November 12, 2013

Spectrums of Yard Decoration - A Journey from Weird to Weird x Infinity

A few weeks ago, as I drove home from work or somewhere in town, I noticed that a neighbour of mine had decided to make another dramatic adjustment to his front yard.  I remembered other, graphic examples of yard "decorating", which, when I added on the current action of the neighbour (as well as the many other “adjustments” made in recent years), tipped the balance, broke the camel’s back and did me in when it came to reserving my opinion (inside).  Ok, for those that know me, this wouldn’t appear to be a huge step, but I just had to write about it.

I will be the first to admit that I am a traditionalist.  In this case, I would define this as meaning that I like things to be a certain way.  Change is really NOT for me.  This character trait stands me in good stead when it comes to my precision, my attention to detail and my work ethic (I think).  However, it does render me somewhat less flexible when it comes to trying new things, or straying off the well-known and well-trodden pathways of life.

When it comes to yards and gardens, I will admit that I am a staunch traditionalist.  I like flowers, trees/shrubs, edible things (in the right places), mixed with an appropriate amount of rocks or other hard landscaping features.  Here are two examples of yards that I like.

Why do I like these yards?  Because they are simple, they offer variety that isn’t equal to a rainbow paintball gun shot at a blank canvas and they represent individuality that is something that I can achieve.  I can relate to them.  They are familiar, without being mine.  Hey, I’m simply complex.  Sue me.

Whether you are pro-change or anti-change is not what I’d like to open up for discussion today.  I just wanted to give you a frame of reference for what I am saying and why I might have issue(s) with the subjects of this topic.

As I conducted my investigative research (a.k.a. snoopy driving around looking at other yards, taking pictures to share with you), I noted a range of different yard "decorating" styles exhibited by the population of my community.  I have noted (now, and as I dredged my memory) that there are definite styles that show up in a community when it comes to “decorating” a yard.  While the following examples are ones that I frankly don’t like (but felt like sharing), I don’t judge the owners, but recognize that everyone is free to enjoy their space as they will.  I expect that you will almost certainly be able to bring to mind a personal example of each of them.  I don’t claim to understand the motivation behind the style, but hope that we can at least enjoy the journey through these weird yards.

DISCLAIMER - There is a good chance that some of the readers might use, or subscribe to one of these styles or might even like what they see.  Please don't be offended if we differ in taste. That is just fine.

Style #1 – Seizure in the Great Outdoors (a.k.a. Outdoor Disco; a.k.a. Outdoor Bling)
This type of yard decorating style is perhaps representative of what might have been common several decades ago.  I don’t know that for sure and don't want to anger the generationally enhanced.  Lots of weird things happened years ago, I am told.  I definitely don’t know what prompted someone to think that if ONE wind chime or windmill was good, 10 times that was better, but this appears to be the direction that they went.  Add in the flashy, shiny bits and you’ve got a health risk.  Other similar examples include those yards with any more than ONE spinning-legged animal/object (per 100 square feet) or some of the yards below.

Sparkly bits and motion everywhere

Here a wind chime, there a wind chime, everywhere a wind chime

Style #2 –Staunch Collector
Some folks collect things.  I can admire that, since I tend to be a bit of a collector myself.  However, I collect in private.  Indulging a collection in a public forum smacks of bad taste and narcissism.  When you dial it up, it can quickly move from an interesting idea to something awful, or at least, weird.

I'm guessing Tex-Mex inspired, with bonus wolves

Tex-Mex inspired meets gnome/fairy wonderland
Gnomes are a bit creepy, especially in gangs

Style #3 – Pet Cemetery
My wife and father-in-law have some good stories about this particular style.  In this case, there are no actual dead and/or buried animals (visible) but the sheer volume of lawn ornaments, often animal in nature, gives the impression that the yard is now some sort of bizarre tribute to animals or imaginary creatures.

My thoughts on this style are more questions, really.  Consider the following example.  If you think that putting 40 bright pink flamingoes on a lawn for someone’s birthday is a prank of epic proportions (not to be left in place for more than the time it takes the “lucky” recipient to discover and remove the birds), why would you think that dozens to hundreds of gnomes, frogs, gargoyles, sheep or unicorns is acceptable year round?  I hope you see that that was a rhetorical question.  And stuffed animals that are left outdoors equals mould and things that are disgusting.  Don't go there.

