Finishing vision took years of labor, countless dollars

James Spoerl took a look at the scruffy, barren hillside in his yard and a vision came to him - terraces rising the slope, rounded stairs meandering up, a gazebo set down at the top.

Making that vision a reality took him and his better half, Donna, 10 years. It required 4,469 landscaping blocks, 1,211 bags of concrete and 39 stairs. It took a lot of sweat, lots of thought and more than a pinch of determination.

" I'm not going to stop in the middle of anything ... but it was a long period of time," states James, who began the project in 1995. "It was 10 years of tough labor. have a peek at this web-site I seemed like an Egyptian haulin' those blocks."

Those hours of hauling 80-pound blocks up the hill to build retaining walls and jackhammering through sandstone lastly settled.

Rather of a barren hillside, they have a yard haven. Nine terraced levels rise the hill with garden beds that hold their raspberry patch, rows of petunias, lilies, irises, roses, peonies, a cornucopia of veggies and herbs, and a water fountain.

The walls and steps are softened by curves, and the sidewalks are broken up by halfmoons of sprouting plants.

" All we do now is sit here and see our garden grow," James states.

In the morning they grab breakfast and stroll up the 39 actions they made from poured concrete, to wind up at the gazebo they made of wood and con- crete pillars.

" This is the top of our world," James says as he sits in the gazebo. "This is where we live when we're off work."

There's no view from their back patio area, but from the gazebo, they see over the tops of their next-door neighbors' homes, past their northeastern Colorado Springs advancement, to a big, continuous view of the mountains that stretches from Cheyenne Mountain to the Air Force Academy.

As if breakfast with the mountains weren't reward enough, the Spoerls' yard has actually also won a reward from Backyard Living magazine. For taking on the hill and winning, they caught the "Extreme Gardening" category in the magazine's Landscape Challenge Contest.

The Spoerls' yard will be included in the September/October concern of Backyard Living, which hits newsstands Aug. 29.

" We're proud of (our garden), but for somebody else to state This is lovely' felt truly good," Donna says.

" What actually captured our attention about the Spoerls' yard transformation was its sheer size," says Backyard Living Managing Editor Rachael Liska. "It only takes one want to know this isn't really your average terrace garden. It genuinely embodies the creative, can-do spirit of our readers."

The Spoerls are not professionals and have never ever attempted a job like this before. With a little help from buddies, they did all the work themselves, however the blocks alone cost thousands of dollars. Now that it's done, they state it was certainly worth the time and the cash.

" There were no strategies, whatsoever, aside from exactly what's in my mind," James says. "It was a vision from God."


Tips from James and Donna Spoerl

When you construct maintaining walls, make the bottom row completely level, put plastic behind the blocks to hold the dirt, and position a pipe behind the plastic to bring away excess water. You don't want to start over in a few years.

2. Enjoy curves. It's essential to separate the hardscape, or else those walls and stairs will look like a fortress instead of a garden. James' only regret is making the most affordable level of steps square. The higher steps are curved and meander a bit. The maintaining walls are rounded at the edges. Half-moon cutouts break up the walkways with soil and plants. These steps soften the garden and make it more inviting.

Spoerl installed wooden posts - drilled through the center to permit the water hoses - with sprinkler heads atop the posts. Not just does this hide the pipes, the sprinklers accomplish much better coverage due to the fact that they're higher.

Attempt to make your backyard landscaping produce different locations, permitting you different views and various moods. The Spoerls have the back outdoor patio at ground level, a bench about halfway up, tiny hideouts on various levels and the gazebo at the top.

5. Amend the soil before you plant. Colorado soil won't produce much without help from loams and fertilizers, so do not forget this step or your garden will be doomed.

6. Accept the hill. A hill is not a handicap however an opportunity for an excellent garden with a view.

The Spoerls' yard has 9 terraced levels filled with raspberries, petunias, lilies, irises, roses, peonies, veggies, herbs and a water fountain.

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