39 Landscaping Wins and Fails - Parents Dome

39 Landscaping Wins and Fails

When we think of landscape art and design, we tend to assume that a lot of preparation goes into it. Sometimes that’s true, other times not so much. When it’s done well, a piece of landscaping art can make us appreciate the landscape in a much deeper way by making something both functional and beautiful. If it’s done poorly, however, we can lose all appreciation for a place because it is scarred by something both useless and ugly. 

Although to be fair, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even though we mark each item on the list as a “win” or “fail”, we don’t mean to be the final authority on what makes for good landscape design. In our judging, we tried to take into account the creativity behind the design, the planning involved, and how it made us feel. With that in mind, let’s take a look at these designs! 

Don’t Crash!

This incredibly inconvenient bike path is studied by those who want to be landscape architects. Most likely it’s under the chapter “don’t do this.” Having a massive tree smack dab in the middle of a bike path is not what you call “good design.” 

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

How did it come to this? Was the bike path perfectly cemented over and then the tree rose up overnight? We place our bets on human error and this error has turned a bike path into a “let’s walk around the tree” path. We say it’s a fail. 

The Bush Monster

Halloween brings out the inner artist in all of us. Alongside dressing up in spooky costumes and decorating your house with spider webs and candy, you get to add a little life to inanimate objects. The classic one is to create jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins. But, there’s also the bushes. 

Image courtesy of thegardenglove.com

It’s amazing how a little added touch can enliven a tree or bush. These big googly eyes allow us to imagine this bush as a creepy monster! Hats off to these homeowners – they probably give out full-size candy too! We give them a definite win. 

Raising Flowers and Awareness

“So do you want to donate this or throw it out?” “No, I’ll plant some flowers in it!” “Huh?” A brief search online shows that quite a few people have looked at old bras and thought the same thing. It’s a creative way to pass the time in lockdown!

Image courtesy of za.pinterest.com

Turns out it has gone beyond personal DIY projects. Some entrepreneurial types are selling them online as well! One group used these bra planters to raise flowers and to raise awareness about breast cancer. Well done! We call it a win!

A Magical Garden

In the UK during WWII, the park below was created. Called “The Lost Gardens of Heligan”, it covers 200 acres and features landscaping treasures like “Sleeping Beauty” (seen below). It interested us so much that we gave it two spots on the list!

Image courtesy of orderisda.org

This entire garden is contained within the estate walls. Over the course of four hours, visitors can immerse themselves in a world of fantasy filled with unique sculptures and landscapes. Although forgotten for many decades, it was restored in the 1990s so nature-lovers everywhere can view it. A definite win. 

Monster Park

Although Sacro Bosco (or Sacred Grove) in northern Italy was built in the 16th century, it still has the ability to shock its visitors. That’s because this unique park is filled with monster statues (like the one below) created in a creepy Baroque style. 

gardens of bomarzo portmobility.com

Part of the reason it can still shock is that that was the original intent! The creator, Pier Francesco Vicino Orsini, mixed his passions of war and art when building this. Check out that open-mouthed monster! Would you walk through it? We say this Sacred Grove is a win. 

The Garden Car

There’s a whole cottage industry dedicated to repurposing old things rather than throwing them away. For this person, it came in the form of converting an old car into a garden. What do you think? Should the owner have junked it or kept it? 

Image courtesy of thenewswheel.com

We certainly admire the amount of work done and the mix of colorful plants, but we lean towards giving it a fail overall. Why? Mostly because the car has seen better days and could do with a bit (alright, a lot) of re-painting and refurbishing. 

Planters on Clearance

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Usually we can find stuff like this on the clearance rack at a local store. We rush over and try to figure out if it’s worth buying just one more thing – like these foot planters below. 

Image courtesy of retailunderground.com

Do you put one in your cart or pass it by? For us, we decided to pass on the red-sandalled planters. These flip-flops just aren’t doing much for our garden dreams. We give it a fail and move onto the next clearance rack item. 

The Red Octopus Tree

Are you a Beatles fan? If so, you might remember their hit “Octopus’s Garden.” It looks like the painters of the tree below wanted to recreate it in real life! They sought to bridge land and ocean and for that, we gave it a win. 

Image courtesy of gardenpowertools.com

Kids, in particular, might love climbing around this oddly-painted park. But, it’s also important to make sure not to chip off the paint or break off a branch! We even wonder how we could use the same idea but for our own gardens. 

Multiple People Approved This

After taking a look at the picture below, you might be wondering, “why was this built?” We were wondering the same thing. Staircases are usually meant to lead somewhere, but all this leads to is you smacking your head on some concrete.

