An Iconic Athens, GA Garden Dream Yard
In October of 2022, Coach Dooley passed away at the age of 90. He was one of our favorite collaborators and his garden now serves as a powerful testament to his tremendous legacy—and one of his family’s greatest memories and connections to him.
Want to meet a college-football coaching icon—and tour his iconic backyard garden? Looks like you’re in luck! Join veteran landscape designer and Dream Yards host Jane Waldrop as she travels to “The Classic City” for a once-in-a-lifetime visit with Coach Vince Dooley and his wife, Barbara.
From the Gridiron to the Garden
For over 20 years, Coach Dooley led the University of Georgia football team, winning over 200 games during his historic career. However, when the Dooleys arrived in Athens 57 years ago, they couldn’t have dreamed that this would become their dream home. They’ve been fortunate to expand over the years, creating the perfect space for their kids—and now grandkids—to play.
When asked about his inspiration, Coach Dooley admits that, early on, he had very little outside the football field. He slept, ate, and breathed football, with Barbara joking that he “didn’t know a leaf from a petal or a stem.”
It wasn’t until Coach Dooley retired that he admitted to being “bitten by the horticulture bug.” He started taking college courses, which helped him jump into a whole new world. Since then, Coach has amassed the most diverse collection of rare plants Dream Yards has ever toured.
A Dream Backyard Garden
Regardless of where the Dooleys’ backyard get-togethers begin, they all conclude at the same place—their garden. Coach loves to stroll through his near-endless garden, which features a creek lined by all manner of weeping plants that he has lovingly dubbed “Weeper’s Creek.”
And, when asked about her favorite part, Barbara says that she can’t get enough of their back porch. She built it to be able to sit outside with loved ones and enjoy the best nature has to offer. Their yard also boasts a beautiful koi pond that was struck by a humorous bit of misfortune a few years ago. Coach Dooley chopped down a few trees around the pond, resulting in a blue heron making a quick meal out of his prized fish.
Over everything else, the values and inspiration behind how the Dooleys crafted their dream yard were all fueled by one common theme: family togetherness. Barbara says that the most important thing is family, and nothing makes her happier than being able to have them over to enjoy their backyard spaces together.
Before departing, Coach thanked Doug and John Howard and their team at Howard Brothers Outdoor Power Equipment. They went above and beyond, equipping him with an Exmark Lazer Z riding mower —and its custom UGA seat!
Now that you’ve had a taste, what will your dream yard look like?