Lighting gives yards ambiance during Night Lights in Ken-Ton

side garden on Ken-Ton night
Lighting adds ambiance to the backyard of Jim Aichinger and Tim Kuntz in Tonawanda. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Jim Aichinger and Tim Kuntz’s gardens are lovely during the day.

“But when the lights come on, oh, it’s wonderful back here,” said Kuntz.

They shared their Cornwall Avenue landscape during the Night Lights portion of the Ken-Ton Garden Tour on Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18. The daytime portion was held Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19.

The front as well as the back is lit 365 days a year, Aichinger said, with more lights at Christmas.

They redid the landscape when they moved in just three years ago, and people who walk or drive by stop and tell them how beautiful it is.

Some of those folks who had seen only the front yard were delighted to be able to see the backyard as well during the garden walk.

You enter the backyard under a graceful arbor. A short metal fence is enough to keep their dog, Harlee, a standard poodle mix, inside the yard. The fencing resembles wrought iron but is a lighter-weight metal with a protective coating. It comes in four-foot sections that is easy to install, Kuntz said.

front at night Kenmore
Harlee, a standard poodle mix, peeks out at visitors. The landscape is lit all year, with more lights at Christmas.

An interesting feature of the yard is the checkerboard area of lawn made by placing squares of sod among stones. It wasn’t created merely as decorative element, but as a practical solution to a problem many dog owners have. When Harlee did his business on the lawn, it would kill patches of grass, leaving yellow or brown spots in the middle of an otherwise green expanse of lawn.

Now Harlee is trained to go on the checkerboard area. If a square gets burned, it isn’t as noticeable. And the squares can be easily replaced with new pieces of sod.

archway and gate in Tonawanda NY
This view is from the backyard looking toward the driveway. The entrance is through the arbor. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
checkerboard pattern on lawn in Kenmore NY
This decorative checkerboard area is where the dog goes. The design helps to hide any burned spots.

While there were plants in the beds when they moved in, the plants had grown together in a jumble. It was difficult to tell the plants apart or even figure out which were flowers and which were weeds, Kuntz said.

They started from scratch and brought in a lot of dirt for the beds. Flowering perennials now share the beds with vegetables.

They have a small fountain that they bought at a garage sale. They painted the inside blue to give the water a bluish cast.

Tip: If you like the look that concrete pavers or rocks get when they’re wet, varnish them. It will give you that wet look and bring out the color, Kuntz said.

When it comes to gardening, knowing the names of the plants isn’t the important part,  Aichinger said. What matters is enjoying what you do.

“All of this is a lot of work, but it’s relaxing,” he said. “It’s your little piece of tranquility.”

Coming up this weekend is Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest garden walk in the nation. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26.

fountain at night on Ken-Ton Garden Walk
The inside of the fountain is painted blue to give the water a bluish cast.
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