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Custom Fence and Gate Aces
JTM Landscaping and Contractors

By Michael Miyamoto, LC/DBM


This side gate was part of a larger fence project at a home in Berwick, La., designed and built by JTM Landscaping and Contractors, LLC. The gate was made of pressure treated pine. It is mounted on 6" x 6" x 6' posts, also treated pine, buried 36" deep with 240 pounds of concrete used for each footing. All the hardware is heavy-duty grade. The fence and gates were designed on a piece of scrap wood moments before construction began. "We didn't have any guidelines except that we wanted something fresh," said Jeffrey Matherne, chief executive member of the company. "So we made our best effort to match the consistent horizontal features with the rest of the home."



JTM constructed a driveway gate system on the opposite side of the home shown on the preceding page. The wood sections were built with the same construction techniques as the side gate and reflect the same design. Two 6' sections of wrought iron, purchased from an online fence supplier, were used for this gate. The system includes an automatic opening and closing device that is 100 percent solar powered and can be operated by smart phone.


This homeowner in Youngsville, La., wanted a robust double-sided castle door of a gate for the backyard fence for security as well as privacy. Its frame is constructed primarily of primed pine, with its posts sunk 36" deep in the soft southern Louisiana soil. The frame was then wrapped with thick select western red cedar and topped with a beefy arbor. There is a matching front-yard counterpart, but it is slightly smaller in proportion.

JTM Landscaping and Contractors, LLC, is a turnkey landscape design and installation company based in Morgan City, La., and serves southern Louisiana and surrounding areas. Its services include landscape design, landscape installation, drainage, decks, patios, walkways, pergolas, custom fences and gates, irrigation systems, water features, hardscapes and LED landscape lighting.

Jeffrey Matherne, chief executive member and sole proprietor of the landscaping firm, said he started his business in April 2006 as strictly a landscape designer-builder. Since then, he has added JTM Construction Group. He maintains one construction crew and two landscaping crews.

Matherne is a registered contractor, a certified nursery and landscape professional, and a licensed landscape horticulturalist, irrigation contractor and pesticide applicator. He is also the company's sole design draftsman. The company has done numerous landscaping projects in Morgan City, Franklin, Lafayette, Houma, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana.

With fence projects, his workers almost always have to deal with a challenge of soft soil that is most prevalent in his part of the state. It is difficult getting the posts in the ground and keeping them straight and sturdy. His workers have to use large posts and bury them deep, and they also have to be well protected against the elements.

"We're basically in a basin," he said. "We don't have any hard ground, and there is no rock base underneath." Once the posts are done right, everything else is fairly easy, or "cut and dried."

Because of heavy rainfall and flooding, his firm did very few landscaping and irrigation jobs last year. Landscaping in particular was considered a luxury item that "no one has been pulling the trigger on," he said. But his firm has done "thousands and thousands of dollars worth of drainage projects," getting water out of people's yards, he said, mainly because they want to protect their investments.

The design-build firm has done only four fence projects in 2016, "and we were happy to have them," he said. Because these types of jobs have been rare, during the past year anyway, he said he tried to give his customers a more customized look than they would otherwise have asked for. He made more of an effort to "go over the top" with the design of each fence, and the word of mouth advertising has been very positive.


This gate is part of a fence project constructed of pure red cedar and heavy-duty components at a home in Patterson, La. It was designed "on the fly" and was intended to be simple and just good enough to keep the property owners' new puppy safe.


A retired elementary school teacher in Stevensville, La., and three-time cancer survivor who spends a lot of time in the back patio and garden was sick of looking at the seemingly abandoned property next door. So she called on the landscaping firm to construct a screen that wasn't just a wood fence. She trusted the firm to build something new and creative, using simple fence materials so that nothing could be seen on the other side. Only 16' long, the project took almost an entire day of ripping angles and building custom lattice and trim. The builder tried several different variations and configurations, until the schoolteacher settled on the fence here.



This gate was built high off the ground in preparation for the future construction of a driveway. In this case, the homeowners were so patient with a very hectic schedule that the landscaper decided to go the extra mile and construct something much more than what the clients had expected. Originally, the gate was to have a plain board-to-board look with a very simple window. To reward his clients' kindness, the builder went with an exterior cedar skeleton, and got really creative by adding heavy-duty tee hinges. The exterior skeleton is solidly backed with a very simply, but effective, pressure treated pine structure. In addition to the double gate on one side of the home, a smaller single gate was constructed to complement it as closely as possible. "Part of the idea behind this design was to point out that a beautiful gate doesn't have to be complex to add value and curb appeal," the owner of the design-build firm said.

For example, one of his larger fence projects was in Berwick, La. It was complicated because the homeowner wanted an automatic gate. Part of the driveway had to be temporarily cut out, so vehicle access to the home was limited for a few days. As for the design-build of the fence, he said: "There was no room for error, or the gate would not close just right."

He told the homeowner that his goal was to have this job published in Landscape Contractor magazine, after having basically sketched out the design of the fence on a scrap piece of wood. The owner just sort of laughed and walked away. In the end, the homeowner was very pleased with the result, and now that the project has indeed been published in this magazine, the entire project has been "rewarding," he said.

In addition to landscaping design-build, the company offers a maintenance service, including lawn care that can be applied seasonally, monthly or as often as needed. His firm currently has 15 maintenance contracts. The firm has extensive knowledge of southern Louisiana's climate, and because of that, it can implement strategies to complement all landscaping requirements.

The company has also started Thern-Gro LLC, a garden center, within its headquarters. At the moment, it is getting off the ground, although orders are being taken and deliveries are being made.

"We constantly strive to incorporate the highest quality plants, materials, and construction techniques into each and every project," the company says on its website. "Our team takes pride in delivering outstanding results to our clients. We are constantly learning and keeping up with the latest materials and outdoor trends to give clients the best options for their outdoor space requirements while working within their budget."

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, January 2017.

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January 22, 2019, 11:58 am PST

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