Thursday, June 18, 2009

Culitvating Patience

Undoubtedly one of the most frustrating differences between interior and landscape design is the patience required for the latter. Exercising this patience is particularly hard for me, since one of the things I enjoy most about design is the transformation from before to after. I love painting a wall in an afternoon and seeing the immediate affect the new color has on the room. I love swapping out my bedding and pillows to give my spaces instant makeovers. I love finishing up work early on a Friday afternoon and knowing that I can completely change my kitchen by the end of the weekend.

No Quick Changes
Needless to say, I love quick change. And landscape design is rarely quick.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is obvious: plants take time to grow. No matter how impatient I may be, the matchstick pear trees I planted this spring will not be tall, graceful trees any time soon. Likewise, I can croon to my evergreens as much as I want, coaxing them to grow, and they will pay no mind to my schedule.

The simple truth is that most landscape plants need at least 3 years before they reach anything close to their mature size, and the timeline is much longer for trees and shrubs. So though I know my yard will look lush and full eventually, I have to make peace with the reality that it will take awhile to get there.

Money, Money, Money
The second reason why patience is required for landscape design has nothing to do with nature and everything to do with money. Because landscaping is expensive. I have indeed seen beautiful yard transformations in my neighborhood spring up overnight. One day the space is dry, brown and flat, and the next it has a gurgling stone-lined fountain flanked by grasses, shrubs and trees. And while I admire the final effect, I know that it cost a pretty penny. Thousands of dollars. Thousands which I cannot afford should I want to do the same thing to my lawn. I, instead, will have to go the usual route, buying smaller plants because they cost less, and buying fewer of them. And tackling one major project a year, while postponing the others for years down the road.

This is the reality of outdoor design: waiting.

In the Meantime...Focus on the Little Things
Of course, while you're waiting for plants (and savings accounts) to grow, you can always focus on the little things. Like containers. And pretty lawn pillows. And outdoor paper lanterns. They help appease the instant gratification bug, and encourage you to keep plugging away outside. Keep you designing while cultivating patience.

Come back tomorrow for my last post on outdoor living, and then again next week when we start another new, two-week mini series!

Previous Related Posts:
Taking my Design Obsession Out
Ode to Patios
Good Bones
Retro Summer '09's webpage

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