WILDWOOD, Ill. — Alex Rothacker’s yard is easy to find — it’s the one with no grass, tons of rocks and sand and a variety of cactuses.

While on a trip in Arizona three years ago, Rothacker, 61, of Wildwood, hired a taxi cab to drive him 5 miles into the desert. The driver stopped and Rothacker said “drop me off here,” paid and sent him on his way.

“He looked at me and said ‘you’re crazy man,'” Rothacker recalled.

Armed with a jug of water, Rothacker walked back into town.

He’s a huge fan of the desert landscape. So much so he turned his green yard into a desert scape of rocks, gravel and cactuses.

Rothacker admires the decor of the desert and describes it as clean and fresh.

“You won’t see a weed,” he said.

He likes looking out and seeing the green of the cactuses all year.

“I had thousands of flowers here, beautiful flowers, but when the end of July, beginning of August comes, everything kind of dies off,” he said.

Rothacker estimates he removed 160 tons of dirt to level his yard. He replaced it with 260 tons of rocks and gravel.

At first, Rothacker’s neighbors thought he was crazy, but now he claims he gets nothing but complements.

He recruited three friends to help with the desert transformation. It took about a month to complete the project that cost about $13,000, he said.

With 13 varieties of cactuses, Rothacker admits the winter will be challenge.

“There are five I have to pull in for sure,” he said. “The other ones will survive if I do the right steps with them.”

Most of his cactus plants come from a friend who lives in Florida. All of the smaller rocks were put in place by Rothacker and his friends.

“Nothing professional. We did it with sweat and muscle and got it done. It’s just friends who did this,” Rothacker said.

Source: (Arlington Height) Daily Herald, http://bit.ly/2cGMvQV

Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald.

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