......................THIS DISCUSSION WILL CONTINUE ON MY NEW BLOG MEANDERINGS and SKETCHES
FORUM QUESTION 1: HOW CAN WE GET THE BUILDERS / ARCHITECTS TO GIVE UP ON THE CURRENT TREND OF LARGE, OVER-SCALED, PRETENTIOUS HOMES WITH NON-DESCRIPT STYLES? Lot sizes are getting smaller and there is a desperate need for a basic redesign of architecture that will (1) integrate with the environment (2) provide privacy (3) be functional and aesthetically pleasing. We do not need 4000 sq. feet to do this! We need a new look, a choice beyond the ugly mansions being built all over our land.
FORUM QUESTION 3:SHOULD WE CREATE GARDENS ' JUST FOR OURSELVES' and SHOULD WE CONSIDER PUBLIC PERCEPTION?
FORUM QUESTION 4:WHAT GARDEN ELEMENT TYPIFIES AND IS MOST REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GARDEN STYLE OF YOUR COUNTRY OR AREA? DOES YOUR GARDEN CONTAIN THIS ELEMENT?
FORUM QUESTION 5: IS APPRECIATION OF THE GARDEN DWINDLING? DO OUR CHILDREN EVEN CARE (OR SEE NATURE) ANYMORE? WILL THERE BE ONLY VIRTUAL GARDENS IN OUR FUTURE? HAS TECHNOLOGY HELPED OR HINDERED THE ART OF GARDENING?
QUESTION # 5: Is appreciation of gardening dwindling?
The love of gardening will either be in someone, or it won't. However, unless a young person has the opportunity to experience gardening he/she will never know if that love is there. Those of us who love gardening have many opportunities to expose young people to the enjoyment of gardening. Pulling weeds is fun if you have the love for gardening, but to someone who has never been shown the enjoyment one can get from gardening, pulling weeds does not look enjoyable. Certainly, from a distance, watching someone bent over pulling weeds looks like miserable work!
My children are now in their twenties, but when they were in their early years of elementary school, another mom and I use to volunteer in the school garden. My children were lucky enough to go to a school which had small farm animals that the children were responsible for and an area for gardening. One of the boys there was the hardest worker of all in the garden. As the children became young adults, I would occasionally run into that hard worker and he would always give me a hug. This young man had gone into the gardening business and I have a hunch that those hours spent with him when he was about 7 years old set him in that direction.
Now I am a grandmother and I am teaching my 3 year old granddaughter about planting seeds and watching them grow. I let her plant some corn seeds in my garden, and a shaker can of wild flower seeds at the side of the house. Since she comes over about once or twice a week she has the opportunity to see the seeds grow. She's very proud of what she has done and is eager to see what those little seedlings will grow in to. To answer the question..... there are so many opportunities to expose children to gardening. Just letting child plant a few corn seeds in a small space between an apartment building and the wall and allowing that child to eat the corn later, can set a love for gardening that can last a lifetime. I should know, that's what started that love for me.
My children are now in their mid-late thirties!.....and I have also had the pleasure of encouraging my 5 year old grandson to explore the natural world- what a joy! This year he helped me plant vegetable seeds, since we have a large country garden. Every time he comes over we go down to see how the plants have grown. He proudest moment was picking beans from plants he had grown from seed...and then eating them! If children don't experience nature and interact with the natural world, they will not learn to fight for it! If you don't have room for a garden, take children for hikes in the closest natural setting that you have. My children spent their early years building forts in the woods below our house. Children need unstructured time to expore the wonders of nature on their own.
QUESTION # 4: Though I am residing in US since 2001, my home country is India. Looking back at the garden style I feel the strong influence of Islamic - Mughal gardens. Crossing / geometrical axis, courtyards, water channels / canals, fountains, topiary, rose gardens, fragrant gardens, tomb like shades, use of marble, carved details in structures. Overall it gives me a formal feeling.
Now about SHOULD WE CREATE GARDENS ' JUST FOR OURSELVES' and SHOULD WE CONSIDER PUBLIC PERCEPTION?
In my opinion garden is your connection with nature, which at the same time may serve various purposes besides beautifying your property. For eg., entertaining, fulfilling a hobby, or centering you by giving peace and quiet, and many more. I believe it is you who should decide and create what you are looking for from this piece of earth and this space that belongs to you. But since you live in a community you are expected to consider the ambience of the environment your garden is in and respect it. As long as you do not create an eyesore in name of your guest my take is present your perception to the world and who knows, tomorrow that may become the new "public perception". I am still looking for tips to become a more adventurous designer and loosen up in my design ideas.....
There is a question lingering in my mind since long. In summers I see so much of mowing in residential areas, and along roads..it makes my wonder why haven't planners/ designers been able to provide a solution to so much wastage of fuel+labor year after year every summer. (besides the noise of mowers is annoying). Can't some other ground cover plants be proposed which need less maintenance? I am really curious to know the views about this issue.
It's great to hear from those of you who live or are from other parts of the world....gardens do have personalities based on both culture and climate. Grass, and the constant mowing of it, seems to be a very American garden ingredient, but as people become more aware of various groundcovers, this is changing, at least in some parts of the country. With smaller and smaller lawn areas on tighter lots, it's often more practical to substitute a groundcover. Designers are trying to encourage smaller lawn areas, or suggesting eliminating the lawn altogether, but often times clients with children insist on a lawn...no matter how small, since it is a more suitable play surface.
my name is Ridwan Bachtra, I am a landscape designer from Indonesia. The most representative elements of Indonesian gardens are large palms, many types of heliconias, bromeliads and usage of rocks. Indonesia archipelago has more than 13,000 islands, and consist of hundreds of original tribes. The most popular one is the Balinese. Since the Balinese people embraces Hinduism, many of spiritual elements come in play in garden formations, this includes water features, stones statues of gods, and even fresh flower arrangement in plates as offerings on some corners or underneath a very large fig trees. Plumerias are extensively used in many varieties in Balinese gardens.
