Nature’s Sanctuary

Updated May 14, 2013


An inviting backyard welcomes wildlife and garden tours.

Soothing water features and aromatic foliage attract local – and fluttering – visitors to this eco-friendly property outside of Washington, D.C. Starting with large areas of turf, John Magee and his team at Magee Design removed and replaced the grass with native plant gardens. They used foliage including butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), lavender hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and threadleaf Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) to attract butterflies and different birds.

To catch and filter the runoff water from neighboring lawns before it reached Difficult Run (a tributary to the Potomac River), the crew reshaped the land to create rain gardens, using plants like Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor). Next to the deck and patio they built, Magee Design also installed another self-recycling water feature (seen in the background above).

“The entire family participates in maintaining the garden – yes, even their two teenage boys,” Magee says. This garden has been featured in the National Wildlife Federation’s “Garden for Wildlife” tour and is a certified habitat through the federation.

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