Bamboo – Beauty And The Beast

I am hardly a bamboo expert. I did, however, stay in a Holiday Inn one night. ;-)

Having said this, my experiences with Bamboo over a long period of years in my different roles as equal parts designer, installer and “maintainer” have led me to various conclusions and not simply about their single most primary reputation: their unruly nature for anyone who hosts them.

The fact is, Bamboo can present an uncommon beauty of its own. And well it is that this is the case, because the “unruly nature” is a stone cold fact.

From the incredible other-worldly effects of bamboo forests in China such as the picture below, to the unusual coloration and clumping style of the various species featured below, we can all see the merits of this tough, enduring, troublesome plant.

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I wonder how many folks realize there is a Blue Bamboo?

blue bamboo(picture courtesy of Joseph Clemons)

Golden Bamboo has always been a plant I enjoyed planting – along with other more water-loving bamboos for swampy or bog-like conditions.

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The above began here:

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Dealing With Bamboos – Root Barriers

The various cultivars and native species of Bamboo have waxed and waned in popularity over the decades. For a while, the glories of Japanese and Chinese Gardens were imported to the British isles and the US, including every instance of elegant bamboo screening and beauty. Inevitably, certain problems almost invariably showed up – almost always involving problems with rampant root expansion or else the issues of bamboo getting “too happy”, with where it was planted. Acculturation to new geographies’ for some plants can often be a synonym for “Thriving beyond measure”. ;-)

Bamboos are divided into two very distinct root patterns: “Running bamboo” and “Clumping Bamboo”. Running Bamboos have an impressively Imperialistic manner. They send out “rhizomes” – roots – which travel surprising distances and in water-hogging ways. In rainier climates, they can chew through a sidewalk or even cross under a street, simply because it can. Maintenance of these plants’ tendencies has historically involved “root pruning”. This implies digging down and find the expanding roots and rhizomes, then cutting them off. To say that this is ‘labor intensive’ is quite an understatement.

Clumping Bamboos have a far more manageable style. This varieties hold their roots closely without the rampant expansion of the “Running Bamboo”. Having said that, they also expand their very structure, growing at a reasonably rapid pace. All Bamboo – it seems – grow rather rapidly. In the end, true maintenance involving this plant can most easily be accomplished upon planting them.

Root Barriers

Modern technology has provided us with an excellent product for containing these gorgeous plants. Plastic root barriers are now readily available with which to contain the expansive qualities of the more aggressive types and which can reduce root pruning to “never”. Set around 24-36” below grade, during the planting process – or retroactively, of course – these plastic containment mechanisms act to prohibit expansion.

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The limits, in terms of distances, around which these barriers can act are limitless, since the barriers themselves are segmented and easily attachable by hand. This can provide a truly wonderful scenario as we watch the expansion take place and halt at out predetermined dimensions.

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The other truly marvelously efficient factor with barriers such as these are that many specialists in this product provide barriers which are also made completely from recycled plastic. As a Green Technology, this is a wonderful development. Efficient and Green both are a wonderful way to design and build are most gorgeous gardens.

It is hard to express enough appreciation for a well-conceived garden at any time, but some are more Heavenly than others.

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Mike Snedeker – My Brother’s Guest Post

As is the case with all of my family members, I am inordinately proud of pretty much every single one of them. My bias causes me no trouble whatsoever, lol, because for the most part they tend to rely on the rewards of actual works and real history in trying to “be someone” who affects the world positively. I could wax long and hard in explanation, boring the Universe to literal tears in my hearty solipsistic rants. But why bother? I already did that over the last 453 posts!! ;-)

This story, however, reveals a deeper level of our personal family intrigue and one far less rosy. Let me preface any further statements by saying my Father was a much-loved man. My friends often dropped into my place regardless of whether I was there or not. Engaging “Flash” (short for the “Freddy The Flash” nick Eastern Illinois newspapers labeled this excellent football player with, and a sobriquet irresistible to my little vandal friends) was just too tempting to let go by. His big goofy full smile was the reward they waited for and he never failed them – not a once. He would grab a deck of Rook or Hearts cards and they’d get busy, sharing space and time. He is still my hero and I miss him dreadfully, each and every day.