Now...about the question "Should we create gardens, 'just for ourselves' and how much of public perception should we consider?" I'm a beginning landscape designer here in Colorado. We have just spent a couple years in dealing with a drought situation...which was brought forth into the xeriscape plan for many people. I CAN see the concern people had about the future with water in relation to their gardens. A lot of people spent great pains in removing lawns for mulch and rock....taking out shrubbery for cactus....perennials even. MY CONCERN is that we rushed to judgment in that this was a long term problem. Colorado has a history of drought periods and then great years for the runoff and rain. Maybe we forgot that here? I use all this as a preface to my point. public perception can be TOO much fear driven and not counting the facts that responsible gardening can incorporate a look of lush without the need for southwest decor to predominate a a region that isn't cultured to that. I admit I'm still learning my horticulture side, but honestly believe that gardens should reflect more of our styles. Persona in a garden help establish,for others that see our landscapes, who we are as individuals and reflect our unique tastes. For example, I love the beach style grasses I've seen in Virginia Beach...without sacrificing honesty to Colorado's look...why can't I have an area designed with a mini lighthouse as a center piece and beach grasses and other regional plants to encase it? Too outlandish? Whose to say. I WANT to design for a persons taste and lifestyle without corrupting the integrity of the landscape. Anyway..my thoughts.
Interesting that you talk about "fear driven perception " on the part of the public...I could get into politics here, but I won't go there! Concerning the garden....I'm all for diminshing the importance of the 'American lawn' whenever possible...there are many substitutes that can still provide a lush, green look. I think that it's fine to inject a bit of your personality into a garden. I do feel that there should be some ties to the context of the site. As long as you don't litter your garden with dozens of lighthouses , and the plants are ones that can actually survive in your climate...go for it! LE
First I'd like to add my compliments for your lovely website from a very far location in Eastern Europe. it provides a good support and guiding, since down here we're suffocated in a crowd of kitsch designers, quite understandable after 50 years of communist cultural void. As a traveling person ( I'm a seaman) I think the overscaled homes design is a trend originating not necessarily in architects convictions but more in client's ideals.Europe is the less affected since the space is more scarce than say, Africa or the Americas. Personally, I can feel the difference owning a small property on which I was able to transform a garage and 150sq.mtrs into a nice little oasis, and a relatively big one 3500 sq.mtrs flat terrain, and central mansion constructed in italian style, which I consider very difficult to integrate into a intimate aesthetic garden, without square angled bushes and flowers, which would make it look like a sad railway station. Gardens will certainly look different in 2050, more functional, smaller, and much more intimate, as a need to balance the more and more socially "exposed " lifestyle, and a monotonous and "brainy" urban work medium. Well, it seems like some of us already adapted to this last subject, living "dual". Work downtown, relax in the countryside, "connect" between these two identities using the family car, hoping that some day an opportunity will come to help you manage everything directly from the "green side" and abandoning the other...Seems the best most of us can do, at least at this stage of global civilisation...
Catalin M Trusca [Catalin951@xnet.ro]
Thank you so much for your observations! You are a wise man.I'd say that we are a bit out-of-balance at this point, and need to work at bringing our aesthetic and social skills to the forefront. Man was not meant to be an isolated entity, but we do need to have a place where we can go to catch our breath! LE
I am a 'budding' designer living in the United Kingdom(Scotland). Plus I am nosey in what is going on the web, in reference to design etc. So, in response to your question on 'privacy' ; I feel that we tend to create too much emphasis on isolation, retreat and getting away from it all, that we lose all sense of communicability with each other as well as our gardens. Garden space can make one feel re-charged and so on with a hint of 'blow the office...' Surely we all need to communicate to one another rather than create further oasis of 'privacy'!
Regards, John Burns.
Another point of view on the 'privacy' issue! I guess it all depends on how your life is structured. LE
Forum II: A Favourite Garden
Imagine arriving late one starlit November evening (UK), the air crisp with frost and a light snowfall underfoot. As you look down the steep bank across to the lake you can just hear the geese settling for the night and as the moon rises above the opposing hill you see the deer coming down to drink, eyes reflected in moon beam water.
Imagine away to the right are the gardens. You walk past a canal pond, you listen to the sound of waterfalls at either end: scrunching past the temple of piety and on past the moon ponds you become aware of the quiet muffled voices of many others walking nearby. In the hushed atmosphere a sense of expectancy envelops you.
Imagine the garden in a steep valley thick with trees on either side, a simple garden of shape, form and texture, horizontal contrasting with near vertical valley slopes. Suddenly you turn a sharp right and opening before you, gently illuminated, across the unfolding plain Cistercian ruins and monastic chant rise up to meet you. The surprise takes you breath away and you are enveloped in a moment of mystery.
Even in daylight the greens and cool expanses of John Aislabie's gardens, at Studley Royal and Fountain's Abbey, North Yorkshire, UK, appear calm, classical - inspiring.
Magical moments, a sense of mystery, a unique time and place, the companionship, the atmosphere, these are much harder to design into a garden than unity, proportion, scale, that right plant etc. Yet it is these that often make a garden seem special. Perhaps one of our most important design skills is to provide a place for imagination, creativity and a place to express one's feelings. A place where your senses are lifted: the garden. Consider the dew or the sparkle of a rain drop on a pine needle, the scent of newly cut grass, the sound of the wind through tall trees, an intense sky through the tracery of winter twigs or dappled light through summer boughs, consider the early morning song of birds, the open grassy plain and the sweet perfume of rose, honeysuckle, wisteria and bluebell. These are the magical moments of the garden maker's palette.
Forum II: Garden Design, 2050
Historically most great garden styles have developed either as a reaction against the prevailing culture or as an evolution of thought. Commonly, the fashion of the day emerged on the back of strong politics, stability, wealth and following on from a time of upheaval. In garden terms no new defining style has yet emerged, in spite of two world wars, although here in the UK we are experimenting with many different styles. This is probably a reflection of the amount of change we (and the rest of the world) are experiencing: we have not yet had the time to assimilate all the different influences surrounding us.
The amount and speed of change is seen by some as an opportunity to experiment. This may take the form of new materials, abstracting from discoveries in science and space, use of paint effects, new planting styles, developments in art etc. Conversely for other's change will give cause for concern. This may take the form of conservationists (wildlife gardens), historicists (heritage gardens), environmentalists etc. Even the apparent loss of personal space (nothing new in historic terms) through modern housing developments can been seen in the context of change: vertical design, patio and courtyard design, Sino-Japanese design, these are all attempts to create personal space in a busy small world. And again they could be understood in terms of opportunities or concerns.
