By Dave and Mary

Our Podcasts About Landscaping, Accessibility and More

Table of Contents

In this section, we offer our transcripts and highlights of our former podcasts. We hope you find these helpful, fun and informative!

Landscaping Podcasts

Podcast 1: Landscaping Around the Porch with Paul Moore

Podcast 14: Modern Landscape Ideas for Edible Plants with Troy Marden

Podcast 30: Fantastic Backyard Makeover with Jami and Brian Boys

Accessibility and Miscellaneous Podcasts

Podcast 5: Make Your Porch and Home Accessible with Suzanne Taylor

Podcast 36-37: Podcast 36-37: Madison Indiana, Vibrant Riverfront Town with Trevor Crafton and Linda Lytle

Podcast 40: Endering Memories of a Front Porch Swing with Shannon Lee

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Podcast 1: Landscaping Around the Porch

With J. Paul Moore of Paul Moore Photography

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo J. Paul Moore is a passionate man about nature, plants and photography.

Dave and I had the very good fortune to talk to him, in particular, about landscaping around the porch.

Podcast Highlights

Having owned a garden center for 32 years and being an experienced landscape photographer, Paul Moore shares his expertise on:

--- Planning your front porch landscaping
--- How to decide what to plant
--- Why perennials may be over-rated
--- Why you don't want to plant under your eaves
--- A beautiful alternative to downspouts
--- Why gardening around your back porch is so different from the front porch

J. Paul Moore, landscape photographer, with Dave and Mary of And Paul shares some fun stories of when he has photographed gardens - some which will have you laughing - or feeling bad for Paul.

If you like our Porch Podcast, we'd really appreciate if you would tell a friend or two. We would appreciate if you would review us on iTunes. Thank you!

Show Notes: Landscaping Around the Porch

J. Paul Moore, landscape photographer, speaks with Dave and Mary and Mary about landscaping around the porch. Paul is a self-proclaimed plant nerd and an awesome photographer. Listen to our entertaining discussion.

Mary: Landscaping around the porch with our guest, Landscape Photographer, Paul Moore.

Dave and I are really excited today because we would like to introduce not only a friend of ours but he is also a nationally recognized plants man, Paul Moore. Paul considers himself a plant nerd. [laughing]

This is one of the things that makes him so cool. He is a very passionate person about nature and photography and he brings those two talents together in his work. Paul, I just want to welcome you to our show and really appreciate you being here today with Dave and I.

Paul: Thanks. I have been looking forward to it.

Dave: Yes, it is really going to be very good. Mary: Very good! So I guess to start out with maybe you can just explain this a little bit about what is that you do and what you do with your photos.

Paul: Well, I was in the nursery business for 32 years. I had a garden center business and during that period of time,probably almost 30 years ago, I really got interested in native plants.

We lived on a shaded hill top and so I started experimenting with Tennessee native plants and growing those in the garden and having great success with those and just kind of started photographing and documenting my own garden, the progress of that and just kind of went from there.

Mary: Very good and so over 30 years you have quite a library of knowledge in your head.

Paul: Well I guess you would say knowledge. (Laughs) I love being around plants. I am constantly fascinated with new things. I have more of a collection garden of just about anything that you can think of that would grow in Tennessee within reason and some of plants are endangered species and are rare plants. Just so I can learn the plants, learn how to grow them, learn how to identify them in the wild.

I love going into the woods and just seeing what I can identify and again since I just use my garden as a source for my stock photography business. One of the sources I am always photographing and just really trying to learn in intimate detail about plants.

Mary: So you truly live and breathe nature and plants and photography.

Paul: That I do, 24/7.

Mary: Very good.

Dave: Your photography though is amazing. So you've photographed all kinds of things. Can you tell us some of the projects you worked on before?

Paul: Sure, I started in photography gosh, probably in the early 80s, but got really passionate about it. I started out really more in fine art photography.

Just scenic photography unrelated to gardening and then I started documenting my own garden and sent photos of my garden to Fine Gardening Magazine and they liked what they saw. They flew an editor down from Connecticut and they interviewed me and then I ended up writing a feature story of my own garden with my photographs and they said, "Hey would you photograph for us on a regular basis?" And I am like, "Absolutely!"

Mary: How cool is that!

Dave: Great!

Paul: I started photographing for them. Then I started photographing and doing some work for Southern Accents Magazine and Garden Design Magazine. And then people were calling me just for general stock photographs for magazines and books and calendars and so forth.

Dave: That's great.

Mary: So is photographing gardens one thing that you specialize in?

Paul: Photographing gardens is probably kind of where I get really started and then I got little more interested into the architectural part of it because I was starting to photograph for Landscape Architects. For me, that is my favorite topic because it is great plants with inspired architecture.

Mary: There you go.

Paul: And so I am photographing those and really like the man-made structures and how they relate to gardens and so forth. And just even pure architectural photography is interesting to me.

Dave: Well that just leads us right into our best architecture that we know of and that is a porch.

Paul: There you go.

Mary: That's right up our alley.

And we like the idea of beautiful garden. Landscaping around the porch.

Dave: Nothing makes a porch look nicer than beautiful landscaping.

Paul: That's right.

Dave: You can look at the porch and you can enjoy your yard more. It is just enjoyable to be out there surrounded by aromatic or just beautiful plants and shrubs and things.

And so that's kind of where we get into it. As a homeowner, you know just a typical homeowner, what kinds of things should we take note of when we talk about planting in front of our porches?

Paul: Well, having the original prototype porch on our home from The Porch Company and being able to live with it, we have some unique aspects of our porch which has been fun to landscape.

One very important consideration is that we have very deep eaves on our porch and if you plant plants underneath those eaves, I guarantee you would lose them.

So it is important to pull those if you do have deep eaves. Pull those plantings out far enough where they will receive natural rainfall.

Mary: Ok, is that because they get too much moisture?

Paul: They don't get enough moisture.

Mary: Oh, they don't get enough.

Paul: They don't get enough.

Mary: Oh, I see. They are protected.

Paul: And also with that, it creates a unique opportunity if you pull those plants further out, then it makes your porch easier to maintain.

Dave: Because you can get between the plant and the porch itself.

Paul: Exactly.

Mary: Oh, those are really good points.

Paul: And I actually have a path behind our plantings at home where I can actually walk behind those, and it just gives me access to another part of the garden.

Dave: That is a really good tip.

Mary: Those are some very good tips that I would not have thought about.

Paul: The other unique part of our porch is with these deep eaves we do not have down spouts. The down spouts, you know, unless they are copper and some wonderful thing (to me), visually detract from the porch so we use water chains.

Rain chains as an alternative to down spouts

I guess the Japanese maybe started water chains first or some Asian influence and then Frank Lloyd Wright made it popular at his homes. And this chain is suspended from the corner. Water just goes down the chain.

And the chain for us at our home, it goes into a decorative container filled with porous lava rock, and planted at the base of that are plants that like the extra moisture. So it is kind of a rain garden.

Mary: And it is beautiful.

Paul: It is beautiful and fun and it actually creates a sound as the water goes down the water chain. It is just so much fun to watch.

Dave: That is, that is.

Dave: We have to come out and get a picture of that.

That's really good. Another thing that helps with is when you see porches with railings and shrubs.

Sometimes the shrubs even get taller than your railings which really does not look the best. But this way you keep that space between there.

Paul: You keep that space, right. You keep the space and also you know there are so many opportunities to plant things around that space. You just want to pick the right plants. And a lot of times people think about their porches especially like a back porch.

