A yard for the birds

Doyles transform new yard in months

When Leslie Doyle and her husband, Ronnie, first moved to their new home in December, she missed the sounds of birds.

The Doyles were downsizing, with their children away in college, and the backyard of the new home was something of a blank slate, not enough there yet to draw bird life.

“But, my husband and I had a vision,” Leslie Doyle said.

Just five months later, the birds are a presence in the Doyles’ yard in the Lakeshore Gardens subdivision off Bluebonnet Boulevard.

In the evenings, there’s the comfortable sound of frogs chanting, too.

The Doyles transformed their backyard with a waterfall and pond and an outdoor kitchen. On one side of the yard, new flowering vines are growing up trellises and will cover the wooden fence in time.

On the other side of the yard, the Doyles planted a type of bamboo that’s supposed to be more manageable than the regular type. They’ll keep an eye on it as it obscures the other fence wall.

Soon the peaceful setting will seem even more of an oasis.

The Doyles’ home will be on this year’s Pond & Garden Tour for Charity from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Dozens of homes throughout the Baton Rouge area with private ponds will be open for the tour, presented by the Deep South Koi & Pond Society.

This year’s event will benefit two organizations: Brave Heart — Children in Need works to improve the quality of life for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.

The second beneficiary, Yelp!BR, provides shelter and adoption services for dogs.

Leslie Doyle said that a helpful feature of her new yard was a rise in the ground, a sloping bank of several feet in height, built-up against a sound-barrier wall across the back of her property.

It turned out to be the perfect place for her waterfall and other landscaping.

The exterior of the Doyles’ house was transformed, as well, the red brick painted white, and the ceiling of the back porch painted a pale, tranquil blue.

“It’s a very Southern ceiling,” said Leslie Doyle, who has had her own interior design business.

The custom-designed, old-fashioned screen door hung at the home’s back door is Southern, too.

From the back porch, a walking area of flagstones, highlighted with geraniums, impatiens and snapdragons leads to the large, outdoor kitchen.

Anchored by antique pine beams, the kitchen features a granite counter, small refrigerator and big, built-in barbecue pit.

A sitting area nearby makes the outdoors like home, with a wood-burning fireplace, comfortable sectional sofa and other seating and a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall.

Beyond the outdoor kitchen is the waterfall, tumbling continuously over three tiers of rock and splashing into a pool with water lilies and goldfish.

Around the pond are palms, Indian hawthorn and azaleas.

Gardenias, a young magnolia tree and colorful annuals are a treat for the eye throughout the yard.

At the front of the house, Doyle has created a charming entrance with a large, handsome fountain, flowers and a small herb garden that she actively uses when she cooks.

The Doyles turned to local business Harb’s Oasis for installation of the pond and help with landscaping.

Of the upcoming tour, Doyle said, “This is all about raising money” for good causes “and for families to get ideas to create their visions.”

“You don’t need a huge space to create an oasis,” she said.