Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fall landscaping - the best time of all

Well, the relatives are on the way home from a hearty and fun Thanksgiving weekend and the "Holiday Season" has officially arrived. I like to think of the Fall and Winter months as a kick back time. As a landscaper, we get so busy from March through October, we barely have time to think. I LOVE the fall! The landscapes we install this time of year get a kick start next spring and look fabulous wayyyyy early. And this time of year, we actually have time to plan, organize and make improvements that will carry us through the next year and beyond.

Ask anyone who is responsible for the Thanksgiving or the Christmas dinner... fail to plan and you plan to fail! And just try to tackle the Black Friday sales without a plan and come up empty handed or worse, with something you have to wait in line to return. In holidays past, it sometimes took several women several hours to plan the attack on the various store sales to get just the right thing. I dont know how we did it without cell phones!

We have become an instant society and we are paying the price. In our parents day, they planned for every major purchase and most of the minor ones too. Now we are paying the price with our current economy for our desire for instant gratification to buy the biggest, best, car, house, boat, ....fill in the blank.

I get people all the time wanting to landscape their back yard right away for a big landmark birthday or anniversary party or wedding reception. Two weeks to the party they call you and want the landscaping in the next week, I mean knew last year you were gonna be 40 this year didn't you?

With landscaping it is no different. Hey with a plan, there are very few surprises and things come off as expected and on budget and on time. I always say no, you dont need a landscape design to landscape unless....... you dont care if you spend too much and take too long and have to re-do something. Dont get me started on the landscape plans, bidding, scheduling and legal notices and wait times we have to do.

Here's to your christmas list! Oh, and your New Year's Resolutions. Happy Planning!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So mad I can spit!

I've heard and seen a lot of horror stories about people who have been taken advantage of by unlicensed contractors who dont know what they are doing. This is one of the worst I have personally worked on and they weren't even unlicensed!

I got a call recently to help an older couple with a problem in their backyard. It seems that they had contracted with a local licensed contractor to re-place their lawn and irrigation system in their back yard. That was in the spring.

The homeowner called me because my ad says "We Fix Others Mistakes!" Boy did he have a mess. The work done by the original contractor (contractor #1) was poorly done. The trenches had sunk several inches. They did not bother to compact the trenches before laying sod on top!

In addition, the lawn was extremely wet! I was puzzled by this and the fact that the second valve for the lawn did not work as if it was full on, sorta like there was a leak somewhere..... hmmm. The homeowner insisted there was no leak. He had hired another guy (contractor #2) to come in and do some sprinkler repairs in the summer because the original contractor had deleted some of the sprinkler heads that watered some of the plants and they were dying.

While running the sprinklers it was obvious to me that the lawn was getting spongy, like a water bed in certain places. I called the homeowner over and showed him. He now could see how the water pooled in certain places and let me dig them up,

I found no less than 3 (count em, three!) broken lines. These lines were spewing water into the soil every time the sprinklers ran! Keep in mind that this is November now and two 3/4inch pipes and one 1/2 inch pipe running for 5 minutes twice a day for 7 days a week is a LOT of water.

As you can see by this picture, the pipes were ragged and broken. I surmised that the contractor trenched for the new system, the trencher chewing up the old system and they "forgot" to cap off the old pipes!! Apparently they didn't bother to check their work.

The homeowner was really disgusted with the original contractor and realized that even when someone has a contractor's license, doesn't mean you will get a good job! They ended up spending as much to fix the job as they did originally. Some bargan!