Most of the time, Joel Moss landscapes the grounds around Sacramento International and Mather Airport. He maintains both airports with irrigation, tree work and weed abatement, and uses native and drought-tolerant plants to reduce the area’s water needs.
Six months out of the year, though, Moss spends his free time touring the backyards of strangers completely redesigning the spaces – all within two days’ time.
Joel Moss isn’t trespassing; he’s a co-host on a television program called Yardcore, on HGTV’s DIY Network. With his brother Jake, they are challenged to create eco-friendly designs for overgrown, neglected suburban backyards. While the homeowners are away, the Yardcore team tours a backyard, then spends five minutes inside checking out the home’s décor, furniture and food to gain clues about the homeowner’s tastes and lifestyle. Without meeting the homeowners, the brothers create a landscape design based on their observations, and subcontractors install the design in 48 hours.
“Our biggest clues actually come from the kitchen,” Moss said. “If there are big cuts of meat in the fridge, it’s a sign that the homeowners want to cook outside, so we’ll install an outdoor kitchen. If we notice a lot of cookbooks or gardening magazines, we’ll include vegetable or herb gardens.”
The brothers got started by doing guest appearances for other DIY Network shows. In the last four years, they’ve worked for Martha Stewart, Turf Wars and as production assistants for Yardcore before becoming the hosts.
After two seasons, there’s been 100% satisfaction with their yard designs. “Some homeowners even break out into tears of joy; that’s always good,” Moss said. For six solid months, Moss uses every holiday and weekend to work on the show. While it can be time-consuming, Moss relishes the opportunity to put his passion into practice: ecologically sound design using recycled materials, drought-tolerant plants, and flora that attracts native fauna. Above all, he loves the show’s challenges and results. “It’s definitely an outlet for creativity that I wouldn’t usually have,” Moss said.