shoreline Pollinator Garden featuring New England Asters. Seed grown native species are crucial for the health of our landscapes and ecosystems. They are also visually stunning and are the last flowers to bloom – often into October when all others have faded. We have combined them with Stiff Goldenrod, Mountain Mint, Swamp Milkweed, native Hibiscus, Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, and Tussock Sedge in a shoreline buffer garden replacing an unmowable and swampy lawn. Background audio is the real deal so turn it up to enjoy fully.

New England Aster and Stiff Goldenrod, October 2021, Walloon Lake, MI

New England Aster and Stiff Goldenrod

Shoreline Buffer Garden with Michigan Native Plants



Little Traverse Bay Cottage

We first met these clients on a cold winter day in 2017. Sipping coffee around the dining-room table we looked out over the frozen shoreline. As you can see in the first images, all vegetation had been removed, truly presenting a blank slate. We spent the morning learning about our clients’ aesthetic preferences and discussing North By Nature’s mission and methods. Their primary goal was to re-establish the lake-side landscape with low-growing, native perennials and grasses that would attract pollinators and require little long-term maintenance.

Based on the conversation that day, a concept was developed and, in the following weeks, presented to the clients, along with a draft plant list. Images that conveyed a sense of what we envisioned were included and showed scenes of native rock gardens and coneflower medleys.

After working through the concept phase, we moved on to material selection and plant procurement. Our client was concerned about also attracting nuisance pests like ticks, so finer sedges replaced the proposed grasses and we suggested planting lavender as a deterrent. The woodland fringes were planted with a few multi-stemmed paper birch trees and bayberry and nanny berry shrubs to enhance and frame the view. Temporary irrigation was used to establish plants, but there should be little need to water once established. A variety of straight native species were combined with selected cultivars for a broad palette of color displayed from June through October.

Please take a moment to peruse the slideshow. The captions have been written to guide you through the first two growing seasons and help identify these native beauties. If you have any questions about this project, please feel free to call or email Bret.