BeFunky_landscape16.jpgMore and more people are using the outdoors to add square footage and value to homes.

I love looking at the magazine and Facebook photos.

Lovely… but nowhere near a reality for people like me (and maybe you too).

Fortunately, I was able to land an in person interview with the original host of “Yard Crashers” on HGTV and the DIY Network.

“I got to do what I love for a living,” said Ahmed Hassan. “And it was done in such a way that it got to be on this awesome TV show.”

Five spin-off shows later, Hassan is a well-known guru with very loyal fans.

Interviewing Ahmed… it was obvious right away why he was so successful as a television host and has dedicated followers.

He takes over the room with a great big beautiful smile, charm… and his wife right by his side (or front and center).

I planned on talking about gardening and landscaping tips for beginners.

Five minutes in, I knew we were headed for something much bigger.

Ahmed says plants have taught him a lot about life.

“A tree has to weather the storm. You have to stay there. And the storm might knock you. It might tilt you. It might do something. And guess what…. you’re just going to grow more roots. You’re going to get more strong.”

Experts like Hassan have studied landscaping for years.

“There is a lot of information. It’s like anything else in life right? You think it’s small until you really get in there.”

Click play below to hear more of the interview. Ahmed talks about a little girl with cancer and how he’s using his landscaping skills to make her happy.

(Photo courtesy: Ahmed Hassan TV)

ahmed-hassan Hassan believes EVERYONE can do it. Look at your family tree.

“People don’t know how to garden, yet all of our ancestors knew how to garden.”

He’s so right. We don’t need to feel afraid.

“Fear is something that stops a lot of us. We get intimidated. We feel like we don’t know how to do something and we won’t do anything.”

Read Hassan’s blog post on what he calls “Chickenshititis.”

“Nature teaches me that it doesn’t matter. Just do it. Just figure it out.”

Ahmed uses gardening as therapy… kind of like meditating.

“There are certain things in life that they allow you time to think and you’re mind to sort of float.”

Landscaping and gardening isn’t just about what’s pleasing to the eye. People want more home grown and healthy food.

“I grow a lot of food. The more food that I grow there the more happier and content that I am.”

I preach a lot about when it’s time to talk to a professional. There’s too much information to do it all yourself.

“You start by coming to the home and garden show so you could meet these people… so you could see these faces… so you can be inspired by all that you see… so you can start determining with face to face meetings who is a real life professional.”

Home and garden shows are everywhere now. Ahmed says it’s the perfect place to find reputable professionals. The show in my town had more than 500 different vendors!

“Otherwise you’re sitting at home and your like who do I call? What about my friend? They had some work done by so-and-so. Oh yeah. They weren’t happy with it.”

I like the idea myself because I don’t like to invite just any stranger into my home. My days as a journalist have made me paranoid.

In between writing books and blogging, Ahmed attends shows all over the country to share his knowledge.

“It drives my wife crazy because when we drive down the road, I’m looking everywhere BUT the road. I’m checking out trees and shrubs. I’m looking at the way that they’re architecturally placed around the building.”

Wouldn’t you love to take that drive with Ahmed every once in a while? Think what you could learn in an hour and a few miles.

Until that day, I’ll rely on the one thing I DO know about landscaping. Fake is bad… very bad.

The pictures below are from a place I rented with friends last week for a mini-vaca.

Although I might just be bitter after she charged more than we agreed. ;0