‘Save That Yard’:
The young couple are the recent winners of an online contest, “Save that Yard,” which awarded them a free lawn makeover by landscape and gardening professionals, as well as free maintenance for one year.
The contest is part of the Responsibility Industry for a Sound Environment, or RISE, campaign aimed at educating consumers about the health benefits, and often consequences, of certain pesticides and fertilizers.
The young couple learned they were expecting their first child last July after closing on their first house on Campus Drive in West Seneca. So, they wanted to transform their “desperate” landscape into a more attractive and safe outdoor play space for their now 4-month-old daughter, Isabella.
Nathan Smolka found and entered the contest online, and uploaded pictures of their barren front yard to the RISE website in hopes of receiving help in creating low-maintenance outdoor landscaping.
“There are a ton of bare spots on our lawn ... the weeds were growing faster than our newborn,” said Liz Smolka, who shares the same occupation as her husband, both being restaurant managers. “We wanted safe yard for our daughter, but neither of us have the time to take care of the gardening and landscaping.”
Then, about a month ago, the Smolkas were notified that they were the winners of the national contest.
“We were shocked and didn’t believe it at first,” Liz Smolka said, adding, “You see so many things online ... we got worried.”
But the notification was no scam — the Smolkas were getting the landscape transformation they so desperately needed.
On June 23, the couple were greeted by local professional landscaper, lawn care and maintenance professional John White, as well as Kevin Monaco of Monaco Enterprises.
The experts were able to conduct the makeover in a matter of hours — despite rain and the Buffalo area feeling the effects of a rare and unexpected 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Canada.
Once covered completely by dandelions, the lawn is now weed-free and bears fresh mulch around the front of the house’s brick foundation. New flowers and shrubbery were planted, giving aesthetic appeal to the couple’s first home.
The makeover also served as an educational forum for the Smolkas regarding the proper way to maintain and care for their new lawn, tailored toward the challenges most New Yorkers face — such as inclement and unpredictable weather — as well as tips for neighbors to conduct their own gardening makeovers.
“We learned when we should be watering the lawn and that we shouldn’t do it at night because certain bacteria can grow,” Liz Smolka said. “We also learned that, with products, it’s really important to follow the instructions on the label for the sake of health and animals.”
Local real estate agent Susan Foster, who’s lived in Buffalo since 1970, also was on site that day to discuss the effect a well-maintained lawn can have on property value.
For more information on the contest or gardening and lawn-care tips, visit www.debugtheymyths. com.