Windsor couple wins landscaping contest
July 18, 2008
Paula and Paul Harder have a new set of wheels.
The Windsor couple recently won a national landscaping contest from “Backyard Living” magazine and their grand prize Massey Ferguson GC 2400 sub-compact tractor with a belly-deck mower was delivered by Ron’s Equipment Company of Fort Collins to their Steeplechase home Thursday morning.
Paula said her mother bought a subscription to the “Backyard Living” for her several years ago. Last year she was reading it and found the contest guidelines.
“I thought, ‘What the heck.’ We were finished with our water feature,” Paula said. “I had taken pictures when it was just dirt and how we progressed through it, which I think really helped because you can see the before and after.”
The Harders entered their water feature in the contest back in September 2007. The announcement came this February. The Harders were featured in the May issue of “Backyard Living,” with a three-page story and photo spread of their Windsor landscaping project.
“We never expected to win a national contest,” said Paul, who is a general contractor.
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“No way,” Paula added, “and you never think your project is good enough.”
But it all came to reality when the red tractor keys were handed to them.
“We are very excited and honored,” Paul said. “It still hasn’t sunk in quite yet. I guess it won’t until we park the tractor in the shop.”
The focus of the competition was a do-it-yourself project. Several categories, including designing your own shade garden, vegetable garden, water feature, garden on a dime and more were worth competing for.
“All of this you see here we did,” Paul said. “None of this was professionally done, other than the trees that were planted. We literally laid every rock and dug every piece of dirt you see. That was the gist of the contest and like Paula said being able to show start to finish.”
Their winning landscape includes two rivers coming together into one large pond that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They installed biological filters at the end of each river, and added a 9,000 gallon per hour pump that filters the pond water. The pond is complete with more than 50 fish, including the original six fish and their offspring. Surrounding the ponds and rivers are rocks and ground covers like ice plant, campanula, Malden pinks, lavender, daylily, veronica and Scotch moss along the pond’s edge. Tall ornamental grasses cover the mechanical boxes. To make the project complete, an autumn purple ash and a small ornamental tree were included.
“It took a good two months of weekends and afternoons here and there,” Paul said.
The most physically challenging aspect of the project was setting all the rock, Paul said. A crane had to help lift some of the boulders into their yard, but everything else was done through the Harders’ strength and sweat.
“All the small rock you see was all set by hand, we didn’t dump anything,” he said. “Otherwise, it was all straight forward and just took time.”
Paula then got to use her design expertise with the flowers and plants.
“Paula loves to garden and most of what you see is her vision and upkeep,” Paul said. “I did all the hard heavy stuff, but she is the one who makes it pretty.”
The next task on hand for the Harders is to determine who first gets to drive the tractor, which has a retail value of $13,805.
“I love it,” Paul said about the newest addition to his family. “I can’t wait to burn a tank of fuel this afternoon.”