Backyard dreaming

Kettering family is in a makeover contest.1,700 national entries narrows to six.

Todd and Stephanie Carll could be just days away from having the backyard of their dreams, thanks to a nationwide contest sponsored by Archadeck Outdoor Living. The Kettering couple is among six finalists hoping to win the grand prize of a $70,000 backyard makeover that will include a deck and patio component.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Stephanie of their finalist status. They were chosen among some 1,700 entries from across the country.

She and her husband bought their current 1950s-built ranch home on a short sale two years ago, and, while the location was perfect, the house had sat empty for years and was in pretty bad shape. “People thought we were crazy,” said Stephanie of their home choice. “Not only did the inside need a ton of work, but the backyard was full of construction debris, concrete, bricks, rocks — not to mention the rampant weeds and poison ivy.”

Though the couple has hauled loads of debris out of the backyard, the poison ivy is still making the area off-limits for their 2-year-old son Tucker. “We don’t let him in the backyard at all,” said Stephanie, who is expecting their second child, also a boy, at the end of June. “We just want the boys to grow up and be able to have a safe place to play.”

In researching options for the backyard, Stephanie came across the contest on Facebook and entered it by submitting a photo of their current backyard, along with a description of what their “dream backyard” would look like. “When we bought the house, we looked at the backyard and knew it would be perfect for a deck someday,” Stephanie said.

In her entry, Stephanie described their vision for the backyard as including “a tiered outdoor living space, where we can grill, unwind, entertain, get to know our neighbors, let our toddler play and enjoy the natural beauty of our neighborhood.”

The contest’s second prize winner will receive a $7,000 deck or patio replacement, and the third-place winner will receive a $3,000 outdoor lighting system from Outdoor Living Perspectives. Once a grand prize winner is chosen, a local Archadeck owner will visit the homeowners and survey the backyard, discussing with them their likes and dislikes, wants and needs. A 3-D rendering of the proposed backyard makeover will be created for the homeowner to see, and from there the exciting transformation will begin.

Winners will be announced on May 15.

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