A short winding pathway around the home of Scott and Jan Overland leads to a wondrous backyard that’s an oasis of privacy and peace within bustling Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Butterflies flitted about as a hummingbird sipped nectar from an obedient plant as we toured the yard.
“When we first moved here the landscaping was traditional and sparse, and at first we tried to maintain it that way. But then we changed course and began adding interesting plants that make our yard beautiful. It’s a fun project,” said Scott Overland, who is a professional financial adviser and member of the Cedar Rapids City Council.
A special aspect of the Overland’s yard is how it has engaged them in nature and the environment. “We visit nurseries to learn about plants and sometimes add new ones. It’s a wonderful learning experience.” he said. A barred owl occasionally serenades them from a hemlock tree near the house bringing sounds of the deep woods to their neighborhood.
There’s more. The diverse and beautiful yard absorbs storm water better than if it were traditionally landscaped. “Nowadays storms have more intensity than they once did and our yard absorbs most of the rain that falls on it. We installed a French drain to further help water enter the soil and avoid flowing into storm sewers that would add to downstream flooding,” he said.
The Overlands demonstrate that a yard needn’t be big to be beautiful and ecologically healthy. They’ve created a magical space on a quarter acre lot not far from downtown.