This is a “guest post” – a first in this blog. As the “About” section implied, my move to Louisville has long since transpired and I have lived with my Mother and younger brother for the past 3 plus years. Mother is now 94 – a couple months from 95 – and she has taken a few tumbles and challenged the resourcefulness of her younger charges in keeping her active and alert. That may have been the easiest part, actually, come to think of it.

But the last “event” seemed more “major” than most, so my older brother Mike decided to wing down on a whim – which he somewhat explains in the post. Mike has successfully authored books and writes – and speaks – in elaborate arguments of legalese for Appeals Courts who hear his Death Penalty and the bizarre Ritual Child Abuse cases which formed the subject matter of this excellent work:  Satan’s Silence. (the link is to Amazon books, if you click). But this time down, there was enough emotional atmosphere to choke a horse, as we all were completely worried about her. It makes his writing so clearly affected by his own discoveries and emotions that I found it irresistible. Here ’tis:

MY MOTHER, AND A FAULKNERIAN FAMILY SECRET REVEALED

On July 16, my 94-year-old mother finished talking to my brother, turned, and fell down hard, banging her head on the corner of his chest of drawers. Her skull and brain were fine, but she broke her neck in two places. My brothers Steve and Tom live with her. Steve told me that I couldn’t talk to her because she was so doped up to control the pain that she didn’t know where she was. When a sweet spot emerged for medication that blunted her pain but left her conscious, I decided to go back to Louisville and have the Final Conversation with her. We talk once a week, but we both like to look ahead, so we’re always talking about what the kids are doing and whether the Cardinals will go to the World Series.

She’s been written off several times before, most recently when she fell and broke her hip, but her bones heal quickly, and she always bounces back. I decide not to count on that, and go tell her what I really felt about her, and ask any lingering questions, like….why did we never go visit dad’s parents when we went to Illinois to visit mom’s parents? And, if she rallies yet again, we can pick right up with our weekly updates.

Here she is, a model at Marshall Fields in Chicago whisked away to San Diego at the beginning of World War II, holding me and looking ahead with an open, happy expression.

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And here is dad, being admired in his navy blues.

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We were a rootless American family that rolled around America through the middle of the 20th century, but we always went back to the tiny town of Humboldt, Illinois, for two weeks in the summer to visit my mother’s parents – the highlight of my life. Dad’s parents lived in Homer, Illinois, just a spit away if you’ve come in from San Diego or New Orleans or Toledo. “Why didn’t we go over there, too?” She paused, and said, “You never saw your father with his shirt off, did you.” “Well, er, no.”  “There was a reason for that.”

Here are my parents outside granddad’s house on their wedding day, February 12, 1942.

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I was born nine months and ten days later. When my mother touched dad’s back it was covered with welts and scars. She asked him what had happened. He said, “I’ll tell you because you deserve to know. But I don’t want any questions and I don’t want to ever talk about it again.”

Granddad and grandma’s house was the center of the universe. Here is a picture of my sister Diane and I cross-dressing in the front yard.

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Humboldt was an anything-goes kind of town for us. Granddad was the mail carrier and drove a 52-mile grid through neighboring farms, six days a week from 1917 to 1962. He was off work by noon, and would take me around with him after a big lunch, across the railroad tracks to the grain elevator, and into the railway station where serious men tapped out messages in Morse code. Then, we would visit the men lounging round the DX station on highway 45, and buy cokes. Everyone would look at the bottom of the bottle to see where it came from. Mostly they were from Mattoon, ten miles away. Occasionally Champaign Urbana, or Chicago. Once, I got one from Denver Colorado, and I was noisily celebrated. Then we went over to see Clint the barber, whose shop was the best-smelling place I’d ever sniffed, and over to spend time with the wastrels hanging out behind the post office playing washers. They would always let me throw in for a game or two. In the evenings, granddad and I would watch the freight trains and count the cars and wave to the caboose, and see the City of Miami and City of New Orleans whoosh by…All in all, as Tom Sawyer might say; it was miles better than anything else.