Here in Europe at the beginning of the 21st century (catastrophes aside) we may emerge as a strong dynamic political force, bursting with ideas which in turn will produce new forms of art, including in the garden. We may continue to politic, compromise, worry about our heritage and lose sight of any vision for the future. We may regress into small tribal states, so concerned about the loss of identity that we stay stuck in some time warp. Or we may continue to globalise (along with everyone else) and eventually reap the rewards of shared ideas.
Gardens of 2050? Initially I believe there will be a yo-yo effect of new versus old, especially in UK gardens and environmental (in it's current narrow sense) versus progressive. There will be a continued absorption of various cultural values, creating more confusion and more diversity. As designers we will probably try to create gardens more specifically tailored to the needs of each individual rather than be swayed by too much fashion. Eventually several strong new styles will emerge, but where in the world it is impossible to currently predict, perhaps they will simultaneously occur in various places.
What I would say to any garden maker is be true to yourself, don't be frightened of ideas, experiment and be proud of you failures as well as your successes. Look forward yet remain connected to the past. If you keep on learning, keep on creating, keep on gardening, keep on expressing your ideas (not put off by the criticisms of others) and keep on feeling, then there is hope for the future. Good luck!
Landscape Lecturer-UK....Personal thoughts 2001
Thanks, Paul, for the lovely description of an English garden...I've been to Studley Royal and can remember the magical feeling present in the garden! LE
I love your web site! My husband and I live in Spearfish, South Dakota. Definately not the gardening capitol of the U.S. We have difficult soil and even more difficult weather but we both love to garden and decided in 1996 that we were going to get rid of our lawn and create a garden paradise for ourselves.
We are always envious of those gardeners fortunate to live in Oregon or Washington. In addition to being gardeners, my husband and I are also landscape designers. Our yard has attracted lots of attention from people who yearn to be rid of their lawns, landscape fabric, tons of landscape rock, potentillas, spiraeas, and barberry. It was a big surprise to us. We thought that people were doing that sort of thing because they wanted to. Actually, the majority of people who ask us to create a landscape design for them are people who want to bring the beauty of the woods to their front or back yards so that they have an oasis to escape to after a hectic day at work. They don't have time to drive to the woods every day to unwind and most of them don't have the time or desire to become gardening experts. I guess that this is what I see as the trend in the future.I don't know if the gardens of 2050 will be these kinds of places, but I surely do hope so.
My favorite garden is the "wild garden." Maybe because that is all that I seem to be able to create. I try to get things to stay in their designated areas and be orderly but they just don't want to. Oh well. We love it and so do the birds, butterflies and other beings who wander into it. I have a web site at www.nikksgarden.com. It isn't listed with search engines as I have not really finished it yet. Getting myself to sit down in front of the computer is just a bit tough in the summer. The photos on the web site of our gardens are the "tame" ones. By this time of year, our gardens are "wild jungles" and the house is barely visible. I haven't decided if I am brave enough to publish the "wild" ones.
My interest in gardening goes way back to childhood. My mother always had plants on the inside of her home as well as outside. When I got my first apartment, I followed suit. Throughout the years, I've always had plants inside and outside, just like mom. But it wasn't until just four years ago that I really started "getting into it". It all started when I bought my home. At work, I organized a "perennial plant exchange". I got this going just before I signed papers for my mortgage so that I would have some "starter plants" at my new house, knowing that money would be tight for me for quite a while. The plant exchange was a smashing success at work and there were many participants and many, many different plants to select from. And the best part (or I thought so at the time), was that they were free. I took a garden hose and created a flower bed design in the front of my home, and then started ripping up the freshly laid sod. I wanted soft curves to create an easy flow as well as easy to mow. Then I proceeded to plant my plants from the plant exchange.
That first year, I added some annuals for instant color, knowing it would take awhile for my babies to "grow up". Even though I was just beginning, I received many compliments from my new neighbors on my flowers. The second and third years, my garden improved with new additions. I remember one day, standing and admiring everything and I would look at a certain plant and think, "Liz gave that to me" or "Karen gave those to me". And that's when I decided to call it "My Friendship Garden". Just about every plant in there reminds me of someone I used to work with, or a neighbor of my sisters', or a man I used to date. And it made me realize that where I once thought my idea of a plant exchange was a great idea becsuse I got a lot of perennial plants that were FREE, the value I now hold for it is that each one given me holds a memory of someone who passed through my life. After four years, I have spent very little money on plants for my garden. Just about everything has been an exchange or given to me. And now that my babies are all grown up, I have the pleasure of sending some of their "babies" off to a new home. I can't imagine my friendship garden looking more beautiful than it does right now. And I will always have an assortment of memories just outside my door.
My favorite garden is one that is designed and executed extremely well and not a particular style or place. It's when every component works for the whole. It's when viewing it, that you see not only the beauty of a particular area, but the beauty of the entire perspective. Of course, to be included is nourishment of the soil, ecological considerations and supporting wildlife. My personal garden is planted with herbs and Salvias and California natives meshing textures and colors. In the year 2050, people will have less gardening space than they do now due to the increasing population and probably less time on a whole. There is a growing awareness of natives and organic food and a concern about genetically modified food. So, I would guess that more people would use their gardening space with plants that work with the environment requiring less time and water and also with the thought to create some privacy. I could also see more people growing their favorite vegetables and fruits in their gardens mixed with other plantings.
Thank you for providing this forum area. B. Lammar
You are describing a harmonious garden that is stylish in the sense that it is well put together, just as we might decribe a person who always dresses well. A garden doesn't have to represent a specific style (ie. English Country or Japanese) to be well-designed, but a well-designed garden will always stand out in the viewer's mind. Yes, we will be needing more privacy in the future, which is harder to achieve on a small lot...but can be done with 'vertical landscaping', such as the use of pergolas, arbors and other structures , combined with layered planting techniques L.E..
The following are some of the many responses generated from the first Forum Question:
I read about a Pittsburgh group which wrote a book/rept on steroidal houses. It was a critique, meant to persuade.We could use that now, since a faux-chateaux is going up across the street soon amid a nice ensemble of century-old farmish-suburban houses, centerpole, in Hinsdale IL.
I want to get a diplomatic word in before the foundation starts. Contextual is good, but I remind myself that if I had been around when FLWright was building, I might've reactionarily opposed his genius. Of course the stuff we oppose nowadays is doo-dadism, facadism, detailism. There USED TO BE neo-classical, etc, good interpretations, nice Tudors, etc., but the hamhanded architects and builders and owners today seem to shout: "I went to France once!"
A nice term for the skinny-lot houses now is Garage-Majal...