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

The fact that this was built at all is enough to give you a headache. The fact that it’s a renovation project that required permits and approval from multiple people is enough to make your head explode. Not surprisingly, we say it’s a fail. 

Face Plant

If you want to creep out your mother or father, then we’ve got the perfect gift for you – planters with their face on them! To be fair, we are fans of mugs with faces on them, but these planters take that a bit too far. 

Image courtesy of thisiswhyimbroke.com

The plants themselves don’t seem to match the hairstyles of the faces. When we think about it, they remind us more of chia pets than our loved ones. For that reason, we’re giving them a fail. Do you agree or disagree? 

The Hippie Planter

The planter below, known as “Hippie Jerry”, can be found at stores all over the country. This cool little design has a strong 60s vibe that makes it seem like it came right out of Woodstock. 

Image courtesy of desertcart.com

We say this is a win. The fern hair seems to grow naturally out of the peace-sign bandana and gives it a nice, wild look. It seems like this planter has been plucked out of the “make love, not war” counterculture era and can add a relaxing touch to any garden.

Who Is Going to Park Here?

This is another example of something that makes us wonder how it got approved. Are you meant to drive over the curb? If that’s the case, it defeats the purpose of accessible parking. Yet somehow a few people signed off on this parking monstrosity. 

Image courtesy of kangarooni.com

It should go without saying, we judge this parking spot to be a fail. Looks like only a bicycle can enter this enclosed spot through a small space between the curbs. Hopefully, this parking spot gets fixed sometime in the future.  

Pit Stop Hedges

We call this one a win. This artistic gardener clearly has a deep love for racing and wants the world to know. A lot of detail and precision has gone into making these hedges look like a pit stop at the Daytona 500. 

Image courtesy of douglasforestandgarden.com

Just imagine how long it took to perfect this. The effort itself deserves a win and it’s remarkable how realistic it looks. This kind of garden work is also something that needs to be maintained on a regular basis, so great job on the upkeep!

Stairway to Nowhere

We’re unsure of how this is supposed to work. Sure, it provides wheelchair accessibility, but … to where? It seems like some kind of miscommunication happened between the planning and construction stages, because this ramp doesn’t seem useful to anyone except, perhaps, skateboarders. 

Image courtesy of nodnodwinwin,.com

It should come as no surprise that we place this in the fail category. We can’t decide if it was built just to build something or because some excess money from the city budget had to be used up. Whatever the purpose, this stairway to nowhere doesn’t help anyone. 

The Crane Method of Trimming Hedges

The first thought that many have when looking at this picture is, “that’s not going to end well.” It almost feels like a cartoon, but it’s real. Although it’s important to work smart when doing a hard job, this kind of innovation might be a bit too crazy. 

Image courtesy of travelfunto.com

Rather than tiring your arms out by walking around the hedges and trimming, why not have a crane suspend your mower above the hedges? Although it might sound good at first, we can’t imagine this turning out well and for that reason, we give it a fail. 

Time to Throw It Out

Who knows how this kitchen came to be. Maybe it was a sort of art project or maybe it just happened, day after day, through neglect. Whatever the reason, we give it a fail because it fails to capture our imagination. 

Image courtesy of plumbingzone.com

If we assume this kitchen resulted from some creative effort, a little bit more effort should have been put in – cleaning out the sink a bit, filling it with soil, or choosing a variety of plants. Instead, it has the look of an abandoned kitchen with unusable pipes. Better luck next time. 

The (Spray Painted) Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

Now we all know that “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but it’s not because that other side is spray painted green! That saying is not meant to be taken literally, but it seems like this guy didn’t get the memo. 

Image courtesy of douglasforestandgarden.com

Either he’s looking for some shortcuts to compete with the neighbors or he’s a budding graffiti artist. Whatever the reason, we give this a fail because that can’t be good for the grass or anyone who wants to sit on it. Perhaps some regular watering will work. 

Painted Marigolds

This art installation in the Boulogne-sur-Mer park in Paris is, not surprisingly, a local favorite. The orange marigolds flow as naturally as acrylic paint from the opening of the giant paint tube. 

Image courtesy of gardenpowertools.com

Since it’s a public park (and a local favorite), the city of Paris makes sure to keep the grass as green as possible and the orange marigolds forever blooming. This bit of art and gardening gets a win from us and we recommend seeing the real thing if you’re in the area. 

The Thing Planter 

Are you familiar with the Addams Family theme song? If so, then you might imagine “The Thing” crawling around creepily when you look at the planter below. Luckily, this one seems to stay still on a table or window rather than chase you around the house.