One time, and one time only, we drove up to Homer to visit my dad’s dad Fred Sr., along with stepmother Ru, and Lester, the most disconcerting, intriguing sight of my childhood. Lester was genetically deformed and large. He emitted loud barbaric yawps but could not talk. He was tied by his ankle to a post, with a rope that gave him about a 15-foot circle to roam in. He was a good boy, Ru explained, but when he got too happy, he would bang into people and if he felt bad, he would throw himself down and around….Lester knew nothing about body boundaries, his or anyone else’s, that was clear. I slowly approached him, and shook his hand. The visit unfolded, my other granddad hesitant, with a glazed look and none of the ease and grace of my first granddad, and Ru, with exaggerated nods and shakes of the head and untimely, braying laughter…I stayed in the family circle watching and listening, better behaved than usual, one eye always on Lester.

My father’s father had been a maker/repairer of buggies and buggy whips in Greenwood, Mississippi, until technology finished off that line of work. He moved to Marshall, Illinois. Dad’s mother died when he was very young. Sometime later, his dad came home with Ru and her son Hank. Hank and Ru moved right in. They didn’t like dad or his older sister Reba, and dad and Reba did not like them. One day his father told the two kids that he was thinking of marrying Ru, and said that they could decide whether or not he should go through with it. They voted against it, but he married Ru anyway. It started one day when Hank did something wrong and blamed dad for it. Ru whipped him, and when the same thing happened again, she got a buggy whip, and whipped him again, and again, and again. Reba made desultory efforts to help, but could do nothing. His father never intervened.

Dad would leave the house for days and weeks at a time. Sometimes he would travel, sometimes he would go stay with neighbors. Mom met a woman from Marshall when she worked in Springfield, the state capitol, who told her that dad would come and stay with her family sometimes, that it was “unthinkable” what Ru was doing to him. In New Orleans, dad’s doctor asked mom if dad had been a Prisoner of War.

Hank, meanwhile, was always getting in trouble. He dropped out of school and drifted away. Once, he came back home with a baby. He asked his mother to watch it for a couple of days. The baby was Lester. Hank never came back, and Ru spent the next 30 years taking care of Lester, until he died.

Here’s a picture of mom and dad in the early 50’s, riding the “trentes glorieuse,” or thirty-year wave of prosperity that washed over the Western World from 1945 to 1975, looking relaxed and confident in Paducah, Kentucky, where dad supervised the building of a subdivision for workers at the new nuclear processing plant.

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I was a difficult child because I determined around age 11 or 12 that I would go and seek my fortune, beginning in either New York or California, or perhaps Chile or China…I went through the motions of being an ordinary teenager, but my soul was already gone. I left home in 1960 and did not reconnect with my parents until 1980 – just in time, because dad died of lung cancer in 1983. I told mom that without her warmth and steady devotion I would be nothing, but she waved me off, and we resumed working on her Kindle word game, nailing down Level Nine. She no longer walks for miles every day like she did into her late 80’s. She reads a book every day now, sitting in her chair — Robert Patterson thrillers, a biography of Nikolas Tesla, anything at all. She’s always been weak for narrative, and is swallowing whole two east Louisville branch libraries.

Stendhal in the early 1840s became fat and suffered from gout and other ailments. “Staying alive is troublesome and exhausting,” he said, “and I would gladly give it up, but I need to know how things will turn out.”  Mom’s deep desire to see how the stories around her unfold will keep her going for God only knows how long. The broken neck is already fading into the past, no more than a bump in the road. When I arrived in Louisville a week ago she was disoriented, delirious with pain. Now, her bones have fused as they should. Physical therapists are working out her badly faded muscles twice a day. She will go home in a week, where my brothers will help her do what used to be the simplest things, and roam Louisville for her, tracking down libraries with stories she has not yet read. 

