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Top home improvement tips from Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves host Jason Cameron

Top home improvement tips from Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves host Jason Cameron

Austin Photo Set: News_JamesCameron_Aleks_Jan2013

Austin's 15th annual Home & Garden Show returns this Friday through Sunday at the Palmer Events Center, featuring a special Saturday appearance by Jason Cameron, licensed contractor and host of DIY network’s Desperate Landscapes and Man Caves.

CultureMap got a hold of Cameron, who’s shooting a new season of Man Caves to air later this year, ahead of the event to get some landscape and design tips for Austinites (and to talk about almost sharing a name with a certain Academy Award-winning director).

CultureMap: Austin is always plagued by drought. What’s the best way to keep a flush, green lawn with water restrictions?

Jason Cameron: We’re all over the country when we do Desperate Landscapes. We’ve been to Nevada and Arizona and other areas where they experience the same type of situation. Texas is a good example where local municipalities will put restrictions on water usage, which makes it so that when you’re looking to redo your landscape, you really have to look at plants that are low maintenance and drought-tolerant — that’s really important.

What I suggest to people if they want a green, lush lawn is to maybe [go] with synthetic grass. Because synthetic grass today is a lot different from what you think it is; they really look realistic now. You can’t even tell the difference if you’re looking at a synthetic lawn. Whereas before it used to look like you were looking at carpeting outside. Now it really does look like real grass, which is going to stay green year-round because you don’t have to water it.

CM: So when it comes to landscaping, what’s something basic you see people always forget or misunderstand or overlook?

JC: The scope people tend to overlook. You really have to look at things from the perspective of, if you’re a busy person and you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to your landscape, erring on the side of minimalism. Something that is going to be striking but really easy to take care of. Don’t try to spend a lot of money on a lot of plants that you think are going to look nice but are really hard to maintain.

Your best resource is your local nursery. Spend some time talking to the people that live in your area and know what plants are indigenous to your area and what does well. And just keep it simple. Because you don’t want to get overwhelmed with a bunch of things you know you’ll eventually won’t be able to take care of.

CM: If you were to build an “Austin man” man cave, say, for a guy who’s really into live music, what would you include?

JC: We might do a stage in the basement, where he can actually perform or have people come down and perform. Obviously a really cool bar that has that live music influence. We recently did an episode of Man Cave where we built a guitar bar that was about nine feet long and about five inches thick.

CM: What’s your number one tip for a guy planning to build a man cave?

JC: The biggest tip is to walk through the room and take some time to draw the room out on some graph paper — you don’t have to be an artist, just real simple measurements. And then sit down, spend an hour or two drawing everything out to scale. And come up with a plan. Don’t just go in there and start winging it. Ultimately, you’ll be better prepared and save a lot of money.

CM: Because we have to ask: Do you get confused with the James Cameron, director of Avatar?

JC: I did casting once, way back. And the casting director was like, "Oh, your father’s James Cameron." And I was like, "Yeah! That’s my dad.” I let it go for a little while. But my father’s name is James Cameron. To humor me I just kind of went with it and at the end, I went, “Oh, it’s not that James Cameron.”


The Austin Home & Garden Show runs Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13 at the Palmer Events Center. Jason Cameron will host seminars on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m.