Creating an Outdoor Living Space | Volunteer Gardener

– It’s a great thing to look
at other people’s places and go, “Oh, it’s so
beautiful,” but a lot of times, it’s like, how do you get there? How do I make a space like this? Today we’re visiting with
somebody who has created a lovely outdoor room, really, an extension of the house
that has been put together over a few years, and
we’re gonna talk about how you can do this too. This place is the creation
of Jolene Fechter, and Jolene, I’m so happy
to be here with you today. – Thank you. – And I want to ask
you, first stages, I mean, obviously, you
put this in over time. What did you do first? – Well, the neighborhood
was relatively new. There were no trees anywhere, and I knew I had to have trees. – Sure. – So the first thing I
did is I put in 13 trees to line the perimeter
of the backyard. – [Marty] Really create the
space, outline the space. I see willow oaks. – [Jolene] Yes, I have
about three willow oaks. The rest were all maples,
but a variety of color so I get good color in the fall. – [Marty] Yeah, uh huh. They say start with
the big stuff first so it can grow up. – Right, so they’ve
had four years to grow. They’re doing pretty
good, actually. So the second thing we did was I put an irrigation system in, knowing that I was
gonna do something with all of this space. – Yeah, you had an idea of
where things were gonna be. – So the second summer
was irrigation system. You can only afford to
do so much every year– – Sure, you’re on a
budget, sure, yeah. – Yes, so I’d been piecemealing
the whole project all along, so the trees went in the first
summer, July 4th weekend. So I watered it and watered it
and watered it, watered it– – Yeah, that’s tough. – But they did great. Yeah, it was tough, but
they were half-price. – Yeah, yeah, there you go. (laughing) – So a little bit of water, and I get my trees
all half-price. Then the irrigation system
went in the next year. And then I waited until about
two-and-a-half years ago to do my hardscape. – Okay, and the
hardscape is spectacular. Let’s take a look at that. – Okay. – [Marty] I can see that
you obviously were working on a set of, a series of
curves in this garden. That was always your
vision for this? – It was. I wanted to add interest,
so at the same time I put the shade trees in,
I put the crape myrtles in, and I knew that I wanted
to bring the hardscape out, use the primary area
of the backyard, and I wanted it rounded
in two or three places, so that’s why
these crape myrtles are four years old as well, even though the hardscape’s
two-and-a-half years old, because I wanted it
curved on this side, I wanted it curved on that side, just wanted to add interest. – [Marty] Right. You have a kind of a long,
rectangular shape here, so it makes a lot of sense
to do curves and break it up. – [Jolene] Otherwise, it
looks like a landing pad for an airplane (laughing). – [Marty] Yeah,
exactly, no doubt. Jolene, this hardscape is
really pretty magnificent. Looks like you must
entertain a ton. – [Jolene] We have
neighborhood functions here, and I have family
functions here. Had as many as
probably 70 people– – [Marty] Wow! – [Jolene] On this patio before. With food, we’ll move
some of this stuff out, bring tables in. – [Marty] Mm-hmm, it’s lovely. – [Jolene] It’s beautiful, and
at night it’s really gorgeous ’cause there’s a
lot of lighting. I’ve got 33 trees. They’re all lit. The landscape’s lit,
the hardscape’s lit, so it’s really
beautiful at night. It’s great for entertaining. – [Marty] Well, and
you’ve got a fire pit. My goodness, you’ve got,
it’s an expansive fireplace. I can see spending a
lot of time out here. – [Jolene] It’s quite relaxing. – I bet. After a hard day at work– – Work can be a little
stressful, and it’s my refuge. I tell you, I have
to have someplace to
come and decompress, and this is it. I’ll put some jazz music on,
just come out here and sit, have my soda. Most people have a glass of
wine, I have a soda and– – That’s lovely.
– Just relax. – [Marty] I see, I mean, you’ve got a house
right behind you, but you very effectively
screened that off. – [Jolene] Yes. It took three attempts, though. The arborvitaes, I was
getting a lot of rain runoff off the hill. – [Marty] Oh, they
don’t like that. – [Jolene] They don’t
like that at all, and so I lost the first
two rows of arborvitaes. – [Marty] Wow. – [Jolene] Yeah, it was
painful, very painful for me and my lawn-care
guy, but they ended up putting two or three
drains in, and– – [Marty] And it looks like
they bermed up a little back there too, huh? – [Jolene] They did berm it. They put drains in underground,
and they are beautiful now. They’re thriving. These have been here
