October 25, 2000 | By: Laura Skillman

Hopkins County Horticulture Extension Council is providing the finishing touches to homes being built by the county's Habitat for Humanity.

With shovels, shrubs and flowers in hand, volunteers from the council busily have designed and planted the landscape for five Habitat houses. Work on three of the houses was completed this month.

"A major reason we wanted to take this on was that we are constantly looking for ways to show the community that we are here," said Jeff Jones, president of the council. "We all decided that as far as giving back, this is a really good way to do it. Physically, there is something to show."

Habitat and the Hopkins County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service partnered more than a year ago, said Janet Ashby, administrative coordinator. At that time, the organization was looking at the potential of adding landscaping to its homes as some of the other Habitat affiliates do.

Ashby said they wanted to work with local nurseries and within a budget and the extension service has been great in putting together the plans and getting the landscaping installed.

Getting a new home provides families with so many things to be excited about, Jones said, and this is one more. Jones said not everyone will want to spend a lot of time landscaping. But, by painting this picture for them, they seem to be appreciative of it, he said.

"Plus, it makes it a lot prettier," he said.

Jones designed the landscape plans to give homeowners several plant options.

The plants chosen are site specific, low maintenance, and have a high tolerance to adverse conditions, because it is uncertain how active homeowners are going to handle maintenance.

"We gave them choices, so they have more ownership in it," he said.

By providing them choices, families get to participate in what their landscaping will look like, Ashby said.

Council members took the homeowners to garden centers to show them the plant selections. The homeowner may not have known the difference between a boxwood and a holly, but by seeing them before planting, they were able to decide which they preferred.

Last year, the council solicited donations from area garden centers and hardware stores to do two homes.

It was nice to see that others think Habitat is important, Jones said, because it is.

"It opens up a whole new world for a lot of people," he said.

This year, Habitat included the cost of the landscaping in its budget, said Amy Fulcher, Hopkins County Extension agent for horticulture.

The landscaping adds to the home both aesthetically and economically, she said.

Families who become owners of Habitat homes in Hopkins County must put in 500 hours of sweat equity. Those hours can be attained through classes as well as by helping with actual construction and landscaping.

Ashby said the partnership between the Extension service and Habitat goes beyond landscaping. The Extension service offers a number of classes that families take from budgeting to lawn care that Habitat families attend. They have even provided specific classes at the request of Habitat.

"It's very nice to have that support," Ashby said. "It's a very productive partnership for us and our families."


Amy Fulcher, (270) 821-3650; Janet Ashby, (270) 825-1539