Landscaping As A Career – Breaking Out

The “Career” of landscaping has evolved so vastly during my own experience. In Vancouver, in 1971, “landscapers” were literally not a recognized trade at all in that town. Of course, in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Florida and other Sun-friendly environments, “landscaping” was a long-respected trade. But in more Northern climates, these persons were more commonly referred to as “gardeners” – and not particularly respectfully. Things then changed because budgets began to include the inclusion of the outdoors in building plans - and they became  mandatory. A 5% principle attached soon and the trade swelled with participants.

As time has gone on, many projects included much more elaborate gardens and outdoor premises as Landscape Architecture also began its own forward march in expertise and ability. An entirely new range of materials began competing and technologies of irrigation and waterproofing became essential findings which allowed a near-exponential expansion of “the possible”.

Pretty cool place to make, eh?

Once we’ve covered the “hard” portion of the trade, as was done so last post, we come to the nexus where someone seeks to improve his position in life. No one will or should impair a young person’s urge to uniqueness and achievement should they get restless about their lot in life. We tend to underestimate the peer-pressures facing 20-somethings as friends and acquaintances apparently pass them by on the graded social scale. They hear it from home, at pubs and on the job maybe most of all. Facing a gigantic pile of rocks in a driveway, scheduled to be relocated by 4 PM on a 100 degree day, is not the same as a vacation in January in Lahaina, Maui.

This is the point at which I ask anyone just how serious they are about a career. It might be the single most opportune time to ask one’s self the same question. In the end, serious movement requires serious actions. What I offer here is a rough guide on how to accomplish the next step for those who wonder. There are just a few tactics available, the truth is, and taking them seriously is what this is all about.

Take the trade seriously

Our minds don’t automatically cease operations simply because we have a wheelbarrow in our hands. (While tempting and oddly satisfying for its simplicity). The purest path to advancing in any trade is to acquire knowledge about it. In landscaping, this opens up far more realms of study than one might believe. For example, relevant Electrical aspects of landscaping include Low Voltage Wiring from Hot Voltage Transformers; waterfall/swimming pool/to tiny electrical bubble rock pumps; the timers, moisture sensors, irrigation valves and even audio aspects of patios and back yard privacy enclaves. All of these items and concerns have been at least parts of landscapes I have designed and installed, if not most of them included on every single one.

Hardscaping:

The term is a latter-day term describing the constructed structural elements of landscapes, from patios and walls to gazebos and fencing (carpentry). Owing to the outdoor nature of the work and the search for durable products and materials where landscaping resides – in the weather – cement products are often a huge feature, representing an outsized group of products requiring certain inescapable preparations. The entire notion of “Compaction” – as well as the quite specific materials and tools to complete their installations – figure largely here, even for carpentry projects. I have seen projects and even companies rise and fall over their comprehension of the entire premise of “compaction”.

Plants and Trees

It’s too easy to say plants are an essential part of any good landscape because it’s not always the case. Many landscapes any more have taken on spare-looking/minimalist characteristics not just attributable to our unique position as serious water-users for gardens, but also attributable to a tangential notion of some very creative designs. There is incentive – yes – in designing a less water-hogging landscape. It is a responsible move in the face of our looming water scarcity issues. But many of these edifices stand on their own as gorgeous landscaping – just without plants.

And having said all that, a thorough knowledge of plants, plant behavior and their afflictions and favorite moments is an absolute must for any landscaper. Here such concepts as ideal soil conditions, shade, traffic and the acidity produced over time from rooting and the breaking down of leaves or needles all converge with water needs and even drainage to produce a world-view of plantings at a basic level.

And even this disregards the even-more-essential elements of blooming, leaf structure and color, shape and eventual size. In fact, when all is said and done, we will forever and always return to these basic factors of any plants we use. Expert choices make expert results.

Design

To a certain degree, we have already addressed this above. But it well behooves avid students of landscaping to try and understand the reasons for certain design elements. “Foundation planting”, “mass planting”, “specimen-planting”, the use of grass, hardscapes, lighting, water in a landscape all have a certain place which should fit with the rest, no matter the current fashions.