They don't really consider things like what the porch really looks like from the inside.

Instead of the curb appeal you are looking for in a front porch, the back porch is about views. What are these views out of each section of the porch? What are they framing?

You might want to do something practical like hide your neighbors garage or basketball goal or something like that. Or you might want to just bring in some fragrance into the porch.

To me it is like bring all those wonderful things that you want to experience in nature. Bring them up closer to the porch where you can see your humming bird feeder or a beautiful tree that is flowering a certain time of the year looking out at the porch.

Just taking advantage of it. It doesn't have to be planted directly in front of the porch to gain the benefits of a fragrance but the prevailing winds. Have things that bloom at different times of the year so there is always some wonderful fragrance wafting in.

Mary: It is a great perspective on the back porch. It is kind of like the curb appeal is from the other side than it is from the street.

Paul: Another consideration for your porch is - does it have a walkway? Like ours has a walkway in front of it.

Well, if you have a choice when you are designing the walkway, you want it far enough out away so that you can maybe layer your plantings. You do not just have a row of shrubs in front of it.

Dave: It can be pretty typical that most people do (just plant a single row of shrubs).

Paul: And if you have a nice curved walkway, or a deeper walkway, then there is no law that says you can't cross the sidewalk. Or cross the walkway. And just kind of take in some of those geometric lines and softening them.

natural stone walkway
Photo courtesy of l-t-l
Dave: I can see where that is a great idea especially for small porches because you can use your landscaping to kind of give the impression that your porch is actually larger than it is by doing some of those kinds of things.

Mary: So, Paul, when you photograph gardens and things around the porch, have you ever come across any surprises?

Paul: Oh, I have had lots of surprises. Happened on the garden shoots. One of which I did a photo shoot for Fine Gardening years ago. It was a church near Montgomery, Alabama. It was before cell phones got popular or very effective and I showed up at this site. I had actually scouted it the day before. I got there that morning at sunrise.

And I was there all by myself in this beautiful church garden and I started photographing and the irrigation system comes on.

Well, I thought I could outsmart it so I would literally pack up my gear and run to another spot and start photographing there but it was like this thing was following me. [laughing] So I did the entire shoot while the light was still good with the irrigation coming on.

Mary: Oh, that is funny.

Paul: One time I went to photograph a porch one morning. When I got there the customer had forgotten that I was coming and they had a very bad dog get after me.

And if it wasn't for my tripod. I might not have made it out.

Dave: (laughs) That might have become a viral video. I can just picture that.

Paul: That was just kind of the quirky things that can happen but when I am looking at something to photograph. It is really all about the light.

You know, the quality of the light, what I call sweet light like early morning or late afternoon light. That angular warm light is really nice to photograph and it really shows the project to the best.

Mary: Would you say when the sun is not shining directly on the garden?

Paul: When the sun is really bright and there is no cloud in the sky, we call that severe clear in photography terms. And that's when I usually put my camera up. And the human eye can see much broader ranges of light, so we can compensate for that with our brain but a camera just can't capture all the shadows and all the highlights. It just doesn't work photographically.

But I am always looking at the condition of the plants. Being a plant person you know if there something detracting here. You know if there is a plant that is wilted or dried. Or are there some spent flowers that need to be removed?

Is there a birdbath on the corner that is skewed and needs to be straightened? Or is there a garden hose out of the way?

Or if the lines of the bed are crooked, you don't want that. You don't want to see a lot of mulch generally. You want to have those filled in with plants so I can instantly look at a garden around the porch or any structure and say well it is ready to shoot or it is not.

Mary: It is kind of like when you are getting your house to sell and you stage your porch or your home. Is it kind of the same way?

Paul: Exactly. I look at things like what does not belong here. And if you can take the time to remove those things that are what I call an eye sore and really transform the shoot.

Sometimes it can just be wetting down the surfaces.

Dave: This brings up a good point. You mentioned about what plants do or do not belong there. In terms of a planting bed in front of a porch certain things go with certain things.

Can you give us some suggestions about what works well together, as a planting group? Especially if you have different heights, you have got a porch that sits up higher and how can you create that?

Paul: Well one of the things you can consider is whether you want evergreens or not. A plant that stays green year round. If you are going to have evergreens in addition to some of the other plants you would have them closer to the porch to create the foil or the backdrop for anything you want planting in front.

Now in front of those evergreens then you have a choice of some flowering shrubs and things with fragrance.

Perennials or annuals or any number of things, but to me one of the more important thing in all the years I've been in the plant business - no matter what you are choosing - is that the textures are really more important than the bloom.


Perennials, for instance, to me the foliage has be as pretty as the bloom and the reason being is when it is not in bloom if the foliage looks like a weed then to me I don't like to look at that. So just vary the textures up. Even an all green garden can be beautiful if you have different shades from chartreuse to yellow green to green to black green.

So you can create visual interest. Some of the most beautiful gardens that I have seen have no flowers at all.

They have this amazing range of colors and foliage and textures and all those play together. There is an over emphasis with thinking perennials. They can be a lot of work and orchestrating all the bloom times, and the heights and when to cut back.

You really need an expert to help you figure that out, so you can get quite involved and I much prefer using more the flowering shrubs and evergreens as the majority of what I would end up using with ground covers.

Dave: Yes, that is a good advice. Especially for people who don't either have the skills, the knowledge or the time to go out and time to maintain.

Paul: They can lower your maintenance tremendously.

Mary: And then you believe in adding some annuals in there as well.

Paul: Well, I love to do annuals because you know what you are going to get.

Mary: I haven't had much luck like simple plants like petunias. I used to be able to grow petunias really well and in the last few years not so much.

Paul: Sometimes I think the hybridizers breed the vigor out of plants. They are making all these improvements for flower color and all these different things but they breed the fragrance out, the disease resistance out, just the general toughness of the plant out.

But again you want to make sure you have really good soil where you are planting. You know that it is the right plant for the right soil.

Right exposure and so forth but if you create a pocket where you plant annuals every year, with evergreens behind or whatever, then you are going to have show from early spring till frost usually.

Dave: Yes, you mentioned soil conditions there. Any tips for the average homeowner that has a plant bed in front of their porch or yard? About the soil. A lot of people just buy plants, come home and stick them in the ground.

Paul: Well soil is so critical. It is like the foundation of the house. You get the soil right and then your work is much easier. It is easier to plant. Y ou know you can start out with areas not prepared by tilling in the soil and get the soil improved that way.

Mary: Unless you live where we do. We have rocks!

Dave: We have rocks and clay.

Paul: That opens up a different thing. There are some great products to break up clay. There is a product called Complete Landscape Mix. It is one really good product. It has permatill in it, is like shelly, rocky type product with some humus so you got more organic matter and drainage material all in one.

You can just take that and work that into the soil. But you have got clay soil that doesn't breathe, that if is not enough oxygen in the soil, so you want to be able to oxygenate that soil. So some real coarse particles like that is going to help do that and yet add …

Mary: To loosen in up a little bit

Dave: Should you try take out some of that clay first or leave some?

Paul: I would try to. You want some binding properties that clay has so if you can get the right proportion and mix that together the clay is not bad. But if it is solid clay, you dig it out. I is just going to be like a ball and all the water is going to run out.

You are going to have problems with plants rotting. You got to have drainage.

Mary: In front of our porch we have some landscaping that the contractors put in. So our house is just like a year old, not quite a year old. And we would like to do a lot more with that sort of cottage-like garden.