Image courtesy of twitter.com

Despite that, we still give this planter a fail. Mostly because the plant itself is little more than a dozen or so strands of grass. If it was filled with a variety of flowers and colors, we might have changed our minds. So, there’s still some hope! 

The Green Pool

Having a pool in your backyard can either be a must-have expense that allows you to cool off on a hot day or it can be an extra expense that drains your funds with all the maintenance costs. Or it could be a third option: grass!

Image courtesy of benavidez99 and Reddit.com

We applaud the hard work put into this, but the end result is hardly working for us. If they hired the people who made the Pit Stop Hedges to make some Shark Hedges, we might give it a higher score. Without that, we give it a fail. 

Walk Slowly at This Park

The statue below, called Ferryman, is one of 14 statues at Victor’s Way Indian Sculpture Park. Located in Wicklow, Ireland, this park is meant as a contemplative space for adults to slowly walk around in.

Image courtesy of atlastobscura.com

Created by a German man who spent a long time living with religious groups in Asia, the sculptures here are meant to show the spiritual journey of humans. Also, to honor the mathematician Alan Turning. The mix of influences (Indian, Irish, German, British) is enough to judge this park a win. 

The Rude Hedge

This unique hedge is definitely a conversation starter. Where that conversation takes you is another question altogether. Created by Richard Jackson, an expert gardener, it was trimmed into the middle finger and kept that way for eight years. 

Image courtesy of 5gbp.ru

Then the complaints came. The hedge was called a public nuisance (even though many neighbors supported it) and Richards was told to cut it down. He didn’t – saying it was on his own property and it wasn’t meant for anyone in particular. We say it’s a win, what do you think? 

Gnome Sweet Gnome

When gnomes first came out in the 18th century, they were symbols of wealth that could be found on the lawns of many elite Europeans. Since then, gnomes have spread out to everyone and have taken on a variety of meanings beyond wealth. For example: 

Image courtesy of thegreenhead.com

This gnome is the perfect Halloween decoration for when you want to scare off ghosts that are trying to get into your house. We say it’s a definite win because, alongside warding off bad spirits, it adds character to a lawn any time of the year. 

Jean Planters

Many of us have packed on a few extra pounds during the lockdown. One effect of this is that a lot of our clothes don’t fit us anymore. We are faced with a choice: repair it or throw it away. Or, if you’re a gardener, use it for plants! 

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

This is a definite win for us. It might not be the most attractive row of planters, but it’s a great example of repurposing old jeans to create something new. How long it will last (especially when the rains come) is unknown, but it’s a great start! 

Tree-Lined Sidewalk

Here we have another example of jobs done by the city that turned out to be less than stellar (to say the least). Despite being approved by an architect and other professionals, the sidewalk somehow ended up like this. 

Image courtesy of 5gbp.ru

Huh? You might be thinking, “why not put the trees in the big empty spaces that are meant for trees?” We’re thinking the same thing and are having trouble wrapping our heads around it. Unsurprisingly, we give this a fail – an epic fail. 

You’re Not Fooling Anyone With This “Tree”

It looks like someone was trying to hang up a few mats of fake grass to let the sun dry them out. The only problem is that they forgot to take them down! Someone should let the homeowners know it’s time to take off the fake grass and lay it on the ground. 

Image courtesy of instagram.com

But who knows, maybe it’s a kind of art project. If so, it must be in the realm of abstract art because it looks nothing like an actual tree. Unsurprisingly, we decided that this was a fail. 

Looks Like You’ve Got Something In Your Eye

If freaking out your neighbors is high up on your list of things to do, then we’ve got a planter just for you. This creepy-looking doll head with one spiky plant jutting out of its eye should do the trick! 

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

As they say though, everything in moderation. One or two of these unique planters might do the trick, but anything more and it quickly goes overboard. For the ability of this doll head planter to be so creepy and expressive, we judge it to be a win. 

Grass For Hair

As we saw with the “A Magical Garden” post above, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is definitely a place you should, well, get lost in. These 200 acres on an English estate can make you feel like you’re in Lord of the Rings talking with the famous Ents, or walking trees. 

Image courtesy of foundshit.com

The sculptures blend in with their surroundings in a way that makes them appear natural and a bit human. This whimsical statue of a giant mossy head puts a smile on our faces. We judge this park to be a definite win. 

More Of These Signs, Please

Signs are great for letting people know what they should and shouldn’t do – wait here, don’t touch that electrical wire, or come back later when we’re open. Most of the time they’re straightforward and helpful, but sometimes they add a humorous touch. 

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

The fact that this field is mostly grass-less is what has us cracking up. Whoever put the sign here has a great sense of humor – whether it was intentional or not. For the comedic relief alone, this is a definite win in our books. 

