Why DIY when TV can do it for you?

My first and only appearance with the Backyard Blitz crew. We parted ways over differences in opinion on landscaping. Also, I put a steel rake through Scott Cam’s windshield. (Image has been digitally altered.)
My first and only appearance with the Backyard Blitz crew. We parted ways over differences in opinion on landscaping. Also, I put a steel rake through Scott Cam’s windshield. (Image has been digitally altered.)

THE wave of backyard renovation shows we’ve seen in recent years has really had an impact in Australia.

Backyard Blitz, Renovation Rescue, The Block, Guerrilla Gardeners, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Burke’s Backyard, Better Homes and Garden, Gardening Australia, Home Improvement, Costa’s Garden Odyssey; by jingoes there’s been a lot of them.

If you step back and analyse it, it’s done the opposite of what you might think.

Rather than prompting and inspiring people to get out and do their own renos, it’s simply made people more eager to write in with a request for a backyard makeover.

Apart from the chance to meet someone famous (or, partially famous for anybody from a Channel 10 gardening show), the entire job gets done usually without the home owner lifting a finger.

What’s more, they are given the opportunity to have their mug on the box.

I’ll be honest; I haven’t had a lot of luck when it comes to conducting a televised yard makeover program.

Many readers would recall my early media appearances on Attack the Yard.

It was a Friday before a long weekend, the crew had already had a big Thursday night and someone had forgotten to order smoko, so we just mowed the lawn and that was it.

It might not have exactly made for riveting television but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

The home owner was less than impressed. Upon taking her blindfold off, she just stared, furrowed her brow and mumbled something about us not having a rake.

Sure, we could have used a grass catcher but we thought she’d like to have some input to the makeover.

Two weeks later when the same house and backyard appeared during live coverage of a drug bust and consequent hostage situation, I was pleased to say the yard was still looking good.

It occurs to me that this is the thinking of the modern gardener: get somebody else to do it and film them in action.

So rather than provide you with backyard makeover advice, here are some top tips to remember when applying for a television backyard renovation.

  • Move to Victoria: The Garden State boasts more television program renovated yards than any other State in Australia. A gardening authority once said that one in every five houses in Melbourne has been visited by a gardening show. That person (me) has no statistical credentials but it certainly seems like ever time someone on the telly is putting in a fish pond or a day lounge, it’s usually happening in Victoria.
  • Ensure you live near a good quality café or restaurant: Television types are high-maintenance. They aren’t going to risk eating anything from that salmonella chest you call a fridge. Their contracts also designate when the scheduled breaks should be taken so they’ll need to get a caffeine and Facebook fix while the contracted tradesmen go about the real work.
  • Get a sob story: Nothing attracts a television producer like a heart-strings tugger. Charity groups will have a leg-up here, as will the elderly and a hardworking (or unemployed) volunteer. If you’ve got a pet with a disability or have recently been through a natural disaster (eg. cyclone, flood, fire, closure of the local Video Ezy), then you’ve got a ticket to a new backyard. Be sure to play up the angle about how you haven’t been able to afford a holiday or you “just want a space for your 15 foster children to play”.
  • Be excitable. If you’re going to send in a video to the TV station, you’ll want to impress with your emotional range. The ability to get super excited, to the point of hyperventilation, at the site of someone wheeling in a load of pavers will be vitally important. Other tricks to master include: cupping your hands over your mouth in shock; hugging quasi-famous television hosts; shaking your head in disbelief at the progress; and making it look like the cups of tea you bring out to the work crew is a spontaneous gesture, despite the producer asking you to do so.
  • So get out that pen and paper and start bombarding the channels. With fewer gardening shows on air these days, you’ll have to make a very good application. But if all else fails, there’s always A Current Affair.

  • Tip of the Month: Have your ever tried using All Bran as a potting mix? Those who have will know it doesn’t work. Outstanding!
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  • DISCLAIMER: The information within this column is of a satirical nature and therefore the advice within should not be heeded. All views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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    Better Backyards with Gherkin JarvisSelf-proclaimed gardening expert and carpet enthusiast, Gherkin Jarvis, brings you his thoughts on Australia’s great lifestyle tradition, the backyard.


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