Richard and Pat Hollowell's gardening philosophy is simple: Never pay for anything you can do yourself.

And, boy, this couple is a powerhouse do-it-yourself team.

With her skills as a Master Gardener and his as an expert woodworker, the two retirees have completely redesigned and replanted the entire landscape of their Oak Hills subdivision home, where they moved four years ago.

They started right at the front door.

Richard Hollowell built a porch over the entrance of their contemporary-style home, and Pat Hollowell expanded and reshaped the two front flower beds to create softer curved lines.

"I don't like straight lines," she said.

A tall fountain centers one of the beds, both of which are filled with native plants like a swamp maple, blue daze, heirloom roses, Virginia sweetspire and a collection of different day lilies.

"We like to play with day lilies," Pat Hollowell said.

For years, the couple was in the antiques business in Denham Springs, and they love repurposing old pieces to create original garden ornaments, like a cast-iron chiminea turned Japanese-style lantern in one of the front beds.

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In the backyard, Pat Hollowell spent six months digging out leaves and dirt from a stone patio built by a previous owner. The Hollowells hauled in 3,700 pounds of rocks to cover a wet area adjacent to the patio, and added a swing to this new shady spot that merges seamlessly into the existing patio.   

On the expanded patio is a fire pit flanked by several flower beds, and an umbrella-topped dining set.

Two beds near the patio are edged with wine bottles as was often done in 19th-century gardens in the South and decorated with yard ornaments including stone mushrooms, frogs, turtles and a "man" made of terracotta pots.

"You need a little whimsy in a garden," Pat Hollowell said.

The focal point of the backyard is a large, loose figure-eight-shaped flower bed filled with masses of different plants Pat Hollowell grew from cuttings from friends and plants she purchased at the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, where she is a volunteer.

"Hilltop has been a wonderful place for me to learn about plants, especially natives," she said.

Squeezed in among the flowing plants are an orange tree, a 1920s fire hydrant, a wagon filled with pots of begonias and several bird houses made by Richard Hollowell and mounted on old shovels so they can easily be moved around.

Plants like turk's cap attract butterflies and bees to the large bed, which also contains a collection of amaryllis grown from bulbs from Pat Hollowell's late mother's yard in Sherwood Forest. Hollowell moved bulbs from the original site to several previous houses, where she also developed gardens.

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The stump of a large oak tree that was originally part of the bed is now the perfect spot for potted blooming plants.  

Along the wood fence perimeter of the backyard are narrow beds and an arbor with a Peggy Martin climbing rose shading a garden bench handmade of walnut from Illinois by Richard Hollowell with his 15-year-old grandson, Gavin Calbert. 

In several places in the garden, the Hollowells used decorative pieces of ironwork to create screens to hide utilitarian items. On the north edge of the property, they used rocks to convert a drainage path into a decorative dry creek bed.

Even though the Hollowells work in their garden almost every day, they are still planning and expanding.

"Richard's aim is to have all flower beds and no grass to cut," Pat Hollowell said with a laugh.