From a Muddy Mess to Almost Perfection!

How a lovely couple totally greened-up their corner of the world.

Written and photographed by Dan Pendleton, Lexington, Kentucky USA


Joseph (Joe) and Dayle Vaughan live in a quiet neighborhood off Lakeshore Drive in Lexington and by the way things look now you’d never know their back yard was once a raging river when it rained.

The Vaughan’s may have thought they had made a terrible mistake buying this property, but things would, in the long run, change.

With American Water company’s property line and fencing just feet away from their back door, no one had ever given this area must attention to any sort of landscaping or upkeep, and you could tell.

A video that Joe saved on his cellphone shows a rush of water running down this small embankment and down a ‘mother nature’ created muddy pathway behind not only their property but their neighbors also.

Something had to be done, and it had to be done quickly.

Joe and Dayle had a plan.

The only way to keep this area from being nothing more than an ugly eyesore was to restore the entire area with some hard work and dedication — and that’s what they did.

But just like every plan, it’s going to take some time, talent, and treasure (money) to beautify the place.

Knowing a thing or two about plants, shrubs, and flowers, and doing a lot of research online, the Vaughan’s got busy and within month’s thing’s were looking up.

Dayle and Joe Vaughan

Joe actually tells me that they had thought at one point they were finished with gardening until they moved here and realized differently. I’m glad they did.

With Joe and Dayle working around their full-time jobs, Joe at UK and Dayle in retail at Wal-Mart, they managed to do a little here and there, and on weekends. Plus, they were also in the middle of a restoration project inside their home as well. That in itself is a completely different story.

You see, not only are they really good at gardening, they are Carpenter’s, painters, wallpaper hangers — and all around genuine people. I have been given a tour of the inside and their mastery work is amazing.

Back to the outside, they got busy laying their pathway with sand and then small rock on top to soak up the rain water.

Once this was done it was time to re-enforce the embankment with dirt, soil, mulch, and flagstones to form the walls for the flowers beds, which also helped to abate the water flow. They’ve actually built several mini-beds scattered around the area as well.

Inside and around the beds they added some perennial ground-coverings like Pachysandra Terminalis which is a free spreading, bushy evergreen foliage perennial plant useful for shrub borders or woodland garden. The oval, glossy, dark green leaves are clustered at the tips of the stems. Spikes of small white flowers are produced in early summer.

Perennial ground-covers are an indispensable part of any well-designed garden providing colorful flowers and attractive foliage. These low growing ground cover plants are great for using as an alternative lawn (especially in shaded areas), filling spaces between flagstone or pavers, or for creating a “living mulch” that cools the ground and suppresses weed growth.

For cultivation grow in any (but not very dry), organic soil. Choose a position in a partial or full shade.

Pachysandra Terminalis

In addition, they added a variety of flowers, and plants such as Impatiens, Petunias, Phlox, Marigold’s, and several others.

Stone flower bed with colorful flowers and foliage



Calendula. This dwarf pot marigold is a bushy fast-growing annual.

Dayle tells me the story of what she does with her Vinca to keep it alive during the winter months. She’ll take the Vinca from the pot and plant it in the ground because if it stays in the pot it will surely die. If you replant it in the ground the warmer ground temperatures will help it survive the harshness of the cold.

Vinca, Merry Go Round Red

Throughout the Vaughan garden decorations are also common as clay or ceramic statues adorn the landscape.

Momma raccoon and her babies keep a watchful eye on the place from the sanctity of their wire-coated cage (den).

Not really stopping just in their general area, Joe and Dayle have totally helped out the neighborhood by adding additional flower beds with flowers and plants to their surrounding neighbors, as well as, extending the stone pathway beyond their immediate area. A pleasant and thoughtful gesture that helps beautify this entire area.

Stone pathway leads behind the neighbors toward the carport area

Oh by the way, did I tell you that Joe is a master repairman? Shame on me if I didn’t. The bench shown below was found in a dumpster to which Joe rescued and brought back to life placing it at the end of the stone pathway near the carport in a wonderfully shaded area. Such a nice and peaceful retreat when something is weighing heavily on your mind.

Metal bench Joe rescued from a dumpster and restored

For additional color and decoration, they added a flower pot beside it.

With hours and hours of time spent to restore this entire area, and many hours to maintain it, the Vaughan’s have turned a once lifeless slime pit into a master of art work in just a matter of months. You won’t believe your eyes.

Master gardener Joe Vaughan
Iron pot stand from Gatlinburg, Tennessee sits near the carport

The Vaughan’s also placed or put out some Yellow Zena’s, Wild Flowers, Queen Ann’s Lace, Blue Star Creeper, Sea Oats, English Ivy, and some Drift Roses.

With so much beauty all around the area, you just have see for yourself. There’s so much here to see I couldn’t take it all in in just a few hours I was there. So, with that being said, I’ll just share the rest in a picture.

Thank you, Joe and Dayle Vaughan for taking the time and interest to give back to the community and nature something no one else has. A true blessing for all.



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Dan Pendleton

August 2017

PS: If you’re ever around Dayle get her to tell you the story of how she and Joe met.


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