Sunday, June 17, 2012

How NOT To Garden

I’ve been wanting to write this post for ages! There are few things that peeve me more than gardening run amuck, and unfortunately, that describes nearly 8 out of 10 homes in America by my estimation. I blame Better Homes and Gardens for most of this train-wreck along with Frank Lloyd Wright, the dingbat who started this whole mixing of houses with nature to begin with.
Take a close look at this monstrosity he created:

I ask you, how could you possibly get to the backside of this house to do any major structural repairs if you had to? How would you even begin to clean that idiotic glass that goes all the way to the roof on the left side? There’s so much foliage that there’s no place to put a ladder or a lift. And those upper windows are at least 35’ high. What’s worse is that it’s completely pointless. There’s such a thing as too many windows, and this is a prime example of it.

The following is great example of bad planning. Look at all this silly foliage completely mucking up the yard and burying the house. What happens when you need to do tuckpointing and painting or clean the windows and gutters? How would you get a ladder up to those windows on the left if you’re goofy enough to plant a tree right where the ladder has to go?

The following is similar. First look at how slanted the roof is. Obviously you can’t walk on it to clean the gutters. You’d have to do it from a ladder. But just where are you supposed to put a ladder? And who would be silly enough to spend 6 or 7 hundred grand on a house just to hide it behind a forest?

Here’s one last bad example. Now there’s a nice shade tree in the yard at just about the right distance from the house. It shades the house well and isn’t close enough to do much damage. But those bushes are gonna create a nightmare to try and work around. They may not be very tall, but they extend out about ten feet and butt right up against the house. If you had to put up a ladder, it would be so slanted that you couldn’t use it without taking your life in your hands. How would you paint the siding down behind the bushes when they’re right up against the house? I’ll tell you something else; planting a forest against your home is gonna do nothing but bring a ton of bugs into the house and undesirable varmints into the yard.

Look at this next one. See how nice and clean the house looks without a ton of garbage up against it. It could stand to have a couple of shade trees though.

When I was a kid in the 60s almost everybody planted their gardens AWAY from the house OUT in the yard instead of UP in the yard. Here’s an example of what you could do with a little creative thinking. Plants and trees are out away from the house the way they ought to be.

Here’s another example of a halfway decent way of doing things. There’s some foliage up near the house, but not bunched right up against it, and the foliage is small with quite a bit of room between adjoining plant-life. And the big trees are out away from house where they help instead of hurting things.

I especially like this last one. It’s a much smaller, sensible home with small plants that aren’t doing any real harm. Everything looks clean, easy to maintain, and easy to get to. All it takes is the slightest bit of common sense. Anybody can be a good gardener. Always ask yourself before you plant a tree, bush, or flower, "If I put it here, can I still get to my house from top to bottom in case I need to work on it?," because you WILL need to work on it!



  1. SHHH!!!! I need these people to pay me to come work on their houses for them. And I get to put a markup on all the staging and scaffolding I have to rent, too. Not to mention all the additional labor to put it all up. Work's slow enough right now without you comin' along trying to talk sense to all those mini-Rockefellers in West County!

  2. Lots of people misjudge the span of trees. I don't know why they don't trim the bushes back so they don't cover the windows. That's sort of strange especially for really nice, expensive windows. I did bury the back of our old house. I didn't like the neighbors and we couldn't use the back yard, it was so hot. I planted sticker bushes all up the fence to keep the kids from jumping it and to keep my dogs from seeing them and barking continually. The trees made a canopy so you could sit on the deck. We had a really flatter roof, not flat though, but you could lay down and not fall off LOL! The house I have now, no chance. Super slanted but it does allow us to have a real attic with floors and drywall and such. The trees are cut way back, being wooded. I don't want one in the middle of the house after a storm.

  3. Sorry Tom, but sometimes they make my job absolutely impossible, and I'm getting too old to be a contortionist much longer.

    Kathy, I've seen several so-called gardening specialists actually say you should keep a "2-shovel" distance from the house with whatever you plant. Like that's really gonna be enough room after that crap starts to grow. Apparently anyone can put out a shingle and be a gardener. And I haven't even mentioned all the darn ivy I often find clinging to screens with a death-grip.

  4. I feel as if though gardening has certainly moved from being the outer part of the home, more so to a inner personal level by using it to cover up the home. I feel that its been this way for the last 10 or 20 years with all the advancement in technology, people are just more naturally reserved and collected, more personal. Still, whoever the dingbat was that did make that cooky window-walled house, needs a good knock in the head. Agreed.

    -Tony Salmeron

  5. I wonder what ever happened to hedges? This is a big part of the change from planting stuff out in the yard to up in the yard. When I was a kid everyone had hedges at the end of the yard by the road. Now it seems they've moved all those hedges right up against the house. I just don't get it. I don't even want to get it.