How change comes.....I found the forum on big luxurious homes interesting. I have never found the newer homes to be appealing even though I felt that the space was needed, so I took up the task of looking at larger homes in older neighborhoods but what I found was that elderly people are selling their larger homes for smaller living areas. After much debate with my husband we decided to stay in our smaller living space, with the intent of remodeling it on our own. Boy, did we take on a task. What we did discover was that the neighborhood has been inspired by our work and has started re-doing their own properties. I have two boys along with the rest of the neighborhood kids who play basketball on my driveway...and more. After becoming exasperated at the kids for taking up additional space and killing my grass, I added an additional 32" to my driveway with the decorative blocks and put up a picket fence. I then planted on the yard side oleanders since they can handle a lost/overshot basketball on occasion. Since then my front yard is a growing garden which we are adding a picket fence around the remainder of the yard. Our future plans is to continue the decorative blocks into the front yard for a porch area. One neighbor liked the driveway design so much he had his re-done by a contractor but on a much larger scale (looks great). If we paint, the neighbors paint, if we remodel the kitchen, soon someone follows. When we first moved into the neighborhood no one put up Christmas decorations but after we put ours up the first year not only has it blossomed on my street but in the subdivision I live in.
My point is, no matter where you live, if you add beauty, people will follow, but it is not done by words but by actions. All the neighbors are encouraged by what they see. There are too many followers in this world and not enough leaders. I find this true not only in my personal life but in my career.
Sarita P. Pasadena, TX
The real trick is to get people to see the beauty in life that is out there! I find that most people are racing around with blinders on- too busy to slow down and look around them. Thanks for being a leader and sharing your thoughts. L.E.
I have read with interest the letters concerning huge homes on small lots. Although this might be THE issue, a sub-issue is my major complaint in this area. That is, the poor landscaping choices too often made for these small lots. Trees are planted where they have no room to grow. I have mentioned this to more than one neighbor, and their response is, "We'll probably move long before it is a problem." I view the situation differently. In 20 years a lovely tree will be growing all over the house, and will be hanging all over the roof next door, it will be mercilessly trimmed until deemed beyond hope, and then have to be removed at tremendous expense. What are people thinking?
Lots of tree species are available in upright habits, spreading 20 feet at maturity instead of 60 feet. Most people think of undesirable poplars when searching for tall, narrow trees. Many very desirable trees are available. One just needs to ask. The problem is, some of the most inappropriately planted yards are designed by "professional" landscapers. They tend to select the wrong plants and put way too many of them in the ground! The mature size does not seem to be a consideration. Homeowners need to spend time learning some things about reasonable landscape practices in their areas and look around at the previous work of potential candidates before hiring a landscape designer. A nice looking landscape that is 2 years old may look like the yard from hell in 10 years, and worse, it will probably be causing property damage for the neighbors.
Trees seem to be the issue here- look for the narrow forms, such as Acer 'Armstrong' or 'Karpick', Picea glauca 'Pendula',or Pyrus calleryana 'Redspire' or 'Whitehouse'..to name a few. Don't make the mistake of using dwarf forms. You still need the height to help balance out the structure of the house, but you can find narrow forms if you make the effort. If you have a good relationship with your neighbor, you can also consider planting wider trees, staggered along the property line. L.E.
Your words compell me to write - especially about the privacy issue and small lots. As a new homeowner - I did not realize how ---very very close the neighbors were when we looked at the house - or how I would feel in our large back yard - 1/3 acre - with nothing but grass. -- It will be a challenge. I wish I could walk out in my own yard and not feel like a moving target.
We will be working on it - with our small budget -- Privacy Plants - more books / resources are needed - I don't think I am alone on this. We don't have the resources presently for a landscaper (and not in the near future) especially, to simply make our yard more attractive. I feel my problem is privacy. -- I will pay money to get some privacy though. I think landscapers could sell privacy as their number one product.
Privacy IS a big issue. No one likes living in a fishbowl! Vertical structures, layering of plants, and overhead canopies can help create a sense of space and screen off neighboring areas.On a large lot you have room to add lots of shrubs and trees to help enclose the area. On smaller lots, vertical design becomes even more important. L.E.
I'd just like to give praise to your website designer, it loads quickly, is informative and interesting and the butterfly and kitten take it over the top.
Secondly I respect your critical attitude towards Architects and what they aren't doing today. It is truly bewildering that with all the new techniques and materials that noone has the brass to do something they haven't seen before. I have therefore vowed to do it before I expire (I'm 30). How does a hot tub in a douglas fir stump with an operable wall of glass to a treed valley sound. A timber frame 50 feet to the ridge with a central hearth without brick and built in seatin for 20 surrounding. A copper or cast iron coffer 10' across hung with chain from the ceiling for a chimney. Ridge skylights in combination with the glass wall to allow an indoor garden. Come on people, lets do it. It's time, nothing's changed since Frank Lloyd Wright.
Aside; On the main page of our site you'll see a rendering of a 15' high tennis court fence with a 30' curved pergola which 2 architects said would never stand up and would look horrible-One actually complimented me later. The fence has been up 6 years now with no measurable movement.
Kind Regards, Lar.
Thanks for the kind words- I can only credit Portland Community College and their 'Introduction to the Internet' course, plus lots of trial and error and patience on my part!
I agree with you fully- let's get those creative juices flowing! Frank Lloyd Wright knew how to design, not only houses, but furniture, lighting, and the surrounding landscapes. Now we just seem to have a batch of 'giant meatballs' resting on the ground! (a term used by a visiting English designer-friend of mine!)I, for one, am tired of seeing these huge profiles that shout ostentation.Plus, it makes it very difficult to design a well-proportioned landscape when these monsters are placed on extremely small lots.
You have a nice looking website yourself, and from the looks of the photos, you are doing beautiful,innovative work! Wish you were closer! L.E.
Your question is very thought-provoking: here in North Idaho, much of the once pristine, rural land is being overrun with these examples of architectural monstrosities.
Perhaps the root cause lies not so much with architects and builders but with the basic focus of modern society. My generation grew up with constant reminders that bigger is better (bigger, faster cars - bigger, fancier houses - gotta keep up with the Jones', etc.). Much of society demands from designers and architects a product which exhibits material wealth and "success," and to heck with environmental responsibility and aesthetic concerns.