Where does a homeowner start, if they are starting from just a blank slate and they want to have good luck with their garden? They want it to grow but they also want to take advantage of native, plants and the conditions of their area. You know, whether it is sunny, or whether it is shady. Where do they start?

Paul: Well, if you can do this, I highly recommend having a professional that really knows the plants and the soils come look at your particular situation. Because they can advise you make you getting in the right direction.

They can look at the soil; they can look at the exposure. In your situation look at the surrounding woods and see what types of native plants are growing there and try to adapt some of those in your landscape, you know those will work.

Mary: That is a really good tip.

Paul: But I have so many times when people would ask me to come advise them about a particular landscape and they have cleared out around there house and they ended up, well we ended up recommending that they plant those same things back - some of the same things back that they cleared out.

So it is like if you have any existing wild areas around your home to learn what those are and try to add more of those types of things to your landscape. But a professional helping you with the design and some of that to at least help you get started is highly recommended.

Mary: It would cut though some of the learning curve. That is for sure.

Dave: Yeah, it would definitely would.

Paul: Well ultimately I think it saves you money because if you are buying the wrong plants, you are spending a lot of time and money adding and replacing. You are better off up front to take your time to invest in and have a professional look at it.

Dave: A lot of porches are either going to get full sun, or full shade you know you always have those type of things. Or it is wet, or it is really dry. There are some ideas that people probably use for difficult planting areas.

Virginia Sweetspire

Paul: Well this is one area, where natives really shine when you get into areas especially when they are wet. There are certain native plants that really like what is referred to as wet feet.

One of them is Virginia Sweet Spire, a wonderful native with white fragrant flowers, turn brilliant red in the fall. It will grow in standing water.

Mary: Wow, and I love that it changes color in the fall.

Paul: Beautiful color. There is another one called Summersweet which has these white, pink or light red red spiky flowers in the summer that will also grow in standing water, and they attract butterflies.

Mary: Oh, we like that too.

Dave: People love them for the birds and the butterflies. That's great.

Paul: And again for bringing nature into the porch for bringing in so where you can enjoy them more. There is a plant call Calycanthus or sweetshrub and it has kind of ruddy red flower, typically although there is a variety of green flowers and the bloom smells like juicy fruit gum.

Sweetshrub is the common name or Carolina Allspice. And my grandmother used to use the bloom is a sachet.

It has been around a long time.

Carolina Allspice

Dave: That's pretty neat, pretty good.

Paul: A really great plant for a dry shady, semi shade conditions is St. John's Wort.

Mary: Oh, yes sure.

Paul: There are ground cover forms and there are shrub forms and the one I am referring to is the shrub form. It has a nice mounded habit. The top is yellow flowers.

Mary: Ahh ahh

Paul: Flowers are great for attracting finches. The seeds.

Mary: Oh, there you go.

Dave: We like that, we like that a lot.

Mary: How about plants that are invasive? I know for example, I like mints. And I like the smell of fresh mint. But I also know it is very invasive. So would you advise to just not have that. Or do you have any tricks that you can use to keep it at a minimum?

Paul: Well, that is a great plant to use in a container where you can control it.

Mary: Okay.

Paul: Or if it is in the ground, you can keep it away from your more refined plants or try to border it with something really substantial but otherwise in containers. It does great anyway.

Mary: When you go to someone's home to photograph their garden, what are some tips that you can give to homeowners for getting their space ready for a photographer to come?

Paul: Well, again a lot of it is just making sure if there is a mulch bed in front of it that the edges are really nice and clean those beds. Remove any broken damaged branches.

Ideally you don't want to see a lot of mulch so any thing you can do to plant and fill those areas where you are not looking so much at mulch is great. Just generally cleaning, make sure the porch is clean and free and looking for stuff like especially for detail shots.

Cobwebs in the corner and grass stains up against the base where the mower has been. I have seen that on some beautiful projects before. So just really look at it to ensure that it is really clean and neat.

Make sure again if there is any garden hose. Just put everything away that would detract from that photograph. And then determining if whether this really is a better early-morning shot late or afternoon shot and then you know if you if you have a tripod, set your camera upon the tripod.

Your process for photography is much more methodical when you can look carefully in the viewfinder to get everything.

You want everything nice and level and straight and so forth.

And to get the whole porch sometimes you need a wider-angle lens, to be able to capture that. So make sure you have the right lens. Sometimes you want to do little close up details. Get more telephoto type lens for that.

Mary: One of the things that we talk on our website sometimes is how do you create privacy on your porch. Whether it is because there is something you don't want to see or because you want to have a nice little conversation area or where you can go read a book.

Do you have some ideas for vines or plants that will make a nice privacy fence?

Dave: Yes, around the porch.

Paul: Well one of my favorite general vines is call cross vines.

Mary: Oh, cross vine.

Paul: And it is such a native the botanical name is big Nonia. And there is a particular cultivar called Tangerine Beauty. So it has got these strap-like evergreen leaves and these bright orange flowers.

Mary: Oh, wow.

Paul: So it is a really pretty one for evergreen, semi-evergreen coverage, of course. That is the biggest considerations as it needs to be. There are lots of deciduous, you know wonderful vines such as clematis. Planting roses, just whatever kind you want and amount of maintenance but just as a general vine, the cross vine is probably one of my favorites.

A lot of times, too, for privacy you know you are thinking outside as well.

Sometimes some of the upright evergreens or carnivores to block out neighbors or something is arbor vitae or upright Holly. Another one of my favorites, it requires a little bit more room is a dwarf Southern Magnolia and there is a particular form called Little Gem and Gem is like gemstone G-E-M and it might get 20 to 25 feet tall, but you got fragrant flowers all summer long on this variety. Mary: Wow!

Paul: So you get this wonderful fragrance, the screening. It is one of my favorites to incorporate in the landscape when you get room.

Mary: Just makes you want to be on the porch.

Gosh we've talked about a lot of different things.

Dave: Yes, we have, we really appreciate it so.

Mary: Paul, is there anything you might want to add, that we haven't talked about in regards to planting about around their porch. Any ideas?

Paul: Well you know, I think we have covered pretty much everything, again though one of the things you mentioned was herbs.

Mary: Oh, yes.

Paul: Container gardening, you know especially access to the house with herbs. And you know you can mix herbs with flowers. You can have herbs in the garden or herbs in the container.

Yeah, you got flowers, you got fragrance, you got culinary use of them so don't be afraid to mix and match herbs in and around your landscape either in your containers or in the ground.

Mary: I love being able to go outside and just pick some basil or oregano or chives and bring them in.

Paul: Yes, it is nice not to have to go out into the garden to get those.

Mary: Well we are very honored to have you here with us today and sharing what I can tell is just a wonderful passion of yours. And we would like to know how people can get in touch with you, if they would like to learn more about what you offer.

Paul: Best way is through my website,

Mary: Okay.

Paul: And you contact me through that through the e-mail through that and take a look and see what I do.

Mary: Thank you so much.

Dave: Well, we appreciate it. Thank you, Paul.

Meet Paul

Photo of J. Paul Moore, Photographer J. Paul Moore is a freelance Photographer and recipient of the Silver Media Award for magazine photography.
Paul's passion for plants and photography is evidenced by his exquisite work. Paul captures, through a lens, what most of us are too busy to see, the beauty of nature at its best.

Take a walk with him through his native plant garden and you'll be captivated by not only his enthusiasm but knowledge as well. He can tell you the name of plants in Latin too!

Sought after by magazines and landscape architects, Paul is most comfortable in nature finding just the right frame to highlight both natural and architectural features.

