Install an artificial plant to hide nearby McMansion

Have an unsightly McMansion next door? Install artificial plantings:

A San Marcos, California based company, Geranium Street Floral, has installed their artificial plants at many hip remodeled homes throughout Southern California. The company recently installed an artificial hedge at a remodeled property in North Hollywood that no doubt greatly improved the view in the backyard of the custom remodeled home. Geranium Street specializes in creating backyard privacy with their artificial plants.

Geranium Street president, Bob Smith explains that with the advent of “McMansions” throughout Southern California, the need for privacy is at an all time high. “Before, you had houses in a neighborhood that were all basically the same height, so privacy wasn’t much of an issue, but now they are tearing the old houses down and building houses that tower over those of their neighbors – suddenly everyone feels like they are living in a fish bowl. We have ways to solve that problem quickly with our artificial plants,” said Smith…

Bob Smith explained that many real estate developers have found the quick solution to their privacy and decorative needs by installing artificial plants. “Whereas it may take months to grow real vines and plant real trees, we can come in and install our artificial plants in a day or two. The new artificial trees and plants look more realistic than they ever did before, and they are very durable,” said Smith.

Four quick thoughts:

  1. Given the water issues in California, I’m surprised this press release doesn’t include the rationale of saving money on plantings. Have a hedge and no water is required.
  2. It would be interesting to think about how these installations play with the idea of “nature.” Some would say the real plantings in the suburban sprawl like that found in southern California are already poor imitations of nature. But, what if those same plantings aren’t even real? Is this a more honest admission of the lack of nature? These options are billed as durable but they likely provide a different aesthetic and physical experience.
  3. Theoretically, such hedges could be built to any size of shape. McMansions can come in all sorts of sizes and shapes and a company could get pretty creative in how an artificial hedge hides the ugly house next door.
  4. What do artificial plants do to property values? They may be durable but I imagine they could be viewed as tacky or lower class.

What are the “dead giveaways” in landscaping outside a McMansion?

One forum generates ideas about what kind of landscaping clearly marks a McMansion:

Most mcmansions in this area (mind you that’s only upper-middle class, not very upper class) have one tortured looking weeping nootka falsecypress, one fat albert spruce, a weeping mulberry and/or a callery pear…

MULCH. Large expanses of mulch dotted with discrete plants. Screams modern, if not commercial…

I think black mulch is the 2014 version of red mulch. Any dyed mulch screems Mc mansion to me. Undyed mulch used for function is ok but any munch used as decoration looks unnaturally trendy to me…

Faux “outcroppings” of rock are another big millennial landscaping conceit to avoid. I am not aware of many spontaneous outcroppings of rocks and plants with a waterfall springing out of it in the middle of Indiana. The ones that are there are probably planted. Just say “no”…

Too many hydrangeas. But ultimately, I think the “McMansion” look is one that is too manicured, too perfect and planned out…

Basically, 98% of American McMansions (or even what pass for mansions these days) are ridiculously over landscaped, at least compared to the European manors and stately homes they are claiming as inspiration. Just as the building architecture itself is often a bad, ham-fisted copy, the “design on the land” descends into contrivance and excess. I’ve heard of more than one case now of a 10-20 year old planting of “foundation shrubs” being ripped out because it had become unmaintainable and was overpowering the facade of the house. I suspect we are at a tipping point where there is soon going to be an article about it and partial backlash.

 

Some interesting ideas throughout this long thread. McMansions tend to try to impress observers with their features – whether that includes turrets, big entrances and foyers, multi-gabled roofs, stonework (or fake stones), numerous windows, mish-mash of weighty older styles – but the landscaping may not get as much attention. One factor common across these comments is that McMansion landscaping doesn’t account much for long-term appearance and care of plants. In other words, the landscaping is also meant to impress or get the job done but may not serve the home and the owners well 10-20 years down the road. If this is true, then the McMansions are what critics suggest: homes with limited staying power once you get past the facade (or landscaping).