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Exclusive: 'Fix This Yard' co-host Alan Luxmore on gardening, gophers & grass

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Television personality, carpenter, and all-around good guy Alan Luxmore got his mainstream show biz start away from the camera a decade ago as the hard-working behind the scenes senior project manager for the Emmy-winning reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." But the talented co-host of A&E's "Fix this Yard" is equally comfortable in the spotlight.

The Seattle native turned San Francisco-area resident, who acted in plays and appeared in a handful of commercials and independent films before beginning his TV work in earnest, boasts a resume that includes appearances on a number of reality TV programs in addition to "Fix This Yard" and "Extreme Makeover," including "Picker Sisters," "Wedding Day," "Mobile Home Disaster," and "The Outdoor Room." He has a passion for giving back to the community, and effectively uses his creativity and landscape knowledge to transform others' dreams into livable realities.

Examiner spoke exclusively with the easygoing Luxmore on April 10, culling details related to his favorite TV moments, techniques for low maintenance gardening, and surefire methods to vanquish grass's biggest nemesis: the gopher.

I'll start by asking about "Fix This Yard" because for a few years, I secretly hoped someone would turn us in. Do you have a favorite moment from the series?

Luxmore: The skunk spraying me was pretty funny [laughs], or the jet ski was a fun episode. Good times!

My husband and I put in a brand new lawn a few years ago. After a winter drought, we're struggling to keep it looking lush and green! What steps should we take to restore it to health?

Luxmore: Are you able to water yet?

We can, on a limited basis. I think we're allowed to water two to three times a week.

Luxmore: Okay. One of the things you need to do is leave the grass three to four inches tall. You want to leave it really tall as opposed to going short, because if you leave it short, it's always going to be brown. If you leave it tall... the water that you add to it will help the grass stay green. So that's step one. Once you're able to get the lawn retaining more moisture, when it's starting to turn green, then you can look at an organic type fertilizer, something that's very, very mellow --because if it's too dry, you don't want to add fertilizer-- so you need to get the right fertilizer at the right time, otherwise you can really hurt the lawn. A lot of homeowners don't read the instructions... and end up screwing things up in their yard.

So once the lawn is restored, what do you suggest in terms of irrigation?

Luxmore: What you need to do is get the LeakFree system by Gilmour that I have which is the entire leak free system, all the accessories, the sprinklers, the hose... all the components. They're leak free, beginning to end, and it takes gardening to a whole new level. Have you ever had a hose that didn't leak?

No. Every hose I've ever had has sprung a leak in one place or another.

Luxmore: Bingo! Isn't that annoying?

Yes! It's annoying to have to keep buying new hoses, I agree with you.

Luxmore: The water you save by not having a leaky hose will save the lawn problem because you'll have more water. Homerun!

What suggestions do you have for people interested in a kid-friendly, non-grass ground covering?

Luxmore: I like, they use this on playgrounds, it's recycled rubber, and it makes a really nice landing for kids. You can jump up and down on it and it's friendly and it looks nice, too, it's a brown color. And it's recycling. I like that a lot.

What flowers do you recommend to someone who's interested in creating a colorful and vibrant but also low-maintenance kind of garden?

Luxmore: I'm really into the edible things right now. I love the wild strawberries, I like the kale, low-lying plants... you can get dinosaur kale, different colored kales, you mix the wild strawberries in with that, find a couple other edibles, and then you've got not only a nice ground cover, but you can pick the food and eat it too! And we're all getting back to that organic lifestyle, so it's another way for us to fight back.

Speaking of edibles, what are the easiest edibles for someone with a black thumb to grow?

Luxmore: [Laughs] You know, that's tough, because anything you plant, you're going to have to put a certain amount of time into, so maybe blackberries? I think you'd do okay with blackberries. But they're a weed.

Since you brought up weeds, I have to ask about this because it's been driving us crazy the entire season: how can I gopher-proof my yard?

Luxmore: Do you have children?

Yes.

Luxmore: Well, they make gopher traps that you put over the hole, or you can try to smoke them out with a smoky gopher trap, but I'll tell you what: have you seen "Caddyshack"?

Yeah.

Luxmore: Yeah, well, that's what gophers are like, and they are really hard to get ahold of. Put that trap on at night, and hopefully he comes up out of that hole and boom! You've got yourself a gopher. Or you can just do like my grandpa did and put the end of an exhaust [pipe] down into the hole and smoke him out with the fumes from the exhaust. Or you know what else you could do? You could put a boa constrictor down there.

I guess I could swing by the local zoo and see if they'll loan me one?

Luxmore: [Laughs] Okay, my boss is telling me I've gotta go water the Japanese Maple, which is one of my favorite trees... if you wanna pick one up.... Beautiful trees.

To view full episodes of "Fix This Yard" starring Luxmore and his co-host Amy Devers, visit the show's home page on the A&E website.

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