Where have all the landscapes gone?   1 comment

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My front landscape.
Curved beds, large perennial & shrub garden.

For the last 4 years, I’ve been working on my front landscape.  Trying to find that bed shape that’s just right…a shape that enhances the landscape, without overpowering it.  Something curvy, flowing, more organic.  No straight lines, please!  It’s not quite right, so I search for inspiration for the bed lines and replacement trees, for sick and overgrown trees.

I really seriously struggled with this.  I want my front garden & landscape to be inviting.  But I don’t want to look “over landscaped”.  I already have more perennials in my front yard than anyone in my neighborhood.  I don’t want to look like I’ve given up all grass.

So, a few times a week, I find myself out driving neighborhoods, to get some inspiration.  I mainly drive neighborhoods that look like mine… 10-15 year old, mass developed neighborhoods.  Well, guess what I’m finding?  NO ONE plants in their front yard.  Why?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the 7 shrubs and rock mulch, plus the 1-2 trees (as required by the city) are all well and good, but what happened to having an inviting front landscape?  A diverse planting of shrubs and perennials and annuals.  And lovely container pots.  Where did all the landscaping go?  I also noticed that trees are no longer sited in front of the home, rather off to the side.  It makes me wonder, as a kid, did these now-parents never get to climb a tree in their own front yard?

So, I set out to find something online.  Google, Houzz, Pinterest, back issues of mags.  The pickin’s are slim y’all!  Where are all the front landscapes?  There seemed to be plenty to chose from if you live on a small city lot, with a sidewalk out front where your home is only 25 feet from the curb.  But what about people like me… 1/3 acre, 50 foot setback, house barely differentiated from the next beige house.

So,  why has this become so difficult?  I can’t find ANY houses that have much more than a small island planting in their front yard.  Is it for the same reason that wonderful locally-owned garden centers like Linders are going by the wayside?

I accidentally turned into a 40 year old neighborhood last week.  What was this?  LANDSCAPES!!  Nicely maintained ones.  And it wasn’t a neighborhood where you’d expect people to have garden services.  These were owner-maintained yards.  I even saw a few people out working in their yards.  They were older than me, possibly retirement age.

Then it occurred to me.  Is it a generational thing?

So, who is buying all these new homes?  Oh, I get it now!  These homes are mostly being bought by 20- and 30-somethings.   Landscaping is not a big priority to that generation.  We know that HGTV doesn’t really do much “G” anymore.  These homes are 4-bedroom 2-story homes.  These homes were being bought by young families who have priorities that do not include maintaining a landscape.

I’m also working on a section of my back garden…completely reworking it.  So I decided to sell off a dozen or so mature clumps of daylilies.  I listed them on an online garage sale and to my surprise, 2 separate wonderfully nice 20-something ladies showed up to pick up their purchases.  I engaged both in a conversation about this very thing.  I applauded them for being young and being interested in gardening.  One told me NONE of her friends wanted anything to do with it.  They all lived in townhouses and had the requisite ONE hanging basket, that by now, is already dead from neglect.  She knows no one her age interested in landscaping. The other shared that her home came with a lot of plants she didn’t know what to do with, and I gave her some quick tutorials on dividing perennials of different kinds. I’m so thrilled they both have an interest.

What does this say for the landscapes of generations to come?  What does it say for true nurseries and garden centers?  Will they all be replaced by the limited offerings of what you can find at big-box stores so called “garden centers”?  Are these mass-produced homes going to give way to mass-produced gardens? Are we doomed to cookie-cutter landscapes that contain little more than a few Goldflame Spirea, Autumn Blaze Maple, and Stella d’Oro Daylilies? Oh, and lest we forget the occasional black-eyed susan.

It’s sad, really.  What can we do to get the younger generation to be more interested in gardening?  I know many of them want to plant veggies, but what about flowers? shrubs? true landscapes?

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Posted June 12, 2014 by koskashostas in Garden Design, Other Perennials, Shrubs, Trees

One response to “Where have all the landscapes gone?

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  1. I’m excited to say my 30 somethings are excited about gardening, but more so the veggies. I added vegies in with my other perennials this year and am loving that. Good post.

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