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New home could use landscaping

New home could use landscaping

Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:01 pm

By JIMMY WILLIAMS
Special to The Messenger
“Men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection.”
—Sir Francis Bacon
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Even in a down economy, building stately seems to be the order of the day. Houses, of varying degree of stateliness, are going up thither and yon, with no apparent trepidation toward bankruptcy.
The gardening, on the other hand, will come later, as Bacon said. Around here, for the most part, it will be a lot later.
It has never ceased to amaze me the effort and lucre, filthy or otherwise, expended on manors of abode, with little or no thought of their surroundings. Fancy brick, fine paneling and, of late, granite countertops, are all the rage.
Up goes the manorial haven, over an excruciating length of time, the lord and his lady move in, sow a plot of grass (maybe) and often there the activity ends, as the family settles down to a life of tedious toil to pay for the thing.
There are, as we speak, in this county, a number of such houses that cost well into six (and maybe seven) figures, sited on lofty elevations and secluded glens, with nary a trace of surrounding vegetation — landscaping, that is — that could do yeoman service in enhancing the residence that cost all that lucre.
Granted, everyone isn’t going to be a gardener. Many would rather spend more money on a charwoman to keep up the house than to part with even a relative pittance of cash for just a few hollies or junipers. To each his own. And yet. And yet.
How can anyone stand to turn in and drive the half-mile ride to their dream home with not a single colorful crape myrtle or dogwood to break the silence?
There are hereabouts a number of qualified landscapers that are capable of installing basic surroundings without getting over into complicated “gardens” (quotes intended). It is obvious that homeowners of the persuasion we are discussing don’t want a garden anyway.
An expensive landscape architect isn’t necessary for this kind of job. A good landscape designer, even a self-taught one, can easily qualify for it and would do one proud to at least soften the foundation of the manor with something — something! — green. A few young shade trees on the outlying property wouldn’t hurt either.
These kinds of things are easy and relatively inexpensive, particularly when compared to all that money that went into the building.
Architects generally recommend a rule that calls for the landscaping around a new home to equal between 10 and 20 percent of the cost of the house. I dare say in these parts it doesn’t average a fraction of that.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 7.14.09

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