about a year-and-a-half, and I’m not worried
about them anymore. – [Marty] Well, I’m not seeing
dead foliage in there, so– – [Jolene] No,
they’re beautiful. – [Marty] Okay,
so Jolene, tell me when this bed was created. – Well, the core of the bed
was created two years ago when the hardscape went in. They brought the
big, heavy rocks in. – [Marty] Right, this path. – [Jolene] They
brought the creek in, and it’s actually a
functioning creek. When it rains a lot, it
does work as a swale. – Right, it drains
the water off there. – Yeah, and then the
plants I change every year. It’s got a combination. Perennials– – [Marty] So the bed was
created, but not filled, basically, yeah, yeah. – [Jolene] Yes, yes. – [Marty] And you’ve
got a ton of color here. – [Jolene] That’s
important to me (laughing). That’s what it’s all about. I go through, I’ve
got some perennials, I’ve got some annuals, I’ve
got a ton of tropicals. – [Marty] Yeah, I see that. – [Jolene] Because
in this heat, I mean, no matter how hot it
gets, they look pretty, they look beautiful. – [Marty] They do. They bloom nonstop. – [Jolene] They
do bloom nonstop. I go for color, and I
basically just buy what I like. I’ll leave the landscape
nursery, and they’ll say, “That’s the lady that always
buys all the pretty stuff.” (Marty laughing) So I just buy stuff I like that
I think looks good together and turns out okay. It’s pretty much
freeform gardening. – Mm-hmm, I can see that. And it’s not a huge space, so
it’s not like you have to buy a thousand flats or something
to fill it up, it’s– – Right, no, it’s not huge. – Yeah, it’s intensive. – And that’s what
I was going for. That’s the exact
look I was going for. I wanted it compact. – I can tell you love
this hot fuchsia pink, like this Tonto. – [Jolene] Oh, the
Tonto, the bougainvillea. – [Marty] And the
bougainvillea, right. Oh, it’s so beautiful. – [Jolene] Yes, I
love, I love the pinks, I love the purples,
I love the yellows. – [Marty] Jolene,
I’m really interested in this beautiful
Fatsia you’ve got here. – A lot of people
ask me what that is. I finally remember what it is. They call it Spider’s Web
or Fatsia japonica, I think. – Japonica, yeah, and
the variety is Spider Web because it’s got these
beautiful, veined pattern, like spider webs. – I love it. It’s a rare evergreen
that comes from Japan, so I’m hoping I can save
it through the winter. – Yeah, it’s
marginally hardy here, but if you protect
it in a cold snap, I know people who have
Fatsia, so that’s quite, it’s beautiful. I love the effect of,
you’ve got the Clara and the hydrangeas. This whole border along the
north side of your house is really, really handsome. – Thank you. – You’ve got, I’m seeing
rhododendrons and, oh, I love these Encore azaleas. This looks like Royalty. – I think it is, yes. – That beautiful, that
same gorgeous fuchsia pink. And it’s August,
and it’s blooming, which is the great thing. – I know, August and September,
they will be beautiful. I’ve got some Encore over
in the other garden as well. – Yeah, I just
love those things. – Yeah, and I filled this
garden up on purpose. Now… Before I joined Master Gardener, before I learned about the
right plant and the right place, I planted this. So you just told
me what that is? – Yeah, this is
Viburnum dentatum, and it’s probably the
one called Blue Muffin, which is widely available,
and it’s a great plant. It’s a native
shrub, but I can see that you’ve been cutting it
hard to try to keep it low. – I trim it every two weeks. – Yeah, it’s a bodacious
grower in the summer. – Okay. – This plant wants
to get 12 feet tall. So you’re fighting
its natural habit. – [Jolene] I’ve got
it in the wrong place. – Yeah, yeah, but
it’s a great plant, and you can move
it in the winter, which is when you do this sort
of thing with woody plants, when it’s dormant. You’re gonna want to dig
it up and put it somewhere where you can let it
achieve its full duty. – I’ll do that, and
so it likes full sun? – A little shade or
full sun, not deep shade because it’s not a
deep-shade plant. – Yeah, because I work hard
to keep this maintained, so I didn’t know that. So I will certainly
move that in the winter. – And the nice thing
about this plant is if allowed to grow, it
blooms these clusters of white blooms that
then set these brilliant kinda blue berries. It’s really pretty. – And I’ve never
gotten to see that ’cause I have to
keep cutting it back. – And birds love the berries, so it’s a major wildlife plant. I love your magnolia too. – [Jolene] I know,
I’m from St. Louis and been in Nashville 10 years, and there’s no way I
was gonna have a yard without a magnolia. – [Marty] Sure. That looks like Bracken’s Brown
