Backyard brings couple peace, fuels creativity

Retirees enjoy tranquil outdoor space in Butler Twp.

When Sam and Susie Kurtz had their home built in Butler Twp. in 1977, there were only a few homes on their street and open fields all around them. The couple took this blank slate and, over the last 40 years. turned the backyard into a tranquil abode where they spend a lot of their time.

When entering the backyard from the side, a trail of stone steps winds around a fountain. The water cascades down the rocks into a pond that is home to goldfish and some frogs. Lily pads dot the top of the pond as well as a couple of mini fountains and ceramic statues of animals.

The edges of the yard are home to bushes and various types of colorful flowers. Hosta plants and bushes line the patio. Music from the wind chimes meanders through the leaves and branches of a large Bradford pear tree, which is now illegal to have in Ohio because of its invasive qualities.

Gardening joy

Currently, coneflowers, dahlias, daisies and perennials are in bloom. Susie enjoys working in the garden and confessed that she would’ve liked to work at a florist, as she loves coming out to the backyard, picking flowers, and creating a bouquet. Susie has been gardening since she was young and gets joy from it.

“I guess I just like watching it grow. And the satisfaction of putting something in, but I’ve had somethings that haven’t made it, that’s for sure,” Susie said.

She was part of a garden club when she first moved into the house. The group would do crafts and go on garden tours. She loved seeing new flowers but would inevitably compare her garden to those on the tour.

“There’s always something to see new and then when I’d come home I’d think, ‘Oh gosh. My garden looks nothing like that one,’” she said.

Sam said that he likes to stay on the patio and read. A gazebo sits on the deck sprinkled with various tables and chairs. The home originally had a small patio and porch, which they extended in the 1980s. Over the years, they’ve had bird baths and a vegetable garden. Some of those things take a lot of upkeep.


Together, the couple works to keep the garden and backyard in tip-top shape. Sam said that he mows the grass and just “digs the holes,” while Susie tends to the flowers and takes care of planting everything. Susie also said having a plan for the space is key.

“A little bit of planning helps. Because I’d have to say this is the value that has changed over the years because I didn’t plan it out. That didn’t work and then I’d do something different. And it’s nice to have someone to help you,” Susie said.

There are some future plans they have for their backyard space. Sam would like to have new edging. Some bushes need to be removed, and Susie wants to put in more flowers. She currently has limelights that are about to bloom, which are a type of hydrangea.

“They’re a really neat plant to have in the summertime, late summer, because they add something to the garden. It gives a lot of color. They get real white and then they kind of fade. I think the best way to do a garden is to have something that blooms in different times,” Susie said.

Susie said if they had to do it over, they might not have put in the pond. The upkeep for the pond can be a lot of hard work. The pond needs to be cleaned professionally and filters need to be cleaned. Also, the frogs can be pretty noisy. An irrigation issue killed all the fish one year.

“I would do a water feature of some sort, but back then we were more adventurous, and they said they could dig us a pond, so we did it,” she said.

Picture perfect

Besides growing the flowers, Susie also likes to take pictures of the flowers. She’s made notecards with her flower pictures. Beyond flowers, there are also patio tomatoes and herbs growing around the garden.

The retired couple said they go out to the backyard daily. Susie said that they try to mulch every other year, but they have people come out and do it for them. Susie won’t give up the garden but said that if money was no option, they’d have more things done for them, so they can enjoy the gardens more and work them less.

“We did it for years. It’s hard work. I’d have to say that would be one thing about having a garden is it’s going to be hard work. It’s no joke,” she said.

For now, the couple will do what they can and continue to add new features. Susie said that it’s hard for her to go to the garden center and not buy something. As summer begins to wind down, the couple plans to enjoy every moment of it in their stunning peaceful backyard.

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