Texas City couple add own touches while preserving charm of backyard
Peggy Dietel is happy to be living in the Texas City home she grew up in. Six years ago, after the death of her stepfather, Dietel and husband, Randy, moved into the home on a quiet cul-de-sac on almost an acre of land in the Mainland Park area. The Dietels didn’t have far to move — they’d been living next door for 30 years. They made a few improvements to the circa-1961 house and vowed to maintain as much of the yard’s original charm as possible.
Some of the plants are original to the grounds; others the couple planted. Among the many species are a stunning mix of hot pink periwinkles, blue plumbago, yellow bell bushes and towering crepe myrtles.
A free-form swimming pool with a dark blue bottom is the perfect backdrop for a shimmering mosaic mermaid and several shiny fish designed by Peggy Dietel’s mother, June Nunez Godard.
“My mom was a talented artist who made several of the ceramic pieces displayed in the gardens,” she said. “She loved to work in the yard and truly made it what it is today.”
Although Dietel has added her own personal touches here and there, she credits Randy with being the real landscaper in the family. He built a flagstone bench beside the pool, which forms a semicircle around a Louisiana sugar cane pot that has been repurposed into a fire pit.
Peggy Dietel said her mother didn’t worry about symmetry.
“The yard has an ‘old school’ feel — is more a yard of yesteryear as opposed to something freshly landscaped,” she said.
The patio area — once covered in pea gravel — has been replaced with ceramic tiles, not only for aesthetics, but for the comfort of tender, bare feet.
A multitude of colorful, blooming plants, pottery and art objects border the pool, while statuary, glass globes and other collectibles scattered about the patio represent the travels of Peggy Dietel’s parents.
“My parents loved to travel and brought back many things from various countries that wound up in the yard,” she said.
Randy Dietel’s passion is collecting glass art, mainly globes. His artifacts are a part of the collection as well.
The outdoor furniture is a mix of “theirs and ours.” A white wicker swing facing the pool is where the Dietels like to sit in the evening while enjoying the serenity of their yard.
Yet, beyond the pool area is a whole other world.
Tall live oaks and water oaks are a surprise element, because at this point the yard transforms itself from a tropical, artsy area into a secluded mini-forest with pathways, benches, a plethora of foliage, pottery, statues and a dog run for Chase, the family’s Labrador retriever.
Old ship lanterns are prominent, sitting low to the ground to light the way in the evening.
As you travel full circle around the backyard, a large brass bell looms into view.
“We don’t know where that came from,” Peggy Dietel said. “My parents used it to call my brother and me home when we were out playing. Also, my dad used it when we lived next door to invite Randy over for a drink.”
The driveway has a back entrance off a busy street, so Randy Dietel added an array of colorful plants to make it more appealing.
“I wanted to know that was my house when coming home from work,” he said. “All of a sudden, your whole mood changes when you see a pleasant entry.”