Born in 1904, Lawrence graduated from Barnard College in 1926. She traveled to Europe before returning to her family home in Raleigh, North Carolina, and, in 1932, became the first woman to graduate with a landscape architecture degree from North Carolina State University.
Lawrence became active in the state garden club movement and was a popular lecturer and garden designer. She ran a small design practice that focused on residential gardens, city streets, and parks. Her projects included the Nolle Medical Clinic in Charlotte, the Country Doctors' Museum in Bailey, and Historic Hope Plantation near Windsor. In the early 1930s, Lawrence became friends with Ann Preston Bridgers, who encouraged her to publish garden articles in popular magazines including House & Garden, American Home, and Southern Home and Garden. Lawrence published her book, A Southern Garden: A Handbook for the Middle South, in 1942. In 1957, Lawrence began writing a Sunday garden column for the Charlotte Observer. She urged readers to grow a variety of plants and to stay true to their own aesthetic. Lawrence continued to write and edit on a variety of garden design topics until her death.