Foundation repairs lead to dream yard

Dana and Karen Basel have worked hard this season to re-create their front yard after foundation work removed a 10-foot deep perimeter around the home.

Dana and Karen Basel have worked hard this season to re-create their front yard after foundation work removed a 10-foot deep perimeter around the home. Photo by Michelle Brooks.

Dana Basel built Karen’s Playhouse not long after they moved into their 419 Meier Drive home in 2001.

The rustic, miniature cabin in fact is a well-used piece of their elaborately decorated and landscaped Jefferson City backyard.


This rustic, potting shed was built soon after Dana and Karen Basel moved into their Meier Drive home more than a decade ago.

Since then, Karen has been bringing her artistic talents and appreciation outdoors.

That was especially necessary for this September Yard of the Month, when significant foundation repair dug up everything 10 feet from the house along the front and two sides.

The loss also was a blessing in disguise.

“It is amazing how much she has accomplished in a short period of time given that her yard was completely torn up due to foundation repair just a year ago,” a judge said.

In the front, they planted deliberately. And Dana built a wooden arbor they had thought about for many years.

The street view now better reflects the couple’s personality.

“We did not want formal,” Karen said. “Box hedge doesn’t suit us; we’re organized chaos.”

The garden’s best season is spring, when lilies, especially the calla lilies, are in bloom, they agreed.

“She has done so much with a relatively small yard — great variety, yet it has unity,” a judge said.

In the center of the backyard is a trellis of mandevilla. And along the wooden fence line behind it are many whimsical and decorative pieces Karen has collected over the years.

They installed a pond two years ago, which they intend to enlarge next year.

“Gardening is a process, not a destination,” Karen said.

Karen spends hours each day in her garden.

“I wake up every morning thinking ‘what do I get to do today?’” she said.

She fertilizes weekly, and deadheads and cleans diligently.

A key to her beautiful success is, “if it doesn’t look good, it’s out of here,” Karen said.

And they build their own compost, neatly hidden behind the shed and fence. Kitchen scraps, leaves and trimmings are added to shredded junk mail and other ingredients they’ve discovered through trial and error.

Karen picked up composting from a Master Gardeners meeting many years ago.

Participating in that group the past decade has been a blessing socially, as much as it has benefited her garden.

“Everywhere you looked was a colorful or dramatic art centerpiece highlighted by plants of different textures and colors including conifers,” a judge said.

The Basel home enjoys fresh cut flowers year-round, whether from Karen’s cutting garden of zinnias, dahlias and angelonia, or store-bought through the winter.

“We spend a lot of time on the porch,” Dana said.

And their cat Topaz spends even more time amongst the plantings.

The feline was the greeter during the recent Central Missouri Master Gardeners garden tour, on which the Basel’s yard was featured.

“Design sort of comes to me,” Karen said. “But picking the plants is how I feel about it.”

They lost a huge shade tree in a corner of the backyard. This season, they planted annuals and set up a large clock and bistro table with an umbrella.

But before spring, Karen hopes to have her long-dreamt-of greenhouse there. This time, Dana won’t be doing the design and construction, he said.

“Her garden art and hardscaping fit so well and add so much interest,” a judge said.


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