Differences in design are as numerous as differences in their purposes. Back Yards are often the result of a search for privacy and contemplation.

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Public spaces, on the other hand, are nearly the opposite – with celebratory edifices such as public fountains, prominent features like statues and art works and even especially riveting sculptural/landscape elements built together to simply draw attention and interest, supplying something unique and impractical for our everyday lives. In public space, predictability is over rated by a huge amount. People seriously want to share amazement – most truly amazingly beautiful things are simply designed to share.

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Lovejoy Fountain

 

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Meat and Potatoes

Here are other categories it well behooves an aspiring landscaper to appreciate:

Soils -

Machinery -

Labor Relations -

Client Behavior -

Maintenance -

Sales  and Customer Satisfaction -

We’ll address these next time.

 

 

 

 

What Is Landscaping Like? Is It Like Work?

This is a recirculation of a post I made a couple years ago. Posts explaining what we do as landscapers are partially intended to inform any potential client of what to expect when a crew arrives at their home and begin tearing it all up. This is highly unsettling to anyone with a heart, and especially if they are super invested in years being used to their home.  ;-)

My sis in law, Lisa, once visited a site we were working at, in such beginnings and immediately opined: “Good God, I could never do that!” The place in question was a perfectly nice landscape the client wanted to upgrade with more interesting stuff. We were at what was probably the ugliest part – it was pure destruction. There are no delicate touches at that stage, lol. We are uniquely qualified to tear stuff up. Hey – we’re guys, mostly. It borders on fun!

Anyway, another aspect I write to cover is what young people might expect who are considering the field itself from any angle. Every field has an entry point and even designers gain immensely from spending a year or two “in the trenches” so to speak.

So below is a peek at what we do.

I was asked recently by a high school kid whose Dad I played softball with how I chose to do landscaping. He is a senior this year and he is facing those major questions regarding his own future. I had him work for me a while back – nearly 3 years ago – and he was a willing and hard worker. There was a lot of banter between some of the older guys and he – the old “age smack” trash talk thing – which was hilarious. He even “won” a few. He was not afraid to speak his mind for which he was highly regarded among much older guys. His Dad was proud when I mentioned he was missed and that my crew asked about him often.

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It made me think. I could see that this was a question which wanted as close as I could get to 360 degrees of an answer. It would not do to present half a picture. Truth be told, my route is not necessarily the one I would advocate for anybody – not whatsoever. The fact is, I stumbled upon it. However, one thing I have found is that landscaping does indeed suit a particular personality. This personality would be willing to wake up at 6 AM every morning for an 8 hour day of lifting, raking, carrying, wheel-barrowing and – in the end – of making things. In the end, this is what we do – we make things.

The Reward – Of all the rewards inherent in doing good landscaping – aside, that is, from the daily dose of endorphins and great sensations at the end of a day – the one primary reward can often exist in revisiting the project later and telling the company you are with – “I made that!”. Seeing a tangible result is a reward pretty much only for those who do make things – typically people in construction but also in art, in fabrication and manufacturing, and particularly in such pastimes as knitting, sewing, forming things from something else – and the tangible product tend to be their own rewards.

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The Chores – So we wake up early and drive to work. Typically, on my projects, I tried to get the hardest work done in the morning. It is a truism, proven by studies of productivity, that nearly 75% of the day’s accomplishments all happen before lunch. I have found this to be nearly completely true on average. In fact, I planned around it when it was possible. What this means is that one stretches a little bit, early on, then goes for it. The quiet mornings are full of the odd grunt and fewer complaints than those you hear later. In my experience, mornings in landscaping are the fastest moving times ever. Next thing you know, it’s lunch time.

Landscaping consists of some very redundant and basic tasks, in many cases:

Dirt Work:

Moving dirt around is the landscaper’s lament. Move this dirt over here. Dig a hole and replace the hole with better dirt and lose that stuff over there. Then rake it out. Rakes and shovels are the trade’s primary tools, along with the ubiquitous wheelbarrow. Learning to load, carry and empty wheelbarrows, believe it or not, are “musts”. In fact, learning to shovel is one as well. There are ways to involve the back somewhat organically, to help with the work by bending knees in coordination, just as there are ways to insure shoveling will be your worst nightmare.

