Saturday, November 17, 2007

An open letter to: DIY Network, Desperate Landscapes, Jason Cameron

I am a fan of home improvement TV, but DIY Network's "Desperate Landscapes," hosted by pretty boy, Jason Cameron, is pile of misleading crap that only masks an underlying problem.
Here is a description of the show from their website:

"A little peer pressure goes a long way when you've got a dull and Desperate
Landscape! Watch as Jason Cameron and his team of experts visit homeowners
nominated as having the worst front yards on their block, then help them to make
incredibly dramatic changes in just one day. "

First off, the host, Cameron, is NOT a landscape architect. He's also NOT a landscape designer. Finally, he's NOT even a landscape contractor. Yet he is billed as a "pro" when he meets and works with the homeowners throughout the show. Interestingly enough, the statement above leads you believe that he is accompanied by a "team of experts." However, in the show's video intro, it says, "Jason Cameron, landscape pro and all around handy guy takes..."

Is Cameron a professional or not? Some of you may think I am splitting hairs here, but in my opinion, this degrades the landscape trade. It makes it appear as if anyone who happens to be an all around "handy-man" is already qualified to install hardscapes and plantings. This is misleading to the would-be do-it-yourselfer.

Here is Cameron's bio from the DIY Network website:

"A native of Toledo, Ohio, Jason Cameron is experienced in carpentry and home
remodeling, as well as being an outdoorsman and sportsman. He is a familiar face
to home improvement fans, having been lead carpenter on the TLC series, While
You Were Out. Jason worked his way through college as a carpenter while
attending Northern Michigan University. He is also certified as a personal
trainer, specializing in strength and conditioning. In his spare time, Jason
enjoys working out at the gym, playing volleyball and basketball, and of course,
doing carpentry projects. He currently resides with his wife, Mary Ann, in New

Once again, nothing about landscaping in that bio. It looks to me like the main reason he's qualified is because of his big biceps.

Secondly, the work done on the show is second class. While I will give them props for using a decent variety of plants, and for displaying the the correct pricing, the work Cameron does is poop. In one episode, (see video here under "rustic paver walkway" ) they install cement pavers on top of an existing, unlevel sidewalk. To combat the heaved cement, Cameron decides to use a sledge hammer to remove some of the high areas, yet leaves the cement sidewalk intact in other spots. He then proceeds to scrape a layer of sand across the whole thing and set the pavers. For the record, this is a crime against all hardscapes, and it is dangerous! You NEVER NEVER NEVER install hard pavers on top of an existing cement slab. The reason the existing sidewalk is out of level is due to an improperly prepared base. By adding pavers on top, you will do nothing but make the problem worse. After the first hard freeze, those pavers will move and become unlevel themselves, causing a major safety concern.

The only proper way to lay cement paving stones is over a properly excavated footprint that has been layered with limestone crush to a depth of 4-6" and thoroughly tamped.
(I've lost some of you here I'm sure, so just know that Jason Cameron is an idiot)

Another reason the show is misleading goes back to it's basic premise: that being the "desperate" landscape itself. Folks, landscapes are desperate because their owners are not.

Think about this: Caesar Milan has a show called the "Dog Whisperer," and his claim to fame is that he "rehabilitates dogs, and trains owners."
Caesar says the problem is not the dog, but rather the owner. The dog lives by instinct and breeding, and it's up to the owner to be the "pack leader" and steer the dog in the right direction.
Same with landscapes friends! Trees and shrubs, and grass and weeds, are going to grow as the rain falls and the sun shines. It is up to the homeowner to train these elements and keep them under control. Just because a crew from DIY Network swoops in and installs an entirely new landscape doesn't guarantee a lazy homeowner will decide to take care of it.

To sum it up: a landscape that Jason Cameron saves from being desperate, will be desperate again in under 2 years.
Maybe we should start a DIY show on educating homeowners about taking care of their lawn and land, instead of replacing it? Or maybe they should all just come to this blog and learn for themselves. Finally, I would love to see what these landscapes look like a couple years after their makeover. I don't think Desperate Landscapes has been in production long enough, but if any of you readers know of someone who has been on the show, please drop me a note here.

If you liked this post about lazy and desperate landscapes, try this one:
"Low Maintenance Landscapes"

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