I believe that only when we have re-educated society as a whole will the need for pretentiousness fade away. As designers we have an incredible opportunity and a very serious moral responsibility to provide this education. Our perceived expertise allows us to communicate these concerns to clients and to other design professionals; perhaps it will take many years - a generation or more. But the stakes are high - the health of our Mother Earth is dependent on the success of our efforts.
Thank you for providing this important forum; I hope it sparks much exchange of ideas. Keep up the good work!
Dan Eskelson..... Clearwater Landscapes, Priest River, ID
I agree with you 100%! To be fair, the blame does not lie totally on the shoulders of the builder / architect. But how do you stop the ever-ending cycle? The home- buyer today doesn't seem to have much of a choice when it comes to new home design (unless they can afford an architect) I wish the builders and home designers would consider holding a nationwide (or regional) symposium on this design issue. It would be great to open up a discussion between the homeowner (what do they really want?), landscape designers and builder / architects. It seems like there is an awful lot of wasted space in todays homes...and very little privacy. The Greeks and Romans did better- with smaller houses, atriums and inner courtyards! L.E.
If a layman may venture into your design forum: In my opinion, Americans have taken the melting pot concept over the edge. We're not taught to think for ourselves and question the status quo, and so not only are we afraid to - we don't know how. Blame it on television, blame it on appalling public schools, but we are becoming automatons. We look to the television to tell us what's important, and we look to Walmart to tell us what's pretty. One of the many sad and dangerous results is mile upon mile of the same monstrous six floor plans in upscale suburbs where wetlands used to be.
It may be that the only hope for change is for "ordinary people" to see an alternative. "Better Homes and Gardens", not "Garden Design" or "Architectural Design", has got to begin telling people to want something else. The challenge will be to figure out how to make people want something more beautiful and reasonable, and how to sell the notion to architects and designers in a way that will challenge and inspire them. The major obstacle would seem to me to be the developers of these "planned communities", and I can't image how to reach them, except through their customers - who read "Better Homes and Gardens".
I live in a 1200 sq foot c. 1949 aluminum bungalow in the city. Granted, I wish it were brick, I wish it had character, and I wish it had a view of Lake Erie. But I do not wish for more square feet, and I can't imagine how I could manage more than my 40' x 30' back garden and still have a life and a bank balance.
Donna Stewart..... Cleveland, Ohio firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Canopy/1104/
Very well put! It seems to me that we have lost touch with what is really important in our lives...the ability to see the beauty around us, and the connection that we should feel to our fellow human beings. Advances in high technology have created a more impersonal world that bombards us with information and ideas faster than we can process them! We are letting machines do our thinking for us. Houses (and landscapes) should be designed for unique individual needs- not mass produced by computer modules. We lose track of what is really needed- surely not a 6,000 sq ft home for two people! Are we looking at OUR needs or are we out to impress upon the world that we have 'made it'? People need to demand creative and responsible solutions from the home builder, architect and designer! We can satisfy all of our needs with a lot less- perfection (and good taste) is often easier to achieve with a small budget than with an unlimited one! L.E.
In answer to your question...builders will quit building such atrocities when people quit wanting to buy them. I think a lot of people now want luxurious homes, but don't want a lot of yard work or maintenance. For someone who loves the outdoors and wants to create a beautiful space around their home, this is a hard concept to grasp! (I live in a 'perpetually being remodeled' home that will probably never be finished on five acres, and have a large landscaped yard. I wouldn't trade that for the former.
I'd like to say that your site is one of the most beautiful I've visited so far and I look forward to exploring all of its links, nooks and crannies.
Kathy Miller..... Silverdale, WA
Probably true that many people have lost their connection to the natural world and seem to be content to spend their lives inside their 'castles' surrounded with their possessions! How sad. I wish more people would take the time to look around them and see the beauty that the natural world can provide.There can be so much pleasure and satisfaction gained when you take the time to interact with the natural world. Will the children of tomorrow only know computers, videos and cyber-reality? My children grew up playing in the rainforest below our house. One is an urban planner, and the other is studying photography and design....their sensitivities grew from their experiences in the natural world. L.E
First, many kudos on your wonderful website. So refreshing!
Four years ago my husband and I decided to move to Cape Cod and build a small house with functionality to fit our lifestyle. He was a victim of downsizing, capsizing or whatever you call it when you are 55 and nobody want to employ you anymore. Well, anyway, he took it upon himself to build almost singlehanded our 2000 sq ft. house which features an octagonal great room the center of which is a 30' stone fireplace wall. Because the threat of hurricanes is so great here by the water it is a low profile hip roofed ranch. We find that 2000 sq ft is very adequate for our needs. In reading your account of how long it took to finish your home, guess I'll have to develop even more patience.
We are also appalled at the size of the homes that are being built everywhere. Can't imagine even furnishing them. It must be a status thing. And, it probably won't change until people demand change or take it upon themselves to create useful space in which to live.
We have spent alot of time and effort on the landscaping of our 1 acre lot. It is coming along but still have much to do to refine the space. Outdoors is almost more important to me than the indoors.
Cheers, Ann Palm
2,000 sq. feet is a very comfortable space for two, especially when the spaces are well planned with dual functionality! I applaud you both. I wish more people held your views. L.E.
Big House - Small Lot - reasons?
1 - The cost of land in urban areas is exorbitant
2 - Builders desire to maximize profits and the buyers acceptance of what the market offers. Larger projects are more profitable.
3 - Homeowners desire to spend little time or money on the landscape.
4 - Fear - people want a clear line of sight to feel secure
5 - Lack of well designed "Home & Gardens" to set an example. Until a majority of buyers and homeowners actually see an inspired landscape they will never know that is what they want.
6 - The mediocre talents of some landscapers who "Design" and build, leaving neighbors unimpressed and more reluctant to invest in landscaping.
7 - Lack of qualified people to maintain garden landscapes for those who are willing hire a landscape maintanence contractor.
8 - Landscaping can be very expensive. This is probably the main reason it is so overlooked.
What can be done with the existing homes is the $64,000 question. A landscape of blocks and a horizion of roofs is too much to endure. Scaling anything into these is a real challenge. How can nature and privacy be introduced into areas designed to eliminate those very qualities. Trees and shrubs take too long to mature but are absolutly necessary to provide privacy and scale. I only hope the children of these neighborhoods will grow up to see beauty there.
