Don’t Be Afraid To Fake It

It’s never dull round my way.  A look across my desk this minute reveals a lovely array of projects at various stages of development. Some are mere ideas taking some sort of shape, some are designed and ready to go, some are ongoing, some are wrapping up. Then there’s the pile of miscellaneous bits and pieces, elements that could work given the right context and setting. Some of these will never make it out of that pile, some will.

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It’s all about the variety, the beautiful variety. It is a thing that I almost take for granted at this point and occasionally need to remind myself how fortunate I am that every day is completely different. Every project presents different challenges, technical quirks that need to be sorted out, planting research that needs to be done, materials to be sourced, site constraints to overcome. The locale, as well as the nature of the work, changes on an almost weekly basis. Boredom is an affliction that should never strike when you’re involved in the garden design game.

There is no doubt that it is something precious, something for which to be thankful. The opportunity to live life outdoors is no small thing. It is no secret that human beings are at their happiest and most fulfilled when outside breathing fresh air, exposed to whatever the meteorological Gods have decided to serve up on that day.

Administrative, computer based work is an unavoidable part of anyone’s life in 2017 and I am no different. It must be done but I notice the transformation in spirit, mood and mindset the moment I have done what I need to do at my desk and can put it aside to jump into the van and head to a garden somewhere. Or even outside to my own garden.

I fully appreciate the rejuvenating and transformative powers of horticulture and the outdoors but now it seems that the word is spreading.  Because over the past year one thing that I have consistently been asked about is synthetic grass. Paradoxical you might think; an inclination to be outside immersing oneself in all that the outdoors has to offer on, eh, synthetic grass.

It is not however as counter intuitive as you might initially assume. The rise in the appeal of synthetic grass exists at the confluence of several modern, and seemingly contradictory, imperatives of suburban family living.

The debilitating effects of incessant screen exposure are inarguable. The economic imperative of both parents having to work to provide the family with a reasonable standard of living is inarguable. The inability of parents to incorporate two hours per day cleaning muck off every surface in the house into an already packed schedule is inarguable. The need for kids to be outside is inarguable. Run all those factors through the design algorithm and what emerges? Fake grass. Fake grass which drains, produces no muck, is ideal and affordable for the scale of the suburban garden and facilitates clean back garden play twelve months of the year.

Heresy I hear you roar, a garden designer advocating synthetic grass. Not so I would contend. My advocacy of the stuff is nothing more than a pragmatic response to an ever-growing problem around how we make it a more attractive proposition to our kids to get off the couch and out to the back garden. Let’s look at the greater good. If fake grass can promote dry, clean, seamless, stress free year-round movement from inside to out and outside to in them I’m all for it.

Let’s focus on what they can do when they’re outside rather than getting po-faced about the surface they’re standing on. Our gardens should have pan generational appeal and be interesting, interactive, dynamic, immersive spaces.  They can’t be any of those things if there’s nobody there.

To be honest I had misgivings. I needed some coaxing down off my high horse onto the fake grass.

But dismount I eventually did and let me tell you, the view is splendid. Welcome to the dark side.

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