Carter’s Garden Blog


The Growing Popularity of Backyard Living
December 17, 2008, 3:42 pm
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Living the Life Abundant

I see more and more people staying home these days… myself included. Instead of taking that trip to Spain, France or even Disney World, more and more of us are staying home and putting our time and money into our Family’s and our Homes. This is a huge trend across the country and it has been growing by leaps and bounds since 9/11. The trend has a name too, they call it “Cocooning ” .
It makes good since to me, instead of spending your vacation running around the country, spending all the money you saved, then getting back home more exhausted than before you left ; Why not put your time and money into your home and backyard and enjoy it year round with your family and friends. Watergarden’s, Koi Ponds, Swimming Pools, Backyard Patios and Decks, Outdoor Kitchens with Herb Gardens and Pottery overflowing with Vegetables and Flowers, sound good ? That’s sounds like the ‘Life Abundant’ to me !

Lakeside Living At It’s Best

One of my clients recently decided to sell his beautiful home and build a new home in a local, private lakeside development. After I saw the lot I was as excited as he and his wife were! Living on the water is a wonderful thing! I was asked to work up a ‘simple’ backyard plan that would include a swimming pool with natural stone waterfalls, a watergarden with aquatic plants and fish, a stone patio with lots of space and a fishing area down by the lake. In other words, a resort right there in their own backyard. “ Cocooning 101 ”.

We went to work right away and developed a ‘Concept Design’ for the back yard. With only a few minor changes we were ready to get started creating their new ‘Back yard Resort’. It was a fairly large scale job and the actual work took approximately 1 month to complete. We used specimen quality stone and nice mature plant material on this project so the first full season for this landscape looked like it had been there for quite awhile. Let me tell you folks… It changed their lives for the good!

Just Do It

Whether you live on a lake or on any average city street, you too can create a Backyard Haven that you will love coming home to each and every day. It all starts with a basic Landscape Plan; Sit down with pen and paper and do a basic sketch. Include a place to sit within the garden, a deck or patio, be sure to include a Fountain or Watergarden, defiantly some beautiful Shrubs and Flowers, maybe some basic Vegetables and Herbs in the Landscape or in a container like Tomato’s or Basil and Cilantro. Before you know it, you will be eating dinner out there every night. Your Lifestyle will change for the better and you my friends will be living the ‘Life Abundant’ !



4th. Annual ‘Aquatic Expo’

4th. ANNUAL “AQUATIC EXPO”

Watergardening is one of the fastest growing hobby’s in the country! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn tips and techniques from some of the Top Professional Designers and Water Feature Builders in the field. You will learn the basics of Water Feature Design, Pond Construction and Water Garden Maintenance during this 2 day symposium.

This is a 2 day event:

Day 1 : Saturday, March 28th. 9am. till 5pm. at Carter’s Nursery, Pond& Patio.

This will be a ‘Hands On’ day of Learning. We will Design and Build a functioning Eco-System Pond during the Saturday class! We will also cover Basic Aquatic Plant Design and talk about Pond Health and Fish Care. You can join in and help build the pond OR you can watch and learn from the sidelines. Bring a lawn chair, boots, gloves and expect a Fun filled day of Learning! (Lunch will be provided with ticket).

Day 2 : Sunday, March 29th. 1pm. till 5pm. at Carter’s Nursery, Pond& Patio.

This will be a ‘Hands On’ – Pond Maintenance class! We will cover everything from the basics of Pond and Aquatic Plant care, to performing a Full Pond Clean Out! We will show you how to divide and re-pot your Aquatic Plants. We will discuss Koi Health and Disease prevention, and much, much more….

Two day tickets can be purchased at Carter’s Nursery, Pond& Patio for $10 ea. (Children free with an Adult). Lunch will be provided on Saturday at the Pond Building Class.

