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
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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