Landscapers Help Wildlife Thrive in Westfield’s Backyards

Native plants need less water, fewer to no chemicals and require less maintenance than non-native plants. Credits: Scape-Abilities
Native flowers help polinating insects, such as bees and butterflies, survive. Credits: Scape-Abilties
Native plants give gardens a pretty, if less-than-manicured, look.  Credits: Scape-Abilities
Native plants are less likely to die and need replacement than plants that are not native to the area, experts say. Credits: Scape-Abilities
Landscapers can help you choose the native plants that are right for your yard. Credits: Scape-Abilities
Native plants help birds, pollinating insects and other local wildlife survive. Credits: Scape-Abilities

WESTFIELD, NJ — At a press conference last month, Patricia Brentano, a local artist, environmentalist and wife of Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, explained how they turned their yard into a haven for birds, pollinating insects and other local wildlife. Brentano runs the Facebook page Rescaping the Suburbs with the New Jersey Audubon Society. Bramnick sponsored a bill, now passed by the assembly, that would make it easier for homeowners to grow native plants, some of which might be considered weeds by neighbors. 

In the front yard of the couple’s home grow native grasses. In the back, wildflowers. Brentano said she’s even grown milkweed to attract and feed monarch butterflies. But the couple didn’t do all of this alone — they worked together with their landscapers.

Stephen Costalos is the owner of Scape-Abilities in Scotch Plains and a member of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. As a landscaper, he believes it’s important to educate his clients about the benefits of native plants.

Sign Up for E-News

“There’s a general need in the area for people to become more comfortable with native plants in their landscaping and use them more readily,” Costalos said. Plants that are native to the area not only help wildlife — experts say they need less water, fewer to no chemicals and require less maintenance. They’re also less likely to die and need replacement than plants that are not native to the area, according to Costalos.

“Typically native plants do well. They’re happy here,” he explained.

The result can be pretty — but many consider the look of native plants “messy,” as well. Landscapers will tell you that not every homeowner is interested in a less-than-manicured appearance, or for attracting more insects. And finding native plants at nurseries isn’t always easy. As demand increases, that could change.

Matt Ince, owner of Ince Landscape Construction & Management in Westfield, said his company has the knowledge and experience to design and install various types of landscapes depending on the individual clients' goals for their property.

“Landscapes are also site-specific, so factors such as full sun, partial to full shade, soil conditions — wet/dry etc.— and deer activity are taken into account when designing a landscape,” Ince explained. “If a client is interested in utilizing native plants, Ince landscape can provide options ranging from color pictures with growth habits and site requirements to detailed renderings showing precisely what plant material will be installed, in specific areas with sizes, quantities and varieties in addition to color pictures. Ince landscape can also accompany a client to the nursery so they may see the actual plant material to be hand-selected.”

Planning with your landscaper is important, Costalos said. For example, if you’re planting wildflowers that will attract bees, you don’t want to plant them by your front door. And don’t pick plants simply because they’re flowering now. It’s better to choose some that will flower later to mix with those that flower earlier, so that your garden is in bloom longer, he said.

As a landscaper, Costalos said, “The most important thing is education, then putting valid design ideas in front of them so they can choose.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Springfield Acupuncturist Charged with Sexual Assault of Patient

February 24, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — A Springfield-based acupuncturist and was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a patient, Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan and Springfield Police Chief John Cook jointly announced Friday.

 Edward Raskin, 55, of Chatham Township, Morris County, was charged with second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree criminal sexual ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update

February 15, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

I first want to congratulate Nick Calello and David Went for their promotions to patrol officers in the Westfield Police Department. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate new Patrol Officer Fortunato Riga, who joins the police department this week upon his ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House


Sun, February 25, 11:30 AM

Union County Torah Center - Chabad, Westfield

Hamantash Bake at the Torah Center

Religions And Spirituality

Tue, February 27, 7:30 PM


Westfield Board of Education Meeting


Westfield Police Blotter: Man Steals 60 Pairs of Pants from Downtown Store & More

February 21, 2018

February 14, 2018 10:53 p.m.

Officers Gill and Weiss arrested Luis Murillo, age 30, of Rahway, NJ, for two outstanding warrants out of Westfield Municipal Court ($500) and Woodbridge Municipal Court ($500) pursuant to a motor vehicle stop in Scotch Plans Township. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released after posting requisite bail.


February 15, 2018 5:24 ...

Union County Hosts First LGBTQ Roundtable

February 24, 2018

On Tuesday, February 20, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, through the Office of LGBTQ Services, hosted a roundtable with over 20 leading LGBTQ advocacy and ally organizations that serve Union County and New Jersey. Facilitated by Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality, more than 40 participants met to discuss LGBTQ-related programs, services, issues and ...

The Missing Moses

A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah ...

‘Month of Hope’ at Wilson School

Inspired by the HOPE Week Initiative introduced in 2009 by the New York Yankees, Mr. Joseph Malanga, principal of Wilson School and a fan of the American League professional ballclub, declared January the “Month of Hope” at Wilson.

Malanga called on the school’s faculty Acts of Kindness Committee to choose the charitable organizations to be recipients of the weekly donation ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Would the Stock Market Affect Your Home Purchase?

"Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night." ("All About Eve.") While most people misquote this as "It's going to be a bumpy ride," the actual quote works better for the movie. Bette Davis delivers this with the classic style that made her one of the most loved actresses of her generation.

Well for the stock market it’s been a wild bumpy ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.


The ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 13, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Is FAANG Long in the Tooth?

Investors love to rally around a stock story. Today it’s all about the FAANG stocks. Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOG) are a major reason why the S&P 500 rallied so much in 2017. Mr. Market is convinced the FAANGs are impervious to a sell-off. “Its different this time” is ringing loud and clear, but will the outcome really be that ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Nutley Police Make Arrest In Instagram School Threat Case

February 24, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ — An 18-year-old high school student has been charged with Third Degree False Public Alarm after an Instagram post led the Nutley school district to close schools last week.

Joseph Rafanello, a senior at Nutley High School, was arrested and taken to Essex County Jail.The arrest followed a full investigation by the police. The video at ...