Too. Many. Figurines!

Style #4 - Seasonal Decoration Disorder (SDD)
Some people like to put up a bit of decoration for their favourite season or holiday.  And, some people take that idea and mutate it into a grotesque display that nauseates and overpowers any seasonal sentiments. People that do this for EVERY season or holiday need help.  The following pictures are middle-of-the-road crazy.  I'm writing a special article just for this malady, I mean, style.

This picture demonstrates taking something tacky and making it uber-tacky.  Lions shouldn't have spider headdresses or pumpkin baskets.
Style #5 – Toy Graveyard/Playground
This one follows up on Style #2.  A toadstool or a little barn ornament is ok.  A creepy kids toy display is awkward.  Unless you want to draw children into the flower bed to play with the toys in the dirt, don’t put them out.  Just don’t.

Style #6 – Creepy
Some yards don't have any style.  They are just creepy.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  CREEPY.  Thankfully, I've never seen anything like the following example anywhere else.  The 2-3 foot tall Bavarian Freak people are slightly more creepy than the giant cat-table.  While I can excuse most styles, this one cannot be.

Style #7 – Fake Flowers
Real flowers and plants represent hard work, good taste and honest effort.  So what do fake flowers represent?  Maybe, laziness and the fact that you just gave up, without trying.  Seeing flower beds with silk or plastic flowers, which are removed just like real ones are in the fall, just about kills me every time.

Style #8 – Blown Up Paradise
This is a relatively new style, but cheap technology has facilitated rapid growth and has resulted in it becoming more and more prevalent.  Sadly, with all things that are "cute", "clever" or "neat" to begin with, it becomes horrifyingly mutated over time.  One inflatable entity is maybe ok.  Moving to multiple specimens dials it up to tacky.

The following example has been growing each year, with different seasonal variations.  Chopping down the beautiful hedge to expose the atrocity is what prompted this post.  Adding the spider webbing and having more, larger inflatable things makes this location a spectacle.  Blending in the Christmas lights rendered me speechless.  Changing it out for close to ten Christmas-themed inflatable thingies and other paraphrenalia on November 1st...

Webbing on the bushes is difficult to remove (especially with a foot of snow on it - sorry, spoiler alert, that is what happened days later)

Ole Frankie there is close to 10 to 15 feet tall.

Style #9 – The Loveless (a.k.a. The parking lot OR Barren Landscape OR Zero maintenance)
Not all of the styles of yard decoration that you'll see are full of things.  In recent years, there has been an upswing in interest in zeroscaping, or yards that are full of low maintenance, native, low water use plant selections and are designed in a way to sort of exist as a horticultural desert, while still looking deliberate.  Am I am fan?  Not really, but only because it can quickly move from tasteful, intelligent and a generally good idea, to something that isn't any of that.  People who want to reduce watering, etc. are different from people who don't really want a yard at all, but just want the non-house space filled with something that they can ignore.  The example below is well-designed but I just can't love it, because it is empty of the joy that plants bring to me, through interaction.  (Yeah, that sounds weird, but just go with it).

Style #10 - Urban Redneck
There is (or should be) a saying about the general impossibility of removing the redneck tendencies from the redneck.  If you see a yard containing toilets, rubber boots, or any other sort of hunting or fishing implement adapted for decorative yard or garden use, you might have located a redneck.  While I can appreciate the novelty of using some of the above as planters, they tend to automatically downgrade your yard decorating style from deliberate to lazy or accidental.

Style #11 – Random Weirdness
There are lots of other things that people do (or try to do), to "decorate" their yard.  Some are ok.  Some aren't, but none fit in any specific category.  Some of the following pictures are from my own front yard, but the kids did them and I don't mind them, temporarily.  They even border on cute, I guess.

This makes me think that some sort of mechanical something decided to die in the front flowerbed

This is a bit of a wasteland, which is trying to cram lots of practical stuff in, but just looks cluttered, messy and a bit strange. A for Effort, C for Execution.

1 comment:

  1. How very insightful Rob! Just don't look at my yard! I didn't have much time for it this past summer and it looks like it too! If you should feel inclined I could use some tips on how to maintain a yard and have it look tasteful at the same time! Enjoyed your Blog very much. Most entertaining! gma