Front Yard Contest is under way near Riverside Park in Buffalo

Murray Brothers staff at Front Yard Garden Competition in Buffalo NY
Staff from Murray Brothers installed a stone walkway during last year’s Front Yard Contest.

The National Garden Festival’s neighborhood-transforming Front Yard Contest kicked off yesterday on Crowley Avenue in Buffalo, bordering the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Riverside Park.

Professional landscapers, Master Gardeners and teams from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy are donating their time and materials to give 15 homeowners free garden makeovers.

This Front Yard Contest is part of third annual National Garden Festival. Organizers believe it is the only such civic-minded garden competition in the country.

You can view the landscaping work in progress through Friday, July 13 and then vote for your favorite yard from July 14 to July 21. Physical ballots will be available outside each home along Crowley Avenue and online voting will take place at the National Garden Festival website. The website will also feature a blog, where the public can track the progress of the gardens and read profiles of the landscapers and homeowners.

In addition to the public voting, a team of gardening experts will review the gardens and bestow awards in several technical categories to the landscapers.

This event is coordinated by the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Association, the New York State Certified Nursery and Landscape Professionals, the Buffalo OlmstedParks Conservancy, Visit Buffalo Niagara, and the National Garden Festival organizing committee. The contest is sponsored by Monrovia Nurseries, with additional support from Lakeside Sod, Akron Tree Farms and Unilock, Inc.

The following landscape firms, garden centers and volunteers are participating in the competition:

  • Beyond the Basics Property Services, Inc.
  • Dore Landscape Associates
  • The English Gardener, Ltd
  • Murray Brothers Nurseries, Inc.
  • Richardson Landscape Services
  • Lockwood’s Greenhouses
  • Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservatory with the Master Gardeners of the Cornell Cooperative Extension

After the competition is complete, the Crowley Avenue residents can take free training on how to maintain their new landscaping.

“While this National Garden Festival event is presented as a contest, in reality, this is a highly collaborative project,” said Sally Cunningham, director of the National Garden Festival. “Members of the Western New York State Nursery & Landscape Association (the folks who produce Plantasia in March), the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Master Gardeners of the Cornell Cooperative Extension will pull together to make this happen, pooling plants, manpower, materials, knowledge and often equipment. The public is invited to watch as they not only compete for the best designs, but also help each other install them.”

“Working together to build a better Olmsted Park neighborhood is the essence of the National Garden Festival’s Front Yard Contest,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president and CEO of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. “New this year, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy will be turning the contest into a teaching and learning moment. The conservancy’s operation and design teams are pairing with Master Gardeners of the Cornell Cooperative Extension and local volunteers to adopt some of the front yards as part of our ongoing staff development program –with our community benefitting from the results.”

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