Until the trees and shrubs are in scale the homes will dominate and intrude in the area's landscape. On a more personal scale, outdoor living areas are not hard to design into small yard. Instead of a design focused on an open view, an enclosed space is necessary to provide a sense of nature and privacy. Time will have to take care of the larger picture.
Again costs are the largest barrier to attractive landscaping. Many feel that landscaping contractors overcharge for their services and materials, AND..."You want how much? for just a Plan! "
You Get What You Pay For - Sorry seems like I got carried away
What more can I say!!! At least here in Oregon, view lots are selling for unheard of prices. (and the view, more often, is of your neighbor's rooftop!) Perhaps it's time to market the enclosed space where privacy reigns! For a view- go climb a mountain- the exercise is good for you! L.E.
They can save money by NOT cutting down the trees. They would please their customers because they would not have to hire a landscape firm to put the trees back. Also, deer and other wild life would benefit. Everyone does. In Maine, deer are feeding off of yews because of the building of new homes.
I don't get it. Large homes- small families?
Good point!...although I have seen builders leave trees within feet of the foundation, forcing the owner to pay to have it taken down when it dies a year later! L.E
THANK YOU. That is, thank you for offering the ability to vent on an issue near and dear to my heart. I live in Connecticut where it seems all they are building these days are huge, over-sized homes that are selling for ridiculous prices (after they have completely razed the tree's and any other sign of growth on these lots). I live in a 1940's cape, on a very small patch of lawn that is pure heaven as far as I'm concerned.
What concerns me besides the fact that builders will not build smaller homes for first-time home-owners, is that they make no effort to integrate these monstrosities into the landscape- THEY'RE UGLY! Every time a new development goes up, the first thing they do is to completely destroy the landscape- leaving it completely naked.
Isn't there any way in which architects, builders and contractors can be taught about integrating their ideas to work in conjunction with the natural setting of a site they're working on??
I realize I'm offering no solution, just venting ... thanks for the free therapy! - The Lorax
Education...education! They should all be required to take a course or attend a symposium on design and site sensitivity! It seems that this problem has manifested itself across the country, in every state. It will continue to spread until people react and call for a change! Thanks for venting! L.E.
Here in Maine it is happening also. My husband is a carpenter/contracter but specializes in restoration. People have bought beautiful antique Capes-tore them down...and put up ugly large houses! The historical societies in this area are hoping to pass a law to protect these houses. In parts of MA. people will buy your smallish house on small lot only to turn around and tear it down to put up these Monsters. They want to live in a prestigous town, but are destroying what makes these towns unique and beautiful. Many forms of architecture exist in these old towns, but these new houses have no beauty that I can see. They are building ugly cities for the future. Good taste doesn't come naturally with money.
Your last sentence says it all! I hope more people get involved with their communities in helping to preserve what makes each one unique. L.E.
I am so glad I read to the end of your web page. I am in total agreement with you on the matter of large pretentious homes. When we bought our beat up old house twenty years ago, it was on a lovely country lane with acres of fields across from us. My children used to ride their horses there and life was bucolic and peaceful. Times have changed and the once lovely open space is littered with "Trophy Houses" (symbols of success in the material world). Rather like the great palaces of Europe but with less consideration for beauty of design.Some are so unbelievably ugly, one wonders what happened to simple good taste in America. Our street now looks ludicrous, one side has the old New England established homes, the other has these great warts, blighting the landscape. I was accused of reverse snobbery when I remarked that the neighbourhood had gone to hell. Over the last twenty years we have restored our old house to fit with the New England landscape and the historic old town in which we live, now I am about to start on the yard. Unfortunately the ideas out run the energy or time I have for these projects. I was interested in your article, I now realize that I should prioritize and complete one project at a time, not jump about creating little bits of unfinished pieces all over our one acre of land that only I, in my minds eye, can see the end result of. Sorry to have gone on so long,. I can't help getting on my soapbox when it comes to overlarge houses.
Maureen Jones, Redding Connecticut
Let's hope that the notion of 'Regionalism' doesn't disappear entirely...the people of every community should try to get involved in the activities that make their communities unique...and that includes the design of housing. Let's face it, houses last a long time and leave an impression far greater than the often changing landscape! Talk to the builders, the architects and the city planners about what you'd like to see! They build what they think people want, but I'll bet that half the time, the people haven't a clue! L.E.
In our area of NC we have lots of retirees building these huge houses....I can't for the life of me figure out why a couple of their 60's want 4,000 sq. ft. and two floors other than to say "look how rich I am." We have lived in our 1400 sq. ft. ranch house for 10 years and have remodeled, and have priced ourselves out of the neighborhood. However we have a house that is nicer than we could afford in one of the new "fancy" areas. Plus we have had so much fun.....lots of aggravation too...dealing with contractors....trying to hang wallpaper in a hurricane....but what a great feeling it is to look at the finished project and to know you did it yourself! Most of these monster homes have no personality and certainly reflect nothing of the people that live in them.....or at least nothing positive. It's so sad to see the new generation that have nothing more than money invested in their homes. Thanks for giving us a forum to vent!
Nancy Murdoch, Havelock, NC
Having lived on our 12 acres here in Oregon for over 22 years, and having spent the first 7 years finishing our house...I can relate!! We built and planted all of it, including the vineyard, and it is such a personal place that I just can't even imagine anyone else ever living here. (although I am sure others will eventually, since we can't live forever, but our presence will be felt for a long time to come.) So many showcase homes today look like showrooms at the local furniture store..where is the personality...who does 'live' in these homes? A sad commentary on todays lifestyles. L.E.
In my opinion the ugliness of most houses is mainly due to the fact that here in America, what we worship most is our stuff, particularly our cars (southern california is the worst). The term "affluenza" comes to mind. The prominent feature of most new houses is a huge garage, with a huge concrete driveway in front of it. The neighborhoods are layed out primarily to benefit the flow of cars. Then after a few years the "toys" start to pile up, and the only place left to store them is the garage. How many houses have you seen with 3-car garages but always have a car or two sitting out on the driveway?
I believe this also tends to not create "neighborhoods", rather "a collection of fortresses". Around here (Vancouver, WA area), the people in most upscale neighborhoods seem to all hate each other - they're always tattling on each other ("oh no, the neighbors got a rabbit, which isn't in the CC&R's"). Neighbors seem to be enemies (or strangers) instead of allies, which is very, very sad. Neighborhoods should be designed to de-emphasize the amassing/worship of stuff (especially cars), and emphasize interactions with your neighbors and nature. At a "Knowledge Management" conference recently one of the speakers observed that people are flocking to "online communities" while their physical communities are falling apart - strange. Why would I send you, a total stranger, this email message, but if I met you on the street we would probably not even make eye contact?
