I'm here in New Jersey with my family for Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for the family part. New Jersey, less so.
I've been unhappy with the state of yard-dom in the Garden State since I was five. If I were queen, I'd be beneficent. I wouldn't ban red mulch or weeping Atlas cedars. I'd just introduce the idea of utility–that yards are not petting zoos for spruces, nor passive sponges for weed-and-feed, but places that actual humans should enjoy.
The above, for example, is a bit of landscaping in the small development where my mother lives. This island of sod used to be completely open…the one place where the few kids who live here could play tag or whiffle ball. The problem was, kids were actually running on the grass. The answer? Put impenetrable obstacles in their way in the form of a lot of weird island beds. Never mind that half the shrubbery now appears to be dead from over-watering and over-fertilizing. Never mind that as the forest trees grow, they are going to shade out the grass and look very forbidding indeed. It's better than having kids run on the lawn. I look forward to mushrooming here some day very soon.
Another form of utility not well understood in Bergen County, New Jersey is designing the front lawn so people can actually walk up to your door.
Since I find this house beautiful in a very Disney-like way, I am particularly puzzled by the haphazardness of the landscaping here:
Below is another house that only squirrels understand how to approach. In fact, the shrubbery looks positively ashamed of the human life inside.
Think how nice that sunny yard might look if there were a white picket fence and a vegetable garden instead.
Below is New Jersey as I know it: a rock, a badly-pruned juniper, and dyed mulch. Why not something of some use to somebody? A ring of Brussels sprouts or currants? A few perennials for the flowers?
And, can someone explain the theory behind the island bed to me, please, before I go mad? Here is what all island beds look like, given time: