A Little Bit of Magic
This Florida couple takes you behind the scenes and shows how to transform a bare yard...for less than $750!
By Colleen Buss, Winter Garden, Florida
A little bit of that Disney magic has found its way into our backyard. That's because my creative husband, Randy, has turned all his efforts to our little paradise since retiring form the most popular theme park in Florida.
The results are jaw dropping. In less than 2 years, he's transformed the landscape from dirt mounds (left) into a tropical jungle.
Randy spends all his time working in the backyard, stopping only to read the newspaper on the deck in the mornings. After that, it's back to work—one project has led to another since we moved in 2 years ago.
While I'm proud of the beauty we've brought to our small urban landscape, Randy is more proud that we've accomplished all this for less than $750!
Let There Be Light...and Water
We can't say our yard was created from a grand plan. But we had a few well-defined priorities—no lawn to maintain and a brick patio that I wanted placed in front of our screened porch (a real saver during mosquito season).
We also knew how important it was to bury water and electrical lines throughout the property before breaking ground on any project. Admittedly, we took our best guess as to where the buried lines should emerge. Even if we were off by a few feet, it's easier to make adjustments rather than trying to run the lines after the fact.
Randy created clever ways to hide these essential, probably from a few ideas he picked up while working at Disney's Magic Kingdom. A wishing well conceals a water spigot, and some of the larger rocks, actually hand shaped concrete, camouflage electrical outlets.
There are other clever details, like a "foot path" that lives up to its name (right). Randy made a mold for th econcrete stepping-stones from wood. It can be flipped to make a right or left foot. He made an imprint in the wet congrete from a metal coutout of a foot, and painted the imprints.
Randy built an impressive 10- by 20-foot patio from salvaged chimney bricks. After that was finished, he turned his attention to the shady areas near the backyard where we built a deck to enjoy the shade during out hot afternoons.
Taste Without Waste
I can't take credit for all the plants. Randy's thriftiness is what has made our backyard plants prolific. As soon as we decided to move, Randy started digging, dividing and potting perennials from our old place. They were all things that transplanted easily and we knew would grow very fast.
Randy isn't only thrifty...he's admittedly a scavenger, too. When a nearby bank was being renovated, Randy noticed a grounds crew removing the old plants.
"What are you going to do with those plants?" he asked.
When he found out they were destined for a dumpster, he asked if he could have some. They said, "Sure, as long as you beat the garbage truck."
Randy scurried home, hooked up his trailer and returned to load as many plants as he could haul. Many of those plants we didn't even recognize, so we placed them where we thought they'd work the best. Luckily, most of the time we were right.
Randy also purchased many plants from a local man who was relandscaping his property. A newspaper ad invited the public to dig up his old landscape for a nominal charge of 35 cents a plant. As you can imagine, Randy was among the first to arrive.
Now you know how we've accomplished so much in just a few years. Yes, it's been a lot of work, but with most of the big projects complete, we can take more time to sit back and enjoy the backyard magic.