We highly recommend contacting Paul to photograph your landscaping, whether it be your residential home or for commercial purposes. And when you do, ask him about his moss yard.

You can contact Paul at J.Paul Moore Photography.

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Podcast 14: Modern Landscape Ideas for Edible Plants

With Troy Marden

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo volunteer gardener host troy marden Looking for modern landscape ideas that integrate edible plants into your front yard and porch landscaping?

It is referred to as foodscaping and it's another twist on how you might landscape around your porch.

Mary and I are excited to have Troy Marden, a popular host of Nashville's Public Television show, Volunteer Gardener, with us to discuss this very topic.

Troy explains learn how awesome it is to include productive edible plants in your landscaping - not only for nutritious food for your table but also for beautiful interest in your landscape design.

You no longer have to think of gardens as being relegated to a portion of your backyard with the plants all in a row. You can have fruits, herbs, berries and vegetables right outside your front door or in your front yard within easy reach.

Troy shares edible gardening tips and modern landscape ideas with us. We know you will enjoy the program.

Podcast Highlights

Highlights from our discussion with Troy:
  • Discover the most important and number one thing you need for a successful landscape.
  • Learn what you need to do differently than having just a traditional landscape design.
  • Learn how to use edible flowers safely.
  • How much sun do you really need for an edible garden?
  • Hear Troy's thoughts on blueberry plants being such an ideal bush for your landscape.
  • Learn about how you can attend Troy's garden tours.
  • Discover the edible landscape book you can't do without!

Program Excerpts: Modern Landscaping Ideas with Troy Marden

About Edible Landscaping

"It is a different mindset and it is a different approach than your typical landscaping. And I think people have to be aware of that before they make that leap. There's going to be some labor involved; there's going to be some maintenance involved."

Growing Edibles

"There is another critical point about growing edibles. Almost exclusively, and there are a few exceptions, almost exclusively, vegetables, edibles, fruits, herbs, needs full sun... "

Edible Flower Safety

"There are quite a few edible flowers out there. In fact, there are books dedicated to edible flowers. Now, you want to be careful about the sources.

You will want to buy plants such as nasturtiums and pansies that are grown without being sprayed with a lot of chemicals. If you are unsure, plant them and wait a few weeks, let them go through a few cycles of rain."

Making the Change to Edibles

"And what I found almost exclusively is that people are not tearing out their entire landscape and switching it over to edibles. But a great mixture of traditional landscape plants accented with edible plants."

Watch an Excerpt of Troy as Host of Volunteer Gardener

Troy is one of the most popular hosts on Volunteer Gardener, a public television show aired in Tennessee.

Enjoy Troy's Photography

small porch with edible and ornamental landscaping

Imagine snacking on cherry tomatoes as you come and go in this beautifully landscaped side entrance - a mix of ornamentals and edibles.

snacking garden at side entrance - how fun

Everything is up for grabs in this garden. The blueberries, peppers and a container full of succulents thrive in the sun.

use sunniest spots to grow vegetables

Here's a novel way to use raised beds in this backyard garden. Use the sunniest spot to grow vegetables and ornamentals above the root zone of the adjacent trees.

Enjoy our podcast all about edible and decorative gardening around your porch - with our special guest, Troy Marden. Troy is an award winning gardener and also a popular host on the PBS Show, Volunteer Gardener

What a clever use of red and yellow cockscomb to simulate a "fire" in the warmers months of the year.

mix of vegetables, flowers and ornamentals on this front porch

A grand mix of vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants in this colorful garden!

what a wonderful home with a porch that overlooks an amazing garden

From every angle, this house focuses on the garden both indoors and out, and the view from the front porch is showstopping!

Meet Troy Marden, Award Winning Gardener

We are most appreciative of the opportunity to interview Troy. What an inspiring gardener, writer and PBS celebrity.

Troy's career has spanned over 25 years. Even as a teenager he worked in a garden center and then his college years focused upon greenhouse management.

Troy currently lives in Nashville where he is both a garden and floral designer in addition to hosting Volunteer Gardener, a hit show on Nashville Public Television.

He's a popular lecturer and his floral designs and photographs have appeared in many fine publications.

And now his latest venture is to take other gardeners on tour to exotic locations throughout the world. We hope you will stop by to visit his website at Troy B. Marden Gardens.

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Podcast 30: Fantastic Backyard Makeover Ideas

With Jami and Brian Boys of An Oregon Cottage

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo Jami and Brian Boys - An Oregon Cottage A backyard makeover doesn't have to cost a bundle and our guests, Jami and Brian Boys explain how they transformed their yard into an outdoor oasis.

By reusing an old deck and working on it over a period of time, they turned an ordinary backyard into an outdoor room complete with gazebo, an eating area, an herb garden and lovely walkways.

You'll learn it is not just the individual areas that are important but rather how everything ties together to complete the look. It is fun discovering how they used materials they already had along with some new features to reduce the expense yet create an amazing outdoor space.

Podcast Highlights: Backyard Makeover

Backyard makeover from An Oregon Cottage
Before and after of a backyard makeover
We really enjoyed our discussion with our friends, Jami and Brian, who often do projects together for their 1980's ranch. Jami is the author of An Oregon Cottage and regularly posts about easy DIY projects, wonderful whole foods recipes and joyful living. Jami and Brian talked about this backyard transformation with us.

You'll learn such things as:
  • How to reuse an old deck.
  • Discover inexpensive materials for constructing your backyard outdoor room
  • How you can use wasted space in your new backyard
  • Discover benefits of using gravel pads and walkways
  • How Jami and Brian tied everything together in a cohesive setting
  • How they prioritized the features they wanted

Program Excerpts: Fantastic Backyard Makeover

WIth Jami and Brian Boys:

High on the List

"I knew I wanted the idea of an outdoor room and I definitely high on the list I wanted a herb garden right outside the kitchen."

Privacy and Ground Level Decks

"One of the reasons you may not want a ground level deck is if you have a privacy fence, like we have a six-foot privacy fence around our yard, and your deck is 15 or more inches off the ground you can now see everyone else's yards, so why have the deck."

Knowing Your Requirements

"Another one of our goals was to make sure if we wanted to go out and get wood we wouldn't be going out through the mud because it is wet most of the time here so we had all these practical things we needed."

The Right Gravel

"We learned the wrong way on some other projects. We were getting driveway gravel which starts at 3/4 inch but goes all the way down to real fine. It packs nicely but in pathways it is a weed bed.

But in the back we got 3/4 to 1/2 inch crushed and there's no dirt in it (actually call "no fine")."

Backyard Makeover in Photos

crushed stone for patio area
Gravel patio area

finished backyard makeover with gazebo
Finished backyard outdoor room with gazebo

herb garden and brick walkway along back of home
Beautiful herb garden and walkway

DIY backyard makeover
Jami and Brian's backyard makeover is wonderfully done

Backyard makeover from An Oregon Cottage
Before and after - awesome transformation

Remodeling Their Ranch Style Home

front of Jami and Brian's ranch home with an extended porch

Want to see another project at Jami and Brian's home? They turned their garage into living space and extended their porch. All on their cottage style ranch style house.

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Podcast 5: Make Your Porch and Home Accessible

With Suzanne Taylor

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo Have you been wanting to make your porch and home accessible? Then you will truly enjoy our audio program with Suzanne Taylor of Taylor Made Custom Contracting.

Simply put, an accessible porch means that individuals, regardless of limitations, can access and enjoy your porch. Suzanne discusses the importance of universal design - not just for older people but for everyone.

