My Stormy Relationship with “Landscape Smart”


Landscapesmart4Here’s another in a recent spate of blogger reviews of gardening TV shows, and I can tell you I’ve really struggled with this one. I used to think it was just a tacky reality show with bad designers – which, come to think of it, maybe it really was.  It’s possible they’re hiring better designers now, a change I’m happy to note and endorse. 

So now the After gardens look really good, I learn a thing or two by watching the makeover in process, and I’m enjoying the show. It’s still got that reality show writing and production, which I’ll always hate because I don’t really want to get to know the cute young couple who happen to be the homeowners for that segment.  I don’t care
about the amusing marital issues that arise and I don’t enjoy watching the stagey shots of them pitching in and laying the new patio themselves.  Like they’re expecting us to believe the typical homeowner could make this huge makeover happen with no professional help.  Okay, I’ll put up with all that show-bizzy dumbing down because it might appeal to young, nongardening viewers, but the gardening viewer watches
for those lovely and functional designs, and we sometimes get ideas from your money-saving techniques – the “smart” in the title referring to money-saving ideas.

 Landscapesmart3But now we come to my standing complaint, something this show does that still makes me yell at the TV screen – a reaction usually reserved for Charlie Rose when he asks the fifth version of his question while the frustrated guest is waiting to answer, not to mention the frustrated viewer just wanting Charlie to shut up.  But I digress. 

What drives me nuts about “Landscape Smart” is their footage of the final result. Listen up, producers:  Anybody who actually gardens, presumably a large proportion of your viewers, wants to see the resulting garden, a slow and steady pan from at least two vantage points – generally from the house and from a seating area in the garden looking back at the house. We most decidedly don’t want to see the MTV-type split-second editing of close-ups that you’re showing us. I like being transported to those drug-and-music clubs in Amsterdam in the ’70s as much as anybody, but I’d rather see what the damn garden looks like. 
Bottom line, with just some tweaking of the shooting and editing techniques in those final few minutes, your show could be as young and hip as you want and still make us gardening viewers happy.  Oh, and it would sure be instructive if you told us what the transformation cost.  Just my 2 cents.


  1. Susan, I just “discovered” you from the Landscape Architecture article and have spent the evening thoroughly enjoying your blog(s)! I’m a veteran of Landscape Smart (and its bigger, ruder cousin, Landscapers’ Challenge) and can give you some behind-the-scenes scoop if you still care. (Yes, I’m one of the “better designers” you mentioned.) Hope you don’t mind if I link to Garden Rant on my blog ( and would be thrilled if you’re inclined to return the favor. Thanks again for the great resources and great reads!


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