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Landscaping: Before and After

A Nature Lover Gets Her Dream Flower Garden and More

Tired of looking out at the overgrown junipers engulfing her 30-year-old New Jersey landscape, Jeanette Stafford knew it was time to spruce up her yard and create the colorful butterfly garden she’d always wanted. Understanding the importance of getting multiple quotes for her project, she turned to HomeAdvisor and interviewed four landscaping pros before settling on family-owned Lauro Landscaping — a company Jeanette says went above and beyond in exceeding her expectations — to redo the flower beds in the front of her planned community home.
“I’m an absolute stickler about punctuality,” Jeanette says. “Sal was here precisely on time. At first, I was just going to do two flowerbeds. Then we sat down to talk and he listened to what I wanted — that I like flowers and that I’m a gardener — and I started to like him and get a good feel for him. Before I knew it, suddenly I was saying: OK, how about we do the third bed too?”

Within just a few days of the initial interview, Sal returned with a colored landscaping plan to discuss with Jeanette. After a few minor tweaks, she liked the plan so well that she decided to go ahead with the project, even adding a fourth garden bed for good measure. “The project just kept growing,” she jokes.
Before: A wall divided Vince and Dori's small kitchen and living room, separating family members during get-togethers.
Before: Counter space is limited.

Collaboration Overcomes Challenges

The greatest challenge of her landscaping project, Jeanette says, was deciding on the plants for her new garden beds. Knowing that she wanted to include varieties sure to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, she admits that she had some unusual requests — including some plants that Sal had never heard of, like Joe Pye Weed and Bee Balm. So, to ensure that she got exactly what she wanted, Sal suggested that he and Jeanette go to the nursery together to pick out her plants.
“I like natural and pretty things,” Jeanette says. “Most of the time, landscapers have their own ideas, but Sal just listened to me. We’ve been back and forth to the landscaper together twice to pick out things I like. It’s been like a meeting of the minds. And it’s turned out to be a lot of fun.”
It took the Lauro Landscaping team about two days to rip out the stubborn old junipers, Jeanette says, and they executed every move exactly according to plan. Then, once the digging was done, Sal brought over all of the plants that they had chosen together to show Jeanette the proposed layout for her new landscape. With just a few flower exchanges, Jeanette was thrilled with the layout.
“I didn’t like the way a few things looked, so he took them back and got me new ones,” Jeanette said. “He was very amiable and very helpful. He was always texting me, and they did an absolutely gorgeous job.”
During: A 28-foot-long support beam takes the place of the load-bearing wall separating the kitchen from the living room.

Pleasant Surprises Along the Way

Jeanette originally set out to complete her landscaping project — first two, then four flowerbeds — with a budget of around $10,000. Sal and his team at Lauro Landscaping quoted less, leaving Jeanette with a little surplus for her project. This allowed Jeanette to swap her old, cracked cement walkway with a new curved walkway, which Sal suggested and expertly designed and installed with slate pavers.
“For around $10,000, I got my flowers and my pavers,” says Jeanette, “which I never expected.” What’s more, Sal offered to build a slate paver walkway in the flowerbed in the backyard and to install a fountain and stepping stones free of charge. “He just said: I’d like to do something really pretty for you,” Jeanette said. “And it’s absolutely amazing.”
A self-professed nature and animal lover, Jeanette got another pleasant surprise when the crew removed an 8-foot-tall Forsythia bush from the backyard. A young crew member found a robin’s nest and, knowing Jeanette’s penchant for nature, relocated the nest to another bush — even placing new branches around the nest to stabilize it. “He showed me these four baby robins and was just so sweet,” Jeanette says. “He asked me every day about my ‘children’ because I was digging up and
After: New built-in cabinets around the fireplace tie the living room and kitchen spaces together.
mashing up worms to feed them. And I was just so impressed that this young guy took the time in the 90-degree heat to save this nest. It just shows you the kind of people Sal hires and who he is.”

A Stop-Worthy Finished Project

Since Lauro finished, people stop frequently to talk about the project. “I have ‘tours,’” she laughs. “My neighbors come by and ask me to show them. I should charge $5 a tour and make a lot of money! But it really is beautiful. And I already have butterflies too!”

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