I never knew so many of you cared. After sharing the landscape plan for my backyard a few weeks ago, many armchair landscapers among you wrote to warn me about the woes of palm trees, bamboo and fig ivy. And you didn’t even know yet about the fake grass.
Poor Tony Evans. My landscape designer thought when he was getting his degree in landscape architecture, that defending his designs before his professors would be his toughest test. That was nothing compared to facing my readers’ court of opinion.
Because you had questions for me, I had questions for him.
The palm tree matter resolved handily. Tony had proposed a triangle of queen palms to create a shade canopy over the outdoor table. However, palm trees are not allowed in our community. Apparently, they didn’t fit the developer’s vision, I learned when I ran my plan by the architecture review committee. No problem. We will plant crepe myrtles instead. (Yes, I know they drop.)
As for the bamboo trees planned for the side wall, my initial reaction matched Gene’s, a reader from Campbell, Calif. His actual comment was “Bamboo? Ugh.” When I lived in California, I remembered bamboo as being very invasive, but, Tony assured me, the type he proposed stays put. It clumps and doesn’t send runners to spread. I have been in several Florida homes where bamboo trees create a welcome privacy screen, just what we want between us and our neighbors. I’m sticking with the plan.
The thought of fig ivy really drove readers up the wall. “It’s because I love you so much that I have to write and warn you about the dreaded fig ivy that you plan to plant on your garage wall,” wrote Marjorie, from Orlando. “Assuming that you are talking about creeping fig ivy, run as fast as you can from it!”
Wow. I’ve always liked ivy-covered buildings, their classic air of permanence and stability.
“It will damage paint and wood. It will become a monster,” she continued. “It starts out as a beautiful little lacy leaf, but the leaves get bigger and the vine gets woodier. Then, if you don’t constantly prune it, it grows into a hedge. … That’s not all. It creeps into everything.”
I forwarded her note to Tony, who, to be fair, had mentioned that the ivy would need maintenance and could be hard on stucco, and said fake fig ivy was an option, which sounded, well, fake. With the exception of Christmas trees, which we’ve discussed, I’m not a fan of fake botanicals.
Meanwhile, all around me are handsome houses with beautifully maintained ivy walls. So the jury is out.
Now Pat, from Santa Clara, is in luck. She is considering re-doing her front yard, she writes. “I would love a discussion of the pros and cons of artificial turf. (Probably too much to ask!)” Not at all, Pat.
Tony actually presented that option. My antennae shot up like crabgrass: “Fake grass?” I said, to make sure I’d heard right.
“You’d be surprised how nice it looks,” he said.
“When I think of Astroturf, I think of the Putt-Putt golf course,” I say, and feel my face screw up the way it does when I smell something bad.