In the nine years Keep Akron Beautiful has been raffling off landscape makeovers, the pros involved have installed patios, ponds, lighting and all sorts of upgrades on the winners’ properties.
But until this year, they’d never had the chance to start a yard from scratch.
That changed over the last week when businesses around the area teamed up to give West Akron resident David Canfield a new backyard. Canfield won the makeover in Keep Akron Beautiful’s Dreamscape raffle, an annual fundraiser that supports public beautification. The work was supposed to be done in just five days, but a downpour Friday delayed the installation of Canfield’s lawn until Monday.
Canfield bought just one $25 raffle ticket at the urging of a friend. He said he considered it merely a donation — that is, until his phone rang while he was grocery shopping with news that he’d won.
The Dreamscape prize was a much-needed upgrade for Canfield, who owns Tear-Ez and the Other Side bars downtown and said he has been working to improve the house. He bought it in 2001 as a foreclosure property and rented it out from 2004 until he moved back in nearly two years ago.
He’s planning to have the house’s shake siding repainted this year and the garage door replaced, but he said he’s limited in the work he can do by neck problems and the responsibilities of caring for his father, who has bladder cancer.
“I do what I can with it,” he said.
Before the makeover started, the yard had just a concrete patio, a patchy lawn and a landscaping bed between the house and the driveway that was tangled and overgrown. “Whatever was in there was unrecognizable,” said Dave Thomas of R.G. Thomas Landscape, the lead landscape designer on the project.
Canfield had just two requests for the Dreamscape makeover: to build a dog run for his father’s three dogs, and to save peony and hosta plants that friends had given him. Thomas designed a fenced area along one edge of the backyard for the dogs, replanted the peony in one of several new landscaping beds and was hoping to free the hosta of an aggressive weed that had encased it so he could replant it, too.
The makeover also included a paver patio to replace the concrete slab, a freshly painted fence to complement the color Canfield has chosen for his house, landscape lighting, a newly sodded lawn and an irrigation system to keep the grass watered. The yard’s only tree, a black walnut, was pruned by an arborist, and mulch was spread beneath it.
The makeover was a logistical wonder. About 20 businesses donated goods and services for the fundraiser, so work and deliveries had to be carefully choreographed to get everything done in a compressed time frame.
The limited parking was a challenge, and so was the snugness of the city lot, which couldn’t accommodate many workers at one time. But “it actually went very smooth,” Thomas said.
Canfield received the grand prize, but Keep Akron Beautiful’s Paula Davis believes the community won, too. This year’s raffle raised $23,600, which will be used to maintain the public flower gardens called Flowerscapes that beautify downtown and its vicinity.
The makeover also promotes property improvement, which is one of Keep Akron Beautiful’s missions, said Davis, the organization’s president and chief executive officer. “That’s a very nice fit,” she said.
She said neighbors have been curious about the makeover, and she’s hoping it will create a ripple effect by encouraging others to fix up their yards, too.
That’s the kind of Dreamscape she envisions.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/mbbreck, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.