With gnomes and fairies overseeing their work, staff from the local Home Depot showed up last month to help Pam Kaefer, 63, create a one-of-a-kind garden in her backyard over a three-day period.
A resident in a Shingle Springs mobile home park, Kaefer has worked for the last five months to turn her dirt and leaf-strewn backyard into an enchanted garden in the home she and her husband moved to in January.
However, the property was not without its challenges, including a backyard that is mostly all slope. Undaunted, Kaefer went to work carving out several terraces that she filled with potted plants, a fountain that spills into a pond, two gazebos, an assortment of bird feeders, and, of course, a small army of woodland gnomes and fairies.
Building the retaining walls and steps leading to the upper terrace required buying lots and lots of blocks at the local Home Depot, with each weighing around 50 pounds.
“I put in 200 blocks and bought another 100,” said Kaefer, who could only fit 10 at a time in her car. “I was down to the last 50 when I called the store and Vince Butera, the assistant manager at the Placerville store, answered the phone. I asked if he could set aside 10 blocks for me to pick up. He asked her how many were still owed to her and when he found out I could only transport 10 at a time, he offered to have the rest delivered. The Home Depot employee even carried them from the truck to my backyard.”
When she called Butera the next day to thank him, he asked her what else she planned to do. She told him of her plans, but said she had no way to get all the materials up the hill, including dirt, paving stones, decomposed granite, road base, sand and river rocks.
Butera then paid her a visit on his day off and looked around. “I could see how important it was to her and decided to get it done,” he said.
A few days later he called back to say they could help, adding that the store was always looking for community projects like hers. “We like to give back to the community and it evolved from there.”
That turned out to be welcomed news to Kaefer because she recently learned she had a serious heart problem that required extensive surgery. Her husband, Rick, also couldn’t do any heavy lifting because of back and hernia problems.
So on Sept. 10, Butera and a small crew from Home Depot arrived, including Rich Halla, Tom Krauss, Matt Richmond, Frank Villas and Julien McAdams. According to Kaefer, Butera arrived at 7:30 a.m. that first day, worked until noon, and then went back to Home Depot and closed the store at midnight.
“All of the Home Depot guys were pleasant, professional, hard-working and fun,” she said. “It wasn’t a big deal to them. They were just trying to help someone out.
“I thought they’d just get the stuff to the top of the hill. Instead they moved a horseshoe pit to the top of the hill, brought all the materials up, dug up all the ground and made it flat. Then they laid out the paths, loaded the road base and sand and last put in the pavers.
“They probably saved me six months of my time,” claimed Kaefer. “It’s amazing they did that.”
Butera said it was a team effort getting all the details worked out of what they needed. “The first day we did the demolition. The next day we laid the pavers and other materials. On the third day we did the finishing and clean-up work. She had a strong passion for the garden and we helped her make her dream come true.
“There was no other reason for doing it than giving back to the community,” said Butera, who noted that in the past crews from Home Depot have repainted and laid a floor at MORE in Placerville and are in the process of redoing a playground at a local school.
Kaefer said she planned to have a barbecue and invite the crew and their families to join them.
In September, all but one of the Home Depot workers was available for a group photo in Kaefer’s backyard during which they had another chance to admire their handiwork.
Department manager Matt Richmond looked around with satisfaction and said, “One of the core values of the company is to give back. This was a great effort.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.