The Attack of the Designosaurs

Speaking of monsters (see “Garden Wise Guys” below), the time has come to talk of some of the design practices that ought to go the way of the Stegosaurus. Just as this ancient dinosaur became extinct when conditions changed around it, the changing conditions of our present world are making lots of formerly accepted gardening practices obsolete. And those who continue to design landscapes that follow the old, wasteful rules are slowly changing or going the way of all effete creatures. Here at Owen Dell & Associates we call them “Designosaurs.”

It’s simple. Water wasting plants are out; climate-adapted plants are in. Chemicals are out; natural controls are in. High-impact hardscape materials are…you guessed it…out; biotechnical, reclaimed, recycled, and natural materials are waaaay in. Dumb irrigation controllers? Ouuuut! Efficient smart controllers? In. Lawns out; meadows in. Bare soil…you know; mulch in.
These changes matter to you because they are not only good for the environment, they make your gardening life easier, make the garden look and work better, and can save you heaps of money. Who could argue with that? Shoot, even if you hate the environment, you should do these things because they’re good for YOU!
Yet there are plenty of people still stuck in the past. Why do homeowners continue to do things the old way, and why are some designers still lawn-and-thirsty-plants-centric? Well, mainly because of habit, ignorance, and oftentimes a misunderstanding about sustainable landscaping that leads them to believe it’s an arcane practice that results in grim, parched, ugly places and agonizing sacrifices. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sustainable landscape could look like most anything — a Japanese garden, a perennial garden, a forest, whatever — and sustainable landscapes can be GORGEOUS!
Want to know more? Hey, you need a copy of my book, Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies. Have a look at it and order your own autographed copy right here. Don’t be a Designosaur!

6 thoughts on “The Attack of the Designosaurs

  1. Hi Owen
    Great post, and great talk at the Pacific Horticulture seminar last weekend. You are the first person that I have met that has put all these pieces of sustainability together including peak oil. I am so relieved to find another landscape professional thinking along these lines. My San Diego based design/build company, The Yard Fairy, has been installing low water landscapes for nearly 6 years now. We have always used mulch to finish our planter areas, and we specialize in drip systems, and were early adopters of smart controllers. We are constantly updating our knowledge of native plants and succulents, and irrigation technology. In the last two years we have won two awards for California Friendly, low water landscapes. All of this built on the basis of the information you provided in your book ‘How to run a landscape business’. You are one of my landscaping heroes! Keep up the good work.

  2. Owen, I love this. I think you coined a great new word.

    did I ever share the term “landscraper” with you? It’s an old nursery term from decades ago (Thank Manny and Luis), still valid as ever.


  3. What I try to do with my customers is to steer them towards drought tolerate perennials and water wise annuals. Native grasses , once established, make for a beautiful landscape whether planted in masses or as an accent plant.

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