Laura and Monte Gulick agreed to host their yard as one of the six sites in Yankton for the 12th annual Tour of Lawns and Gardens on Saturday, June 29, from 8 a.m.-noon. All are invited to the Missouri Valley Master Gardeners’ sponsored event.
Tickets for the tour will be at the Riverview Reformed Church, 1700 Burleigh St. on Saturday morning. The suggested $10 donation includes a salad luncheon and door prizes. A plant sale will be held there. For more information, call 605-267-4260.
The Gulicks moved back to Yankton and found a house in town a year ago. Their children, now adults, were young when Laura lived here before. Now, she is a registered nurse at Willcockson Eye Associates and her husband works at Kolberg-Pioneer, Inc.
“My husband dreamed of coming back here. It was like coming home to Yankton, though we’re both from Iowa,” she said.
“While our house is beautiful inside and out, I had hoped to find a house with a backyard oasis. When this yard came on the market, I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
She said she feels lucky to have this place and wants to share it with others who may find landscaping ideas for their own yard.
The Gulicks’ back yard is a generous size, but their oasis includes from the back of the property forward in a continuous bed of plants with curving boundaries. There’s a waterfall and patio with a fire pit that may incorporate a third of their back yard.
Home-improvement TV programs such as HGTV have topics on the “backyard oasis,” and Pinterest has a category just for ideas related to the bed of plants in a sea of grass. This yard sold the buyer.
Plants in the oasis were installed by the local business NatureScaping Designs, to the requirements of a previous owner in 2016. Perennials, shrubs and trees have had time to grow and adjust in the beds and in compatibility with a maple tree and a back-neighbor’s pine tree already in place.
Berms of soil were added across the back of the lot for more visibility of plants in back, to draw interest with mounded soil in a flat yard, and to achieve height for a three-tier waterfall.
“The previous owners wanted back yard privacy and the area to look natural,” Laura said.
She contacted the landscaping firm for details. Smaller trees such as ornamental crabapple and river birch, and shrubs and evergreens add a variety of heights and texture. Instead of a tall hedge or privacy fence, plants are carefully positioned to supply a changing year-round backdrop.
A see-through wrought iron fence on one side of a neighbor’s yard and boundary plantings on the other side provide the appearance of generous lawn from yard to yard that may benefit adjacent neighbors. To achieve the look of continuous lawn and achieve privacy, the oasis bed plantings for sight and sound barrier are important. They are evergreen and deciduous for year-round privacy and variety.
“I don’t know what all the plants are, but if I can spend the day mowing, trimming, pulling weeds, I do it. That’s how I spent my birthday — the whole day, the best day ever,” she said.
Plants in the oasis add natural curves such as ninebark and daylilies, movement in air such as Karl Forester grasses and coreopsis, and spots of color such as yellow or purple irises and purple salvia.
The lawn and beds are irrigated. While the lawn is lush and green, a challenge is to supply lesser amounts of water to plants that have lower water requirements in the beds. Rainy weather has also added water. Gulicks manually adjust the watering as needed.
“Last year, we didn’t have pots of flowers because we had just moved in. This year we have two sun and two shade pots that came from Diane’s Greenhouse,” Laura said. “Instructions that came with the flowers suggested trimming the annuals. I did that and they are coming back to bloom again now.”
She has black petunias, red verbenas, vibrant blue lobelias and trailing white flowers among others in the sun grouping.
While perennials in the oasis are adequately spaced, Laura points out that some more mature side yard plantings have some issues. She removed last year’s die back from Russian sage that lines one foundation bed.
“It grows out of control where it wants, “she said. “I notice it mostly when I’m mowing.
“On the other side yard, False Indigo obstructed the stone path from their garage with overgrowth by the end of last season.”
She has an unidentified shrub that she wants to trim in one of the foundation beds. The late spring has been an additional challenge to those who work in their yards.
“I find myself looking at the yard from inside all the time. I put a chair by the window. I watch the birds and the waterfall,” she said.
She has seen pairs of cardinals by the water. Lighting on the waterfall, around the fire pit area and at the base of some trees extends her day.
“My neighbor says she can hear the waterfall from her deck. I read and hear the water.
“I grew up on a farm, so I like the country, but I enjoy being a town girl too. It’s convenient. This is a little like country,” Laura said.
Tour organizer Kathy Jorgensen is sure that Laura’s back- yard oasis and water feature will be a hit, along with the other sites. On behalf of the Master Gardeners, she is grateful to homeowners sharing their yards.
“I have heard past tour attendees ask for an edible fruit and vegetable garden. We have one this year,” Jorgensen said.
This one features early produce. Homeowners grew transplants and garden space is efficiently utilized.
Jorgensen listens to attendee comments and several of the yards feature annual and perennial flowers as accents. Some have hardscape; one also has pottery. Back yards are featured in some sites and one location has extra front yard curb appeal. Some yards are well established and one front yard is being renovated from street construction.
Funds from ticket donations and the plant sale will be used by Missouri Valley Master Gardeners for club plant projects and to assist other groups’ plant projects, according to Jorgensen. She mentions some of the local projects: Yankton community garden upright garden beds, a 4-H youth gardening project, Yankton area Boys & Girls Club raised garden beds, Yankton Seed Library hands-on activities, Keep Yankton Beautiful projects, garden books for the Yankton Community Library and G.A.R. Hall landscaping.