And, too, Suzanne talks about how the depth of a porch is important for maneuvering around especially with a wheelchair and what kinds of flooring work well.

She gives a lot of tips and enlightens us universal design and the importance of seeking the assistance of a certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS).

One thing we really loved about talking with Suzanne is how she explains how you can make your porch and more accessible yet still be beautiful.

beautiful wraparound porch built by Taylor Made Custom Contracting

Podcast Highlights

Suzanne shares tips for
  • Making your porch and home accessible for all regardless of their age or limitations
  • Why it's best to incorporate Universal Design when you build your home
  • Pros and cons of wheelchair ramps versus exterior wheelchair lifts
  • How to make your wheelchair ramp attractive and integrate more beautifully into your porch and home
  • How Aging in Place home design can help you
  • The benefits of a covered porch or portico on any home
  • What depth your porch should be to ensure it is functional even for wheelchairs
  • Choosing your door sizes wisely including your back door
  • Other accessible-friendly considerations for porch flooring, receptacles and switches so that everyone can enjoy the porch

If you like our Audio Program, we'd really appreciate if you would tell a friend or two. We would appreciate if you would review us on iTunes. Thank you!

Show Notes: Make Your Porch Accessible to All

We are happy to have our guest, Suzanne Taylor of Taylor Made Contracting, explain ways to make your porch and home more accessible for people of all ages.
Photo courtesy of D. Edwards
You can see more of her porch transformation here.

DAVE: So today we are pleased to have Suzanne Taylor from Taylor Made Custom Contracting out of Jarrettsville, Maryland.


DAVE: So great and so we are really pleased that you are visiting us on the porch today.

SUZANNE: Thanks for having me. This is exciting.

MARY: You are so welcome.

DAVE: To do this for us this is just great, so before we actually get into it the meat of everything, can you take just a few minutes and give us a little bit of information on about Taylor Made Custom Contracting?

SUZANNE: Well, we are a residential remodeling contractor; we started the business in 1990 and we do all sorts of home-improvement such as additions, the kitchen, bathroom, basement and repairs but one of the specialty items that we work on is accessibility and what we do is we design and modify homes for people who have accessibility issues.

DAVE: That is great and there is a term Universal Design. Well,two terms actually. There is Universal Design and then there is Aging in Place Specialist. Would you kind of give us just a quick rundown of what those two terms mean?

SUZANNE: Sure, Universal Design is actually a concept of creating an attractive living space that is functional for everyone regardless of their age or their physical abilities. In other words there are many different products and services that can be designed to incorporate into the home, to make it beautiful yet functional.

Certified Aging in Place Specialists and the National Association of Homebuilders and what they do is - they are experts in designing and performing home modifications for people within their homes. DAVE: That's perfect because we know our parents have been through that - needed some things and we know as the population ages that more and more people are going to need those kinds of services. So that's great that you're able to specialize in that.

MARY: Yes, I can remember my Dad having congestive heart failure and being kind of stuck in his bedroom upstairs because he couldn't get downstairs. He actually thought long and hard about even taking the steps.

DAVE: Yeah, the last few weeks you couldn't get him down at all. So it was just impossible until the end. So yeah it's really important that those services are available out there.

So we're all about porches obviously so what kind of things should we be looking at as homeowners as we approach our house looking from the driveway or sidewalk to our house. What kinds of things should we be concerned with or need to take care of?

SUZANNE: When one of the terms that a lot of ADA people use is considered is called the path of travel. That is the path for the person from their car to their door.

And that entails regarding their mobility. So when you come to a house and you're looking at possibly doing some design or home modification, you want to really to consider how a person is going to be able to get from the car to the house.

And as we talked earlier, utilizing the universal design approach means that we can create functional entryways that are beautiful. They can be designed out of flagstone; they can be designed out of stamped concrete, of course, wood composite.

So a lot of times people think of ADA and they think of kind of a hospital type look. And that's not necessarily the case.

The house and the entryway can be gorgeous and then it can also help with all ages from strollers to wheelchair.

MARY: Wouldn't it be awesome that homes were built that way from the beginning?

SUZANNE: That's true and actually in this day and age a lot of the 55-year and older communities do have that universal design concept in mind and they do use that quite a bit.

MARY: Let's talk about wheelchair ramps because usually what comes to mind with the wheelchair ramp is that they are not attractive and they are big.

SUZANNE: You are exactly right, they think not attractive when they say wheelchair ramp. Now the thing that you really do need to consider the wheelchair ramp specifications.

The slope is probably the biggest challenge because it has to be a 1 to 12 ratio and it cannot be too steep for the wheelchair to maneuver, so that does end up taking up some room. There are some ways of working around that depending on landing.

So you might have to have more than one landing at the time.

But again ramps can be made out of concrete; they can be made out of wood, vinyl, aluminum or composite and composite is a combination of wood and plastic. A lot of the new decking today is composite because it doesn't weather, it is maintenance free and is very neat in spring.

It doesn't stain so the color choices that you choose naturally stay for the life of the ramp.

DAVE: And it makes it ideal though for a lot of folks because, if you already have a really mobility issues, you're really not going to get out be sanding wood, sanding the back down and all those kinds of things.

MARY: That's a good point.

SUZANNE: And also with the railings, if you have composites railings you don't have to worry about the person in the wheelchair getting splinters in their hands.

MARY: Oh, sure because they are running their hands across the railings.

SUZANNE: Exactly.

MARY: I was just going to say that one of the things that I think about with the wheelchair ramp is, that I think of it as being an add-on the house.

It's a thing that's in the front yard so to speak or but there are ways, aren't there, of incorporating the ramp right with the design of the porch, rather than it being an add-on?

SUZANNE: Absolutely! We had a project that we performed that has a flagstone entrance and that is with using the correct slope, but like you said, it is once integrated into the porch. Now when you look at the home, you don't think ramp.

You just think, oh this is just a beautiful entryway. But yet it is still wheelchair primarily.

DAVE: That's perfect! Really nice to see, really nice to see. So along with that you know we get into the ADA requirements because when we get into the ramps and mobility issues ADA.

But just for clarification and for our audience, ADA requirements are not required for residential homes, is that correct?

SUZANNE: Yes, you are absolutely right. They are recommendations, they are not requirements. The ADA requirements are only on commercial structures.

DAVE: But at the same time, hopefully you will agree that probably people should really try to come as close to those as possible, because those requirements have been developed over time by experts in the field. Even if you're doing something in your own home although you don't have to comply with it. It will be nice to come as close as you could to it.

SUZANNE: Absolutely, and if you incorporate the ADA recommendations early. If you're building or remodeling your house, even if you're in your 20s or 30s figure when you are in your 50s 60s 70s and up, you don't necessarily need to re-remodel at that point because all of those things would have already been in place.

Actually when we built our home, we remodeled it when we were in our mid 20s and our home has all ADA recommendations. We have 36 inch doorways, no thresholds, changes anywhere within home. You know what we actually have is a spot in my oldest son's bedroom that is a closet right now.

In the event that we would need an elevator, that is exactly where it would go.

DAVE: Oh, that is great, we've heard that before. That's really great to do. You know the cost of doing that during new construction isn't really that expensive to make those kinds of modifications.

SUZANNE: No question. For instance if you have a new home what would be the difference between a 36 inch door and a 32 inch door at that point.

Or what's the difference of having a louvered handle on a door?

DAVE: Oh, yeah.

