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Under the hot sun, a new backyard takes shape


PARRISH - Joe Patoray could have taken it easy while Dave Burns and a host of others turned his backyard into a paradise.

Backyard Makeover winner
Joe Patoray works on the front yard of his house. He and his wife, Heather, were the winners of the Backyard Makeover contest. 

Patoray and his wife, Heather, the winners of the Burns's Backyard Makeover contest, could have relaxed at a hotel while contractors labored in the unseasonably warm air, and then reveled in their new yard.

But there was Joe Patoray on Friday morning, shoveling dirt into a wheelbarrow and overseeing a project in the front yard, replacing the sod and shrubs, and sweating freely.

He's a teacher and real estate agent, and he said he bought the house in June out of foreclosure. The yard had suffered.

"The yard was a disaster, as you can tell," he said. "It was just weeds and overgrown bushes."

His father and some volunteers from the neighborhood were helping him with the front yard project. Patoray said he and his wife are eager to see the results in the backyard.

"We knew when we were competing for the contest what was included, like a pond, an arbor and a little brick patio," he said. "We know some of the things that are going to go back here, but we have no idea how it's going to transpire out and how they're going to jazz it up with all the vegetation and everything."

Sitting under a tent, Burns, the owner with his wife Lisa of Backyard Getaway in Bradenton, was busy putting together a pond with the help of his uncle, Ron Spears; his son; and Roger Gale of the Gulf Coast Plumeria Society, who was putting in some plants.

They got off to an early start, Burns said, hoping to avoid the blazing heat that's slowed down the project a bit.

Backyard Makeover winner
Dave Burns, from left, Ron Spears, Burns' son and Roger Gale work on the pond.

"I think we'll be on time," he said. "The owner's got to leave tonight so we can get the decorations in and everything. We have volunteers here, and it's wonderful how everyone is getting together and pitching in."

Hard at work on the arbor was Bill Cannady, a licensed contractor with NDC Carpentry of Manasota.

"We do all forms of interior remodeling and exterior, arbors and things like that," he said before climbing a ladder to check his measurements.

An arbor like the one he was building costs about $500 to $600 installed, and it took about four to five hours at the shop, and a few more hours on site to get it assembled.

He thought the owner was not going to be at the house, Cannady said.

"I thought it was going to be a surprise, but he's got his own project going with the sod," he said. "It'll be a surprise tomorrow," but it might be Sunday if the heat slows them down.

Out front, Patoray continued to work on the lawn, but took a break to talk about his wife's views.

Backyard Makeover winner
Bill Cannady checks his work on the arbor in the backyard on Friday. 

"She's super excited because we've been working so hard since we moved in," he said. "We're just looking forward to relaxing a little bit, and this is definitely going to make it nice."

It's a nice prize and he said he appreciated the hard work of the men in the backyard.

"The guys are great, they're all out here donating their time and the supplies and they're fun to be around," he said.

A line of work trucks was parked along the side street in the quiet River Woods community, where early morning walkers hoping to get in their laps before the sun really began to shine with a vengeance strolled past and admired the work in progress.

Patoray looked happy under the dirt and sweat of the day's labor.

"It's really exciting, and we could have never done what they're doing back there," he said. "We put some grass down and some plants, but they're going to make it a real paradise back there."


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