Many people struggle with shady yards, wishing they could grow the plants they see in sunnier gardens.
We visited Lokken last year during Garden Walk Buffalo at the home he shares with Rebecca Bish at 170 Prospect Ave., Buffalo. This year Garden Walk Buffalo will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28.
Many people have grassless yards, but the yards are generally filled with perennial flowers.
As you can see in the photos above, Lokken’s yard is filled mainly with trees and bushes. The ground is covered with wood chips and mulch to give it the feeling of a forest floor. This greatly decreases street noise and lends a feeling of calm to the yard.
The trees keep the house cool in the summer, as you would expect, but Lokken said that because they act as a wind break, they keep the house warmer in the winter, too.
Despite the many trees, there’s enough sun in one part of the yard to keep a huge butterfly bush happy. Above right you can see a butterfly visitor.
“I had them in a container, but I lacked the alacrity, constitution and room to put them inside,” Lokken said.
He has the fig plants in a garden bed that is next to the foundation of the house and near the house’s boiler. That helps to protect this marginal plant.
His worry-free attitude extends to the entire garden.
“We have two hunting dogs, so our backyard is very Darwinian,” he said. “Things have a 50 percent chance they’ll survive.”
The yard also features a lovely pond filled with 40 large fish. While some homeowners invest hundreds of dollars to buy koi, Lokken stocked his pond much more cheaply. Fourteen years ago, he bought a dozen feeder goldish for 10 cents each. He also got some neat crayfish at a bait shop.
Tip: To overwinter the fish, make sure you have a bubbler to keep a hole open in the ice, he said. Decaying vegetation in the pond gives off gas that can create toxic buildup. A hole in the ice allows the gas to escape.
A bubbler will work well to keep the ice open– you don’t need a heater, he said. A heater costs $15 a month to run and a bubbler costs only 50 cents a month to run.