Fortunately I've seen a couple of neighborhoods around here that have bucked the trend. The modest garage is at the back of the house, accessed from a common alley way. The front of the house is very pedestrian-friendly, and you see lots of people out walking in the evenings. The front of the house is attractive but not overbearing. The lots are small, but at center of the neighborhood there is a neighborhood park with a big field, a few benches, a basketball court, and a couple of play structures - in other words, a community space where people can play and get to know each other. There are also several walking paths, so you can easily get around the neighborhood on foot or on a bike. At Christmas they have a lighting contest which most houses participate in. I'd guess that the people in that neighborhood know each other a lot better than in the "mega-house" neighborhood across the street.
Well I could go on and on, but I'm supposed to be working...
Your ideas have great merit and I agree with them one hundred percent. Keep talking to people on these issues and maybe we'll start a trend! We need to get reconnected with one another. The dynamics of the 'on-line' community compared to the real, physical community is an interesting topic and one that should be examined more fully. L.E.
'Chain' culture and their housing
In some religious cultures, the patrons of wealth and the arts are opposites. If you have the favor of one patron, you have equal disfavor of the other. This seems to apply to the owners of the 'McMansions' that litter our landscape as well.
Interestingly enough, these self-inflated homes closely reflect the market segment who purchase them - upper middle class families whose careers cause multiple relocations. Their inherit transiency creates a need for recognizable stability upon each promotion (relocation). Familiarity of chain stores (Gap, Walmart, Blockbuster Video, etc), chain restaurants (Burger King, Boston Market, Fridays, etc.), and chain developments (Oak Forest Hills Estates Ridge blah blah blah) are supported by a culture of 'chain families'.
Portlanders familiar with the eastside neighborhoods of Laurelhurst, Eastmoreland and Irvington rave about their qualities. Small lots, large front porches, and small garages reinforce that humans are the occupants; not automobiles, R.V's and boats. It is possible to do it again!!!
Jim Henry, A.I.A. Portland, Oregon
First, I'd like to say how much I like your website. It's well organized and contains real information. On the subject of large, overbuilt houses I'll try to be brief. Here in the Southwest there is a new trend as more and more people move here. The trend is to build large showcase homes. What is most upsetting to me about this trend is that most are two stories in a place where one-story adobe or ranch style homes were traditional. With our large vistas and clear blue skies, these low houses seemed to cling to the horizon and blend with the environment. The new two story houses are in eastern styles and stick out like sore thumbs in the landscape. I'm not criticizing easterners; I'm originally from Pennsylvania. Our regional identity is being destroyed and New Mexico is beginning to look like anywhere, USA.
Community Education, Valencia CampusAn insightful observation. I agree that the high profiles of these new homes is a blight, or cancer on the landscape, and if not checked, will detroy the regional identities of many areas within our country. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! L.E.
The problem of large homes on small lots is common everywhere. Lake Forest, IL, an upscale suburb of Chicago, has bulk density ordinance. Not that more laws are the answer, but this is what they have chosen to do. There are complicated calculations made relating to lot size, square feet of livable and non livable space within a structure. I think even landscape structures are part of the calculations. A friend, and current president of APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers), Tim Christie is a member of the Building Review Board for Lake Forest and knows the formula if you are interested.
Tim Thoelecke, Jr., APLD,ASLAMore laws are O.K. if they're good laws! Thanks Tim L.E.
Living in California,one is constantly exposed to grandiose architecture that is over done with gaudily hued landscaping. The owners of the eyesores in our neighborhood insist in planting to impress. I believe,as a new designer to the field,it is the responsibility of the landscaper to guide their clients in the choice of their plants.Maybe, if designer's could be included in the outcome of these planned communities, we could be spared these eye sores. I feel the problem lies in the attitudes of the clients.They have need to keep up with the Jones's. When this attitude is changed by the tastemakers,will we see smaller homes with appropriate landscape. As a student in landscape design,I hope to change the attitudes of the Jones's by implementing the use of natural settings with native plants,to integrate the home with the landscape. I look forward to seeing more on your Web page.
Thanks for creating this forum,
I don't normally respond to these types of issues, especially when I am one about which you are writing. I live in a 3,000 square foot beautiful home. We were fortunate to be able to choose any plan we wanted. Unfortunately, an architect was out of the question. I chose it because of its architecture and character. (Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of exterior character left secondary to a lazy slipshod contractor.) I love the openness of the interior, I love my 2 story great room with stone fireplace extending the whole way, I love my "wall of windows" that open out to the "woods" behind.
I grew up in a small house (~1500sq ft built by my father and uncles)(which doesn't necessarily blend in with the surroundings) with parents, and 4 siblings, sharing a bedroom with 2 sisters, I know what it is like to be cramped. I also know what it is to appreciate nature. I grew up in the country, having full range of the woods surrounding our lane. I also hate large cookie cutter houses plunked down on lots so small you can hear your neighbors TV. We have about an acre of land which I insisted on. (I would have liked more but couldn't afford it) I want to have a house that "blends in" with the surroundings. Most of the 'landscapers' that I have seen all have the same cookie cutter approach, the same plants, the same ideas. I will probably be doing most of the job myself (and with my schedule that will take awhile) in order to have something 'unique' and pleasing. Our contractor razed over trees even though we told him to leave as much as possible. Of those actually left some are too close to the house or damage by the equipment and need to be replaced. Thankfully we are young and may be able to see some of the improvements that I plan to make.
I think the education needs to start with the homeowners. When they start demanding something different; the contractors and developers will have to listen. I must say that it is sad that Dave's (from Camas, WA) neighbors hate each other. My neighbors also have big houses some on smaller lots but they are all friendly. Our backyard neighbor mows part of our grass when he is out cutting his. My husband and I take our child for walks in "the plan" and stop and chat with neighbors. Most of them don't "come from money" even if that matters. They are friendly people who have worked hard for what they have and chose their house because they liked it. Some are gardeners and have unique personal gardens that may not live up to the standards of professional landscapers, but are beautiful in their own right. Some aren't gardeners and have professionally landscaped lots with low maintenance plants and designs. My husband and I make a very good salary combined and are just making it by until my astronomical school loans are repaid in a few years and we don't have fancy cars or take exotic vacations or go out a lot and we only have one child so far (a 1 year old). Our house is big but not in the 'hot' building area and we have lower taxes than some of the houses going up that are bigger and in more expensive land areas with higher taxes. I would like to know who can afford these. A larger problem I think is the wiping out of trees and replacement with yet another Wal-mart or Home depot in a sea of blacktop shopping plaza is destroying the uniqueness of America. The small mom and pop shops and restaurants are being lost.
