Sunday, October 5, 2008
Landscaping for Habitat
For the past three Saturdays, I have volunteered to landscape houses built by Habitat for Humanity. This is a terrific organization that builds homes for people that previously lived in sub-standard conditions. These homes are not free. Families have to qualify with a minimum income level and then they also agree to work on building the home.
In my community, Habitat built three homes this year. The support from volunteers was tremendous. I only played a small role in making the outside of the abodes look more inviting. My team finalized grades around the perimeters, planted trees, bushes and perennials, installed edging and layered mulch. There were no egos involved. Kind of like "Extreme Home Make-Over" without Ty Pennington.
We started at 8:30a.m. and worked throughout the day. Last weekend, a group from the Marine Corps helped along with several church groups. The following Wednesday, members of the Coast Guard installed sod for all the houses as well as some plants.
It sounds easy. Dig a hole and stick a plant in the ground, cover the roots and water. Sounds easy until you remember that roots get bigger. Trees get large and grow too close to houses. Water lines and the amount of sun a plant gets all are important considerations. A sun-loving plant will die if grown in the shade and a plant that loves water will wither next to a sidewalk.
I wish I had taken a camera with me to the Habitat site. The transformation of each house was incredible once the landscaping was complete. The homeowners were thrilled.
Each new owner got a brief introduction to their plants. Many of the other volunteers that helped with with the installation learned about soil types and light requirements for plants. As a Master Gardener, part of our directive from Michigan State's extension office is to impart plant knowledge within the community. I think we sparked a desire to learn more about the fauna around us. So many people had questions. It was a success.
I had such a great experience with Habitat, that I want to volunteer for the build next year. Can you imagine me with a hammer and a hard hat wearing jewelry?
Because I made a commitment to help with Habitat, I didn't have a lot of time to make any new creations the past few weekends. Now that I have a little more time you can look forward to more postings soon.