More time at home to tackle garden projects and beautify the landscape

If Tot Albro hadn’t been working in her garden during the town’s stay-at-home order recently, Edison’s high school history teacher would have missed seeing what she called “a little miracle” – a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

Albro, who lives in Olmos Park Terrace and has been teaching online for about a month, enjoys his garden more than ever.

“Putting my hands in the ground, especially after a day on the computer, is good therapy,” she said. “And with fewer meetings and no after-school tutoring, I have more time to do it.”

Small miracles, she added, are an added benefit.

Homeowners across town are under a stay-at-home order, and many are using that time to tackle outdoor improvement projects.

Some people have found that working in the yard provides a healthy respite from the ongoing stress of a global pandemic. Others are finally tackling this list of outdoor projects hanging over their heads. And still others at home, after staring at that dilapidated fence, empty flower bed, or tired garden patio, decided it was high time to spruce things up a bit.

These projects all require materials and supplies, and home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot have only been overtaken by supermarkets in attracting buyers. Although the company declined to release numbers, in an interview with CNBC, Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s, said there had been an increase in most product categories as customers took on job tasks. home improvement inside and out.

San Antonio contractors, nurseries, and landscapers are also getting a business boost, as homeowners seek help.

“The first week we went from 20 calls per day to about five calls all week,” said Steve Wahl, owner of Professional Landscapes / Fence Doktor. “But it comes back as people spend time at home and do the jobs they need.”

Wahl said he had enough jobs for at least six weeks.

Gardening is perhaps the most popular project with the #workfromhome crowd. Betty Curry, for example, finds solace in the courtyard of the Beacon Hill home she shares with her husband, Brock, and their college-aged son and daughter.

“When work gets too stressful, I like to come here and dig in the garden for a while,” said Trinity University’s director of tutoring. “It’s a little zen.”

And his experience is not unusual. Many studies have found health benefits of gardening, including one – perhaps the most important during this time of coronavirus issues – that has been shown to relieve stress.

This study, published in 2010 in the Journal of Health Psychology, found that people who garden for 30 minutes after completing a stressful task had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who did not. of dirt under the fingernails.

An independent contractor, Corey Flores said he spent the first few days at his home in Oak Grove near Loop 1604 and Braun Road, sitting on his couch, watching TV and “stuffing my head. face “.

“Then I was like, ‘You know what? I have to start doing something, ”he said.

So he left and built a “pico de gallo” garden where several varieties of tomatoes and peppers already grow. Framed by 2 by 4 with a trellis screen, raised beds cost around $ 500, including plants and soil.

But, he said, it was worth it.

“It kept me active and even lost a bit of weight,” he said. “At the end of the day, my wife Lisa (Southwest Airlines call center supervisor) and I will sit here with a glass of wine and chat about our days. It is very relaxing.

Across the street, Maribelle Junier, her husband John and her son Zachary, 26, have also built a garden where they grow everything from strawberries and blueberries to peppers, squash, cantaloupe and watermelon.

“When I was younger I thought gardening was lame,” said Zachary, who runs his own landscaping business. “But now I understand why people do it. It’s nice to see something grow that you’ve planted.

The family also built a chicken coop to house the two adult chickens they recently bought.

“They are already laying eggs,” said Maribelle.

This is usually the busiest time of year for nurseries. But when rumors started that the mayor’s office could issue a stay-at-home order, all bets were off.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to stay open, so before the day the order was placed there wasn’t a single tomato plant, a single pepper plant to be found,” said Bob Webster, co-owner of Shades. of green on Sunset Road.

The San Antonio nurseries were ultimately deemed essential, and once stocks were replenished, sales continue to be strong. Supply remains strong, he added, as several other cities in Texas have closed their nurseries. But at least one of its regular vegetable seed suppliers is full for the season.

Large projects may require professional help. Paid medical assistant Robert Sanchez recently reached out to Wahl about replacing his fence.

“Being at home all day, I notice things in the yard that need fixing,” said Sanchez, who lives in the Millers Ridge subdivision with his wife. “The fence is particularly in poor condition, so we are considering replacing it. “

In addition to working on fences, Wahl said he also gets calls to cut or remove trees, put in new sod and plant flowers.

“People realize that their gardens are a bit drab, so they want color,” he said. “Especially when they’re at home all day.

Betty Curry’s husband Brock uses his time at home to transform the storage building behind their house, which the previous owner used as a ceramic workshop. He removed part of the exterior wall along one side of the structure and installed a backlit Wag-a-Bag sign he purchased several years ago. The sign is nostalgic for the convenience store the couple frequented when they were students at Southwestern University in Georgetown.

He left the overhang of the roof in place to create a small shaded patio where, in summer, they can relax and enjoy the “victory garden” that Betty has planted nearby.

“I’ll be here to work on the building and Betty will be digging in the garden,” said Brock Curry, assistant general manager of the Edwards Aquifer District. “It’s physical, yes, but it gives us time to process and think about our other work at the same time. “

As the stay-at-home command continues, there will be plenty of other outdoor projects. Flores, for example, plans to expand her 16-foot patio into her yard, build another raised garden, and even plant fruit trees.

“Who knows?” he said. “By the time they figure this out, I might have a whole tropical garden in my backyard.”

Richard A. Marini is a feature film writer in the San Antonio area and Bexar County. To learn more about Richard A., become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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