As I start into my 23rd year as a landscape designer, I got to thinking about all the wild and crazy ideas clients have requested as part of their landscape projects.
Here Are My Top ‘10’
Number Ten – A Pet Door
When I was first starting out and taking on almost any client that called, I was asked for this item. A pet door. Now, not an unusual request as it saves time opening and closing the door for your most beloved family pets. However, for this particular project, the client wanted a pet door for their chickens! That’s right, their Chickens! I didn’t ask why they wanted to allow the chickens into their home. I guess chickens need a home too! However, if I was a chicken, I wouldn’t be in the house around dinner time!
Number Nine – A ‘No Maintenance Garden’
I’m sure many designer gets this request. A ‘no maintenance garden’. So, there is really no such thing as a ‘no maintenance garden’ when plants get involved. There will always be some form of weeding, watering, or feeding that needs to happen, at some point and time during the growing season, to keep plants thriving. A ‘no maintenance garden’ would be rocks. Rocks require little to no maintenance. They stay where they are put. They don’t ask for much in the way of care. They thrive on their own, no matter the weather conditions. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. They look best when placed with a few other rock friends. Simply, they are no maintenance! And they Rock!
Number Eight – Garden Art!
Garden art, yummy! I’m was so excited about this project! I couldn’t wait to find a way to incorporate these wonderful, one-of-a-kind art pieces into a new garden design for the client. However, the donkey pulling a wagon, and the full set of ceramic Snow White and Seven Dwarf figurines, and the garden gnomes weren’t quite what I had pictured as one-of-a-kind art pieces! Hmmm. I guess one person’s art is another person’s garden gnome!
Number Seven – A Pool Slide!
“I want a pool slide!” says the client. “Not a problem” I say! “A pool slide can be fun for all ages and incorporated into a pool design with great ease”, I state in my best designer voice. It was the next comment that gave me pause…as requested by the client, the new pool slide would start on the roof of their two storey home and twist and turn its way down to the swimming pool level which was located at the bottom of a slope at about the same grade as their finished basement floor – just to give you a visual. I figured I could make the pool slide work however, I did ask the clients if they thought was a good idea to encourage and allow their young children access to the roof of their home? I mean, their children will be teenagers at some point and well, kids will be kids. I suggested the roof slide might be a bit of a safety concern? Got to love client ideas!
Number Six – Let There Be F Bombs!
The very first site meeting with a new client allows me to get you know, you. What you like, what you don’t, and what you want in your new landscape. I think of it as ‘a first date’. We are both on our best behavior. Well, not always. One lovely couple had a nasty, boisterous fight in their front yard during our first site meeting. There were a few ‘F’ bombs thrown around (not at me, at each other) about who’s vision was right, and who should get what they wanted and why, and ‘not your dumbass ideas’! You get where I’m going here. I politely left the site meeting in the front yard; making the decision that looking at the backyard wasn’t going to get any better. Let’s just say ‘I when to the washroom before dessert and didn’t come back to the table’. I did however, called the clients a couple days later to let them know I wasn’t the designer for them. It’s not you! It’s me!
Number Five – I Don’t Want to See My Neighbours!
And they don’t want to see you! But when you have a postage-card size backyard that isn’t large enough to plant trees of any size or shape, it’s kind of hard to find a way to hide your neighbour’s. Unless of course, you plant your trees on the neighbour’s property. Not by mistake, we did ask if we could plant trees on the neighbouring properties, to which they all agreed. And we planted a forest. Thank you very much. Now, you can’t see them and they can’t see you.
Number Four – I Sunbath in the Nude!
Well, okay then. TMI. Just TMI. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say. If you are a butt-naked sunbather and don’t want to ‘let it all hang out’ for the neighbours, I suggest you move to a location where you don’t have neighbours. Just to keep everyone happy and your privates, private.
Number Three – A Big Trampoline!
Making the big jump. A client requested I locate a very large trampoline adjacent to his house so he could jump from their upper storey deck onto the trampoline, and bounce from the trampoline into the inground swimming pool. To him it was “a fast and easy way to get from the house into the pool”, quote on quote. Well, you can see how this could go so terribly wrong. One off-set, out-of-control bounce and he could end up over shooting the pool and into the neighbour’s yard. Now, if he was bringing beer, I’m sure he would be very welcome. Just bounce on in!
Number Two – Help My Cedars Are Turning Brown!
The mystery of the brown cedars. I got a phone call from a past client. The beautiful cedars we planted adjacent to the rear deck were turning brown (dead foliage) on one side. Was it a lack of water? No, they were being watered twice a week. Not enough sun? No, they got lots of sun as the deck was south facing. So, what was going on? Why were these cedars on this side of the deck and not the other side of the deck, turning brown? Quite the mystery. After an intense questioning, it turns out her husband and his friends met each Friday night for a rousing game of poker. Of course, their poker table was located adjacent to the sliding doors that lead to the rear deck. Well, when you’re in a rousing game of poker, win or lose, there is just not enough time to run to the washroom. Instead, you step outside and pee off the rear deck, onto the cedars. Mystery solved!
Number One – The Stripper Pole!
There are just those crazy and wild requests you can never forget. The stripper pole is it for me! A mature client requested a stripper pole be located adjacent to his new inground swimming pool. I did ask why? (Just because you have to ask, right). I’m not going to get into the details here, however I will say it did involve taking off one’s clothes with some swimming, and I believe I will leave it there. Did the stripper pole make it into the design? I did talk the client out of installing a stripper pole by the pool, stating ‘the metal pole could get very hot as it would be located in the full sun and I was sure he didn’t want to take the chance that someone might end up with serious burns!’ Psst! The stripper pole is in the basement.
Well, there you go. Some of my wild and crazy project requests. I was able to install a few while others, let’s just say, they are still on the drawing board.
The Gabby Gardener