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Shaping the terrain is what we do. It is nearly always first, sometimes following what amounts to a clean up of impediments or the trashing of a landscape which we are changing. Bottom line – We move dirt to where it will be a permanent medium for everything else that follows. Everything happens on top of that. Having said all this, we are helped, as often as possible, by the use of machinery.

Bobcats, mini excavators, larger stuff all reduces the body impact of doing the work by hand, just as teams of mules and horses once did for those land-shapers in England and all the many spots in the world who landscaped large swaths of land. The varieties of tools and equipment for landscaping goes back 1,000’s of years, actually.

Now, since I have lived in dry climates, irrigation is installed typically at the original dirt-moving time. Trenches are dug, cleaned out, pipes installed, heads inserted and all the rigmarole involving irrigation is dealt with very early on. It won’t do to try and irrigate retroactively, at least not when grass or sod is involved. Drip irrigation is different but even drip needs a supply line established under the ground.

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Anyway, so we shape the land to conform to the original design. Next, there are any number of directions to go. The original shaping could have left room for paving materials for patios, walkways or patios. We could have carpentry projects where the carpenters are busy forming up their gazebo, fence, trellises or whatever. Hopefully, they work with us in what almost always tends to be a crowded space. Otherwise, we often resort to beating them up. It’s tough out there, I tell ya. ;-)

If indeed we are paving, obviously there is a need for different materials to provide the sub-base materials for compacting. Dirt just won’t do. So guys bring in the base material, rake it out and compact it – either by machine if access is good or else by the handy old method of wheelbarrow. Since a wheelbarrow of base material weighs about 200 pounds, and the site of even the smallest patios or walkways require tons of material, this is a chore not to be sneezed at. It represents lots – and I do mean lots – of trips, back and forth.

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We then arrive at the point at which we install those paving items.  This involves and immense amount of carrying. The pavers need to go near the spot they were designed to go and they often require selective delivery, owing to the many different sizes and shapes and patterns they require. The onus is then upon the carrier to get it right. There is always a dude or two on the ground to put them in place and a crew ahead preparing the strata for laying.

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Once the patio is near completion, we work on what we call “finishing”. The soil is in place – perhaps needing amendment – and the “hardscape” is complete, so we can consider things like planting and installing grass and maybe edging materials, if required. So we order up our plants and we plant them, usually – in fact always – (except in the case of monster trees which we often dig by excavator) use shovels for this. Planting can be tough, too, depending on the native soils. Often times we need the help of picks and mattocks to get the hole to a decent enough size to handle the plants and trees. After planting, those familiar with drip irrigation know this is the time we run our feed lines to all the plantings. Oftimes, we will cover them up a few inches deep as well, particularly when no mulches are called for.

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Having completed the planting, we move to laying the grass. Since each roll weighs about 20-40 pounds, depending on the weather and the amount of clay they were grown in, this is another extremely tedious chore. There is that satisfaction, however, in laying grass, of such an immediate impact, aesthetically. Everyone picks up on it, invariably. There is something extremely satisfying in laying grass. The change is so quick and so total. But it, too, is tiring.

After all this, we move to the “real” finishing which involves laying in mulches where the planting beds are and depositing art works or thrills into the landscape accordingly. Once we clean the place spotlessly, we are basically done. It’s pretty much beer-thirty.

