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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

August 2005 Issue

48-Hour Face-Lift
Landscape Architecture goes behind the scenes with on-air landscape architect Dean Hill, asla, and the cast and crew of diy Network’s Grounds for Improvement.

By Susan Hines

48-Hour Face-Lift
Dan Francis

It’s time to film another episode of diy Network’s Grounds for Improvement (GFI), cohosted by Dean Hill, asla, and Jackie Taylor. Parked in the driveway of Sharon and John Todd’s suburban Indianapolis rambler is a rental truck packed with the tools of both the tv trade and the landscaping business.

Since GFI premiered in the fall of 2004, Hill and Taylor have completed 26 episodes in which they guide average home owners through projects such as building decks, laying paths, and removing trees. The goal is always to take home owners and viewers step-by-step through the process of creating a better landscape and to demystify the tools, techniques, and products that make the transformation possible. Hill, Taylor, the home owners, and their friends and families must complete their assignment within 48 hours. No exceptions.

It’s an extremely tight schedule, and it works because Hill, Taylor, and the producers have prepared the home owners and the crew for what lies ahead. The materials are at hand, and Hill has broken down the work into the steps that make finishing a substantial project within 48 hours realistic. “We show viewers a natural progression to the completed project. On some programs, they come in and completely do over an entire backyard. That is not reality, and our show is extremely reality based. We have two days, and we demonstrate what viewers might truly accomplish in that time frame. There is no drama, no tears.”

In other words, Grounds for Improvement is not Extreme Makeover: Garden Edition or even hgtv’s Outer Spaces, which promises “the backyard you’ve always wanted but had no idea you were going to get.” By contrast, Hill and Taylor’s show is as much about “how” as “wow.”

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