Saturday, August 13, 2011

The WORST Landscape Advice on Local TV Ever!

Watch this short video that was on a local news program, then read my comments. I just can't believe this is the kind of crap people pay good money for, and then honestly believe it increases their home's value.

Here's the link to the video. Watch it, laugh, sigh, grone, and then come back here.

Ok, these are the issues in order as they came up in the video:

1) The landscaper says that before the job it was just a basic lawn. FYI--it still is! If the owners wanted something more elaborate, one kidney-shaped planting berm out front is bupkis, especially one as sparsely planted as that.

2) Roses, spiraea, salvia, and barberry (hello 1990!). These are the best, low maintenance choices the landscaper could find? What a lazy landscaper! I bet they buy barberry in bulk and call it a spring order in like 5 minutes.          
3) Don’t be afraid to go big? See #1. When is he going to go big? Anytime soon?
4) You want to diversify, says the reporter—where is the diversification? See #2. It looks pretty darn monotone to me! The plants are all at one level (and will be when they mature), and evenly spaced (just like in nature!). And it looks like pretty much every other landscaping job I've ever seen--that's not adding value at all!
5) Customer wanted pink rocks. They originally had more mulch but wanted rock since it's more low maintenance, and it has a weed barrier underneath.
Three things: 1) If you ever plant anything else there, it will be sheer torture moving that rock and cutting the weed fabric and 2) Rock dries out the soil as it absorbs the sun's heat, thus killing plant roots, thus killing the plants. Some investment! 3) Two inches of soil-enriching mulch and I don't see any weeds in my beds. Just saying.
6) More character at front door by adding gazing balls? “Don’t be afraid to overdo that” the landscaper says. What? You should be very very very afraid to overdo that. A person looking at a home will see more as less, and less as more. And wasn't the second coming of gazing balls back in like, what, 1995? I only see them at Home Depot anymore.
7) Have your home professionaly landscaped? Why? So it can look basic and blah like this? Look, for 1/2 the money I will give you just as low maintenance a design AND it will look far better. Plus, if you have kids, they might appreciate interacting with birds, butterflies, and such outside. You can improve the local environment AND have a more unique, money-bringing landscape with hardly any work at all for much less than this guy charged you. Just think how much you spent on the Bobcat, truck, and trailer that offloaded all that heavy rock which does nothing to improve the soil and ensures your plants will need more water and may not live to see next year. 
Holy cow, amen!


Unknown said...

Wow. Just... WOW.

For what it's worth, it sounds like this visionless landscaper was actually the perfect choice for a client who WANTED pink rocks. Your awesome garden designs would be completely wasted on them.

Randy Emmitt said...


Some people just want simple and boring. This is boring, nothing at all exciting about the landscaping.

Gaia Gardener: said...

The rock mulch was my "favorite" part. You are right on in your points about it...and I'll add the fact that it will catch leaves and debris from the mower and from normal leaf drop, then those leaves and debris will form a compost among the pink rocks and, voila, you will have almost more weeds than you'd have with bare soil. Since I don't have anywhere near enough compost to mulch with it, I prefer to use chopped up leaves as mulch in my beds. I have almost no weeds and the plants don't fry in the hot sun.

And, by the way, boulders have been popular for ages. These boulders are mundane at best and their placement is particularly pointless.

Based on what I've seen in photos of your gardens, you would do MUCH better! But then these homeowners might actually learn something about their yard and gardens, and I get the feeling that's the last thing they want to do.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Kim--It's amazing what passes for a professional. Even if someone has a modest budget, you can do so, so much more. But hey, he's got the tractor, all I got be a shovel and stuff.
Randy--You know, most people are boring when you get right down to it. Especially if they are named Benjamin.
Gaia--I hadn't thought of the rocks being catches for ground clutter! Those weeds will grow nicely on TOP of the weed barrier. But hey, those folks can just get out the unfiltered leaf blower and have a good afternoon greenhousing it up and giving people headaches, while giving themselves cancer from inhaling the fumes. No big deal. Snark snark snark. "In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." -- Baba Dioum

Heather Holm said...

I tried to leave a comment on the video but I guess the moderators didn't like it.

This is yet another sad example of landscaping, I'm glad you have the road apples to highlight it.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I left a comment too, Heather, but no go. If that is the landscaper's premiere work, nature is in trouble. Maybe we should email the interviewer directly, as I see her address is now up there?

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Benjamin,
I had that on while working in the kitchen, and just looked at parts of it. I did notice it was pretty boring, and when he talked about the landscape fabric, I cringed. Larry put some down in the 2 foot wide strip behind the garage, then insisted on planting grasses in. We got them from Hy Vee, and I'm sure they weren't native. The neighbor complained about the grasses spreading. I complained because Larry had agreed to take care of the area, and didn't. I decided I was going to dig out the grasses, but couldn't because of that horrible fabric. There are still weeds that grow in there, too. We also have the fabric under the gravel in our back yard, and I have cut a little more off at a time to plant more things around the edges of it.

There was a day they mentioned Karen would be talking to someone about keeping grass out of your planting beds. I got on their live chat and waited for it. Folks were there talking about goofy things not even related to the show. I got on and said I never use chemicals (like the guest recommended). I said I just pull or hoe them out from time to time. John got on and said Karen only does it once a year, and doesn't like chemicals, either. I'm thinking she even emailed me the next day and said the same thing.

That guest said if you pull the grass out, you'll have to do it more than once. Then, when she talked about the spray, she still said you may have to do it more than once. "You have to keep after it." Well, then, she contradicted herself. If I have to repeat something, pick the least harmful thing to the environment.

I had also said I live 2 blocks down the street if they wanted to see a garden that does not use chemicals. John said he was going to drive by. The next day, a 10/11 car stopped while I was out, and it was a photographer who didn't know anything about my getting on their chat the evening before. He wanted to let me know he likes the yard, and wants to introduce me to someone he knows who breeds daylilies and gives iris away in the spring. He drove by again the other day, but didn't stop.

Well, I haven't read your book. I don't think I'm going to be on online book reader. I have a copy from Amazon in Larry's shopping cart, but don't know if he bought it yet. Do you have any copies you are selling locally?

Benjamin Vogt said...

Sue--I pull weeds out by hand. I always see neighbors with a sprayer walking their yards. I suppose it is easier, esp if you're busy--but that's why we have kids. I remember growing up how AWFUL it was helping my mom plant. We had to shovel away deep layers of rock, then cut the fabric for the planting hole. The cut was never big enough and the shovel always snagged on the fabric. It was 12th century torture! Why would anyone do that to themselves?

I wouldn't read my book via an ereader--it's FAR better in paperback for many many reasons. Ebooks just aren't up to specs yet with their formatting. I have some copies of the book--want me to mail you a copy? email me an address at enfrancais AT

Donna said...

Must be the same lanscaper who designed many of my neighbors yards. I am no professional but this is beyond boring and it is so unhealthy for the land around. So much they could do to make it so much nicer.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Donna--Like so many things in life, it's only moderately more work to do the right thing, and the better thing. Often, it's 50/50. I'd trust your eye over this landscaper's any day.

Michelle said...

You haven't met my neighbors. I am trying to develop a more wildlife friendly native has been an education for someone who has never gardened. And I have to remove stuff as I go along like all the darn privet......

Benjamin Vogt said...

Michelle--I can only imagine. I was lucky to be able to start from a clean slate, on both my yard and in regards to neighbors who also have new houses and aren't established lawn-conservatives of yesteryear,

scottweberpdx said...

Yikes...the scary part is that, looking around at peoples' yards, I think he has an army of people who agree with his "tastes".