Does Anyone Watch HGTV Or FLN?

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    Bob Luther

    Just wondering if anyone watches the landscape and landscape design shows on HGTV, FLN, PBS etc. Are you watching them because they are entertaining (due to good or bad design), they are educational, or just to see what others are doing? If you are watching, what are you watching and why? Maybe there are some shows we should or shouldn’t be watching.




    I watched ‘landscapers challenge’ on HGTV before I went back to school for Landscape Architecture when I was a landscape designer/contractor and built my own residential work. I stopped watching mostly due to lack of free time and then every place I have lived since about 2006 has not had cable television, so watching HGTV hasn’t really been an option.

    When I do get a chance to tune in to an episode of Landscapers challenge, ground force, design on a dime, curb appeal, whatever shows are hosted nowadays on design I feel that design professions are miscommunicated to the public as being entirely about fashion, style, and flair. Although, I think if they made a show on what day-to-day design really is the general public would tune out or die of boredom.

    I always thought a good reality tv show would be something like, ‘design school’ where cameras follow the lives of landscape architecture, arch, or (any for that matter) design students within their program and day-to-day lives. The arguments, meltdowns, deadlines, and heady lectures could make for pretty good tv. Add in some good looking, outspoken young twenty-somethings and I think you’ve got a hit.

    PBS, of course has some intelligent programming. I have been watching e-squared design hosted by Brad Pitt. I think it’s a pretty truthful and educational program based around meaningful design issues, but landscape of course gets VERY little play. The show is mostly on ‘sustainability,’ but I always wind up a bit frustrated at the end of each show as it seem they talk at length about the passive mechanical systems, solar orientation of 30 storey skyscrapers, and recycled building materials often times altogether ignoring the site and greater contextual issues. One show featured an architect who designed fantastic vernacular seaside homes in Nova Scotia (maybe) and how the materials were all somehow recycled or in some form sustainable, then they would zoom out to show the house perched on the most exposed and visible ridgeline of the island on 15% plus slopes with rambling quarter mile entrance drives. I have to admit I still loved the buildings though.

    Clayton Munson

    I sometimes catch a few episodes of ground breakers, landscapers challenge, or gardening by the yard on Saturday mornings. For the most part they aren’t really very useful but every once in awhile something might stick with me. Most of these shows tend to be in a mild climate which doesn’t really help me where I work in AZ. I mostly watch for hardscape elements which can usually be adapted or be a inspiration for a desert climate. I work in a Design/build company that focuses on high-end custom homes.

    David Lorberbaum

    I think the shows are fairly entertaining. I mean, for me, if I get to watch them they are better than watching all the shows my wife watches since she basically has control over the television.

    That being said, I used to watch a lot of “This Old House” with my Dad and they would have some great restorations of older homes, but then again, only about a 5 minute deal about the hardscape and landscape. I tend to like the PBS programs a little bit better than the HGTV ones. Sometimes I don’t like the quality of work or materials they use on some of the HGTV programs, but that is just my opinion. I know some people love it and also that budgets play a huge role in the what is built.

    I also always wondered with some of the programs that have $2,000 or $1,000 budgets that the clients or people on the show do not have to pay for the labor or design ideas which is an added expense not conveyed to the viewer. I think these shows typical deal more with home issues as opposed to landscape issues.

    Anyways, sometimes they are better to watch then when I get stuck watching “The Real Housewives of New York City.” At least I hope I’m not the only one who gets stuck watching that.

    Jared Horsford

    The general problem I have with the HGTV programs, especially in the context of the “house flippers) is that they generally focus solely on aesthetics and plant materials for curb appeal and delve rather superficially (if at all) into thought processes for efficiency, use(s), etc. I also have qualms with the pricing they project on the shows. Having done a number of projects on my own home, even when labor and design isn’t figured into the cost, seeing as though I do those myself, the idea of tackling some of the jobs they do for $1000 is highly unrealistic.

    All that said, I also get annoyed that landscape ARCHITECTURE gets very little exposure on the shows. Generally the people involved are landscape DESIGNERS, and since so few people already distinguish between the two fields, I feel that their focus on such visual aspects without regard to the aforementioned subtexts really discredits our field…. but I still watch them, and oftentimes laugh at what gets built.

    I’ll have to check out the PBS shows. I’ve not watched any of them.

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