I’m Paul and I am the owner of Thriving Yard. I live in Southeast Texas with my wife and two kids (well, one’s off at college) and I enjoy working in the yard. I create flower beds for my wife and enjoy planting fruit trees and seeing the rewards of my labors the following season.
I spend time consulting with lawn and gardening subject matter experts and gaining insights from their years of experience. I’ve also learned a lot from local farmers and homeowners who obsess over their lawns. Better to learn from their experience than to repeat their mistakes.
Here’s more about me than you could possibly want to know but for those few who enjoy getting to know the people behind the articles, this is the 411:
My Lawn & Gardening Experience
My interest in lawn care spans two decades but my interest peaked in 2017 when my wife and I built a new home. The two acres of land that we purchased is rich with red clay soil. It’s very difficult to grow a lawn, garden, or flowerbed. I began reading and experimenting with different approaches to amending clay soil and eventually settled on a five-step process that has consistently produced positive results.
The most important aspect of this process is what I call Deep Core Integration, a method of drilling into the soil and infusing organic matter into the clay. I’ve seen a significant and measurable improvement in the quality of my soil allowing me to successfully grow a Centipede lawn, flower beds, and a few fruit plants.
I also enjoy powered yard tools including the Stihl KombiSystem and my little electric Greenworks chainsaw that my neighbors laugh at me for using but still gets small jobs done just fine.
The truth is, I was drug into a passion for lawn care. It wasn’t that long ago that I despised mowing, edging, and fertilizing. In fact, I was originally taken by centipede grass because of its relatively low maintenance when compared to St. Augustine which I had at my first home. But as time has gone by I have grown to appreciate a well-manicured lawn. Of course, having clay soil makes that quite a challenge but I am constantly testing new ideas.
I’ve been teaching my teenage son about lawn care and yard tools and have enjoyed turning over much of the lawn care duties to him. 🙂
With the challenging clay in my yard, I sought out solutions early. Bringing in topsoil for the entire two acres was out of the question. I’ve started composting and it has turned out to be a great way to add nutrient-rich matter in my yard. You can get started by just building a pile in a corner of the yard, turning it occasionally, and letting nature do what it does. I’ve started small compost piles in cardboard boxes to keep the pile together and I’ve also been working on a DIY tumbler project. I’m always experimenting and I’ll share any discoveries here on the website that may be worth your time.
Adventures In Vermicomposting
Composting with worms is an excellent way to manage small amounts of kitchen waste for a small family. It’s also a great way to teach my son a little about soil and the nature of decomposition. I built a DIY worm bin using a couple of plastic containers and have enjoyed learning the practice of vermicomposting.
I’m continuously making new discoveries and I learn, I am sharing those insights on this website. What I like about this approach is that it can be done indoors year-round so it is a suitable composting solution for the winter or even for people who live in an apartment. Probably the most versatile approach to composting that I’ve come across.
My Professional Life
I worked in nursing for over twenty years, mostly in management. I was a Regional Director of Nursing until a couple of years ago when I was fortunate enough to move into my current role as Regional Director of Operations. I am also an adjunct faculty member and teach a healthcare finance and economics course to Master’s level nursing students. As a cool bonus, I’m teaching out of a textbook that I co-authored three chapters in.
|Degree: Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.|
|Academic Contributions: Adjunct Faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch. I teach Healthcare Economics and Finance for the Executive Nurse Leader program.|
|Publishing Credits: co-authored three chapters in Financial Management For Nurse Managers, 4th ed. The book was selected as the 2017 American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in Nursing Management and Leadership. |
Publisher: Jones & Bartlett
This project was an exciting challenge for me.
Here’s a sample of one of the chapters that I co-authored from the publisher’s website.
Something Most People Don’t Know About Me
I was a radio DJ in a previous life. I actually started when I was 14 (the legal age at the time to apply for an FCC license). I worked at a local radio station and also DJ’d weddings and parties. I continued working part-time through high school; evenings, weekends, anytime I could get on the air. I sacrificed a lot of “teenage years” and relationships chasing my passion. No regrets – it was a fascinating lifestyle. As soon as I graduated, I moved out of state and worked at several radio stations throughout Louisiana including KQID and KBIU.
I attended tons of concerts (for free!) and had the opportunity to spend a lot of time backstage with major artists of the era. I never made much money but I didn’t want for much either. My apartment was free (paid for by advertising on the radio station), and I had all of the free pizza that I could eat – the staple of youth dining. At my last radio DJ job, I had the top-rated evening radio show in Lake Charles, LA. I was 19 years old.
Woodworking And Computers
I’ve taught my teenage son how to build computers (he built his first one at age 11 with my guidance) and he’s also picked up a lot of useful woodworking skills. He pushed the limits of our abilities with a big project when he was 12, building a computer inside of a desk. We posted a YouTube video of the build and it has had over one million views. Crazy!
Here’s the video if you are interested in seeing us build this. It’s time-lapsed so it only takes a couple of minutes.
My son was fascinated with superheroes and the wonders of movie magic at a very young age. He enjoyed dressing up in pretending to be a soldier, Spiderman, or anything else for that matter. I always feared that when he grew up I wouldn’t have anyone to play with anymore. 🙂
I had an interest in filmmaking (editing, adding special effects, etc.). We took advantage of our shared interests and created little movies starring my son as the hero. It took an enormous amount of time but we created some really fun little short films that he will have forever and I think these shared moments are something that he will appreciate long after I am gone.
Here’s one of the last movies we made with special effects galore.
What the Future Holds
There’s an old song lyric that goes something like “If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans”. The truth is, I have plans for the future but no one ever really knows what the future holds.
Retirement is less than four years away for me. I’ll be 53 and my wife will be 49. There are financial advantages to staying longer but with each year that passes, our health and agility stand to lose ground a little. We’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on this and in the end, we’ve agreed that we want to live while we are still healthy and (relatively) young enough to enjoy it.
That being said, I still intend to teach as adjunct faculty. Since major universities have embraced online learning, I can teach my classes from anywhere as long as I have internet access.
I want to show my wife the world while we are still healthy enough to travel. We have done our fair share of oversees expeditions and are experts at lying on a beach wasting the day away but everyone is capable of improving. I think we just need more practice.
We’ve done some preliminary calculations and, with proper budgeting and planning, we can live oversees in areas for a month or two at a time on my teaching income without eating into my monthly retirement pension. That’s living frugal but we really want to immerse ourselves in the culture and live around 60 days at a time in each area without depleting our retirement. And the truth is, we enjoy just walking around and seeing the sights, taking in the architecture of old cities and indulging in the relaxing ambiance of small communities, so we don’t need to spend a lot to have a shared adventure.
That’s pretty much it. For now, I am enjoying composting, growing fruit plants, and improving the clay soil in my yard. I’ll keep that up until the next chapter of my life begins.