Freelance Garden Design


Rachel Beth Gardening is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, with a mission to provide landscape designs that clients can, and are taught to, install and take care of themselves. The mission is educational and altruistic by empowerment through knowledge and skill.

Rachel Beth Gardening’s landscape designs are provided for a charitable tax deductible donation to the nonprofit organization.

For this project, Rachel is specializing in designing “smart gardens,” organized by maintenance requirements, that are easy for beginner gardeners.



About Rachel Freeman:

Rachel is a landscape architect who has studied landscape design at New York Botanical Garden, Bergen Community College, and Temple University. Rachel has studied Liberal Arts at Bard College, and Barnard College (Columbia University), and Thomas Edison State University, at which she tested out of 33 credits for her B.A., and studied nonprofit management, project management, OSHA, and accounting. Rachel is an Honors Program Graduate of Bergen Community College for her A.A., where she graduated with a 4.0, and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.

Rachel’s designs are influenced by her work in garden maintenance at public gardens (“botanical garden” refers to public gardens organized by botany) Wave Hill, in the Bronx, NY, Greenwood Gardens, in Short Hills, NJ, and Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, in NYC, NY. These experiences are a great asset to landscape design! It’s like designing wigs after being a hairstylist. Rachel’s designs are also influenced by the courses she has taken, the lectures she has attended, the amazing client gardens she serviced as a freelance gardener (including for 3 Bergen County, NJ, Garden Club Presidents), the books and magazines she has read, and every garden she has ever seen, and every person she has ever met (she thinks we’re really all gardeners at heart too).

Her method of translating 3D landscape design goals into a 2D product is taking pictures of the site, and adding pictures of the plants on a computer. She prefers this method to a draft viewed from above the plants, because instead of seeing the design as the crow flies, she likes to see and show clients how it looks from a person’s perspective.

Rachel invites you to read her resume.

Design Procedure (amended due to coronavirus):

  • Clients email Rachel Freeman ( to express interest in a smart garden design package (includes landscape design, curriculum, maintenance calendar, educational materials, and 10 email to Rachel a year with gardening questions). Rachel sends you Rachel Beth Gardening’s rate (tax deductible).
  • To start the project, clients take pictures of their home (including from the street and driveway, please!), with angles that allow her to photoshop in plant designs on a computer. Clients let Rachel know which animals visit their home (deer, groundhog, rabbits, etc.)
  • Rachel makes a landscape design for you. She has a great palette she works with, which is adapted from horticulture leader Roy Diblik’s hyper-intelligent well researched plant choices (from decades in the field and being the co-owner of a plant nursery) that are of equal vigor, and harmonize well together, about half of which are native plants or nativars. Instead of planting annuals every year, and instead of cutting back the plants in the fall, these gardens have long blooming perennial flowers that also have great fall and winter architectural interest. Roy embraces an innovative and yet nostalgic American style of gardening, that cherishes our native plants, and prairie plants from around the world and arranges them juxtaposed next to each other to look like nature, like American settlers did in the 1700’s-1900’s (other gardening around the world at the time did not do this at that time, it was purely American). Who knew how true his style would ring during coronavirus: “Is there one of you in the audience that would give up being held, give up being hugged? And yet we ask every plant we grow to never touch, to be separated and buried with three inches of wood each year – never letting you be intimate, never letting you be together.” Rachel embraces this style, and would like to apply it to more formal, geometric designs, for potentially smaller installations. About half of the palette can be found at the High Line, in NYC. This palette is reminiscent of a meadow, as 89% of the United States was a meadow in 1500 (every house for 200 years was a “Little House On The Prairie”).
  • Rachel makes a curriculum, and maintenance calendar, and sends you educational materials.
  • If clients decide to install the design (clients are welcome to see Rachel’s design as a learning experience without going with the design), clients are free to purchase their own plants (potentially partially through Rachel Beth Gardening with access to wholesale materials e.g. Northcreek Nurseries), and free to install and maintain gardens themselves, or can hire someone to do the installation and maintenance. Rachel has sourced availability of the plants that she would use for clients before she utilizes them in a design. Clients are also welcome to call their local nursery to see if any plants are in stock, like Rohsler’s.
  • Clients are invited to send Rachel 10 emails a year with gardening questions.
  • Clients are welcome to give their design service donation to Rachel Beth Gardening over multiple years if it is advantageous for their taxes.

Inspiration (Roy Diblik):

Design Samples:

Existing Site
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, spring/summer
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, fall/winter
Existing Site
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, spring/summer
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, fall/winter
Existing Site
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, spring/summer
“Smart Garden” Design by Rachel Freeman, fall/winter

For more designs, please see blog.