Call Carter’s Nursery, Pond& Patio for more information: 731-424-2206 or E-mail – jocarter@charter.net



Water Gardening’s Huge popularity

Water, Water Everywhere …

The Hottest trend in gardening today is… you guessed it, Water Gardening. Waterfeatures are popping up everywhere and it seems everyone wants one in their garden. A Waterfeature can take many forms , it could be anything from a small water filled container with a Bubbling Fountain to a Pondless Waterfall or an Ornamental Pond with Koi Fish and a Stream with Waterfalls. The world of Aquatic Plants that you can use in your Watergarden is equally as diverse and EXCITING.
I am a Landscape/Waterfeature Designer by trade and my single biggest request is to design and install Custom Residential Watergardens. It seems that everyone wants their own personal Waterfeature . This trend has helped me coin the phrase ‘Everyone Wants a Pond , They Just Don’t Know It Yet’. All it takes to learn that you want one is ‘to see one’ .
A beautiful Waterfeature can literally transform a property and take you to another place . A properly designed Waterfeature can also increase your property value by as much as 7 to 15 % , more than any other Landscape improvement . Another good reason for their huge popularity .

If it’s worth doing , it’s worth doing right !

Like any Gardening project you undertake , you should first do some research and gather info .

– First , look around at a few Water Features and talk to some people who have one . Make some notes on your wants and needs . Identify some interesting design elements that you may incorporate into your new feature .

Go on a Pond Tour ! There’s no better way to see some awesome Watergardens and talk to actual Pond owners than on a Pond Tour ! I have been on dozens of Garden Tours and there’s none better than a good Pond Tour !

– After you have done these things , sit down and think about a Design. Gather pictures and notes from your Pond Tour and from idea books . Break out the paper and pencils and sketch out a basic idea for what you would like .The Design Process is the most important part of the whole project . If you don’t have a design that you are happy with , that will fit into and enhance your Lifestyle, don’t do it ! I can’t stress this enough. I see many Waterfeatures that went bad from lack of planning and proper design . That’s just time and money gone. My motto is ‘Do it Right the First Time’ !

– If you need fresh ideas , or need some help call a professional Landscape Designer ! When I need help and I want something done right, that’s what I do. Be choosy! Make sure your dealing with a qualified Waterfeature Specialist ( like a C.A.C. – Certified Aquascape Contractor ). Check references! Look at their work (older and more recent)! And Always get a written contract !

Location , Location , Location .

Where you put your new Waterfeature will determine how it will fit into your Lifestyle . Some want to create a private garden with a small Bubbling Fountain , some a front yard Waterfall or Pond to create beauty for passers by (curb appeal) , but most ( 90% + ) want a Backyard Pond. . .
– Bring it up as close as possible to the deck or patio to make it part of the home . That way you can hear the sound of the Waterfalls inside and you can see it from the window or nook . When you can access this Oasis any time , it literally changes your life … You start getting out there more , eating dinner and entertaining friends and family by the Water . Feeding your Fish will become your favorite daily ritual . It is mine ! My 6 yr. old son and I are out there every morning by 6am. feeding our little jewels . Most of our Fish have names now and we love them very much .
With a little education and some hard work , you too can enjoy this rewarding hobby . I hope these tips help you in your journey into the wonderful world of WATER .

Here’s to the Life Abundant!

– Mark Carter



Creating A Schoolyard Habitat

Making a better world one “Habitat”at a time

Tennessean’s are special people . We love our land , we protect our environment and we pass these love’s and traditions on to our children . Some of my most precious childhood memory’s are in the garden or in the woods with my dad or grandad . My grandmothers on both sides were gardening guru’s in their own rights and they taught me many things that I still use in my everyday life . It stuck with me and now I make my living designing gardens and landscapes for other people and it is indeed a way of life for me and something I truly love .

A ‘Special’ Design

Not long ago I was asked to help in the development of a ‘Teaching Pond’ at a local school . The school found me through a program that I take part in called ‘Ponds for Kids’ . Ponds for Kids is sponsored by N.A.W.G.S ( North Am.Water Garden Society)  http://www.nawgs.org/ and is an amazing program .
I met with the faculty and discussed their wants and needs for the teaching pond to aid in the development of the design/plan . After doing some extensive research , I found a program that fits perfectly with what they wanted to do ! It’s called the Schoolyard Habitat Program and it’s sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, http://www.nwf.org/schoolyard/. What a great idea ! An entire ‘Habitat’ with a pond , garden , bird feeders , bird houses & more . I immediately sat down and started drawing a plan , a plan that would have a teaching pond and a native garden with all the requirements to qualify to be a Schoolyard Habitat .
This habitat would provide an Awesome teaching environment ; Science , Biology , Ecology , Art , and a long list of other things could be taught and communicated through this classroom.
In the end this was a combined effort between the students, faculty and my company and it went great ! This Schoolyard Habitat will help educate kids for generations to come and it has and will continue to have a positive impact on the community . We’re sowing seeds for the future folks .

