View Full Version : Oh man, that's ugly.

03-14-2000, 02:20 PM
You're pitching a client with a design for their landscape. You've spent hours putting it together. You've organized it around a theme, a feel, a feng shui attitude, and every material coordinates with that theme.<p>The customer says I like it, but how would it look if we put those concrete half-moons in for edging instead of regular edging....You know you're close to making the sale. That edging destroys the look, makes it look very DIY. Do you sell them on what a great idea they have, or do you politely tell them it's a bad idea? (Is it all about money, or art?)

03-15-2000, 12:38 AM
Sometimes its best to avoid a direct confrontation about a minor issue at the moment it first arises. Possibly saying something along the lines that the edging decision can be delayed until after the other elements are in place will give you the opportunity to show the client and further educate them about the basis for the design. Once they see the overall effect, you can show them what a couple of pieces of the undesirable edging looks like in place as compared to the regular edging. Explain that the 'elegant simplicity' of the regular edging compliments their new landscape investment--nothing to draw away the eye from the real focus. If they continue to insist, suggest that they live with it without the edgers for a couple of weeks and then let you know what they've decided. Most people begin to understand your lack of enthusiasm and will probably ask why you object. Instead of saying that its ugly, point out that it increases the amount of work and time to mow and edge around those little monsters. Be careful when insulting your clients' taste--after all, they've chosen you, haven't they?<p>----------<br>Lanelle<br>

03-15-2000, 11:08 AM
Thanks for advice, Lanelle. I think it's good for everyone to consider what you mention in those situations. Although I think that not insulting a client's taste goes without saying.<p>I guess I was hoping I could get a discussion going about where people draw the line with their art; when do you stop trying to nudge the customer toward a design style and just do it the way they want it, because it's still good money (you just won't take any pictures of this one for your portfolio). <br>I'd like to be able to say I was always true to the art, and never compromised a design style just to land the contract, but I'd be fibbing. Where do you draw the line?

03-15-2000, 11:22 AM
Where to draw the line?<p>the line is usually drawn after they write in the written amount on the check they hand you after you do the job.....lol<p>This is a subject that is nothing but a losing battle in most cases. I can't count the number of times, after going over a design with someone or after taking them to the garden center to pick out some plants, that the client totally goes beserkers!!! How many tiimes I had to sub in spirals or pom-pom bushes in for other plants I can not count. People are crazy!!!!<p>Is there anything you can do. Not really. The point is is that its there house, and not yours. Therefore, in the end, no matter what you say, there gonna want what they want. This subject can relate to so many things. Like plants especially. How many times does someone have to have that certain plant in front of their home? You know, and beg with them, to realize what a bad choice it is. Like the fact it will grow in 5 years and block the front door....Does it matter to them. NOPE. they want it, and thats it.<p>When i started out, I did everything I did to make the perfect plan. Now, thats change. People just don't get it at all. I have saved myself hours of aggrevation, and just respond with &quot;That would look beutiful, why didn't I think about that&quot;, and immediately follow with &quot;can i have my check please&quot;. Then, I take a picture to make them feel good, and when i get home, i burn the film and drive out of my way to avoid seeing it. <p>Now a days, the bottom line is money. I try to convince them, but in the end, it seems like you always lose.

03-15-2000, 11:43 AM
Steveair - LOL!<p>I especially like the extra touch of taking a photo anyway, to make them feel good.

03-15-2000, 11:46 AM
Ok, I can't help it but this subject drives me nuts. I am a designer and can't stand what goes on out there. <p>For instance. This subject confuses the hell out of me. By me, they have all these developments with 600,000 dollar homes, and when you drive by, you want to shoot yourself. In front of these beutiful houses is just a sin... 2500 dollar landscapes for a 600000 home, and worst of all, the people think they are nice!<p>I can't stand it.....Meanwhile you walk in the house and in the 3rd master bedroom, the one that 1 person a year sleeps in, and the maid enters more than the owner, theres a 6000 dollar marble fireplace, a 5000 dollar airbrush paint job, and a 30000 dollar bathroom, that sure looks pretty, but who the hell sees it, or uses it! Yet outside, the part of the house you see every day leaving and going to work, the part that everyone who drives by and sees, the part that you go out and have a barbeque on the weekend with, has a crooked blue stone walk, 5 home depot azales, 2 alberta spruces by the door, and a blue spruce planted at each corner that is already touching the house and will be growing into the living room window in about 3 years. What the hell is going on!!!<br>People are $#$%$^#@$ nuts. <p>Then, when you talk to them, they ask if you could design around what they already have. I feel like saying to them, &quot;ever heard the saying you can't polish a turd&quot; (well actually i have said that a couple of times to be honest). People, for some reason think that what they have is beutiful. They actually think this is what landscaping is. I mean, look down the street, everyhouse is just like ours, and this is a rich neighborhood, so it must be good or it wouldn't be here! <p>Meanwhile, the job was done by some hack who went to nursery that day, grabbed the 15 nearest plants to his truck, and slammed them in because the builder has a set price of 2500 to install the beds, plants, lawn, walk, etc. A real beauty.<p>Wow, just babbling now. Sorry for that, but this whole subject is such a sore spot for me. Sometimes I wonder why I put up with it, and think about working at McDonald's. At least they usually have better looking landscapes than 99% of the world!<br>

