After living in Florence for nearly 25 years, Sheri Austin finally decided it was time to make her vision come to life. She had spent years beautifying her home in her mind, but only recently decided to make it a reality.
“I’ve had this image in my mind for a long time,” she said. “And I knew it was gonna have to be me to do it.”
Just a couple of years ago, the Austins’ front yard was, well, just a front yard. The transformation is dramatic.
“Neighbors are just shocked because it was just nothing but yard. It takes away a lot of mowing.”
The Austins’ house is set back about 50 yards from 8th St., which for Sheri meant a large canvas to work with.
At first glance, the yard appears home to some ordinary, if a bit upscale, landscaping features: an entryway, a stone walkway, a tire swing, some chairs, a lantern. But a closer look reveals some unconventional design features that make the yard distinct.
The entryway is made of two doors, connected by a lintel made of several evenly spaced planks of wood. Sheri made the entire thing herself, even adding boards to the doors to ensure they were of a sufficient height.
Mark was impressed.
“He said, ‘Wow, you’ve got those doors really in there and sturdy,’ and I’m like: ‘Well, yeah,’” Sheri said.
Her husband, Mark, has helped her here and there — mainly with heavy lifting duties.
The walkway was made of stone, Sheri had to fit stones round and flat alike into the pathway. He helped her with that part, she said.
For the most part, though, Sheri has done the work, and the visioning.
Lately, she’s been working on a patio garden in the rear of the house, which stands next to the red tin barn building, which houses her dog-grooming business, Sheri’s Cuts for Canines.
Sheri’s been in business for about 3½ years, she said. Having the business incentivized her to get going on her decoration projects, so that her yard would catch people’s eyes.
The entryway and rock path catch the eyes of passers-by at first, but as they look deeper, they find the patio, surrounded by black metal fence, with a grill, swing, and table and chair interspersed throughout the flowers, woodchips, and stone.
“This is what most people have been talking about recently,” she said. “I really love getting everybody’s feedback.”
Sheri said she’s been working on the patio garden all summer, and was hoping to have it finished by Labor Day, but still has some additional touches to put on it.
Sheri’s efforts have been aided by the website Pinterest, a social media site where users share ideas on activities such as gardening and home décor.
“I got on there and I just was, ‘Wow, I could have fun,’” Sheri said. “And I have been.”
She said many of the features of her yard are based on Pinterest finds.
Next to the entry is a wishing well made of a log the Austins found already hollowed out, with a pail suspended in the middle. There’s another door decoration, with roof tiles draped on top, and a lantern hanging from it.
In front of that sits two chairs, painted red, “just like what mom and dad would sit in on the porch,” Sheri said. The chairs belonged to Mark’s parents, she said. Next to the chairs is a Radio Flyer wagon.
“We like to get ahold of the old things,” she said. “It’s fun.”
She’s used colanders for planters. She’s made her son’s old boots into planters. She has a giant bowl of homemade potpourri. She’s planted roses and sunflowers and other plants.
She’s making a chicken coop and hopes to complete it and get chickens within a year.
Working on projects relaxes her.
“It puts me in my zone,” she said.
When she finishes a project, she simply thinks up a new one.
“I’ve always wanted to create,” she said. “I get something in my mind and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ It’s a joy. I love it.”