At the end of a long day, Melissa and David Laster looked at their West Mobile yard and saw nothing but dirt. Everything had been removed. It was time to start over.
It’s not like what had been there before was much better. Melissa Laster said she wouldn’t let her kids play in the backyard because it was “dangerous.” There are not too many backyards with exposed rebar, for instance.
Less than a week later, with the help of a TV production company, that very same yard became one of the family’s favorite places, complete with palms, azaleas, a new swimming pool and an outdoor cooking area.
The transformation was the result of the show “America’s Most Desperate Landscape” on DIY Network. DIYers themselves and fans of the show, Laster said she decided to answer a casting call on the show’s website. The family made a video, despite their pessimism.
“I never dreamed I’d hear anything, but I got an email a week later that asked more questions,” Laster said. “That started the ball rolling.”
The show asked her “a lot of questions” during a months-long back-and-forth full of emails and phone calls. A crew visited in December when the family became finalists — although they had already been selected at the time — and visited again in February for a camera test and Skyped with the host, Laster said.
It was then up to the family to secure a crew of eight from among their family and friends to help with the on-screen transformation, which would film over four days in April.
“We agreed to get a crew of eight,” Laster said. “It was a bunch of good friends who agreed to spend days working hard in our yard.”
The family worked alongside the crew in what were really long days, she said.
“We worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some of the work crew worked even longer than that,” she said.
The Lasters’ two fourth graders and 2-year-old love the new landscaping, Laster said, especially the pool and a fort.
“They absolutely love it,” she said. “The two oldest love the water. They’re like fish.”
The 2-year-old has severe allergies, but the new yard includes an area with artificial turf so he can play without being affected by grass.
The transformation also included a grill, dining area, a double-sided fireplace and a television, she said.
“We’re big college football fans,” Laster said. “We wanted a place where we could watch football, grill out and entertain friends.”
The Lasters’ episode aired on Memorial Day, but will be re-run several times on the network.