SUZANNE: So as far as porches go another reason would be again to have the composite as the material of choice because again as we discussed earlier you don't have to worry about the maintenance and you might not want maintenance at 25 you might not want maintenance at 85.

DAVE: Yes, yes definitely.

MARY: I have this a side question. We talked about that residential homes do not have to follow the ADA rules. But are there local codes?

DAVE: Building codes?

MARY: From the county or your city that would dictate about accessibility, that you know of?

SUZANNE: Well, we often do work with for the Maryland State Department of Rehabilitation Services and John Hopkins, Kennedy Krieger that sort of thing. So if we are building a home or remodeling or a building ramp then they put in place their requirements.

It is not by law, it is not through the county code, it would be just their requirements that they ask for from us.

DAVE: And that brings a good point that when you are building something like a ramp or something like that it would not hurt to check with your local building codes just to make sure you're in compliance. Because I know having lived in all parts of the country those codes differ a lot between where you live.

SUZANNE: And they vary from county to county, just like you said absolutely. Double-check because you're better off being safe than sorry.

If you start and you've made a mistake and you're doing things wrong the permit office and the zoning they can shutdown your project. That is not something that you want to have happen.

MARY: It is also probably good to check with your with Home Owners Association if you have one of those.

DAVE: Yes, if you have a homeowners association. We ran into that situation with our Home Owners Association.

We had a neighbor that ended up needing a wheelchair ramp, almost like within hours because the hospital released him and he was unable to walk, he had to be in a wheelchair and so there was no way that even his wife could get him home.

There was no way to get inside the house at all at that point.

So fortunately I had a friend with me we ended up going next-door and building a wheelchair ramp that actually turned out pretty nice.

MARY: It is actually really attractive.

DAVE: We did it very quickly, I think it took us about four or five hours to construct the ramp, but it did turn out very nice but we were not totally within ADA.

For several reasons, one was just home owners didn't want certain things on it, but we got into a situation where we had a slope, we had a lot of slopes in the yard and so we actually had to bring the wheelchair ramp out and turn it so we can find some level ground for the bottom pad area for that.

So you get into all kinds of things when you are building ramps. Getting back to the HOA's, we didn't time to submit our plans to our homeowners association.

But it is something that you should do, if you have to build a ramp or something like that, you really need to comply with whatever they need you to do, because they have a lot of power. So if you find yourself in such a problem like ours make sure you at least comply with the requirements after-the-fact and hope for the best.

SUZANNE: Absolutely, you have to worry about ramping structurally sound with concrete footage and like you've just mentioned, maybe landing and landing and more landing.

DAVE: Yes, to get it there. So people are talking about that ratio 1 to 12 or whatever and we were talking about in this particular case his steps were 21 inches so we needed a 21-foot long ramp for him in order to be in compliance with ADA. We didn't quite do that, we came close. We didn't quite do the whole distance but he is able to maneuver so that was a Godsend for him.

SUZANNE: And that might be an application for an exterior wheelchair lift if you really have space requirement, then the wheelchair lift themselves. They really need only need a 4 x 4 area.

If space constraints are really an issue then the wheelchair lift could be a better application.

DAVE: Yes those are great.

MARY: That's good. If I was a person needing to have either a lift or a ramp, what are some of the pros and cons?

SUZANNE: Sure, well with the lift, it takes up less space than the ramp and that is an advantage.

Some of the cons with the wheelchair lift is that you need electric. So you would definitely have to have a dedicated circuit for that and just like anything mechanical.

There is potential for mechanical failure on needing new parts through the year. The other portion of it, too, is you have to make sure that you have a gate for the wheelchair lift.

If the wheelchair is at the bottom you need to make sure that gate is placed at the top and vice versa because you don't want to have any problems or any accidents.

Some of the pros of ramps are that you will not need to worry about the electric and you can choose any material that you would like.

Some people choose composite as we discussed earlier or concrete but as we discussed earlier they will take up a large amount of space. So it really depends on the individual application. It depends on which area or which device you choose.

MARY: Well, if it comes down to money is there a big difference between a wheelchair ramp and a porch lift?

SUZANNE: That's a really good question actually. I would say they are probably similar in price.

Now the wheelchair lift would probably cost about $8,000 roughly give or take depending on how high. Obviously the higher it goes the more expensive because you might have a couple different stops and then again there are variables with the ramp depending on what material you choose.

Vinyl would probably be more expensive than composite or pressure-treated wood.

MARY: Very good

DAVE: And you also have labor costs. How long does it usually take them to install a lift?

SUZANNE: Okay, a lift can be done in a day or two.

DAVE: Okay and ramps can be too but depending on whether you pour footings or those types of things.

SUZANNE: Correct. Ramps could be a week or so.

DAVE: You know what I just think in terms of labor cost. Between the two figuring that in, against the overall cost.

The other thing I want to point out too that you had mentioned that I just want to stress for our listeners is that a porch lift or wheelchair porch lift requires a dedicated electrical circuit.

So a lot of people you know if they're thinking about wiring it yourself, people need to understand it has to be on its own circuit.

SUZANNE: That's a really good point. Now some of them have battery backup, but even so like you said definitely need a dedicated circuit.

MARY: Something that our readers ask us fairly often is, "I am needing to get a wheelchair ramp for my mother or father but what landscaping can we do around it to make it look nice in their yard?"

SUZANNE: Well, again you are still kind of using that universal design approach, so of course, there are ornamental grasses and shrubs, hydrangeas are big and take up a lot of space. There are also rhododendrons.

I would imagine that you could talk to a landscape design architect if you want to go that route, just to kind of get an idea of the particular shrubs that would look good around the ramp. And that would bloom different times of the year.

DAVE: Got to get your landscaping in with your structure so it's kind of like complementing each other, if you will, with both of those. So I have seen some that look pretty nice and not so sterile.

SUZANNE: Right, absolutely.

DAVE: It's a design concept. What kinds of things on the porch should we consider to make it easier for folks? You know one of universal design concept we were talking about porches and accessibility and those kinds of things, what kind of factors do we need to consider for that?

SUZANNE: Okay, great what I would definitely recommend is that a porch be at least 6 feet deep because we want to be able to maneuver around without any space constraints. But also with porches often times there may be electric outlet or switches so something that we do inside with our ADA clients is that we raise the outlets and we lower the switches.

DAVE: Very good, very good idea.

MARY: That is a good catch there you know.

SUZANNE: And then that it gives people a little bit more independence.

DAVE: Oh, very much so yes.

SUZANNE: Also there are ceiling fans on porches. That's nice to be able to turn them on and turn them off or even just lights on the porches.

A lot of people these days have lamps on the porches to make the outside look inside.

DAVE: Sounds like our porch. Ha ha! Fans and lights

MARY: Fans and lights, we love fans and lights.

SUZANNE: The flooring options - you want to stick to flooring that's wheelchair friendly. So concrete again composite, or vinyl. Brick probably isn't the right application for this one.

And then also threshold, just want to make sure that they are not any thicker than a half inch, because we want to be able to maneuver around and not have any issues with that.

DAVE: Yeah, a lot of people forget that about thresholds. You brought that up earlier in our conversation about thresholds and what you did in your own home for that and that is something that is really so easy during new construction to do - to keep that threshold lower. That's not difficult to do.

SUZANNE: Absolutely.

MARY: When we had our home built they instead of making a step like, a little step to go into the house, it would've just been very small, they just made a little bit of a slope.

DAVE: Yeah, because we have a concrete floor on our porch and what they did is at that area threshold they just angled it slightly and just bought concrete up to it. So it looks great and it takes care of the threshold issue.

