Gardeners ditched the barbecue & created an oasis in Buffalo

perennial gardens Buffalo NY
Perennial flower beds galore were blooming in the backyard of Kevin Lickers and Ricardo Arce on Garden Walk Buffalo last year. A stamped concrete path leads to the gazebo, which is their oasis. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

When Kevin Lickers bought his West Side home in 2007, the small backyard had absolutely no gardens.

“There was nothing here. I’m not kidding you. No flower beds,” he said while gazing at the colorful expanse of perennials that fill the yard now.

What the yard did have was a big grill.

“It was distracting, Lickers said, “and we don’t barbecue much.”

He and his partner Ricardo Arce got rid of the large barbecue (they use a small fold-up barbecue when they want to cook outdoors) and installed a cozy gazebo that is their oasis.

I visited them in 2021 during Garden Walk Buffalo.

gazebo between garages in Buffalo NY
The gazebo at the back of the yard is a cozy oasis. Notice the wooden walkway leading into the gazebo; it’s a bridge over the water feature. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

When you follow the path in the first photo, you come to the gazebo at the back of the yard, wedged between two garages. The garage walls and a fence provide privacy, creating an outdoor room.

At the entrance to the gazebo is a pond and waterfall, obscured at first by perennials. Slow down and enjoy the burbling water.

The flowers planted around the gazebo were new last year.

Lickers offered several gardening tips:

  • Pay attention to plant tags. If the tag says full sun, it needs six hours of sun in the heat of the day, not just six hours at the end of the day, he said.
  • Place taller plants in back and shorter ones in front, keeping in mind how tall the plants will eventually get.
  • Remember that perennials spread; you’ll have to divide them every few years. That’s okay; you can give your extras to friends.
  • Plant more native plants. Lickers said their native plants attract butterflies and bees, and they’re good for the environment.
  • Pick the brains of the staff at local nurseries.
  • Don’t kill spiders; they help control mosquitoes.
  • To make your landscape interesting, choose plants with different heights, colors and textures. To see if it works, “Step back and look at your landscape like you’re looking at a canvas,” he said.

And finally, don’t try to do everything all at once.

“This is a journey,” Lickers said. “A long journey.”

See more views of the gazebo below.

small waterfall in garden in Buffalo NY
Slow down as you enter the gazebo so you can appreciate the waterfall. This is a view from inside the gazebo. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
shade garden between gazebo and fence in Buffalo NY
The gazebo isn’t flush against the back fence; there is space for a shade garden. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
air plants hanging in gazebo in Buffalo NY
Air plants in glass terrariums hang from the ceiling of the gazebo. The sign on the fence says, “Life’s a garden. Dig it.” The gazebo also has an electric fan in the ceiling for hot days. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
bromeliad on wall of gazebo in Buffalo NY
A bromeliad on a plaque decorates a wall of the gazebo–which is actually a wall of the garage. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
glass pane in gazebo in Buffalo NY
Here is one of three leaded glass panels from the 1930s that hang on the garage wall. The interior of the gazebo looks like an indoor room, complete with houseplants. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

10 Comments on “Gardeners ditched the barbecue & created an oasis in Buffalo

  1. This is the perfect example of why I enjpy the Buffalo Garden Walk. It is so inspiring to see what can be accomplished in a small space.

  2. I find small yards so cozy. Mine is large and difficult to make it feel warm & inviting

  3. Connie, I just love all the great gardens you share with us. To all our fellow gardeners thanks for making Western NY so great. Amazing all the creativity. Must be, being stuck inside all winter gets our creative juices flowing. Happy gardening!

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