Beauty, with this beautiful, so-named because the
underside of the leaves are particularly
brown on this variety. It’s a really
gorgeous, gorgeous one. – [Jolene] I love it. – [Marty] Yeah, and
they do do well, and this is one of
hardiest varieties, so good choice on your part. (water flowing) – [Marty] Love
pondless waterfalls. Tell me about this. – [Jolene] Well, I had a
spotlight on this area. It was initially
about a five-by-five
square piece of stone, and I would put different
things in it for the holidays. And nothing was
really working for me, and I thought I just don’t
have that focal point. I thought about statues. I thought about several things. I tried several things,
and finally, I thought, you know what, I
just need water. I just need water. It’ll add to the
relaxation of the space. So this is what I
did this spring. This has been here
about three months. – So this is your latest. – This is my latest project. – [Marty] You don’t have to
worry about mosquito larvae and sort of the maintenance
of keeping up a body of water. – Oh my goodness!
– It just recycles. What a great setting for
your love of tropicals. Is that a Thai Giant back there, that beautiful upright
Elephant Ear there? It’s gorgeous. – [Jolene] I think
it’s a banana tree, but you may know better
than me (laughing). – [Marty] I think it’s
an Alocasia, but– – [Jolene] It probably is. – [Marty] That’s a
banana over there. – There we go, okay.
– That reddish one. – [Jolene] Like I said,
I’m still learning, I’m still learning. But yeah, I just wanted
all mass tropicals around. – [Marty] Oh, it’s gorgeous. – [Jolene] I just wanted
to feel like I was South. – [Marty] Yeah, no,
this is really great. And I gotta tell you,
this just charms me. Right down here you’ve got,
working as a ground cover, a plant that most people
yank out as a weed, with these little
starry white flowers. That’s called Virginia
buttonweed, and
most people hate it. And you’ve left it,
and it’s lovely, the way it’s creeping
through things. – [Jolene] Well, beauty’s in
the eye of the beholder, right? – [Marty] That’s true. One person’s weed is
another person’s flower. – [Jolene] Yeah, I just, I
wanted something kinda creeping into the rocks a little
bit that was low, and I liked the white, and I liked the way
it was spreading, so– – [Marty] And bees like it. – [Jolene] So I left it. I thought, I like
it, so I left it. – [Marty] Well, this is
just charming, Jolene, I just gotta tell you. – [Jolene] Thank you, it’s– – And I admire the amount
of work you’ve taken, and you’ve got a good eye, and
you put things together well. – I do have to tell you,
I’ve gotta give some credit. I got five little girls in
the cul-de-sac that help me. I’ve got two little
granddaughters that help me, so ages two to eleven I’ve
got about eight little helpers (Marty laughing) that will really help. – [Marty] Oh, that’s great. – [Jolene] They’ll come
to help me pull weeds. They’ll help me deadhead
’cause I maintain all this all by myself. – [Marty] Yeah, that’s great. – [Jolene] So I’ve
got the little girls
in the neighborhood, I got my granddaughters– – [Marty] That’s wonderful. – [Jolene] and it’s kinda fun. And you know what’s awesome is it’s giving them a
love for gardening. – [Marty] Yes, getting
their hands in the dirt. – [Jolene] They know
the word deadhead. (Marty laughing) They know the words
de-weed, so it’s kinda fun ’cause I’m able to
teach the little girls. – [Marty] The next
generation of gardeners. – [Jolene] Absolutely,
so it makes it kinda fun. (upbeat music) – [Marty] Well, this has
been a delight, Jolene. – Thank you.
– Thank you so much for having us. – [Jolene] I appreciate
you coming, thank you. – [Marty] Ah, it’s been great. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] For inspiring
garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website at, or on YouTube at the
Volunteer Gardener channel, and like us on Facebook.


  1. What a gorgeous setting she's created to enjoy with family, friends & neighbors! Hope you helped her pick a good spot to relocate that native shrub with the white flowers followed by blue berries! That surely could help screen out a view or help to enclose an area for more privacy.

  2. Great!… Where is this… the state, at least?
    -Ohhh Volunteer, nevermind… I'm a newby. (then she said Nashville)

  3. I would like to know the carbon footprint/environmental impact of changing shrubs every year and getting all these exotic plants. It is important to know that gardening too comes at a price – plastic pots, water, fertilizer, pesticide.

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