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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Stop and ask for directions

I'm not a big believer in being critical - you can accomplish so much more with a bit of gentle encouragement. I also believe that the best way to learn is by trying, and then learning from your mistakes. But most times, its best to ask for advice before you start.

I've been watching a new development busy growing over the last few months, and I've even snuck in on occasion to take a closer look. Although its in the middle of an established suburb, with beautiful colonial houses, its simple, contemporary feel looks good, and I was looking forward to seeing how they would finish it off.

But its the finishing off that seems to have let the entire project down. To come so far, and then to do a half-baked job with the landscaping, makes the whole project look like a mess.

The planting on this front verge, really is a waste of time, energy and money. It would have been better off leaving the area as sand or weeds, or at the very least planting grass? All these plants would have looked great in a nursery in abundance. But to think that ±30 tiny plants will go any where towards covering the 60m2 of bare sand is a delusion.
None of them will spread out to cover the sand, or if they do, they will only cover the bare sand in about 50 years time. The pebbles will have disappeared into the sand in about a months time, and the pots will most likely be stolen in the next week. That all sounds quite cynical, but I've seen this same scenario so many times.

I know that these are tough financial times at the moment, and you have to look for areas to save money, but the problem isn't about money at its core - its about a lack of accurate or realistic planning. The building industry in general, never gives accurate costs or time frames - in most cases, projects go over budget and time by about 20-30%.

The result is that there are always compromises. Sometimes its the finishes in the interior that are compromised, and most times its the landscaping. So the very aspects of a project, that should be its consummation, turns out to be its scarring.

In the case above, maybe there were not enough funds available to do any meaningful landscaping, but for a fraction of the cost of what has been spent on planting and materials, (that should, and probably will be pulled out and thrown away) the developer could have gotten some good advice and some thrifty solutions which could have transformed this development.

Instead, they have got a blight on their property, and a terrible first impression.


HelenJ said...

It's so sad that they always spare the money for the plants, when they have spent so much on everything else. But of course, the plants come at last, and by then all the money is gone....
I agree with you - it's a sorry sight!

Garden Wise Guy said...

Is there some type of design review board that approves commercial projects in your area? If so, they failed as well. If this is an approved project reviewed by peers, then the professionals reviewing the design should be on the review board. In Santa Barbara, CA there is a group of architects, landscape architects and lay people who look at just about anything being built and usually do a pretty good job preventing something like your project.

So sad. When I'm king, things will be different!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Ross. I used to live just round the corner from that block and watched that development with interest over the years. You're very generous and diplomatic: I'll say simply that I think it looks revolting. Horrible.

I think grounds are so often an after thought - oh dear, we'd better put in some plants - instead of being planned from the beginning. It's a real shame because plants do so much to improve an area - suburbs aren't called 'leafy' for nothing.

I always forget how much I enjoy your blog - sorry for not visiting more often. :-(

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