The new issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine arrived yesterday, and at the end of the book, as always, was the Critic’s Corner section, in this case reviewing a Swedish park. The critique was mainly focused on the concept (which the author liked) and the park’s materials (some of which she didn’t like), and noted also the park’s poor maintenance. Of course, the reviewer noted, it’s beyond the landscape architect’s power to determine a maintenance regime, so that shortcoming can’t be laid at the LA’s feet.
Somehow, though, I believe that landscape architects can and should play a much greater part in determining how a place is maintained. We should be asking about maintenance intentions in our first client discussions, and taking time to educate our clients about the importance of funding for and executing maintenance. Maintenance planning presents billing opportunities, in addition to giving us greater control over how our designs age and how they represent our ideas. Good maintenance can help popularize a place; poor maintenance can doom it. And when we advocate for the care of our places, we step up to the charge we landscape architects have accepted, to be stewards of the land.