HOMEscape Solutions (. . . another SCMG class that really works!!)

By Charlene Spiegel

I took my first HOMEscape Solutions class in the spring of 2010.  I had just moved from California to Rio Rancho the year before and I wanted to create some sort of landscape out of the never ending sand dunes that made up my ½ acre property, which was located high on the mesa just west of Unser Blvd and suffered greatly from the constant winds and blowing sand.

The class made a believer out of me! Not ever having been much of a gardener before, much less ever creating a landscape project, I took to heart the many aspects taught in the class – in particular creating a vision of what I wanted from the reality of what I had, then breaking it down into smaller pieces.  Identifying and naming the different areas of my property and discovering their various microclimates, I was able to ultimately tie them all together to create the HOMEscape I desired.

Seven years later I live in Corrales (by the way, the new owners of my home in Rio Rancho said it was the landscaping that sold them on buying!) – and as lovely as my new one acre property is (originally designed by Judith Phillips 19 years ago!), there were still areas that needed attention. So once again, applying my skills as a HOMEscape’s graduate and armed with grid paper, I mapped out my vision for a section of my property that had totally surrendered to the elements of Mother Nature, i.e., weeds and neglect. From there I figured out the costs, the time frame, and then scheduled delivery of river rock and Santa Fe brown gravel.

Within a week, with the help of my brother and my weekly “yard guy” (see, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg!), I had created the secluded garden area I desired: a low maintenance, private back yard setting that also features a paver patio with a fire element.

I had dug up the existing Mexican Feather Grasses where we laid landscape fabric for the gravel, but left many of the plants to peek up between the river rock to create interest and texture.  I then replanted the dug up grasses to create a backdrop for the early spring flowers (see pictures).

HOMEscapes Solutions is offered to the public, but I would encourage all Master Gardeners to participate in this class – especially if your goal of being a Master Gardener is to improve your personal property!  Classes are held annually in the fall (see the flyer in this month’s newsletter) and you can register online via the SCMG website! The dates for this year’s class are:

  • Thursday, September 21, 6:30 – 9:00 PM
  • Friday, September 22, 6:30 – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday, September 23, 10 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Friday, October 6, 6:30 – 9:00 PM
  • Saturday, October 7, 10:00 Am – 3:30 PM


The fee for the class is $100 and includes a materials kit, snacks, and lunches; however, if you are an active SCMG member, you can also volunteer to assist at a reduced rate of $50! Open positions for the reduced rate are as follows:

  • Hospitality Coordinator (1)
  • Assistant Team Leaders (2)
  • Registration (1)
  • Room Manager (setup/cleanup) (1)

If interested, please contact Cathryne Richards (505) 771-3638, the Extension Office (505) 867-2582, or register online at the SCMG website.