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So a review of all this activity reveals a couple of things: One, that the work is hard work. It requires a body that is either strong already or one which can get that way. This is not the toughest thing in the world, by the way. Every year, once Winter ended and the work> started really getting underway, it took me a week or two to get into what I call “landscaping shape”.  It is no different for anyone. By the way, I have seen many women coming into the field and it is a good thing for all. While strength is not presumed to be ladylike, the interesting fact is, it is pretty attractive, actually. The female influence on a crew can also be a wonderful addition, the truth is. It tends to keep things decent in terms of language and even in terms of behavior in general. And they seem to enjoy it as well. Here is the one cardinal overlooked fact of a hard day at work:

The endorphin count is out the roof. The satisfaction of a full day’s labor – while hard – can have its biggest reward in how good the body feels at the end of a day. This is not small, either. There is something to be said about getting legitimately “high” at work and this is exactly what happens. The other benefit is in the benefit offered to anyone who works hard – I personally believe you live longer and that those efforts which maintain a pretty awesome physical tone impact a person fantastically well. I used to play ball games after work. I lived for it.

Advancing In The Field - But this should not keep one from advancing further in the field, either. This is the second phase of a trip through any successful landscaper’s journey and one which I will resume next post.

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6 Comments »

  1. Hey Steve
    I loved this post. “A day in the life” of a landscaper. The photos all show a little progress each day and this is what we landscapers can appreciate. Sometimes our clients don’t “see” the everyday progress if the day has been spent doing “underground” work- drainage, sprinklers, sleeving, but we do!Excellent landscaping resource. Have you moved yet?
    shirleyComment by Shirley Bovshow “EdenMaker” — October 14, 2009 @ 11:25 am
  2. Yes, Shirley, I am now almost two full weeks into life in Louisville. It’s been an easy transition and an especially rewarding one so far, being with family again on a daily basis. I have also been approached for landscaping, lol.I knew this one would be one you might enjoy. Next, I’ll take a trip through the ranks. But I will also include a safety section.Comment by Steve — October 14, 2009 @ 4:03 pm
  3. Steve, that’s a great meditation on how you got to where you ended up, at least for a while. There are lots of great ways to be creative, and working with your hands seems to be one of the most rewarding. I’ve been doing a several weeks’ worth of pretty hard physical labor around the house after the day job is done, and I sometimes wondered if I’d have had a more satisfying life if I’d done some of the outdoor things that really satisfied me instead of doing all the desk job things that people kept telling me I should be doing. The day job has its satisfactions and pays the bills, to be sure. But how many of us don’t think every now and then about paths not taken? That said, you’ve definitely been clear about what isn’tso fuzzy and wonderful about the field, and to that I suppose you could add dealing with all sorts of people, many of whom will be terrific and a few of whom will never be satisfied. None of these big life decisions are easy…Comment by lostlandscape(James) — October 15, 2009 @ 12:25 am
  4. James, maybe I’m just lucky or maybe I have selective memory about events and relationships, but my relations with people in landscaping– and let’s speak 360 degrees, here – from the guys who I have worked for, and from those working for me and the abundant suppliers and clients, both residential and commercial, made it all just that much more rewarding in the end. The knuckleheads can hurt you – bad – and, to be honest, every now and then you make mistakes and must pay for them – (you being the knucklehead) – but they are outnumbered by a long way by the pleasantest relationships (outside of romance and family) that are possible for a human to have. In many ways, I regret nothing. Even the pain was worth it.Comment by Steve — October 15, 2009 @ 6:28 am
  5. Steve- it is so strange for me to see your workin the “wide open” plains surrounded by mountains. I am from New Jersey where it is totally different….. Super interesting to me…Comment by New Jersey Landscape Architect NJ & Landscape Designer — October 17, 2009 @ 9:43 am
  6. It’s why they call it Big Sky Country, lol. And, Lord knows, it’s the truth. When thunderstorms course through, once or twice a Summer, you can see the storm’s lightning lighting up clouds 100 miles away.Reno – where much of my work took place – is incredibly gifted, believe it or not. Having the Sierra Nevada Range basically mere miles away – including Tahoe – offers something you don’t see many other places. You still get the Big Skies but you also get a mountain show and all that ice cream snow-capped stuff. If you’re really lucky, you can get caught in one of those storms up there!They got 10 feet in one night once up there, 19 feet in two days. Reno got 4′.

    Comment by Steve — October 17, 2009 @ 10:23 am