SUZANNE: Oh, yeah that sounds fantastic.

DAVE: Yeah, it worked out really well.

SUZANNE: When you are modifying homes with ADA, they really recommend a covered entry way, because that way when a person gets any groceries or they are carrying stuff in the house, they don't really have to worry about the weather. So that really helps with the covered porch or portico or anything just to give you a little extra time to be able to get in the house.

DAVE: Yeah, when you say portico that brings up a really good point. There are a lot of those, a lot of porticos. Some have hardly any roof over them, any cover over them.

Other ones have smaller ones but your idea of having at least 6 feet is making sure that if you're going to have a portico that it can accommodate a wheelchair, just doing whether you need one or not. If you do that now that will help you down the road immensely.

SUZANNE: And as we discussed earlier, it is really nice to have a covered porch or even a portico for anyone.

MARY: Oh my gosh, you are absolutely right

DAVE: Going back to the previous conversation about back doors usually being more narrow than front doors, we found that to be true. And as you said earlier it isn't so hard to put a 36" door back there rather than a 32".

SUZANNE: No question, with new construction that would be the way to go.

DAVE: Suzanne how can a person find more information about this making your home more accessible? Where should they go first?

SUZANNE: Well, as a certified Aging in Place Specialists what we do is, we have been trained to be able to go to a house and determine what the house needs, to make it functionally acceptable to everyone. Whether or not they have accessibility issues or not and that really separates contractors because they've already been trained in that home modification area.

DAVE: Yes they need to seek out; yes they should seek out an Aging in Place Specialist for that.

SUZANNE: I might want to check on that but I think you can go to the AARP website for more information.

DAVE: Okay, yeah there is a list on there. Yeah that's right

MARY: Suzanne, Dave and I love porches and I bet that you do too. So do you have any stories or memories from childhood or growing up or even at your home right now with your family in regards to living on the porch or just enjoying your porch?

SUZANNE: Well, I didn't have a porch growing up however I always wanted a wrap around porch so when we built our home in our 20s, we decided to put a wraparound porch on.

And they say, "Have you seen the Taylor's wraparound porch? It is the most gorgeous porch you have ever seen!"

Everyone that knows our house, knows our porch. It has its own personality in addition to the house. We have had so many parties on our porch.

We have done bridal shower parties, we've done engagement parties, baby shower parties and everyone just loves being outside overlooking the trees and the grass.

MARY: As you were telling us that, I just have a big old smile on my face because porches just mean so much to people and there are just happy places.

SUZANNE: It's true. And it is the truth; people are like "Have you seen the Taylor's porch?" Like people at school like to talk about it. It's hilarious.

MARY: Oh that's great, we'd love to see pictures of it sometime.


MARY: And I just like to thank you so much for taking your time today and sharing a wealth of information with us about how to make your porch and the entryway of your home more accessible not only for people who have limitations, but even as young people it's a great way to plan your home. We love the story that you told us about your own home. So thank you so much for taking the time to do that with us today.

SUZANNE: Thank you for having me it was fun. DAVE: It has been great. Taylor Made Custom Contracting is definitely a company that those in the Baltimore, Maryland area should contact if they have accessibility issues in order to be able to build something or just for the remodeling and other things that you do. You have a wide range of services for that.

So I also know that you are an approved builder for the department of Veterans Affairs especially adapted housing programs which is really a feather in your cap. And people should know about it too. So Suzanne how can people contact Taylor Made Custom Contracting?

SUZANNE: Well there are a couple of different ways. If you go to our website which is, you can fill out the website form, you can e-mail us at or call at 410.557.0322.

DAVE: Very good. We really do appreciate having you on the porch with us today. Thank you so much.

MARY: Thank you, Suzanne.

SUZANNE: Sounds good, thank you.

wonderful relaxing porch built by Taylor Made Custom Contracting

About Taylor Made Custom Contracting

Taylor Made Custom Contracting logo Taylor Made Custom Contracting is an award-winning construction and remodeling company in Maryland. They are a Veterans Specially Adapted Housing Approved Builder as well as being Universal Design experts.

Suzanne is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist and she provides solutions to clients with mobility issues. From wheelchair ramps to residential elevators and stair glides, Taylor Contracting can make your home totally accessible.

Suzanne and Kevin Taylor If you live in the Baltimore MD area and want to make your porch and home more accessible, get in touch with Suzanne and Kevin Taylor of Taylor Made Custom Contracting to see how they can help make your porch and/or home more accessible to everyone. We featured several of their wonderful projects here.

Call them at 410.557.0322 or email them at

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Podcast 36-37: Podcast 36-37: Madison Indiana, Vibrant Riverfront Town

With Trevor Crafton and Linda Lytle

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo madison indiana chamber logo Charles Kuralt called Madison Indiana "The most beautiful river town in America". We think it is also a most charming and wonderful front porch town too!

Mary and I were wonderfully surprised at not only its architectural diversity but also the hospitality of its residents.

madison indiana visitor's bureau logo Our guests, Trevor Crafton, Executive Director of Madison Indiana's Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, along with Linda Lytle, Executive Director of Visit Madison, Inc., share the uniqueness of perhaps one of America's finest small towns.

Trevor explains why Madison Indiana (located on the Ohio River) has prospered and continues to be both an ideal location for commerce as well as a wonderful place to call home. With its high commercial occupancy rate, low unemployment rate, historical district, and a myriad of cultural events, Madison is a perfect place for both business and residential living.

Linda shares the richness of Madison's arts, festivals, and events held throughout the year. You will be amazed at all of the cultural and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family. From an extremely popular regatta to hiking trails and more, there is something fun for everyone!

steam rising on the Ohio River at Madison Indiana
View of Ohio River from Madison, Indiana

Podcast Notes: Madison Indiana
A Front Porch Town and More

Two podcasts about Madison Indiana

  • Discover the largest contiguous historic district in the U.S.
  • Find out how a small town grows from 13,000 to sometimes over 60,000 in a weekend.
  • Find out where to hike, bike, walk, and enjoy the outdoors.
  • How do they achieve only 3.9% unemployment?
  • Find out how Madison's geography is used to make it so unique.
  • How many festivals and events can a small town have!

Program Excerpts: Madison Indiana

Excerpts from Our Interview with Trevor Crafton

Madison is genuinely a postcard town and is located right in between Cincinnati Ohio and Louisville Kentucky on the Ohio River.

All of the downtown businesses are in historic buildings ... The Fathers of the City years ago did an amazing job of preserving the historic buildings.

The town puts a great deal of stock in its culture, music and arts.

Madison has the largest historic landmark district contiguous in the United States of America. Its traditional southern feel, hospitality, customer service, and the slow lifestyle make Madison unique.

You can learn more about Madison, Indiana by visiting their website or the Madison Chamber Facebook page

front porches along street in Madison Indiana
Madison Indiana front porches in spring

picture of downtown Madison Indiana 2016
A view of historic downtown Madison

Excerpts from Our Interview with Linda Lytle

Madison is like stepping back in time because all the structures you see are 19th century buildings.

When people think of small towns with historic districts they think of a small area with a great little main street, but our historic district is all over downtown - just blocks and blocks of historic buildings and homes that people are living in and doing business in. It is quite a unique little place.

Madison is located in an area where the Ice Age ended so where the rest of Indiana and the Midwest is mostly flat we have rolling hills.

Clifty Falls State Park has seven waterfills and lots of hiking trails, beautiful hiking. We have lots of biking trails throughout our county.

