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Not our best work....

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Steiner, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    This wasn't our best looking job to say the least. I hate to post it but I have to learn.

    Tried to go for an all native planting because I have been taking some local courses on the advantages of native plants. Anyway I moved away from my tried and true plant stock and went with the plants listed below.

    Mountain Laurel
    Creeping Phlox
    Black eyed susan
    Quickfire hydrangea (subbed in by homeowner, not native to my understanding)

    Sun: Full sun
    15' off roadway
    Great soil lots of compost and depth of nutrients.

    Anyway the black eyed Susans are dead either from fungus or under watering. Tree leaves are turning brown early. Hydrangeas are flopping and drying up. Looks like lack of watering on the homeowners part to me. It has been a tough year to get established and the homeowner casually said things like "I was on vacation," "I didn't want to water too much" etc.

    My Questions:

    1. Do you see any issues from an installation/design perspective except for maybe the stone choice which the homeowner subbed in at the end against my wishes. (I know, I know DVS)

    2. Judging from the pictures of the black eyed susans do they look fungal or drought related?

    3. Am I crazy to tell homeowners to water deeply every other day for the first 2 weeks? Is over watering causing these conditions?

    4. I don't give a warranty (only establishment), but in this case I am going to replace the Black Eyed Susans. Are there better choices like maybe Purple cone flower?

    5. I am thinking of changing my plant warranty to say 30 days non-irrigated instead of establishment only, because establishment is too ambiguous and I have had a few question the practice. I would like 30 days as this is concrete, set in stone, a hard measurement. Establishment is loosely defined as I see it.






  2. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Nothing against the customer but they had a strong vision of what they wanted. It was nearly impossible to change their mind about certain design elements such as contrast, shape, and material selection. I strongly suggested against the corn colored stone, not only for plant health but also aesthetics.

    This job was completed in late May before the good rains, and just before a few super hot weeks.

    I am wondering if mulch would have been a better choice, since the fabric could impede water infiltration.

    IDEA: Maybe I state that all new planting are to be mulched for the first two years to improve plant vigor and then switch them over to lower maintenance gravel and fabric on year three. Anyone do this?
  3. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Anyone ? Anyone?
  4. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,015

    Not sure about what to replace in your area, but they get 30 days from me and that is only good if the roots aren't dried out. I have never had a problem with plants dying or having to replace them with this warrenty. Most people will usually water for the first month or so because they are still thinking about how much they recently spent.
  5. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Thanks Greenstar. Do you actually go down and inspect roots? What are you looking for specifically? What about when they wait 14 days to call you and then it's too late to do an autopsy?

    Have you ever considered give a longer warranty for an additional price?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    The rocks weigh too much on the plants rootballs. That causes stress which attracts
    other problems.
  8. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    Steiner, I like you courage. And I think that the worse part of all this was out of your control. Combining landscaping and gardening is not easy.

    Rudbekia, "Black eye susans" look like that this time of year, I do not think they are dead. You should have deadheaded them (removed the flowers) as soon as they were spent. That helps the leaves to look good a little longer. Now, I would cut them back leaving only a few leaves on each plant. Coneflower does not look much better this time of year. Both are heat and drought tolerant. They will probably survive that bed, but in a nice fertile bed, they multiply.

    I am not familiar with that type of hydrangea, but full sun and the gravel fabric bed are not the place to plant most Hydrangea. I would prune them back about a third, transplant them somewhere cooler and give them mulch and a light feeding of high ph fertilizer. I would tell my customer that it is move or die for the hydrangea, and suggest replacing it with juniper, orn. grass, boxwood, or a statue.

    Mulch would have been much better, and next time skip the landscape fabric too. First, the fabric gravel is not low maintenance. Secondly the fabric does little harm to the plants, but it kills lots of the other things that live in the soil. Not many plants ever do well in the fabric gravel bed. Junipers and some ornamental grasses do okay.

    You did a few things well! You used a variety of sizes, and there is variety as far as seasonal peak. I like the stones. The shape of the bed could be better, but that was not your choice. The plants could have also been placed better by using groupings rather than spaced equal distance like soldiers.

    This is a great example of the difference between gardening and landscaping, and what not to do when combining them.

    I guess the customer is happy, except that they are concerned about the health of the plants. For the most part, that is what those plants look like this time of year, and certainly a hot dry year that it was.

    I use a product called Superthrive, you can find it online. I would use that to help mitigate the damage done by the fabric/gravel. I would fertilize lightly.
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

  10. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    I do not warranty anything ever. I rarely loose plants, and sometimes I do replace plants when I do loose them.

    I set up water timers for my customers, I use the best horticultural methods available. "Get your plant some life insurance from someone else!"

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