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Pictured is Phillip Cavins as he tends to flower beds he has transformed into a masterful creation using beautiful flowers. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)

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Pictured is the pond and waterfall that Phillip Cavins has dressed up with flowers in the backyard of a house he is flipping. (Gazette photo by Elizabeth West)

Local man gives tips on landscaping for beginners

Phillip Cavins, who has always had an interest in landscaping, is now getting to try his hand at transforming an ordinary yard into a masterful creation.
According to the 22-year-old, he has given this trade a try in the past, but he has never had the means to really make something spectacular.
“When I was a junior in high school, I built a small rinky dink type of pond on the side of my mom’s house for her for Mother’s Day,” said Cavins. “It eventually started leaking so we had to fill it in.”
Fast forward six years, and now Cavins has been given the opportunity, through working with Joey West on their flip house project, to dress up a not so “rinky dink” pond in the backyard of the Pine Prairie based flip house that they are renovating and then putting on the market to sale.
Cavins said, “The foundation to make this yard something special was there. The fountain was already there and the flower beds already had edging. The yard just needed a lot of help.”
However, with little experience in the landscaping business, Cavins had to improvise when it came to selecting the perfect plants to dress up the yard.
“I actually don’t know the names of many plants, but I knew visually what I wanted in each section of the yard,” said Cavins. “So, I wrote bushy flowering or small flowers to remember what type of plant I wanted and where I wanted them to be planted.”
From there, Cavins was tasked with then purchasing the plants he wanted.
Selecting the plants is something Cavins couldn’t have done without the assistance from workers at nurseries in Forest Hill.
Cavins said, “With my detailed list of descriptions, which I wrote on a 2x4 because that was all I had handy, I went to several nurseries and explained to the workers what I was doing and what I wanted. Then we just walked through the nursery and they helped me hand pick everything I have planted.”
What has made the biggest difference in perfecting his flip house’s landscape, according to Cavins, has been money.
Cavins said, “When I did my mom’s pond I was balling on a budget. I had saved between $200 and $300 to create her pond, whereas for this project I have spent probably close to $1,000 and that included me hitting sales.”
According to Cavins the hardest part about this project has been the manual labor.
“Landscaping is a lot of work,” said Cavins. “It is a lot of manual labor, and you have to stay on top of it because in no time grass will start growing in your flower beds. Maintenance is key if you want them to stay looking nice.”
If you want less upkeep on your plants, Cavins suggests that you choose evergreen plants.
“Evergreens are hardy plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance and upkeep, versus annual plants” said Cavins. “Those plants will dry out easier so you have to make sure they are watered and you have to plant those every year. They just require more work if you want them to look really nice.”
Advice that Cavins would give to anyone looking to dress up their flower beds involves research and timing.
“First timers really need to do research on the plants and get a plan down on what you want your yard look like,” said Cavins. “Don’t go into your project blind. And, understand the upkeep and the maintenance before you select a plant.”
Cavins also said that knowing when to work is important as well.
Cavins said, “Try to work early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it is cooler outside so you don’t start cooking because it gets really hot. Plus, if you do in the morning or afternoon the plants go through less of a shock when they are being planted. Small annual plants are delicate and need time to adjust to the heat, so you don’t want to plant them when it is the hottest time of the day.”
After completing his first landscaping project, Cavins is feeling ready for more.
Cavins said, “I really just enjoy making things look nice, and I enjoyed getting to do that with this yard. This is definitely something that I hope I get the opportunity to do again in the future.”

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