We particularly like it if we have a snowfall. We'll have a spontaneous snow sculpture contest in our Bicentennial Park.

Porches: I think that is why a lot of our people are so close and why we all work together so well. There's lots of walking in downtown Madison and our evening activities (if you live here and don't have something else to do) you'll usually be walking along Main Street or walking along the river.

And you pass people who are sitting on their porches and you go onto their porch and talk to them. I think it is why we are what we are.

I think it's why the people are what they are because that camaraderie that you get from walking up onto someone's porch and sitting down and talking with them for a half an hour is important.

Madison people love to talk about Madison. 1-800-559-2956

Our Thanks to Linda and Trevor!

Mary and I really appreciate Linda Lytle and Trevor Crafton of Madison Indiana taking time to share their knowledge and love for their community with us. Such enthusiastic people so proud of their town. We've learned a lot and look forward to our next visit.

Fall in Love with Madison Indiana

Falls at Clifty State Park, Madison Indiana
Clifty Falls State Park

two hydroplanes racing in Madison Indiana Regatta
200 mph + competitors!

Shotgun house in Madison Indiana
Charming shotgun house in Madison Indiana

street scene with porch stoops in madison indiana

We loved visiting this scenic Indiana town and invite you to see more pictures of our visit to Madison.

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Podcast 40: Endearing Memories of the Front Porch Swing

With Shannon Lee, Narrator

Porch Ideas Network Podcast Logo Making memories on the porch is one of the all-time favorite reasons why we love porches so much.

So many tender moments are remembered on the porch - meaningful conversations, casual visits with neighbors and friends, a first kiss, a lover's spat, a marriage proposal, your daughter's baby shower, chats with our parents.

In this short but sweet podcast, we are certainly excited to share with you a story that is dear to the heart of Shannon Lee, a professional writer. She grew up with fond memories of the porch and especially of the front porch swing.

Podcast 40 - An Endearing Memories of a Front Porch Swing, written and narrated by Shannon Lee
Top photo is courtesy of Creative Commons (ctj71081 and license)
Bottom photo courtesy of Jeanne C

Love Porch Swings?

Front Porch Swings

One of our kind readers, Jeanne, shared this picture of her wicker swing with us. So inviting and cozy!

More Porch Memories

my Barbie doll on the porch
Photo by Mary
I loved playing dolls on the porch
Mary: One of my favorite porch memories is playing Barbies with my childhood friend and neighbor, Wendy, on our front porches. Her Barbie had long blond hair in a pony tail and mine had a short curly bob.

I won my Barbie in a contest at my elementary school.

The most fun was buying new outfits for our Barbies and laying all their clothes out on the porch floor. Sometimes we would play the Ken and Barbie board game together, too, on the front porch.

The picture here is of my Barbie (now about 50 so years old). All of her clothes were handmade by a couple of moms.

Remembering Life on the Porch

memories from the back porch
Photo by Christine Hunter, Grand Rapids, MI
Great memories from the back porch
Christine: I remember sitting on our back porch and watching my mother knit. She was quite a knitter. My dad would set us on his lap and read us stories.

My uncle could not read so he would sit there and look at the pictures in the book and tell us stories. So whether dad read them to us, or our uncle told us stories about the pictures, they were always interesting.

Life was great in those days. We as children never had any worries just always enjoying life playing kick the can, mother may I, etc.

Echoes on the Front Porch

Echoes on the Front Porch
Photo by Patricia Klein, Moorestown, MI
Remembering fond porch memories
Patricia: When I was little, the front porch was a favorite place to be. The porch swing was the most comforting spot, a place to cuddle with a favorite dolly or to read and read and read. But the best memory of all is about the echoes.

From the West end of our porch you could get the best echoes! It would echo a whistle or a yodel or whatever you said. We would have contests to see who could get the most words back in an echo.

I used to practice and practice so I could beat my dad. For some reason, the echoes worked best in the evening just before dusk. I will never forget how much fun that was.

The Swing Porch

by Sarah Clark of Oxford, Michigan

porch swing memories
So many great memories on the porch swing
Who does not love a porch swing?

Sarah: Porches can be nothing more than a couple cement steps and a landing or they can be as impressive as the one at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island,Michigan. Most porches fall in between somewhere but, regardless, summer and a porch were meant for each other.

Before we moved to the church house property some years ago, we had a turn of the century house with 3 porches; one being screened in and included a porch swing. We lovingly called it the Swing Porch.

It was a cozy spot reached from a door off the dining room where we could sit and read the paper and catch a breeze on a warm afternoon or evening. It proved to be the perfect spot to hold a baby and swing the child to sleep or to catch a few winks ourselves.

As our girls got a little bigger, it was understood that green beans always tasted better when they were snapped and prepared for dinner while sitting on the porch swing. And all those Laura Ingles Wilder books come to life as we spent an afternoon reading aloud on the swing while sipping lemonade?

It was a spot Grandma told her grand daughters stories of what it was like when she was a little girl; all those years ago. In addition, the swing porch was a place to have what we called a fire fly night, watching the little bugs flash on and off. And, yes, occasionally, the swing was a time out spot for a less than cooperative child. Imagine that!

It was a very special spot in our house because we knew that life just seemed to slow down when the swing porch was opened for the season. Simple pleasures became very special, drinks were colder, games were more fun, stories were more imaginative and time with family was very special.

Here is to you and your porch story. You might have a stoop or a deck but memories can be made there also. If you have not already done so, start making those memories today; you can go back there anytime in your mind and enjoy your porch all over again!

PoPs Green Swing

by TEE of Austin, TX

Tee: My great great grand father built the house my grandmother lived in till she passed away a few months back. It had the great old southern porch with 2 swings that faced each other from opposites ends.

My "PoPs" would sit out there after dinner in a swing he painted a shade of green that can only happen when you mix paints. LOL! I laugh every time I see that swing.

My grandmother was a fussy sort that always had things just so. But when Pops hung that swing up that summer she just nodded her head and said well I guess it could have been worse!I figured out that summer what love was.

They are both gone now... And the most priceless thing I have of theirs is two old porch swings. They now hang on my porch. The green paint is gone (only because it was chipping so bad) but the love of the swing is still swinging on.

Pictures Painted on Screened Porch Windows

By Babyc1954, Massachusetts

Babyc1954: I can remember as a child, we had pictures painted on our screened porch windows. You could have the windows open with the screens showing a picture on the outside of the ocean. If you looked in my porch, you could not see me standing there, but, I could see you outside, that is in the daytime only.

I do not have a picture but I wish I did. I am still looking for a place where I can get this special picture I have in mind. Need to decorate four windows with some kind of view.

Dave and Mary: Thank you very much for sharing this memory. We would love to see a picture of your painted screen porch windows. That sounds enchanting and we can see why you remember that so vividly!

This topic, painted screens, is so intriguing to us that we did a little research to learn how it is done. We learned that the reason the painting disappears when looking out from the inside is due to the outside light coming through the screen.

The outside of the screen is painted with a light blue paint to mimic the sky. It is painted with a fairly dry brush so that the pores of the screen do not get clogged with paint.

After the paint dries (about a half hour) the rest of the design is lightly outlined with chalk. The shoreline, palm trees and grasses are painted black or dark green. The ocean is painted a deep blue. The clouds are painted a soft white and sandy areas are painted a beige color. You can even add a boat to the scene.

When the painted screen window is done, it can be preserved with a coat of poly to protect it. We found this info on

We would love to find a nice picture of the finished results. Would be wonderful to actually see painted screen windows on a porch. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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