Zero Curb Appeal GardenApril 18, 2014
One thing every homeowner wants is a garden with curb appeal. One thing new builders create are yards with zero curb appeal. Maybe they don’t see the value in putting in a beautiful garden that will thrive in the space, or maybe they run out of money on construction, or maybe they just trust the cheapest sub’s out there to pick up whatever plants are on sale at their construction supply stop, and just plop things in. All of these things are likely given what we regularly see shoved into the ground around remodeled buildings and new construction — just before the house goes on the market. And once that house sells (and it will sell) the homeowners are stuck with a space that’s not likely to thrive — except for the weeds; those will definitely thrive here.
This house near our HQ is a good example. Sure, it’s better than what used to be there: a crumbling shack where an old drunk died as his trick-turnin’, crack-sellin’ lady friend wheeled and dealed out the back. The construction company has kept up a “Built Green” sign over the months that they’ve been putting up the house (and demolishing a tree in the back and compacting the soil everywhere). Gotta say: the curb “garden” is not built very green. And, it’s really ugly.
Months ago, well before the house was anywhere near completion, they brought in a load of sod. It languished in the back of the property in a rotting pile for months. Then, when it was mostly dead, they squared it out on the hellstrip, which they had been driving over, parking on and otherwise destroying for months. Before they randomly squared together the mostly dead sod, the soil was given no preparation. This is what it looked like when it went in. (Looks like even Kula was disgusted by it.) Seriously, do these guys not get that the trend is less lawn: more food?
(FYI: some of the grass bounced back, but it was so poorly installed that it’s a rolling, lumpy, bumpy mess with a checkerboard pattern because the seams of each piece of sod were weak. )
The front yard is marching line soldiers of Heather. (Update: rough count: 81 Heathers!) Should all of these plants survive, which is unlikely, the front is going to be a giant wad of this plant, accentuated by spikes of Flax, which will also probably die come winter. And, don’t even get me started on the infestation of Ice Dancer Carex that’s going to happen where they’ve plugged in more marching soldier plants — complete with a military buzz cut. And, to top it all off, they threw in that builder special: a weeping tree, planted North of the house, where it won’t help cool things down. In this case, it’s a weeping Beech right out the front door — perfect for attracting sugar-dripping aphids and the stinging insects that eat them.
Years ago I heard a saying: “A yard is where you put prisoners; a garden is where you want to live.” IMHO: this space is more the former than the latter — what do you think?
Perhaps another perspective beyond the rant above is that this is just an opportunity for future improvement. Whoever buys this place is going to need help creating some real curb appeal — a real garden. Rather than this pretend xeriscape monoculture, this little plot is ideal for some front yard edibles, herbs, maybe a rebate-incentive program rain garden, or any number of other innovative garden options. It’s just a shame the “Built Green” builder didn’t figure that out in the first place.