What’s wrong with this picture? Part Deux

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION What’s wrong with this picture? Part Deux

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    Jason T. Radice

    Okay, an easy one for you this week.


    The picture?  Its boring and lacks a clearly defined subject.


    Oh, did you mean the parking lot?  How about that it appears to mix angled parking with 90 deg parking on the same lanes.


    uh…I can’t see the problem.

    Goustan BODIN


    – I see no sign of real drainage on this sloped parking, but this could be due to the picture angle.

    – Lighting does seem tricky though : looks like asymetrical lighting fixtures facing *away* from the parking lot. Actually facing perpendicularly, lighting half power on the cars, half on the garden. Are there any pedestrian paths/sidewalks to light there ? Is the road lighted as well ?

    – then , you might just want to show us that tall shrub on the left, that obstructs view just right where the road turns, and make it a guesswork for the driver to rear the car out of its parking position.

    Andrew Spiering

    The planting  is too high in the island.  Drivers backing up lack proper visibility.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Aside from the shrubbery completely blinding the drivers, it appears to be rather steep right to left in the parking spaces  making doors fly open or slam shut (on fingers and legs) … hard to tell from a picture.

    Mark Lerch

    I agree with Andrew. Also, raised island prohibits opportunities for stormwater capture. Can’t see much but I notice when someone plans for pedestrians after they get out of their cars and doesn’t force them to walk down drive aisles to get to their destination. 

    David Cristiani

    Too large of a shrub blocking parking lot visibility…serious safety hazard.

    That said, though, all the big SUV’s and pickup trucks do the same, coming from the owner of a Toyota Corolla in the land of the cowboy-outlaw: the desert southwest. But as LA’s, at least we can control the planting design, considering mature plant sizes instead of ignoring that. 

    We need these examples regularly…esp those who craft municipal landscape design codes!

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Also, the curb radius is so small that they had to use paint to widen the implied island  – you can look at it as taking away from the planting isle or taking away from potentially more parking spaces when added up throughout.


    …. is that lawn in the island or weeds from lack of maintenance? That brings up the issue of filling beds with plants, minimal plants with mulch, or grassed areas (in proper climate and water resource availability). They all have pros and cons.


    The other issue is one of changing maintenance commitment. Some places start with a good maintenance budget and commitment and then things change – what was a good design becomes a bad design because the criteria changed.

    Jason T. Radice

    As I had stated, this was an easy one. The overgrown landscape creates an unnecessary danger in this retail parking lot by blocking visibility. You can’t see over these even if you have a BroTruck! It can also create a security issue, as you cannot see parts of this parking lot with cameras, and users cannot see across the lot or around these shrubs. In this area, interior parking lot visibility is important, as more and more robberies are occuring in retail parking lots, even in broad daylight. No landscape within the parking areas should really be over 3’ in height and at the end of parking islands or at intersections a total of 30” from pavement height to the top of plants should be installed. As well, trees should be pruned up so that the bottom branches are a minimum of 6’ off of the pavement. Thus, a clear ‘window of visibility’ is maintained.

    This not only is a failure of maintenance, but of design. I agree that municipalities should require maintenance covenants for developments such as this as Andrew Garulay has touched upon, but maintenance isn’t always enough. The landscape designer should have known that this variety of Euonymus natively grows to 8’ or 12’ and instead simply selected a low shrub or ground cover that naturally meets the above criteria for the ends of the parking lot islands as David Cristiani identified.

    I know the picture isn’t pretty because it’s not meant to be a catalog shot. This is a functional photo simply to show the issue. As well, many of you had identified a number of other potential issues in the photo. While some of them were really reaching, I applaud your analysis efforts being so in depth. It is hard to see things clearly from a photograph, but it is a great skill to have and develop. I guess the previous picture really got you looking!

    For those of you who guessed correctly, congratulations. You deserve a cookie, so go buy yourself one. Watch for another ‘What’s wrong with this picture’ coming soon, and I’ll try to make it more difficult!

    Alan Ray, RLA

    no one mentioned that “those trees are messy and birds will poop on the cars under the trees”….oh, and “they hide the building”.  .

    I have heard that  a thousand times……most buildings should be hidden from view I say.

    my answers to fire the client.


    I have no idea where this project is, and am glad it’s not mine, but I run into this situation periodically when working for big-box clients from Arkansas who despise the notion of paying for construction administration, and then use my unstamped / unsigned NOT FOR CONSTRUCTION – FOR PLANNING APPROVAL ONLY drawings for… (wait for it)… bidding and construction.

    Before we throw the responsible LA under the bus in a public forum, consider the decent chance that the euonymus proposed on plans – possibly the E. turkestanica ‘nana’ (Nana Burning Bush), which stays small and should be acceptable for most parking lot landscapes – was mislabeled by the nursery… and the much larger E. alatus (Burning Bush) was substituted erroneously. I happened to catch that exact error on an apartment project, as I was surprised to see that the little Nanas I had called out were freakin’ huge… but I would have been hard-pressed to notice anything wrong if the Burning Bush brought out by the contractor had been in #2 or smaller containers. I’ve seen this happen with groundcover junipers as well, which can be nearly impossible to differentiate from their much taller relatives when both are young… and can lead to very interesting results that become increasingly self-evident in a few short years.


    Take on some auto dealership work to learn exactly how much our profession is appreciated.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The fine balance between regulation, visibility, volume parking, being noticed, and maintenance.


    Here is one (actually 2 and a service center in between) in my neck of the woods … or sand bar as it were.


    Agreed. Dealerships can look decent without sacrificing program goals. My point was that every dealer I have worked for had to be peeled off the ceiling when informed that their municipality required landscape improvements as part of securing the building permit needed to upgrade the 1970’s showroom, citing the reasons described in Alan’s post above.

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