PLANTING IN THE FALL HAS IT’S CHALLENGES (no matter how much plants are discounted)

Thundercloud Plum Trees planted a little deep on top of clay soil

2010 has demonstrated itself to be very dramatic in terms of weather diversity. Cold, heat, snow, rain and more importantly wind. Wind, wind, wind. Why is this so important to our gardens and landscapes? Well, let me tell you.

When planting trees and other plants into the ground, too often we are ignoring some of the long term keys surrounding our planting areas. What structures, large trees, hills, valleys, soils and water tables exist that will impact our designs long-term development.

Wind impacts everything because it can pull out the moisture from leaves, needles and fronds faster than any other element. The secondary element that combines with the wind that can damage our new and old plants is temperature fluctuation (especially from day to night then back to day).

In today’s planting environment most landscapers and their crews are not considerate of the sensitivity of planting heights from the root crow of each plant. For example, the number of trees planted too deep and then between the 2nd and 5th year, plantings will show minimal root development and canopy growth. This scenario is at risk of being blown over by simple wind gusts. What I find incredible is how people pay for warranties that only last for maybe 18 months, if you are lucky. What you are not lucky about is how long it can take for new plants (that are properly watered) to begin stressing and then die.

Over the past 10 years I have been in business, I have never guaranteed my work. I do guarantee  the plants. This means if a plant dies, I will replace the tree at it’s wholesale cost. What this means is delivery and installation is my companies responsibility, while the cost of the plant becomes my clients responsibility. This warranty program is designed to protect my clients from excessive, unnecessary charges that can increase the cost of the final job by at least 25%. This practice was developed by large companies. This additional cost to the customer gives most companies the opportunity to overcharge and underserve their clients after the job has been completed with the contract paid in full.

I wish to tell you that this practice will stop but it won’t and can’t. Most landscape installation crews are not overseen and monitored during the planting stage. Area to be planted are marked and dug and planted so fast, care for what occurs next is lost. So todays lesson, don’t hire a company that promises you everything, no matter how expensive, BECAUSE… Promises are designed to be broken. Demonstration and recommendations speak loader than words. Oh, I forgot to tell you, contracts are designed to protect both parties. So never have anyone work for you that doesn’t present you with a contract, defining what they are doing, how they are doing it and approximately how long it will take.

No one wants to worry about work on their home or property after that work is completed and paid for. Check all aspects of the job performed for you prior to handing over the final payments. It is always OK to hold some money back to assure contractors and workers come back to finish the job they agreed to do for you.

SPECIAL NOTE: Things can die after planting for a number of reasons. Most of those reasons can be avoided. Beware of the salesman who begins justifying and demonstrating why something has died. The only excuse which is truly not the planters fault is irrigation failure on the part of the client. Watering plans have to be developed, to manage new plantings, before they are installed.

Like the greatest advice ever given by a doctors prior to troops going into battle,


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