The Unreality of “Reality” TV

The Unreality of “Reality” TV

How many times have you seen them? You know what I’m talking about. Those reality TV shows where the host of the show talks and walks us through the complete installation of an entire landscape in just a scant 23 minutes?

Unfortunately, as you are well aware, reality is much different than what we see on TV.

What our clients don’t see, and generally never really consider, is that a quality landscape can take at a minimum of several weeks to even many months from initial concept, complete design, planning and then final installation. Rarely it seems are even the simplest landscapes installed without something unexpected happening; yet our clients sometimes seem to base their ideas on what happens by what they see on reality TV. One would hardly consider that anything could go wrong based on the seamless operation these shows portray. And that is one of the major drawbacks of these types of shows.

Now, when our clients see this fantastic transformation of a landscape, from bare dirt to lush paradise, take place in the space of ½ hour their understanding of what can really happen (and generally does) can indeed become rather skewed. For example, do our clients really consider that many months of planning go into the production of these shows? Have our clients stopped to think that behind the host, the “talking head” of the show so to speak, a literal army of producers and technicians stand at the ready to make everything go as smoothly as possible? Or that virtually everything is carefully planned months in advance? Unrealistic expectations can and unfortunately do arise from not considering these facets of TV production.

Now I am certainly not going to knock these TV shows. As a matter of fact, I appreciate them very much because they have actually helped grow our industry more and more, have highlighted for the client the value of planning ahead and putting their ideas on paper before even one spade of dirt gets turned or one dollar is spent. I have even learned a few new techniques and design ideas from these shows! Thanks to these shows many people have been inspired to invest in one of the most important tangible investments they can ever make, their home. That has certainly led to some new business for my firm for sure and yours I would guess.

What I would like the landscape designer to take away from this article is simply this: It is vital to temper your clients ideas and expectations about their landscape project with a rather large dose of “true” reality and to have them plan ahead accordingly. Many times the lead time for a landscape design from beginning concept to final presentation is 6 to 8 weeks, maybe even more depending on work loads. As you know a quality landscape design takes that kind of time because there is quite a bit that goes into producing a unique design tailored to the individual client. Add to that a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks in getting bids for the project from various contractors (if that is part of what your services) and we know that close to 2 to 3 months will be expended without one shovel turning dirt. Add to that the 2 to 6 weeks (or more depending on the size, features and complexity of the project) of construction of the landscape and it doesn’t take long to see that a quality landscape can take many months, not a mere half-hour, to install. Making sure this is fully explained to the client ahead of time is vital in enhancing the reputation of the design firm and bringing the entire landscape design/installation process back to “reality.”

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the post David.

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