By Francisco G. Gómez
Do you ever walk out of your house and take a good look at your front yard; then stare deeply and attempt to visualize what you would like to see? It’s at this very instance that your impatience begins. You ask yourself, “ Do I have what it takes to transform what I’m looking at into what I see in my head?” Of course the answer is yes because what you wish to see as your front yard landscape is very doable for two reasons. One, because you can do it yourself if you’re creative and handy, or two, because you can simply have it done by a landscaper.
Ok, so you decide to do it yourself and the impatience begins to intensify. You read a bunch of landscaping books, watch youtube vids, go to Home Depot, Lowes or the garden center to get ideas and you take the plunge. The outcome is that you’re pleased with what you’ve done and what you now see. Or, you take another hard look and admit to yourself that you shouldn’t quit your daytime job and take up landscaping because what you’ve done looks like crap! No problem, admitting your limitations can do wonders for your ego. Don’t worry too much, you’ll get over it soon enough!
Ok, so you decide to go with a landscaper; you get on the phone and call Everything is Soooooo Beautiful Landscaping Co.. They come over and hook your scape up really fast with contaminated black mulch and lots of Better Homes & Gardens plants they bought at one of the many big mega gardening chains that exist everywhere close by and it costs you a mint. At the end of the job you take another look at your front yard and also up and down your neighborhood block; you say to yourself, “ Looks great, but no different from everyone else’s front yard.” Your impatience has reached the breaking point and you now find yourself in a conundrum. Oh my, what to do? Take a chill pill and relax; this too shall pass!
If you had just taken a step back and thought about how Nature provides all the landscape necessities you could ever want or need, you would be amazed. The garden store industry has made it so easy for you to buy commercially grown plants, trees, herbs and other shrubbery that you overlook the resources at hand. —It’s really easy to take down a tree with your Ridget, Bosch, Dewalt, Makita, John Deere or any of the many saws out there. You get the idea from these few examples, I hope?
So what I’m driving at here is that we in an suburban environment have deconstructed with gross negligence what is still quite abundant. It just takes a bit more effort and patience to relearn what was once the norm on the landscape. Why the impatience? I’ll list a few things we have forgotten that have made us impatient:
- Before there was hot and cold running water flowing through your pipes, people collected rain water. Most home owners don’t do this anymore!
- Trees close to houses weren’t any problem because people had enough land to have a garden where the sun completely covered it. Now we cut down trees next to our homes to let the sun in because we live in overcrowded neighborhoods filled with mini mansions or small homes right next to each other with little land.
- There are many municipalities that no longer permit front yard gardens, hence sterile looking landscape with just grass and some store bought plants and trees around the perimeter of the house.
- People prior to World War 2 didn’t use pesticides or herbicides in their gardens or on the flowers and shrubs around their homes. Now you have a gazillion of these chemicals at your local garden store or mega garden center.
- People kept bees, hence beautiful vegetation and flowers. However, after the advent of chemicals, and not just for plants, the bee population is now in peril. If you don’t know about Colony Collapse Disorder, make sure you learn about it. You’ll understand why I include bees in this list.
- People practiced composting to grow wholesome organic food for the family table before Pathmark, Shoprite, Wegman’s, Acme or any of those other commercial mega frankenfood distributors came along.
This list could go on and on and on about the things we have forgotten about Nature and how all of this has adversely impacted our health and patience. It’s all tied in together, folks, and it’s making us sicker and more psychotic as we continue this out of control pace of impatience we now live!
Just recently Raices stopped landscaping a site that we had been preparing by building soil naturally and by the introduction of recycled plants and herbs shared by other friends. We had been at this site for several years using the philosophy that Nature has so patiently taught us. It turns out that the homeowners we had been working for decided to undo all the hard work we had done by covering the turf and local plants we had installed with black garden store mulch and rocks which they had recycled from their front yard. The homeowners had also been given some recycled pavers which they laid around the perimeter of their home and the hugelkultur flower and herb patch that we had constructed. I do give them kudos for using the recycled materials; however, these were not properly installed because the ground wasn’t leveled correctly and the pavers were placed next to each other incorrectly.
I believe the homeowners’ impatience began when their neighbor had a small fence installed adjacent to their leaf and branch pile to hide it from sight. It also turns out that the neighbor had hired a carpenter to do some work and asked him if he would do some planting as well. This is rather funny because he was asking us for info on what should be planted. It didn’t matter because, as you might imagine, black mulch and garden center flowers appeared opposite the homeowners’ property prior to the decision to take matters into their own hands. Looks nice, but detrimental to the landscape during the course of time, not to mention sterile looking! But to each her/his own…beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but you can’t always say that about what’s put into the earth!
On the other hand, we began an eco-scaping job over three years ago in Highland Park for a friend and fellow eco-nut. Without having to explain much, you can see what some patience can produce; and while the scaping is all natural and required lots of turf building and the installation of lots of shared plants, the outcome has been phenomenal. I’ve included some pics here:
After all is said and done, landscape impatience is very much associated with the way we live our everyday lives; everything must always be quick and easy…oh and don’t forget, sterile! And if you believe the pictures of our friend’s eco-scape looks just like any other neighborhood’s front/side yard, think again. It is all natural and comprised of flowers, plants, trees and herbs shared by other eco-conscience individuals. Even more so by the faith and patience our eco-nut friend has in Mother Nature.
If patience is in deed a virtue, then it is something we must attempt to practice if we are to cultivate balance with nature by understanding the complexities of plant and animal life. It takes time; it doesn’t happen over night. More so, it isn’t simply a visual aesthetic. It entails a oneness with the earth and all that it contains. It can be mysterious and wondrous, but again, it will take time and lots of patience to understand!