Korak's Landscape

Lantana’s a wonderful place to live
Eric Williams
Published 06/17/2010 – 12:55 p.m. CST

James Korak with his family in the backyard of their home in LantanaWhen he was growing up in New Mexico, Lantana’s James Korak found the gurgling sounds of mountain streams relaxing. Now he enjoys the sound in his backyard, which was recently honored by the Lantana Homeowners Association in a competition for best backyard. The stream of re-circulating water pouring over boulders thirty feet down a creek bed, lined with four tons of river rocks, provides a visual and auditory centerpiece for the yard. But he’s also incorporated a mix of perennial flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees to provide a color palette that varies through the season, constantly delivering exquisite sensory input for the eyes and olfactory senses. Because of the plant varieties chosen, Korak has minimal ongoing responsibilities with watering and yard maintenance.
 
Korak, a landscaping professional, took input from his wife Nicole and some ideas from daughter Grace, 9, when he started planning the yard. Then he worked with Ted Meador of Meador Nursery in Denton to come up with the scheme and detail to deliver dazzling colors in every season, using hardy vegetation, which will stand up to the hot summers and the occasional severe winter weather of North Texas. Many of the plants are natives, such as bluebonnets that recently finished their spring blooming and black-eyed Susans that will provide bright yellow flowers through the hottest part of the summer. Among the plants blooming now are knockout roses, Impatiens, Crape myrtles and Purple Loosestrife. Around Christmas, a small-leafed bush called the Camellia Sasanqua, is ablaze in bright red flowers. Butterfly bushes add beauty not only through their own flowers and foliage, but also through the swarms of butterflies they attract.
 
Trees are also an important part of the color scheme. The yard feature, Shumard Red Oaks, are elegant long-lived trees that provide bright red foliage in the fall and hang onto their leaves much longer than many other hardwoods. The yard’s Japanese maple provide different shades of red fall foliage while the leaves of the river birch trees will turn a beautiful shade of yellow. The yard, which features a porch well-shaded from the afternoon sun, is a great place for the family to relax, especially in the spring, fall and summer morning when the temperature is comfortable. Grace likes to do her homework outside, while little sister Abbie finds herself occupied with books and dolls. The yard is heaven for the family dog, Mudd, who has a wire screen window to look out the back onto a tree farm and enjoys frequent mutually-curious encounters with wildlife. Mudd prefers drinking water fresh from the streambed, carefully eyeing surroundings as his ancestors might have done, then slowly lowering his mouth to lap from the flowing waters.
 
Mudd is also delighted by the sounds of coyotes over the fence along with the rabbits and butterflies who find their way into the yard. Korak said Mudd energetically chases the rabbits, but is careful to never actually catch one. Nicole, a nurse who works from home, wanted bright colors in the yard that will change with the seasons. She often takes breaks from her work on the back patio and finds the time outside invigorating. Family and friends agree the backyard is a great place for grilling, outdoor dining, reading, or having quiet conversations The Bermuda lawn is so even and plush, visitors often ask if it’s okay to step on it, Nicole said. Like most of the plants in the yard, it’s rugged and well adapted to the local climate.
 
Because he lives in Lantana, where children can play with friends in front yards, the cul-de-sac and in numerous community outdoor play areas, Korak could focus on making the backyard a place to relax, rather than a place to play. Citing the friendly neighbors, along with beautiful surroundings, Korak said he and his family find Lantana a wonderful place to live.

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