Thursday, April 28, 2011

Formal Fronts & Botanical Behinds

Let's talk about botanical gardens.  They are a sight to behold.  Beautiful and peaceful, with thousands of different species carefully cultivated over acres and acres and acres of spotless lawn.  There's a reason people flock to Morton Arboretum every year.  It is divine.

One must keep in mind, however, that there's a huge staff of horticulturists working full-time on that place.  They are constantly mowing, pruning, replanting and spraying for bugs and diseases.  That's why they sell have enough money to keep the place immaculate.

Now, unless you are selling tickets to your front yard, I'm guessing you can't afford a staff of horticulturists.  I'm guessing that YOU are the head horticulturist and that you probably have another job which pulls you away from all that pruning, mowing and spraying delight.

So please, keep it simple.

I meet many people who are passionate about gardening and love to try out new and different plants.  They buy one here and one there and sock them in the ground and treasure them.  I know, because I am one of them.

And that's why we have backyards.  AKA: our personal botanical garden.  You can welcome people into your private sanctuary when it's looking good, and pull the blinds when it's not.  No one need be the wiser.  They'll see your immaculate front yard and believe you to be the Genius Gardener that you are.

I'm a living testament to this rule.  My front yard is very tame.  The backyard is where I let it all hang out.  The good, the experimental and the weedy, all neatly(?) tucked behind my fence.

Why keep it in the back?  A couple of reasons spring to mind:

1.  You may want to borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors at some point in time.  Wouldn't you like to have them look upon you favorably at that moment?  Consider the orderly front yard as good PR with the neighbors.  But, some may say, "My neighbor's are so annoying....I really don't care what they think.  They play their music too loud and their dog is always running loose."  Now aside from reminding you to love your neighbor as yourself, I'll point you to Reason #2.

2.  Curb appeal for future resale.  (Maybe it's time to relocate to some nicer neighbors!)  Plan now for a tasteful, inviting and tame front yard.    Keep your front landscape simple and pleasing, so it doesn't detract from your home or overwhelm potential buyers.

3.  The wilder the yard, the harder to weed.  And once those weeds get ahold, you'll be wearying quickly.  Hence, a truly weedy front yard is predictably in your late-summer forecast.  And when you come home from a long day at work, the last thing you want to see is another project that needs doing.  So reward yourself: with a tidy front!

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