In Silver Spring, a yard alive with garden plants

Thursday, July 22, 2010; GZ09

In an established neighborhood in Silver Spring, Carole Galati had problems with storm water gushing onto her property as it raced down her street to nearby Sligo Creek. At first, she placed blocks of quartz and other stone as a barrier, then she went on to transform her front yard into a series of plant beds dissected by a network of paths edged in stone. The beds are elevated and framed in a variety of rocks. She likes the effect, and she doesn't miss the turf. "I didn't want to do the spraying, the mowing, the watering," she said. "I was much more interested in plants. I don't like to look at lawns; they're boring."

The collapse of a towering Norway maple eight years ago brought sunlight and space to a quarter of the yard, and she expanded her plantings of specimen trees and shrubs with tidy ground covers and perennials.

She wanted it to look neat, not meadowlike, and is mindful too of the edges, so that her neighbors aren't competing with branches as they get in and out of their cars. Galati, though, has set aside a corner to draw pollinators that has a looser feel, planted with butterfly weed, buddleia and joe-pye weed. Nearby she keeps a single strip of grass, out of public view. "I use it to clean my tarps, when I hose them off," she said.

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