In a way, landscaping is a silly use of money. Often obligated by societal expectation, it can so easily feel like a mundane necessity; putting a bow on the exterior of our homes mostly for the sake of others. At the end of the day most people just want something low maintenance that offers a decent level of curb appeal. While nothing is wrong with this view, I’ll reflect back to where I started; this standard approach feels a bit silly even to me.
Long ago I ventured beyond the idea of landscaping as mere ornamentation. I found deeper, richer ways of creating value that provides meaning and worthiness rather than feeling silly and obligatory-something more than just curb appeal.
Value in Site
Bare ground isn’t long disturbed before a migration of plant life blankets the exposed earth. Even in the most harsh conditions, communities of plants have engineered themselves to thrive. From the rain forest to the desert, from the cracks in the pavement to the bogs of the roadside ditch, plants have adapted to almost every type of landscape on earth.
Rather than forcing a foreign palette of plants to survive by way of chemical and hydrological supplementation, landscape design should take advantage of the underlying archetypal ecology of the site and the centuries of trial and error plants have taken to adapt.
Ignoring these cues is to ignore what is already working. How ignorant are we who attempt to defy nature? Maintenance cost and time as well as the ecological punishment we often create can be drastically reduced by looking for valuable clues in the clay we are given to work with.
Value of Beauty
Beauty can demand us to stop, to delight, even if only for a moment. Beauty can point to things bigger than ourselves, of a greater good that exists. We act differently around beautiful things, so it seems clear-beauty has the power to change us.
When life feels chaotic, beauty makes it worth-while. Though in today’s terms it’s rarely noticed, value comes in more forms than monetary exchange alone. When our deepest and most cherished needs of love, friendship, and beauty go unsatisfied, so do we.
The cultural requirement we have for landscaping offers us a chance to be intentional and find value where others do not. A carefully planned garden costs the same as one that isn’t planned at all, so when forced into a situation that either feels silly or meaningful and lasting, the buried treasure is obviously worth seeking.