Where Did We Go Wrong?

Editor’s Note: Boyd Coleman has been busy this week attending the ASLA conference, so we are presenting you with the chance to enjoy one of his earlier Week-Ender columns. As a landscape architect, one of the most frustrating things I encounter on a frequent basis is improper maintenance of existing landscapes. We all know that proper maintenance is vital to the success and sustainability of any project. However, it’s also one of the least controllable aspects of a project after …


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One comment on “Where Did We Go Wrong?

  1. Tim May, ASLA on said:

    Wonderful discussion topic Boyd…one that I’ve asked many a maintenance contractor in the north Texas area. I call the technique: “The poodling of (City) one holly at a time” method of maintenance. I even have a photo collection started with some of the best (worst) examples come upon around these parts, so far.

    Some of the reasoning for the shearing of landscapes, I believe, is cultural – who’s doing it, why they’re doing it, how long they’ve been doing it. Much of it is convenience and expediency – time is money (as you suggest) and power tools make quick work of maintenance and, for that matter, any shrub that gets in the way. A lot of it is retailing – city codes can dictate the extent and density of planting, but they often lack long term maintenance requirements…and any retailer out there certainly doesn’t want that darn Oak tree blocking the street view of their “open” sign, so guess what gets “palmed” or “pummeled” into submission and eventually becomes someone’s chimney smoke?

    As landscape architects, it will take a concentrated effort on our part to re-educate the maintenance folks employing those undesirable practices (generally speaking of course and seemingly across the southern U.S.). It needs to be an inclusive education between contractors, professionals, developers, property managers, and jurisdictional governments. Personally, by including maintenance specifications in the project manual, and detailed maintenance notes on our plans is our attempt at the “smart growth” maturation of a landscape. You have a great idea on the maintenance award recognition at the state level. Our state chapter has made some effort to reach out to the landscape construction industry, but we realize it will be a long “row to hoe”.

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