Winner: 3 Silver Awards 2014, Garden Writers Association: Best podcast, Best talent & Best overall program
Grow a Feast in 8 Square Feet - Martha Stewart Living 2012
Ever heard of "ethnobotany"? We hadn't either, but Brooklyn-based Groundworks does -- it's about having a garden be reflective of a cultural heritage (for example, using figs, olives and persimmons for a client from the Middle East). "We absolutely ask these kinds of questions of our clients, so that the gardens are extremely personal," says Alice Marcus Krieg, who, with her business partner Carmen DeVito, founded Groundworks in 2002. In addition to designing, installing and maintaining gardens, "We spend a lot of time at nurseries learning what plants are going to do and how they will grow," Krieg says. That helps, of course, when a client wants a California garden in his shady Park Slope back yard. "We help to hone that vision into something that will work in the space," she explains. "And we stress organic practices and use of native plants."A rooftop garden, she notes, does well with grasses, beach pines or anything that likes a hot, dry climate, while a back yard is more conducive to shade gardening. Expect a typical city deck with perimeter plantings to cost around $8,000 to $15,000 to design and build, while a back yard is more labor-intensive and averages $25,000. Upkeep runs $2,500 to $3,500 annually. "A garden is a growing thing that changes and evolves," says Krieg. "It's not like a bathroom or kitchen where you paint it once in a while; a garden requires regular maintenance."