Backyard Getaway

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Carneses create a peaceful setting

By Sherry Archie

Nine years ago, when Ronnie and Crystal Carnes bought their home at 1228 Kent Drive, the contractor made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. The price of the new home was reduced if they agreed to do all the landscaping themselves.  


Having a special knack for landscaping, Ronnie welcomed and accepted the deal.   

Now, by reading do-it-yourself magazines, driving through neighborhoods and picking up a few tips from previous Yard of the Month recipients, he has created quite a showplace at their home. 

Evidently others find it appealing, too. 

An interested party nominated the Carneses for Yard of the Month by calling Jackie Palmer. 

Palmer chairs the selection committee for the Lancaster Council of Garden Clubs.

Palmer forwarded the information to Kim Robinson with the Leaf & Petal Garden Club,  who agreed it was Yard of the Month worthy. 

Robinson then contacted the Carneses, who readily accepted the designation as June Yard of the Month.  They will receive a complimentary $25 gift certificate to Ace Hardware and Garden Center of Lancaster.

The yard was originally filled with trees and underbrush and sloped steeply toward the house in the backyard.  

Ronnie and Crystal removed all the undergrowth and alleviated the slope by constructing a retaining wall, which added an additional level to the backyard.

The area along the top of the retaining wall made the perfect venue to enjoy the rest of the yard.  

That second level is now anchored by a fire pit and Adirondack chairs that offer a great place to relax on cool spring and fall evenings. They were able to keep a few hardwood trees, such as elm and maples, and even salvaged a beautiful dogwood in the backyard.

By planting some magnolias, a river birch and crape myrtles, the trees were complete. 

Then using a clever idea, potted hosta and liriope were scattered along the tree bases.

“We’ve found that by keeping the hosta and liriope potted, they seem to grow better from year to year,” Ronnie said. “It also solves the problem of liriope as it tends to take over the entire bed when planted in the ground.”

All the sculpted beds are edged in slate rocks found in the nearby woods or landscaping pavers in the beds where soil was added.  

Drought-tolerant Indian hawthorn shrubs easily create mounds of green throughout the bedding areas. The evergreen hawthorns also attract butterflies and birds.   

The Carneses’ yard is definitely bird-friendly with bird houses and six water features, including birdbaths.  

Their yard is quite inviting to friends and neighbors with several seating areas to relax and enjoy the shade. They created the feel of an outdoor room alongside a tall river birch that now holds a chandelier.   

Ronnie used a portion of a black wrought iron gazebo as a screen angled to make the area seem more like a room. Brick pavers create a floor and seating with comfy cushions invites you to sit down and relax.

In the front yard, recently transplanted little gem magnolias are growing well alongside a tulip tree and a tall-tiered fountain. A bright pink crape myrtle also displays its summer blooms here.  

“We really enjoy our yard and hope to one day add a small in-ground pool to make it even better,” Crystal said.

Ronnie says it takes about 90 minutes to water their yard every evening. Fluffy pine straw that is easy to freshen is used to keep moisture in the ground.

“After I’m finished watering, Crystal and I hop on our golf cart and head out for a cruise,” Ronnie said. “That’s our time to cool off and enjoy the end of the day.”

To nominate someone for Yard of the Month, call Jackie Palmer at (803) 285-4562.