We all love our gardens and landscaping. 

And with good reason; plants and nature are essential for healthy living.  It is just great to go out into a garden, park or bushland which has a special magical way of helping us release stress and make us feel happier.

Of course there is a fundamental distinction between the essence of our constructed gardens and parks, and wild bushland.  What is important here is not the obvious difference between planted environments which are either constructed or are wild.  Rather it is the attitude we need to take to have these environments succeed.

Gardens and parks require deliberate, quality design and construction to bring them into existence.  Bushland can be left alone to create itself but needs good management to minimize potential bushfire danger.

Planning for gardens and parks needs design input of an extraordinarily high expertise and competence level for them to succeed.  Just throwing a bunch of plants and trees together any-old-how is a recipe for failure from problems happening at garden or park maturity.

Yet it appears many gardens are created without very little thought applied to their design.  Public parks are better, but designers of these can and do get things wrong.  The biggest culprits of poor garden design leading to problems later are property owners who use rudimentary design parameters such as, appearance, maturity size and cost of each plant or tree.  This extremely low level of design input requires a lot of luck for success.

One of the biggest missing ingredients in the poor design of garden and park design is lack of foresight in how the mature planting will behave and how it affects adjacent areas and infrastructure.  This applies to both individual plants and to the whole planting scheme.

Professional planting design considerations include: leaf, fruit and branch drop/litter; attraction of pests including fruit bats, possums, snakes, rats and ants; potential for root damage to adjacent infrastructure; overshadowing neighbors; the blocking of light and the opening up to light to specific areas at different times of the year; lines of sight and views; plant/tree selection for the soil type; danger of branch or tree falls during storms; need for water and maintenance.  These are the things experienced landscape designers and horticulturalists must consider every day.

As an example, I have observed homeowners developing their property, even in the middle of the city, to have their garden become a rainforest.  While this might generate warm fuzzy feelings, it is not a very smart thing to do, for not doing all the good design things just mentioned in the last paragraph.

One particular culprit is the palm tree.  Some gardens have multiple palm trees, and some have multiple cluster palm trees.  These trees shed palm fronds very regularly which leads enormous amounts of ground litter which attracts pests and can become a fire hazard.  These fallen fronds, where they were attached to the trunk, have a very broad fibrous wrap-around, which once on the ground can either fold over upon itself creating great ant nesting places, or they can fall facing up creating a good water receptacle for mosquito breeding and a source of water for rats.

(palm fronds)

There is usually only one remedy for poorly designed gardens and parks.  This remedy does not include a lot of time and energy wasted in never-ending maintenance and trimming.   The remedy is clearing and starting again beginning with good design.

This remedy is a blunt, violent, and disastrous solution for all life in the cleared landscaping and includes death or forced eviction of the wildlife that inhabit it.  The remedy also catches neighbors out by the migration of the evicted wildlife and also exposes neighbors to extreme levels of noise, fumes and dust.

There are generally two fundamental ways to make the things in life better.  These two ways formed the classic clash between the two ancient Chinese philosophers Confucius and Laozi, who both lived around 2,500 years ago.  Confucius promoted rules to for people to follow while Laozi saw advancement through education which eliminated need for rules.

People can either develop to resolve a problem or not create one in the first place.  It requires either tight, sensible, enforceable regulations, or education of the population. Looking at where we sit in our evolutionary history, it is likely a combination of both.