Day of Service 2013: Five nonprofits and one homeowner receive landscaping from volunteer actions

In celebration of Earth Day 2013, YardApes donated materials and mobilized 35 volunteers for an incredible six-site community outreach effort on April 22nd.

For the past three years, YardApes has held a contest to find local property owners who demonstrated a particular landscaping need, but who most importantly, would benefit from a renewed connection to nature.  “We set out to pick one area nonprofit and one area homeowner. And, as has been the case in previous years, we expanded our efforts to include more projects. I hate to say ‘no’ to anyone,” said YardApes founder Shayne Newman in a statement regarding his firm’s Day of Service contest.

“We received great submissions from our area nonprofits and homeowners,” said Mr. Newman. “That’s why the staff votes. We have to assess the need, and need is defined differently by everyone. We look at where we can make the biggest difference. It’s difficult, however, given the emotional response we often have to submissions. There’s no metric for how we ‘feel’ after first reading someone’s story. Consensus is never easy.  So we end up adding more projects.”

YardApes 2013 “Day of Service” Landscape and Green-Space Renewal Projects

The Education Center in New Milford, CT

Project one: landscape renovation project to enhance The Education Center school’s entrance, andinstallation of playground mulch to create a safe play area for the nonprofit’s 81 children, including 6 special education children.

Front Entrance Landscape Renovation

The Education Center Landscape Revitalization Project
The Center’s entrance, which was overgrown with foundation plants, was transformed with the installation of new boxwoods as foundation plantings.  The original foundation spiraea and Korean lilac plants were transplanted  to a location on the property where they would have room to grow.

Playground Mulch

The Education Center Playground

YardApes volunteers, along with Brookfield BNI volunteers, spread 60 yards of certified playground mulch for two separate playgrounds.
The Education Center Playground MulchedMulch for The Education Center PlaygroundMulching The Education Center Playground

New Milford Historical Society in New Milford, CT

Project two: spring cleanup of the property and mulching of the boxwood garden for the New Milford Historical Society.  The local nonprofit submitted its Day of Service contest proposal in preparation for ‘Art in Bloom’, an exhibit celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Garden Club of New Milford.

Spring Cleanup


The Historical Society site crew, comprised of YardApes volunteers, weeded, mulched, and performed pruning services in the formal garden. The crew also pruned and trimmed 100 year-old boxwoods, and transplanted perennials that had spread into unwanted areas of the garden.

Natural Stone Patio

Volunteers repaired the steps leading to the formal garden and used stones from the site to create an additional step for the Historical Society–as planned. A 20’ x 5′ natural stone patio, built by hand, and created from the site’s remaining stones, was an unplanned project. A Historical Society member asked volunteers to create the patio. The success of the installation speaks to the crew’s flexibility, hard-work, and commitment. And strength–Denise Cregier, our photographer who documented the day’s projects, had this to say about the Historical Society site crew: “I was impressed by their hard labor. Those guys are strong! I mean, fiercely strong. Those were huge slabs of rock they were moving. I didn’t really capture that.”

The Pratt Nature Center in New Milford, CT

Pruning Entranceway
Project three:  entrance gardens and shade garden at thePratt Nature Center receive spring cleanup and mulching.

931369_593935540625989_2027224578_nThe 201-acre wildlife preserve and environmental education center’s gardens had been unattended for a few years and were in need of some spring cleanup and mulching. Their Crabapple tree and Leucothoe, Spiraea, and Burning bushes also needed pruning.

A garden installation from YardApes’ 2011 Day of Service initiative, the center’s shade garden, also receivedpruningcleanup and mulching.

Sarah Noble Intermediate School in New Milford, CT,

Project four: transformation of  the courtyard of Sarah Noble Intermediate School in New Milford CT  into a healing garden and outdoor classroom.  The center of the outdoor classroom and healing garden is a 16’ five-circuit Belgium block labyrinth, along with a flowering dogwood tree dedicated to the grand daughter of a Sarah Noble Intermediate School educator who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  See the full story on this Healing Garden and Labyrinth project.

Biodegradable Labyrinth templateLabyrinth Belgium Block Pathway completeHand seeding
New grass seedThe Landscape volunteersMemorial Garden

TheatreWorks New Milford in New Milford, CT.,

Project five: a “dynamic force in the cultural growth of the area”, TheatreWorks benefited from landscape redesign of its main garden and renovation of its theatre entrance.

TheatreWorks DOS Design with New Plants List“We spent the first part of the day clearing out the invasive shrubs and trees that overran the garden.  Then we removed existing shrubs and perennials that were to be transplanted in new places according to the design.   We used a combination of on-site transplanted plants, plants that we have nursed back to health at our shop, and new plants we ordered from a local nursery,” explains YardApes’ Landscape Architect, J. Scott Williams.

“The steepness of the site made planting extremely difficult.  At the end of the day we were still working, and volunteers from the other sites came to help us mulch the plants.”

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“TheatreWorks is ecstatic at the transformation from a derelict hillside to a designer garden, and all in one day. It was like one of those Home and Garden TV shows. We were happy to help and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” said Mr. Williams.

Homeowners’ site in New Milford, CT.,

Project six: volunteers spent the day weeding and edging all beds, pruning back overgrown shrubs, thinning and dividing perennials in crowded garden, transplanting perennials to another bed, and lastly,mulching.

All six projects were part of a nationwide “Day of Service” initiated by national Professional Landcare Network (PLANETlawn and landscape association with the goal of giving its 3,800 member companies an opportunity to plan, organize, and carry out projects to benefit their local communities.

“I am deeply gratified to have employees who volunteer their time, friends and colleagues who volunteer—and strengthen—our effort, and to have nonprofits and homeowners show our volunteers unbelievable support and kindness,” said Mr. Newman. “Each year we meet new people who share their stories with us, who inspire us, and who we are privileged to know. We are fortunate to count them as new friends.” The 35 volunteers consisted of 20 YardApes employees who donated their day and 15 local business people from the BNI Business Bobcat group where Newman is a member.

Volunteers for the landscaping projects:

YardApes volunteers, Sarah Noble Intermediate School site: Shayne Newman, Ramiro Parra, Rodolfo Tepan, James Ryerse, and Ava Newman.

YardApes volunteers, Homeowners’ site: Alfredo Aviles, Florentino Barrera, Greg Malmberg, and Jorge Silva.

YardApes volunteers, The Education Center site: Brian Flynn, Keats Gil, Kyle Neukom, Shayne Newman, Tom Tuminelli, and Jason Von Reyn.

YardApes volunteers, Theatreworks New Milford site: Bruce Brown, Michael Herrick, J. Scott Williams and Walter Singer.

YardApes volunteers, The Pratt Nature Center site: Roberto Angulo, Mauricio Hernandez, Ricardo Hernandez and Juan Perez.

YardApes volunteers, New Milford Historical Society: Franklin Guaman, Manuel Labanda, Greg Malmberg, and Isauro Perez.

Brookfield BNI Business Bobcat volunteers:


Special thanks to Denise Cregier for thoughtfully photographing our Day of Service. Denise committed to documenting as much as she could of our day’s sites. The sixth project, the homeowners’ site, is not featured as they are not public persons. Our hats are off to Denise for making the rounds, and for being the last one back to the shop.


We believe everyone everywhere benefits from a connection with nature.

en English