The home of Bob and Nancy Brooks was a blank slate when they first moved into the 5500 block of Indiana Avenue. After years of working with local freelance garden designer and landscaper Laura Stine, their home is now a blooming tribute to nature.
With 17 years of landscaping experience, Stine, 45, was the senior landscape designer for Neuhouser Gardening & Gifts before she branched off last July to establish Laura Stine Gardens, 3703 Suburban Drive. The business offers garden designing, consulting, installation and maintenance. Cost is based on each project with a consultation fee of $50 per hour.
One of Stine’s favorite projects is the Brooks’ home and she loves how the space has been transformed over the six years she’s worked with them. “Laura’s not the same in everything and doesn’t believe that one landscape fits everyone,” reported Nancy Brooks, 79. “We absolutely adore her and…how she works with the owner.”
Owning the Crossed Palms Gallery, an art gallery based in Florida, Nancy Brooks also appreciates Stine’s artistic eye. She added that while her home is almost 40 years old and “old-fashioned,” Stine’s vision has been priceless.
Wanting to create an entryway into the Brooks’ backyard gardens, Stine planted elderberry and hakonechloa on the side of the house, adding grapevine leaves to wrap around wooden posts that serve as an archway. By including a loveseat swing and rustic door leading to the backyard, Stine said, “I went for a lot of color and textures.”
She described the Brooks’ back gardens as “never finished.” With three seasoned employees, Stine said she helps maintain the landscape through weeding, mulching and enhancing “visual focal points.”
Growing up on a 50-acre farm south of Indianapolis, Stine always had a green thumb and nature was a daily enjoyment. “There is a natural connection to the outdoors,” said Stine. She encourages her two children to experience nature through their own projects and said, “I even let them get in the mud.”
When Stine went to Indiana University for marketing, being indoors so often began to bother her. She then realized her passion for landscaping and went to Ivy Tech for a landscaping certification. “I never stop learning,” Stine said. “I have a range of people who want me to do everything …to people like Nancy (Brooks) who has a good eye, but likes some help.”
Stine enjoys the freedom of having her own business, especially in using native plants, which she reported are the first link in the food chain for both native insects and birds. For the Brooks’ home, Stine planted native Wild Ginger for ground cover and milkweed plants, which offer the only food supply for the monarch butterfly.
Stine also created a native plant garden for Arrowhead Prairie, which is part of the Little River Wetlands Project. This preserve is now a haven for birds, butterflies and other prairie animals.