Completing vision took years of labor, thousands of dollars

James Spoerl took a look at the scruffy, barren hillside in his backyard and a vision pertained to him - terraces rising the slope, rounded stairs meandering up, a gazebo perched 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 great deal of sweat, a lot of thought and more than a pinch of determination.

" I'm not going to stop in the middle of anything ... however it was a very long time," says James, who started the job in 1995. "It was 10 years of hard labor. I seemed like an Egyptian haulin' those blocks."

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

Instead of a barren hillside, they have a backyard sanctuary. 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 actions are softened by curves, and the walkways are broken up by halfmoons of growing plants.

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

In the early morning they get breakfast and walk up the 39 steps they made from put concrete, to end up at the gazebo they made of wood and con- crete pillars.

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

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

As if breakfast with the mountains weren't reward enough, the Spoerls' yard has likewise won a prize from Backyard Living publication. For handling the hill and winning, they recorded the "Extreme Gardening" classification in the magazine's Landscape Challenge Contest.

The Spoerls' lawn will be featured in the September/October problem of Backyard Living, which strikes newsstands Aug. 29.

" We're happy of (our garden), however for somebody else to say This is beautiful' felt truly nice," Donna says.

" What truly captured our attention about the Spoerls' yard change was its large size," says Backyard Living Managing Editor Rachael Liska. "It only takes one seek to understand this isn't your typical balcony garden. It truly embodies the creative, can-do spirit of our readers."

The Spoerls are not specialists and have never ever attempted a job like this before. With a little aid from friends, they did all the work themselves, however the blocks alone cost countless dollars. Now that it's done, they state it was absolutely worth the time and the cash.

" There were no plans, whatsoever, other than exactly what's in my mind," James states. "It was a vision from God."


Tips from James and Donna Spoerl

1. Do it right the very first time. When you construct maintaining walls, make the bottom row perfectly level, put plastic behind the blocks to hold the dirt, and place a pipe behind the plastic to carry away excess water. You don't want to begin over in a few years.

2. Enjoy curves. It's essential to separate the hardscape, otherwise those walls and stairs will look like a fortress rather of a garden. James' only regret is making the lowest level of actions square. The greater steps are curved and meander a bit. The maintaining walls are rounded at the edges. Half-moon cutouts separate the sidewalks with soil and plants. These actions soften the garden and make it more inviting.

Spoerl installed wooden posts - drilled through the center to allow the water hoses - with sprinkler heads atop the posts. you can look here Not only does this conceal the pipelines, the sprinklers achieve better coverage because they're greater.

4. Create nooks and crannies. Attempt to make your backyard landscaping develop separate areas, enabling you various views and different state of minds. The Spoerls have the back outdoor patio at ground level, a bench about midway up, small hideouts on different levels and the gazebo at the top.

5. Modify the soil before you plant. Colorado soil won't produce much without aid from loams and fertilizers, so remember this step or your garden will be doomed.

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

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

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