COLUMBIA — In honor of the Fourth of July and backyard warriors everywhere, staff photographer Matt McCormack asked nine residents to show off how they use their outdoor space in the summertime. These are their stories and a glimpse of their greenery:
Luke and Barbara Buffaloe's backyard at 717 Hilltop Drive on June 29
The Buffaloes' backyard is a mix of trees, shrubs and wildlife. Luke and Barbara Buffaloe have found many ways to enjoy their yard, and their kids Ben, 2, and Eleanor, 3 1/2, have also found innovative ways to play in the landscape.
"We like to hike through the woods, and there's a pretty awesome swing hanging from a tree," Barbara said.
"In the last week we've seen raccoon, deer, owls, turkey, red tail hawk and a snapping turtle," Barbara said.
"There's a cylinder in the yard that used to be an old millstone. The kids use it as a rock box," she said.
"The historical society of Missouri said if we ever plan on getting rid of it that they wanted it," she said.
Marion and Alberta Dey's backyard at 4211 Rice Road on June 26
Alberta and Marion "Mick" Dey's backyard started as just a flower garden. Now they are able to grow and distribute their own produce wherever needed. They have developed and tended to the same backyard for more than 50 years.
"We've lived in the same house a little over 50 years," Marion said.
"The backyard started just as a flower garden," Alberta said.
"The backyard has always been a significant part of our lives," Marion said.
"We give our produce to kids, food pantries and senior centers," he said.
Bill and Lynda Harper's backyard at 900 Hardin St. on June 26
Bill Harper admits that Linda does most of the upkeep around the yard, but he makes mowing the grass his priority.
"I mow, but my wife is the one doing all the flowers and planting," Bill said. "She's out here until it gets too hot."
"She's out here even while I'm playing golf," Bill said.
"My son, his wife and my great-granddaughter all hang out here," Harper said. "We all like to get together on the weekends."
Chris and Emily Holdman's backyard at 1908 Rainwood Drive on June 26
Chris and Emily Holdman enjoy barbecuing and hanging out at the fire pit in their backyard.
The Holdmans love their yard about as much as their dogs do.
"It's squirrel country, so the dogs come out here to hunt," Emily said.
"On the weekends, we like to light the fire pit and hangout with friends," she said.
"We grill out here a lot," she said. "It's nice because the backyard is so shaded that we can come out here when it's hot."
"There have been a few times where I haven't been used to the manual labor that my husband puts into the yard," Emily said.
Thomas Jones' front yard at 309 McBaine Ave. on June 30
Thomas Jones’ front yard is unique compared to the other houses on his block. He has maintained this yard for more than 10 years.
Thomas said he takes a lot of pride in maintaining his yard, and he considers it to be a positive example for other homeowners and residents in his neighborhood to follow.
Thomas' neighbors come over to his house often, where they hang out and let loose.
“My neighbors like to come over; we all barbecue and party,” he said.
“If I ever win the lottery, I’ll probably put a fence around the yard and screen in the front porch,” Thomas said.
Mark and Kimberly Kelty's backyard at 813 Forest Hill Court on June 30
The Mark and Kimberly Kelty’s backyard disappears beyond the deck into a completely wooded landscape.
Mark said he likes the contrast and variety of the vegetation in the backyard.
The Keltys like to chill out on their spacious wooden deck that overlooks the woods, where they enjoy drinks and watch their kids play.
“I like to sit out on the lower deck; I just love to hang out here," Mark said. "I feel like I’m in the woods."
“It’s a nice place to just chill out. There’s a lot of places to just hang,” Mark said.
“My kids like to play around in the woods, too,” Kimberly said.
"The hammock is my spot," said Javier Kelty, Mark's son .
Rocky Rivers and Susan Souchek's backyard at 4612 Blackford Court on June 26
Rocky Rivers and Susan Souchek have many varieties of flowers, trees and other vegetation they have planted over the years in their backyard.
Susan started the overhaul on what used to be a purely sod grass yard in 1991.
"Before we moved in it was all sod grass, we basically put everything in, from the decks to the flowers," Rocky said.
"We both love flowers," Susan said.
"For me, the cone flowers are my favorite. I like the pinks, reds and oranges," Rocky said. "If we could do anything else, we might install a fountain."
Nancy Rogers' backyard at 505 Overland Court on June 29
After Nancy Rogers got her first rabbit at the Humane Society, she said she just fell in love with them. Since then she has steadily turned her backyard into a rabbit sanctuary with fenced in play areas, shelters, sleeping holes and plenty of food.
"I would watch them in the backyard and would notice what they needed, and I started to notice they needed habitats and little shelters," Nancy said.
"I started putting the rabbits in cages when coyotes got one at night a while back," she said. "I just love watching them jump around." Madelyne Rolley's backyard at 506 Ridgeway Ave. on June 26
Madelyne Rolley enjoys her backyard because it's a great place for her to relax and enjoy her grandkids.
"My backyard is my serenity," Madelyne said. "I like reading and barbecuing out here, too."
"I like enjoying the peaceful sounds of mother nature," she said. "My grandkids like playing on the deck while they're over."
Supervising editor is Brian Kratzer.