Gardening for Wildlife , Gardening for Life

All wildlife requires food, water, cover and places to reproduce and raise their young. Sound familiar? Our worlds are not that different. These four (4) elements are the basic requirements for creating a habitat .
It doesn’t stop at schoolyards either ! The NWF has a ‘Backyard Habitat’ program for folks who want to enjoy all that mother nature has to offer , right in your own back yard .What does it take you may ask ? The same four (4) basic elements (food , water , cover & places to reproduce and raise young) . How does a waterfall and pond sound , how about a blackberry patch or a native thicket of flowering fruit trees ? Trumpet honeysuckle and native perennials are also great for nectar and pollen in your new garden . Put up a few bird feeders and bird houses . How about a butterfly or bat house . All these things not only help support the wildlife in our areas they enrich our lives as well . How you manage your landscape can really have a positive effect on your health, your environment and your community. This is truly living the life Abundant ! Once you start , your hooked for life . For more information on making your backyard a ‘Backyard Habitat’ go to http://www.nwf.org/backyard/ .

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful gardening season !

– Here’s to the ‘Life Abundant’ !



Landscape Design Ideas
December 13, 2008, 10:19 am
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Landscape Design Ideas     By: Mark Carter

A client recently asked me : HOW can you live in a tight , ‘zero lot line’ neighborhood and still create some private outdoor living/garden space ? That’s a great question and one that requires some thought and planning .

There are many advantages to living on a small lot ; Less maintenance and upkeep are at the top of the list . BUT , the big drawback is space . Many of the new homes that I see today are almost as big as the lot that they are built on , with only 8 to 12 feet between structures . Even so , we ALL want and need a place to go outside those walls . A place to talk and visit with family and friends or a place to just sit quietly and ponder .

What Do YOU Want

This is an important question that you should ask yourself : What do you want to do ‘Out There’?….. Dine with guests , read a good book , bar-b-cue or feed your fish in the Koi Pond ?
Do you want a privacy screen from the neighbors , a rose trellis or an arbor , a deck or patio , a dog run ? The list of possibilities is endless , but sometimes the space that you have to work with is not .

I also see a lot of small ‘trouble’ areas or out of the way areas in the landscape that people have never been happy with ….. That front or side entryway that needs ‘Something’ , that small patio off the master bedroom that you never use or that back door that leads to nothing . . Sometimes these small areas hold GREAT promise.

The biggie to me is to create a Landscape Design that you LOVE before you start to do anything ; It will save time , trouble and money in the long run .

Creating a Design

Coming up with a new concept or creating a new Landscape Design can sometimes seem challenging , but it usually seems harder that it really is . My advice is to keep it simple …..

*Start with a list of wants and needs ( Examples – a small patio out back with a table and chairs for dinning , a fountain or pondless waterfall for a soothing sound , a privacy fence or plant screen , a kennel and dog run for the pets , etc…).

*Gather some ‘Idea’ pictures from magazines , the internet or from a recent home , garden or pond tour . They can really help you form a mental picture of what you want .

*Then the fun starts ; Get some paper , a pencil and a good measuring tape and measure/sketch out the home on the paper . Seeing your home and property on paper will really help you to understand the space that you really have to work with .

*Then try ‘plugging in’ your wish list of features . You will probably have to make a change or two, but you will be surprised how much you can achieve by using these simple methods of design.

Bigger Ain’t Always Better .

Many times bigger is just more and more isn’t necessarily any better! Many of these spaces that you have are tight fits , BUT , with a good Design they can turn out AWESOME ! If all the bases are covered and the finished product is functional , has a nice aesthetic feel and a good ‘flow’ throughout the available space you can create an outdoor area that can rival any ‘big’ Landscape .

Many of you have had the ‘Big Lawn’ and the ‘High Maintenance Landscape’ before and for whatever reason you want to enjoy life a little more and work in the yard a little less .

So remember these tips and no matter what you do ;

* Do your homework !

* Get a Landscape Design you love before moving forward !

* AND – Get outside and enjoy life’s abundance !



Carter Country Pond Lifestyle Video
December 5, 2008, 7:56 pm
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A CONTAINER WATER GARDEN IN 5 EASY STEPS
December 5, 2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Articles

Download the PDF file here.