My Top 10 ‘Wild and Crazy’ Client Requests!

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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 just starting out and taking on almost any client that called, I was once asked for a rather unusual item: a pet door. It’s not an uncommon request, as it saves time opening and closing the door for your beloved family pets. However, in this particular case, the client wanted a pet door for their chickens! Yes, their chickens! I didn’t inquire about the reason behind wanting to allow the chickens indoors. I suppose chickens need a home too! Although, I wouldn’t want to be in the house around dinner time if I were a chicken!

Happy Chicken Door

Number Nine – A ‘No Maintenance Garden’

I’m sure many designers get this request: a ‘no maintenance garden.’ However, there is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance garden’ when plants are involved. There will always be some form of weeding, watering, or feeding that needs to happen during the growing season to keep plants thriving. A ‘no maintenance garden’ would essentially be rocks. Rocks require little to no maintenance. They stay in place, don’t ask for much in terms of care, and thrive on their own no matter the weather conditions. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and look best when placed with a few other rock friends. And they rock!”

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Number Eight – Garden Art!

Garden art, yummy! I was so excited about this project! I couldn’t wait to find a way to incorporate these extraordinary, one-of-a-kind art pieces into a new garden design for the client. However, the donkey pulling a wagon, the complete 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 gnomes!

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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. The following comment gave me pause. As requested by the client, the new pool slide would start on the roof of their two-story 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 – to give you a visual. I figured I could make the pool slide work. However, I did ask the clients if they thought it 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 kids will be kids. I suggested the roof slide might be a bit of a safety concern. You have to love client ideas!

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Number Six – Let There Be F Bombs!

The first site meeting with a new client allows me to get to know you. What you like, what you don’t, and what you want in your new landscape. I think of it as ‘our first date’. We are both on our best behaviour. Well, only sometimes. During our first site meeting, one lovely couple had a nasty, boisterous fight in their front yard. There were a few ‘F’ bombs thrown around (not at me, at each other) about whose vision was right, 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, deciding that looking at the backyard wouldn’t get any better. Let’s say, ‘I went to the washroom before dessert and didn’t return to the table.’ However, I called the clients several days later to let them know I wouldn’t be their designer. 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 it’s hard to find a way to hide your neighbours when you have a postage-card-size backyard that isn’t large enough to plant trees of any size or shape. 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.  

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Number Four – I Sunbath in the Nude!

“Okay, that’s too much information. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words. If you like to sunbathe naked and want to avoid exposing yourself to your neighbors, I recommend finding a location where you don’t have close neighbors. This way, you can keep everyone happy and your private parts private.”

Number Three – A Big Trampoline!

Making the big jump! A client requested that I locate a large trampoline adjacent to his house so he could jump from their upper-storey deck onto the trampoline and bounce from it 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, terribly wrong. One off-set, out-of-control bounce and he could end up overshooting the pool and into the neighbour’s yard. Now, if he brought beer, I’m sure he would be very welcome. Just bounce on in!

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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 turned brown (dead foliage) on one side. Was it a lack of water? No, they were watered twice a week. Need more sun? No, they got lots of sun as the deck was south-facing. So, what was going on? Why were these cedars turning brown on this side of the deck and not the other side? 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 adjacent to the sliding doors leading to the rear deck. Well, when you’re in a rousing game of poker, win or lose, there is not enough time to run to the washroom. Instead, you step outside and pee off the rear deck onto the cedars. Mystery solved!

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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.

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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. 

Happy Landscaping!

The Gabby Gardener

December 2022

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