Gardens by Joan is a “full-service” garden design, installation, and maintenance provider.  We specialize in the custom design and installation of garden spaces in New York City and are experts in brownstone backyards, rooftop gardens, and other landscape design projects. To realize your vision, we evaluate your potential garden space and then listen to what you have to say so that we can understand what you want in a garden and provide avenues to achieve it. We know from experience that a beautifully designed, comfortable, and relaxing garden increases your outdoor enjoyment, peace of mind, and renews your spirit. It also increases your property value!



Garden Design Proposal  A garden design proposal is the best choice for a “blank-slate” garden that needs a full design, installation or major renovation. In order to create a garden design proposal, one of our designers will perform an on-site evaluation of your proposed garden space so that we can provide a solution that supports your vision, but is also practical and sustainable. During this visit we will perform soil tests, site measurements, plant inventory, and discuss your style, needs, wants, and other pertinent details. The on-site visit will be followed with pricing, design ideas, proposed plant lists, and an installation schedule. Once the garden plan is finalized and accepted, we will provide you with a  2-D vellum drawing. The $100 design consultation fee will be subtracted from the final payment on your completed project.

On-Site Garden Consultation  An on-site garden consultation is the best choice if you have an established garden. If you need advice, additional plantings, or maintenance, one of our staff members will visit your garden space to provide you with these on-site services at an hourly rate. If you would like, we can also follow up and provide you with a client to-do list for the “do-it-yourself” types, an estimate for proposed maintenance, or an estimate for additional work that you might like us to perform.

Internet Garden Design  Garden design and consultation services can also be provided via the Internet. Should you choose to have us help you with the design of your special project over the Internet, you will  be asked to provide specific plot measurements, photos, and also complete a questionnaire. All design projects are by quotation.

GARDEN INSTALLATION  Our definition of “full-service garden installation” means that even if one or more tasks is outside of our scope of expertise to perform,  we will refer those tasks to the appropriate trade and recommend specific vendors that we have used and have a prior relationship with. Because each installation is unique, pricing will vary depending on the scope of work.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE  We offer annual maintenance contracts customized for your site including comprehensive maintenance: general plant health care, fertilization, pest management, spring clean-up, fall garden closing, and overall property upkeep. Because maintenance needs are unique to your garden, pricing will vary depending on the scope of work.

GARDEN WRITING Joan McDonald is a published garden writer and may be contacted to write articles or contribute to books about many different horticultural topics. All curriculums are by quotation. Below is a list of published topics. Check out Joan’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden‘s page to see some of her work.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s ‘Plants & Gardens News’

  • A Bird Habitat Garden—Plant Choices and Design Tips
  • A Blended Garden
  • A Late-Season Garden
  • Herbes de Provence—An Elegant, Potted-Garden Design
  • A Potted Water Garden—Beautiful Aquatic Plants in Containers
  • Dwarf Conifers in Containers: Designing a Miniature Landscape
  • Wildflower Fever!—A Selection of Unusual Natives

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Award-Winning Horticultural Handbooks

  • Edible Gardens
  • Great Natives for Tough Places


Garden Design Instruction We can design a garden design curriculum specific to your needs.

Horticultural Instruction We can design a horticultural instruction curriculum specific to your needs.


Joan McDonald conducts workshops, lectures, and seminars for many institutions such as: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s community outreach program, GreenBridge, and the Auxiliary Speaker’s Bureau, The Horticultural  Society of New York, and The Central Park Conservancy Educational Partnership. She is also a certified speaker on various horticultural topics for the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State.

To inquire about having Joan speak at your event, contact us for a current list of topics. If you do not see what you want on her list, Joan can create a custom presentation for your group.

We require two-week notice for any topic on the “Speaking Engagement Topics List” and four-week notice for any custom presentation. Our digital powerpoint presentation includes an image list, bibliography, source, and resources lists, in addition to, pertinent technique “How-To’s” such as “How to Care for Spring Bulbs after Blooming”, “Forcing Branches Indoors”, etc. We can provide all needed equipment, including a projection screen and a digital projector. Once you have decided on the topic, contact us to further discuss dates, locations, and fees.