“Smart Garden” Techniques

Rachel’s first “smart garden” technique is to utilize horticulture leader Roy Diblik’s “Know Maintenance” garden method of planting herbaceous perennials whose only maintenance requirement is cutting back (or even being mowed back!) in late winter. Here is a garden I made for my parents. Practically the only maintenance is being cut back in late winter. I use pruners to snip all the plants back to three inches from the ground.

Rachel’s second “smart garden” technique, also inspired by horticulture leader Roy Diblik, is planting bulbs in a lawn. Bulbs emerge and flower in spring, and are done flowering before May 15th, the date when a lawn typically needs its first mow. It is okay to mow the foliage of the bulbs at this point! Here is a bulb lawn seen at public garden Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ. Rachel is also available to design a garden to replace a lawn.

Rachel’s third “smart garden” technique is planting flowering hedges. Planting the same plant multiple times allows them to be maintained at the same time, in the same way. Shrubs can also be permitted to grow to full size and not require pruning at all. These hedges at public garden Greenwood Gardens, in Short Hills, NJ, are pruned once a year.

Rachel Beth Gardening is currently located in Saddle River, NJ, and is open currently to clients within a 200 mile radius.

For reading about the benefits of gardening (besides adding value to a home’s sale price), feel free to read Rachel’s following article.

Rachel Beth Gardening is planning a scholarship program for 10 $1,000 scholarships a year to students pursuing horticulture education, in the form of a landscape design contest for an alley.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your interest, and support!

Rachel Beth Gardening previously, as a sole proprietorship (freelance gardening) 2012-2014: design, installation, maintenance, renovation, and gardening lessons

Weekly three hour gardening sessions whose mission was to evoke positive feelings for the client(s) through gardening. Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Rockland Counties. Also provided hands-on gardening lessons. Educated independently of sales (went with good, sound, horticulture etiquette, instead of selling more expensive solution).

I always say there are no “befores and afters” in gardening, just art unfolding and changing over time! My dad is a clock collector, and I think plants and gardens are like clocks.

For more pictures of clients’ gardens from Rachel’s freelance gardening years, and pictures she’s taken of public gardens, please feel free to look at this website:

Farm cottage garden for Lottie’s Farm in Mahwah, NJ, where I was a resident from 2012-2014

When I design for a client, and try to cook them something that they’d love to eat, suited to their palettes, people often ask me about my own tastes. My landlord told me I could “go bananas” but I liked to keep the audience in mind too, everyone else on the farm, and everyone who came to visit. This garden is Calamagrostis brachytricha in back, with Athyrium ‘Ghost’ ferns, Aquilegia ‘Biedermeier’ are the big flowers, Tiarella cordifolia are the spiky flowers, Carex laxiculmis ‘Hobb Bunny Blue’ in front. I wanted to put the grass next to the lawn as a joke to increase farm lawn mowing morale. One spring I put in purple pansies. In the bottom right corner of the photo is a Thalictrum cultivar that I ended up taking out. The vine against the wall is poison ivy (hadn’t had the time to take it out). The cottage didn’t have gutters, so that was an interesting obstacle to work around (left indentation in soil so plants had to be planted on either side and grow over to cover it). I left the leaves as mulch to keep the weeds from germinating. The shade was almost complete and the soil was filled with gravel and construction debris and sometimes interesting trinket relics. The farm has a lot of grasses, and corn that looks like grass, and I thought it would be a fun effect to have grasses in the garden. I wanted it to look natural instead of manicured, like all of the natural parts of the farm, and “secret gardens” my landlord cherished. I was thrilled with how long the flowers lasted (maybe they lasted longer due to the incredible shade and cool breezes from nearby ponds), but didn’t necessarily worry about constant blooms because the farm was big and had a lot of gardens elsewhere with other seasonal focuses (concept in David L. Culp’s book The Layered Garden). I was also more interested in atmosphere. The grasses in the back “bloom” with feathery plumes in fall, and although they turn tan, they are considered decorative in the winter. Plants were planted from landscaping plugs from North Creek Nurseries. I was influenced by my incredible horticulture professor Doctor Steven Fischer at Bergen Community College who says “line upon line does not make design,” which made me want to try (and I love it)! Greenwood Gardens, where I was an intern in 2011, had long linear plantings, which I think invites slow strolling, and are fun to walk next to, or skip by, or frolic next to, (as opposed to stopping and inspecting a lot of varied plantings up close, which I like a lot in other situations). I was also influenced by Goffle Brook Farm’s, in Ridgewood, NJ, “plant pies” of interlocking annuals. The path leads to a shed. The grasses in the back and are a Highline plant, and grow to 3-4 feet tall by the fall!

I called this area my “Inventory Garden” because it often, like here, included plants that were on the to-do list to be installed for a client


Thanks again!

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