Rhonda -- Monongahela(its near Pittsburgh), PA
Thank you for responding to the issue of large houses- Just wanted you to know that I thought your comments hold a lot of merit. I am not against the idea of large houses in general ( afterall, I live in one that is 3200 sq. feet!) but just the ones that I see that are 1. very poorly designed, 2. excessively large, and shouting poor taste- anything over 4,000 sq feet to me is excessive for the 'average' family, and 3. built on a lot that is too small for that size house. These houses generally don't 'blend in with nature' but stand out like a sore thumb! A large house that is designed right doesn't appear large.
I agree that it is nice to live in a house with open spaces and views to the outside. I also agree that homeowners need to be educated so that they can demand better designs from the 'cookie-cutter' builders who are are always thinking more (or bigger) is better!
Growth everywhere is a problem..shopping areas and huge parking areas are a problem. We have to begin by rethinking our basic transportation issues...opt for more public transit, fewer cars on the road, better use of our valuable land, getting people to walk more, and be more involved in the natural world.
You might enjoy an article that I wrote for a newsletter that was recently published on the net at http://home.sprynet.com/sprynet/moorepat/ . You may have a big house with a 'great room', but I doubt that it fits the picture of excessive. It also sits on an acre, which is great! You also sound like you involve yourself and your children with the natural world..another plus. Please keep it up and keep talking to your neighbors- there are a lot of neighborhoods that aren't that way.
You,re right! Modern homes have become a melting pot of architecural styles that fail in every aspect of aesthetics and function.
The primary cause of this trend is an overabundance of money and no sense of ecology. People today feel they deserve to own the biggest, most goddy, house, SUV's, etc.
We have indeed become a nation with a "geography of nowhere."
Although I agree with you about the large over-scaled homes, we of the "been here for 50 years smaller scale homes" are also dealing with another problem. Primarily it's the sudden lack of privacy (noise and traffic also a big problem) due to the large two story apartment complexes being shoved onto what were formally normal single family sized lots. (And talk about non-descript styles....Yuck). It's not like we can plant a privacy hedge and expect it to grow 25 feet high over night. VERY VERY FRUSTRATING. Thanks for the chance to vent.
Sarah Susanka's book, "The Not So Big House" addresses many of the issues raised in this Forum
This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 1999
Houses on Steroids' Pop Up in Paradise
MARVELOUS MILL VALLEY -- home to the well-heeled and weekend getaway for thousands of others who appreciate its hiking and biking trails, miles of open space, easy access to windswept beaches and charming architecture.
Many residents of the Marin County town and its environs -- where quaint is a way of life -- watched smugly as ``little boxes made of ticky tacky'' crowded onto hillsides in other areas.
Even when those little boxes grew into faux Versailles and Tuscan villas, Mill Valley residents' self-satisfaction didn't wane. They were still in their sweet cottages and the other people were in subdivisions -- albeit subdivisions for the very rich -- with little land or character. And thankfully, those developments were out of town.
No longer. Overscale homes on postage stamp-size lots are popping up all over the area and neighbors, as well as those who used to consider a drive to Stinson Beach an excursion through paradise, are appalled.
They have a right to be. The building boom of huge houses that sit practically on top of one another is a disturbing trend. Nicknamed ``houses on steroids'' or megahouses, they represent the intrusion of a crowded urban landscape into the wider, more open spaces of sizable suburban yards. They are showing up all around the Bay Area -- from the Oakland Hills to Palo Alto and Marin County -- as well as all across the country.
Each situation is a little different. In Oakland, homeowners determined to rebuild after the 1991 fires wanted to expand. That meant bigger homes that often blocked the views of neighbors. In Palo Alto, Silicon Valley magnates and other prosperous types decided that because housing was so scarce, their best bet was to raze the bungalows that have graced the town for decades and rebuild to their own liking -- which, to many people's chagrin, has meant gigantic.
Hugh Newell Jacobsen, a Washington, D.C.-based architect who has earned more than 100 design awards, including the prestigious National Honor Awards of the American Institute of Architects, calls the over-sized trend ``the shame of my profession.''
The proportion and scale of the rooms, he says, ``are practically inhumane . . . Good architecture, like a well-mannered lady, never shouts at its neighbors.'' Or, as architect Richard Meier said in an article in Architec tural Record, ``Perhaps clients are more narcissistic.''
So how do such out-of-scale properties win approval when it seems most would-be remodelers have to go through the third degree to add a few square feet to a bathroom?
``It was an original planning mistake,'' said Marin County Board of Supervisors President Annette Rose, whose district includes Mill Valley and who has heard from angry residents about several huge-house projects. She made clear that ``they were all approved before I was elected.''
Still, most plans have to go to the planning department and board of supervisors. These behemoths that can pack more than 3,000 square feet of living space on small lots break all commonsense planning rules. But they do get through, especially because developers are often generous campaign contributors.
A big problem is that neighbors are rarely aware of proposed developments until the bulldozers are already digging up the ground. It can take years from official approval until start of construction.
One such development is the Mountain Gate subdivision off Highway 1 near the Tam Valley area of Mill Valley. Approved a decade ago, neighbors were not aware of what was in store until construction began. And then, they were up in arms.
Through a ``carrot and stick approach,'' as neighbor Marian Breeze describes it, they convinced the developer to downsize the project. Instead of 42 houses priced at $650,000 to $750,000, the development will include 27 houses plus land for a tot lot.
The neighborhood group's approach included a threat to keep the developer in court for years (they won one court battle and lost an appeal) and to boycott a real estate business tied to the development company. Breeze said she still doesn't like the density of the project but is pleased by the cooperation of the developer. The effort to scale back the project was ``well worth it,'' she said.
The Mill Valley experience was instructive and points up the need for a thorough -- as well as early and often -- notification system to neighbors within sight of new homes or developments.
CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION ON MY NEW BLOG...MEANDERINGS and SKETCHES
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