With the help of designer Kevin Reiner, one couple transforms their yard into a peaceful retreat.

 This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019-20 issue of Columbus Monthly Home & Garden. 

When they relocated from Bexley in 2001, this Granville couple purchased a village home not far from Denison University. In fact, the historic 1875 house was where Woody Hayes lived when he coached the Denison football team from 1946 to 1948.

The home had plenty of yard space for potential projects—an idea that appealed to the woman of the house who has always loved the art of gardening. “I have done a lot myself, but I am not a master gardener,” she says. She recalls learning about gardening when she and her husband lived in their first home in Cleveland. They had a yard, but she wasn’t sure what to plant, so she enrolled in a perennial garden class at a nearby recreation center.

“My mother-in-law was also a great gardener and a huge inspiration,” she says, adding that she tried to educate herself whenever possible and learned a lot by doing the work. “I love going to garden centers and seeing others’ work, too.”

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

She refers to Baker’s Acres, a greenhouse and garden center in nearby Alexandria, as her version of “heaven on Earth.” She often incorporates container gardens into her outdoor spaces, working alongside Pam Baker at Baker’s Acres to design the containers. “I would rather do this than go shopping for anything else,” she says, laughing.

Shortly after their move to the village, she and her husband enlisted the help of Kevin Reiner Design for the garden following an interior redesign project he completed for them. The woman of the house explains that she and Reiner began planning during the winter months to prepare for the spring.

“We talked about what I was looking for in terms of color and cutting flowers,” she says, adding that she knew she needed professional advice on shaded areas of the yard alongside the house. “I had tried to do shade gardening, but nothing was working.”

Over the years, the homeowners have made few changes to Reiner’s original design aside from incorporating a few different species of flowers and plants. (When the woman of the house’s father passed away, friends gifted her plants, which now live on in her gardens.)

The front yard of the home is filled with rounded boxwoods and bountiful hydrangeas, which complete a grand entrance to the front porch. Also along the front porch are climbing hydrangeas, which add to the inviting atmosphere during warm weather months.

There are multiple varieties of phlox paniculata lining the driveway and in the backyard’s courtyard space as well. One of the owner’s favorite flowers is the poppy mallow, a species of callirhoe involucrata, which has intricate pink buds when in bloom. Coneflowers decorate the side of the driveway near the home. Reiner also planted catmint and perennial geraniums in the driveway garden.

Near the rear of the home is Solomon’s seal (polygonatum odaratum ‘variegatum’). Walking along a side of the garage reveals the quaint courtyard with its fire pit and cozy seating space. Here, there is a redbud tree, as well as one planted near the driveway. Both trees were gifted to the homeowners by the man of the house’s mother, in celebration of the owners’ 20th wedding anniversary.

Several other plants and trees fill and surround the courtyard and backyard space, including another type of hydrangea paniculata often called “little lime,” while a Japanese maple tree provides helpful shade on sunny days.

The owners have planted crab apple trees along the side yard. When the light pink petals fall in the early spring, they create a pathway through the shaded portion of the yard. This area has limited sunlight because a large tree provides shade year-round. The owners worked with Reiner to find other shade-loving plants, settling on an arrangement of hostas, ferns and different types of grasses.

Developing a full, lush garden requires time, attention to detail and a lot of patience, says the woman of the house. It took nearly three years for the garden areas to mature after they were designed and planted. “I am now realizing how much I look forward to spring for everything to grow back,” she adds.

And, she notes with a laugh that Reiner lives down the street from her, just in case she has any questions or needs support.