A New Home for Cactuses

Many of us have been stuck inside a while and have found fun ways to keep ourselves busy – such as releasing our inner artist! This can include taking old items and making new planters from them. 

Image courtesy of instagram.com

This mix of old junk items – computer monitors, bathtubs, TVs, microwaves, and more – have been remade into cactus planters. Although we admire the inspiration, we think these new planters need some extra detail to make them shine. For that reason, we’re giving them a fail. 

The Hedge is Always … Mooning You on The Other Side?

Either these neighbors have an odd sense of humor or they are in a prolonged neighborly battle. Whatever the reason for creating this piece of garden art, we can step back a bit and admire the amount of work that went into it.

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

And also admire that, in a childish way, it makes us chuckle a bit. For those two reasons, we mark it as a win in our books. However, we do realize that it’s important to balance a job well done with the need to keep on good terms with your neighbors. 

Even Plants Need a Good Soak

We’ve seen a variety of repurposed items on this list, so we’re all for finding a new and creative way of using something old. In this case, that means an old bathtub. It starts at the bottom with the claw feet, works up towards a mosaic body, and ends with a variety of plants in the tub itself! 

Image courtesy of gardenlovers.com

This is a definite win in our books. The plants are healthy, well-drained, and colorful. Plants, like bathers, can appreciate a good soak and some color! Great work.

Like the “A New Home For Cactuses” post above, this post is about repurposing old items; in this case, a boot. However, unlike the cactus post, this one went the extra mile in paying attention to detail and adding a bit of charm.

These Boots Were Made For … Mice and Flowers?

Like the “A New Home For Cactuses” post above, this post is about repurposing old items; in this case, a boot. However, unlike the cactus post, this one went the extra mile in paying attention to detail and adding a bit of charm. 

Image courtesy of shelterness.com

Those tiny ceramic mice popping out of the top and bottom of the shoe look so real! It’s details like that that make us see this shoe planter as a definite win. We would love to see it on a country porch. 

The Art of Creepiness

This gardening display splits our thinking in two directions. One direction admires all the different hairstyles that have been given to each of the statue heads. The other direction looks at the planters and says, “well, that’s creepy.” What do you think? 

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

If we could see how it fit in with the rest of the yard, we might give it a higher score. However, based on what we see here, we give it a fail because it feels a bit cluttered and creepy. Despite that, we still admire how healthy the plants look. 

Creepy of Poetic?

Why throw plastic dolls away when you can stick plants inside their heads and bellies? That seems to be the thinking behind the doll head planters below. Surprisingly enough, this style of planter is pretty popular all year round – not just on Halloween!

Image courtesy of boredpanda.com

Now, these planters could be viewed poetically as the flowering life and thoughts of a newborn, but we see them as just plain creepy. Chopped-off doll heads just aren’t doing it for us. To each their own, but for us, this is a fail. 

The Traveling Garden

Unfortunately, the lockdowns have made travel a lot more complicated and many people have ended up canceling trips. Some folks, however, have decided to make a different kind of trip – a trip to the junk closet to find some old items to repurpose. Check out the suitcase planter below!

Image courtesy of gardenpowertools.co.uk

The combination of colors here really blends in with the backyard garden. Considering the amount of detail that went into it, we assume the creator drilled some holes in the bottom to let the soil drain a bit. Great work – a definite win!

Five Little Lemurs All in A Row

If you’re a fan of lemurs and happen to be near Montreal, we’ve got just the right place for you: the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Horticulture and animal lovers will be in a state of bliss as they walk around here and see all the animal-shaped plants. 

Image courtesy of terta wasutra.facebook.com

Although native to Madagascar, these lemurs seem to have found a great home in Montreal! They’re so well-crafted, it’s almost like they’re alive. It should go without saying, but we give them a win in our books. 

The Flower Bug

The VW Bug is a great way to give an old car a new life. When you can’t drive it around anymore, why not fill it with flowers. The mix of red, pink, and purple impatiens gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “flower power”. 

Image courtesy of homedit.com

We judge this repurposed car to be a definite win. The exterior was well maintained and painted a fresh coat of blue before all the flowers were expertly placed inside. It brightens up our day – well done! 

Cactuses On-The-Go

Many of us are familiar with the bobblehead toy on the dashboard, but what about the cactus garden on the dashboard? That’s some next-level innovation. Although it looks unique, understanding how it works has us scratching our heads (not with the cactus though!). 

Image courtesy of dumpaday.com

Is water required? What happens when you go over a massive pothole? Or, worse than that, what happens when the airbag goes off? Yikes! We don’t want to be around for that, so despite its uniqueness, we give it a fail.