03-15-2000, 12:00 PM
Steve, don't give up so easy. I only do maintenance, and I refuse to shear anything but hedges. And have even talked people into pruning privet hedges once a year. Once they are aware of the real plant, it's shape, texture, softness, they don't want anything else. Even taught one couple in a $600K house, with a $60K landscape (double or triple figures for your area) to prune most of plants themselves.<p>One large corner property I had done for few yrs, and lady got teed 'cause I was slow one yr, so she got someone for shrubs next year. I kept on lawn work, and for three years, people walking by asked me why I had ruined the shrubs all of a sudden. It was hard not to quit, but her husband is a neat guy to work for.<p>We have to make a buck, but keep the dream, because if you don't, you won't recognize when you have someone who understands.<p>PS- am now back to doing about 1/3 of the plants on above property. They're still letting other shear the smaller plants.<br><p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana

03-15-2000, 02:25 PM
Jim, you make a good point there. Did that customer/other company end up hurting your reputation? Passersby may have thought you started chasing the bucks and in turn started hacking shrubs.<p>Just like I wonder if it hurts my company's rep when they see us putting together a landscape that looks really cheap. <p>I worked for a company that also would get business as a subcontractor for a big construction firm. They stipulated that whenever we were on their sites, we had to put magnetic signs with their logos over our truck signage. What we started doing was whenever we were working on a really ugly project, one we didn't want credit for, we'd put those magnetic signs on, so anybody driving by would credit the other company with the work.

03-15-2000, 04:37 PM
Stone, that's why I was inclined to quit. But it turns out that if you have a attractive frame (my lawn work), people still stop to admire the picture. Was just that some noticed the picture had changed, and were astute enough to figure out why. Not a lot of people like that about landscapes.<p>I've been at it for 20 yrs, but wasn't always able to afford to quit a job; did it first about 10 yrs ago. I feel it is worth my stubbornness to hold to my values, especially when someone will stop his car, get out and chase me down to ask if I can make his property look like the one we're standing on.<p>Learned from an oldtimer in business years ago: &quot;You hired me to do the job right, so why do you try to tell me how to do it.&quot;<p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana<br>

03-15-2000, 07:11 PM
steveair i can relate to what you are saying...the area i live in, seattle, grows so fast i have established lawns in what i knew as forest and a whole lotta IPM isn't being done in the way of soil, proper plant in proper spot,etc...i wonder how much product could be saved on the overall level if builders were forced into proper installations??? i've seen some places with only fill dirt and clay from the sod...i drop alot of IBDU and HUMIC ACIDS...<br>

MJM Landscaping Inc
03-15-2000, 09:57 PM
steveair,<br>I have a million dollar home near me that the people have been living in for about 5 years and it has NO landscape. Not even the cheap 2500.00 one!!<br>Mark A Musolf

03-15-2000, 11:43 PM
At least you don't have to deal with park committees or boards, they collectivly must have the worst taste of all, I cringe at the meetings when they try to pick playground colors or plant material<p>----------<br>paul<br>

03-16-2000, 09:25 AM
In our area, twice a year, builders showcase their talents in what's called the 'Parade of Homes'. New homes all decked out to get people fired up about the builders, interior/exterior designs, etc. Last fall, the biggest homes had the absolute ugliest scapes.<p>A 6,000 sq ft home had what looked like WalMart extras for plant material all around. Asking price for the home was over $1/2M, the scape was probably $2K.<p>There was one I really got a kick out of. The house is a 2 1/2 story, doesn't have much setback from the street, and the front is very vertical (about 40 ft worth). What did they plant? A few Dwarf Albertas and Globe Arbs. They looked like green ants standing next to a giant.

03-16-2000, 08:59 PM
ours is called &quot;STREET OF DREAMS'...so ya know what i do for a livin'?,,,, i mow &quot;DREAM GREEN&quot;....with power reel...it's all pretty funny and in the overall scope of things we all lead these bizzaro crusades daily....it's kinda cool (but it can be heavy on the mind because we see human nature as well as the hort gig...i'm okay with it for now maybe i'll go PGA (they just built NEWCASTLE GOLF CLUB) sorry to run on with the zen thing but i'm sprayin' alot of iron...

03-17-2000, 06:48 AM
LOL to all of you!<p>I love hearing stuff like this, because it takes the edge off when the customer asks if the cut out of a lady bending over will look good in her new flower bed....

03-19-2000, 07:39 PM
I once did an installation for a lady that insisted that I let her daughter pick the plants and tell me where to plant them. I faught her tooth and nail but she finally prevailed. I just bit my upper lip while she piled plants into the beds with no rhyme or reason. The job was in a prestigious area and right on a corner at that. I hurried my crew to get done the installation so we could leave. As it turned out I got a lot of compliments on that particular job and even got some work out of it. I still hate to look at it.

03-21-2000, 11:19 PM
this is a great discussion. I priced a job just last month in a very nice subdivision. I feel your pain as i wasted a lot of time planning ( i even called the landscape arch. that i use) this crazy lady didn't want straw or any type of organic mulch used. why you ask? it makes you have &quot;coccaroaches&quot; hmmmmmm....<br>we drove by the place the other day and someone else had done the job. They planted twigs and called them trees. (bradford pears no less) suck!!!!! 1 gal Hollys galore (how original) and guess what they used for ground cover in the beds....... snow white rocks.....<br>traditional brick 400k home...My partner and I just laughed