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When you dream of lush garden makeovers, only to wake up facing a barren yard, you may need to call in some expert help. That's what new homeowner Andy Gray decided to do after he'd cleared the scraggly bushes outside his century-old fixer-upper in a quiet town north of New York City.
Andy's home in September of 2008.
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Tony Bielaczyc, deputy gardening editor at Martha Stewart Living, chose stones from regional quarries to build dry-laid (mortar-free) walls for raised beds. Besides ensuring good drainage and leveling uneven ground, the structures obviate the labor involved in digging and amending compacted soil. The beds were refilled with a growing mix of equal parts topsoil and compost.
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Although placement followed Tony Bielaczyc's early plan, improvisation perfected the composition. They spaced plants slightly closer than what the nursery tags recommended, to hide bare earth and shade out weeds.
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The firm outline of its masonry boundary, precisely echoing the contour of the porch, sets off the border's late-season abundance.
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A fragrant, disease-resistant 'New Dawn' rose climbs the latticework that screens the east-facing porch ell. Tony Bielaczyc took advantage of this bright exposure to stock the border with sun-loving flowers.
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The Lush Life
"I get asked all the time, 'Don't gardens need to be in full sun?' Well, in fact, they don't," says Tony Bielaczyc. "Even if you're short on sunlight, you can get plenty of color from shade plants. Green is a color, and there are so many wonderful greens out there. Foliage is an amazing resource to work with."
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Nature's go-with-everything color glows in maidenhair fern, oak-leaf hydrangea, hellebore, and hosta.