Dennis and Janie Dollar don't have to leave home to find sanctuary. All they have to do is step out their back door.


By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison

Yard work is a labor of love for Greystone’s Dennis and Janie Dollar, with an emphasis on the labor.

“I put about 20 hours a week into it,” Dennis says. And Janie is quick to point out she’s the one that waters all of the plants when he is traveling.

Landscaping and lawn care companies help them with the labor. The love part comes every time Dennis and Janie catch a glimpse of their backyard, a space they have cultivated over the last decade as a setting for social gatherings, a recreational spot for their grandchildren and a place where quiet reflection and butterflies are always welcome.

When the Dollars moved to Greystone from Washington, D.C. 12 years ago, they took time to brainstorm ways to build on the existing strengths of the backyard – a fountain, English garden and putting green, of all things – and design a colorful space that fit their unique personalities.

“The one thing we wanted when we moved back south was a yard. It has probably taken us 10 of those 12 years to get the yard where we wanted it,” Dennis says. “I know the art of the possibilities, and she knows the art of the beauty. One of the things we liked about this house was the yard potential.”

Sunroom and screened porch

The home backs up to the 11th fairway of Greystone’s Founders Course. Janie often takes her morning coffee to the back porch for her daily devotions. If the grandchildren are visiting, she plays with them in the sunroom, where sunlight streams through the windows on clear days and potted plants provide pops of color, mimicking the colors of their outside counterparts. “Most of the family congregates in this area or the screened-in porch,” she says. “Both get lots of natural light.” Inside and out, butterflies can be spotted flitting from one plant to another. Janie loves watching them. When Hector Hoyas with Dreamscape Landscape was helping the Dollars decide which flowers to plant, he suggested lantana because it attracts butterflies. Hoyas also did the Dollars’ hardscape, including the stone walkways and fire pit area.

Putting green

Indeed, the Dollars have a legitimate putting green in their backyard. It came with their Greystone home, which they purchased from pro golfer Steve Lowery. “I don’t even golf, but it was a cool feature,” Dennis says. “We didn’t want to have it removed.” They came close, though. At first, Janie wanted a pool instead of the putting green. But they decided to keep the bright green swatch of turf that has become a conversation piece and source of entertainment for their five grandchildren and other guests. “The kids love it,” Dennis says.

English Garden

The English garden was another existing element of the backyard. A vine-laden trellis at the garden’s entrance gives way to an intimate space, where one can sit on one of the concrete benches and enjoy the surrounding beauty within and beyond the garden’s box tree hedges.

“The grandkids love to go sit in the English garden,” Janie said. “It’s funny what the grandkids gravitate toward in the back. I just love watching them, though.”

Covered Patio

The ground-level covered patio is “the perfect place to sit and listen to the rain,” Dennis says. It affords them a prime view of a fountain the family nicknamed “Morton Salt Girl” years ago.

Fire Pit Area

The fall is the perfect season for nights by the fire pit. The area offers plenty of seating in case the Dollars have guests over. “We like to entertain more outside than inside,” Janie says. The relaxing atmosphere puts everyone at ease.