Landscape architecture, garden design, planting design and management - Rowland Byass

What is bad planting design? (1)

02/10/2012

Bad planting design is everywhere.

Sometimes it's not so much bad planting design, as bad management, or just bad design generally. I'm planning to try to keep a photographic record of some of the most egregious examples I see over the next few months.

The photo above shows some recently completed landscaping on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge in the City of London. There are some deciduous trees and lavender - fine enough for an open site exposed to wind like this. What gets me is the expenditure on several raised timber boxes off the ground into which the plants have been put. Clearly no one thought about soft landscape until after the reconfigured traffic island had been paved over.

This piece of soft landscape design has been conceived as an afterthought, and it shows. The planters are visually heavy. Because they're raised off the ground, the plants in them will dry out fast and need watering. You can bet they won't get the regular watering they need. The compost in the planters will also run out of nutrients in time.

In this case, planting design is seen as something you do with the bits of land you can find no other use for - what Tom Turner calls SLOAP (Space left over after planning). Which is fine on a road junction. But having a landscape architect or horticulturalist involved in the planning of the junction at an earlier stage might have resulted in a more integrated landscape design that would be less of a maintenance liability in the long run.

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