Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.


When people find out that I am a landscape designer by trade, people tend to reply with one of three comments. One is, “Ohh, that must be so much fun!” and, yes, it really can be. Another frequent comment is, “Well, I should get you to help me with my yard/specific plant/right side of driveway/grass problem I’ve been having.” The specific questions can be excellent as long as I know the answer. It makes me feel quite knowledgeable.

The most frequent comment, however, is, “Oh, your yard must look FABULOUS!” Um. Heh. Well, at least I don’t lie and say it’s totally awesome. I own up to it. After three years of living in our house, our poor landscape is a blank slate of topsoil, weeds, and juniper — the only remaining shrub from the builder-installed plantings.

There were shrubs in front of the house when we moved in, but I ripped them out post-haste in preparation to do my own plan. Come on, I am not going to keep a squished-in planting of variegated privet, a.k.a. noxious weed, mixed in with cleyeras and azaleas alternating each other. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, then suddenly it’s years later and we’re now known in the neighborhood as The House With No Plants.

My main problem is because I am landscape designer, I know of so many options that we can go with as far as plants and styles are concerned that I’m feeling indecisive as to where to head. Also, there’s some pressure involved. It does need to look FABULOUS, right?

A few days ago, motivation moved in, just two doors down. I haven’t met the guy so I don’t know for positive, but the big-ass truck with all the logos on it makes me feel pretty positive that it’s the owner to one of the other landscape companies in town. A landscape company that is doing a friend of mine real dirty by claiming some of his work as their own on their website. It’s pretty damn low, actually.

Like I said, I haven’t met the guy (and I’d rather not) so he doesn’t know me nor who I work for, but once he finds out, he’ll just get the silly giggles over my landscaping. Or lack thereof. I will not let this guy get a laugh out of me.

So today, I began to tackle the yard.

Remember the juniper I mentioned I left from the original planting? They were such little bitty things the first few years . . .

. . . but all of a sudden they exploded and had gotten taller than me, not only crowding the right side of the front yard near the wall, but also highlighting the lack of plants elsewhere by their enormity.

I despise juniper in places where you have to touch or prune it, but because of that wall and Lydia’s lack of understanding of gravity I am not about to remove them so I started pruning them back this afternoon. I don’t think I have an allergy to juniper but it certainly causes me to break out into little welts and itch. I suppose that’s what juniper does. Nevertheless, I dived into it, cutting back huge branches of the stuff. As I cut I did some mental planning as to what I shall plant along the front of the house.

After one large cut deep into the mass of shrubs, a mass of wasps came flying out at me. I ran across the front yard, throwing my pruners in the air and cursing all the way. Thankfully, none of them got me. I bet I was a sight to see. The rest of our can of Raid was used up this afternoon.

It took a couple of hours, but I took the height of the junipers down by half. They look a hell of a lot better. I still need to move my perennials away from them or they’ll just continually be crowded out otherwise. The next phase is to get some freakin’ plants.

I wish I had gotten a “before” picture; they were twice as tall, and apparently filled with wasps.

The goal is by Christmas when someone finds out what I do for a living and they reply, “Wow, your yard must be GORGEOUS!” I can respond, “Yeah, it’s totally awesome.”


  1. or you could be like those of us who don’t really want to do what we do for a living when we get home so it ends up half assed but functional

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