P80120kWhat a waste of space! What a waste of water! What a waste of time for the mow-blow-and-go ‘gardener’ who charges money to mow and edge it, but are too inept to suggest planting something that might actually be pretty, or shade the parking lot. There are a few of these between parking spaces marked for ‘compact’ cars, because it is cool to discriminate against full size cars that can not pull far enough forward to get out of the way.

Even between a Buick and a Chrysler, it is nothing to look at. It looks like something went seriously wrong with a grave site that was supposed to get a slab ‘over’ it (not ‘around’ it). It could be a Chia Pet litter box. There are much better spots to picnic at the park down the road. Whatever it is, it is not much better than the swales that are required in modern parking lots. It has potential to be a tripping hazard, but is not quite as dangerous.

I would make one of only two suggestions.

1 Pave over it. If there is not some building code that limits the area that can be paved, this might be thee most practical long term solution.

2. Landscape it responsibly. Yes; ‘responsibly’. Turf grass is just lame. Those trendy carpet roses that mow-blow-and-go ‘gardeners’ typically plant snag the clothing of those coming and going from the cars they park there. Since parking lots get warm, I would recommend shade trees with complaisant roots that are compatible with pavement. Such shade trees also should get tall enough to not obscure the signs on the buildings.

Parking lot islands contain some of the most deplorable landscapes. Trees commonly get hacked down below signs rather than pruned up and over them. Even if they get properly pruned with up-dos, their canopies must be carve around security lighting. Most problems result from negligent maintenance. Some problems result from design glitches. Realistically though, parking lot islands are very difficult to landscape well.


15 thoughts on “Horridculture – Parking Lot Islands

  1. Chia pet litter box! Oh I got a great laugh from that. I do like your outrage about some of these things. Of course many plants can’t grow in a heat sink. Perhaps ice plants, which will have little metallic flowers and thrive in the hideous heat would be good…

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    1. This is not a particularly harsh exposure, so there are several plants to select from that would do well there. However, no one has ever bothered to remove the grass to plant something more appropriate.

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  2. Someone finally got smart where I work, and planted Gulf muhly in those ‘boxes.’ The first autumn, it turned that glorious pink. The next year, the lawn crew neated it up in the middle of summer, trimming it down to collections of 12″ stalks. It was so neat and tidy, I nearly wept.

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    1. There was a completely bare island like this in Felton Covered Bridge Park. The black oak that was originally there was run over many years ago. The so-called ‘gardener’ just weed whacked it a few times through the year, but would not put anything into it. I figured that it should just be paved to eliminate the tripping hazard, and to get another space for the parking lot. Eventually, we planted a tiny Memorial Tree tree there. Because it was a Memorial Tree for a homeless gentleman who had passed away, (and later became a Memorial Tree for a few homeless people) someone in town who REALLY hates homeless people called 911 to report the planting of the tree, and got on Facebook to get others to do the same. I can not help but wonder how that telephone call went. I mean, how does the dispatcher respond to something like “Homeless people planted a tree illegally!”? https://feltonleague.com/2019/05/25/may-2/

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    1. Oh my! The volcanos! And the trees are almost always crape myrtle, as if they will ever get big enough to make any shade. The so-called ‘gardeners’ never prune them up for adequate clearance, so they only get in the way. If they get tall enough for adequate clearance, they get hacked back down again so that they do not obscure signs, even though they obscure the signs even more if hacked down rather than getting pruned with an up-do.


  3. Chia pet litterbox! Are you sure it isn’t some kind of performance art? Some kind of ironic comment on … something? Because otherwise it indicates a shocking lack of imagination, or even interest in using that space.

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    1. I never asked. It does sort of make one think. Sometimes I think that there was a limit to how much area could be paved, but the parking lot was there before such ordinances were developed. Maybe someone took the landscape material out, but could not get a permit to pave over the spaces because of a contemporary ordinance. Maye there is treasure buried under the parking lot, but someone forgot where it is.

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    1. No, because the gardening column is about gardening, not landscape ‘maintenance’. I used to work for a so-called ‘landscape’ company, and needed to inspect and report on the quality of their ‘maintenance’. It meant absolutely nothing to them. I was only there to assure the clients that . . . I was there. I was extremely embarrassed by the ‘quality’ of our work, and was unable to continue working for them.

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