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The Yard of the Year in 2018 is a peaceful sanctuary for birds, wildlife (and people) that visit.

Located at 4500 Lincoln Way, the park-like property owned by Dave and Karen Dreessen encourages birds to visit with a variety of greenery, such as perennials, pots filled with annuals, trees and bushes, in addition to a huge pond with waterfall, a concrete fountain and bird feeders.

The Dreessens have lived in their split foyer home for 11 years, and they have been able to build on the landscape that was already there, said Karen, who is the manager of Advancement Services at Morningside College. 

"When we got here, the yard was really nice," she said. "The previous homeowners did a lot of the rock work themselves."

Rock is used for border gardens around trees as well as for material to surround the pond that goes up the back wall.  

With four children and two careers, the Dreessens still take time to work on their yard and make improvements.

"Maintaining it is a job on its own, but since we've owned the house, we put a shed in, and added lights on everything to light up at night," she said. "We took down seven or more trees that were dying and had the rest of them trimmed up. We took out bushes and put a black fence around the whole thing."

In addition, they switched out an old concrete fountain with a new tiered concrete fountain, which sits by their deck among hostas and bushes. 

Everyone in the family works in the yard. The couple and their four children work together to make the load lighter and split chores. According to Dave, the children help put the pond together in the spring and clean up the leaves in the fall. 

"It's nice when it's all done and we can enjoy it. The kids like to sit around the fire pit with their friends," Karen said.

Dave, a former science teacher who is now Assistant Principal at East High School, said up until a month ago, it took over two hours to mow the yard.

"Now we have a riding lawn mower, and it takes 40 minutes," he said. 

They also spend time in their yard weeding, trimming, watering, removing mulberry trees, and cleaning out the pond. 

When they're not working in the yard, the family enjoys sitting on the deck in the morning and listening to the birds, and watching the deer, raccoons and possums that visit. 

"Early evening is the best time to be outside before the bugs get you," he said.

Dave said Karen's mother and his parents love their yard and come to visit even when they're not home. 

"They listen to the birds and read books," he said.

"We go outside mostly in the mornings and evenings. It's very nice, and relaxing. It sounds like a forest. It's very parklike. We see 10 to 12 different kinds of birds, such as blue jays, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, cardinals, robins, chickadees and wrens," he said.

They spend a lot of time in their yard on the weekends and share it with their two Springer Spaniels.

"They love the yard," Karen said.

Down the road, the Dreessens would like to turn the top area back into a wildflower garden and put in a bigger garage. 

They enjoy the comments they receive from neighbors and passersby.

"It's just nice when people walk by and they say, 'You have such a beautiful yard,'" Karen said.

"A guy stopped by our house and said, 'You have the most beautiful yard in Sioux City,'" Dave added. 

As Yard of the Year winners, the Dreessens will receive $50 from the Neighborhood Network.

Everyone is encouraged to submit a nomination for Yard of the Month. If you would like to nominate someone for Yard of the Month, fill out the application and return it to the city manager's office anytime.

Address it to the Office of the City Manager, 405 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Sioux City, Iowa 51101. Or email jessicajohnson@siouxcity.org.

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