Vastly increasing my plant knowledge..

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mrusk, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    So far i have been very lucky. I have been selling jobs with very large planting plans with basicaly no plant knowledge. Lets face it, i know nothing about plants.

    I use a LA for all the plans and he always does 1 or 2 meetings with me and the HO to explain the plan. However, i know i am not always going to have such easy sells. I have been very fortunate to be able to to sell, 20,30, 40k planting jobs when i had no idea what i was planting.

    What is the best way to increase my knowledge. SHould i take a class at a college? Or just read alot of books?

  2. hoskm01

    hoskm01 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,690

    I'm impressed at the dollar amounts with little to no knowledge. I find I learn most from classes, in person.
  3. Tom B.

    Tom B. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    I'd definitely look into taking classes. Reading books are very helpful, but classes taught by qualified instructors will give you a better insight and a firm knowledge base which you can build on.
  4. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    I've been following your jobs in the hardscaping forum, very impressive stuff, mrusk. God bless you that you can sell those size jobs without much plant background. I would also recommend taking classes at the local college. I did that at night for years as I was building my business.
    At the very least, you can look for mistakes on a plan and correct them as the job progresses. I've done many planting jobs from designers and LA's that looked great on paper, but often had the wrong plants spec'd for the spot. Too big, too small, too much shade, too much sun, too wet, it's all stuff that gets overlooked when someone is designing a job from their office. I'm sure it has saved me thousands of dollars over the years just in not having to do replacements.
  5. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    Go to the LA you use and ask them to generate a list for you of common plant material they use. They SHOULD and probably DO have this already along with a photo or two. They should be happy to give you a brief explanation. Look at the locations that they are using such plant material and pay attention to the arrangement of that material.

    You can buy Horticopia (CD) that has basically everything in it.

    1st, go to the LA.....afterall, they all repeat themselves one way or another with material they favor and is proven.

    *Natives are a real $ maker. Learn them. They won't dye, look great and people love that its 'native'.
  6. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    Million dollar question ....or the 20/30/40 k question is how do you get these leads and then how do you sell them .......keeping in mind you are 21 and have no plant knowledge....not a knock just curious on the psychology of it.
  7. cpel2004

    cpel2004 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,415

    I'm in class now at a local community college up to this point its been a waste of time. If it wasnt for the degree status it would be an overall waste of time. The teachers are lacking and time consuming. I would recommend learning at your own pace and convenience. I don't know how your local curriculum is, but for me its been very disappointing to this point.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Well you can pay for it or DIY, start googling up some names of plants, then start surfing and reading, just have to have a plan, learn you should if it excites you as much as it does, seems you got the drive for it.

    That's how I learned there exist about a dozen species and within each specie there exist 200-some varieties of Junipers, can you believe that? Must be dang near 200,000 or so different kinds of Junipers alone, the sick part of it is that it's like that with almost everything in the plant kingdom, every branch is almost a kingdom in itself.

    But a type of plant shares characteristics among all the species and varieties and sub-families, if it's an azalea then likely all azaleas share certain things, it is these things I found most interesting. Because one size fits all, so to speak, once you learn these base characteristics then you're down step one and probably that's all you need, but you're certainly welcome to specialize in a certain plant.

    Grass is like that, don't get started on trees lol thou I do like Leland Cypresses, and weeds omg!
    You just do it, read up on stuff, and it takes time, I can usually name an easy half dozen plants and grasses and weeds and trees right off the top of my head, with some thinking I can name off about 100 different things, well you know, years... :laugh:

    Good ones for transition zone I find are azaleas, boxwoods, junipers, hollies, crepe myrtles, ehhhh, oh yeah Japanese maples....
    Well there's a half a dozen :)

    Weeds? Hmmm, thistle, clover, onion grass, crab grass, milk weed, chickweed.... 6...
    Trees? Oak, pine, cedar, norfolk fir, gum tree, apples and oranges grow on two kinds, plums too, 8?
    Grass? St.aug, bermuda, fescue, ky blue, zoysia, ahhh fark it I'm tired.

    There, maybe you learned something :laugh:
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Sorry I forgot to mention roses, cactus, rye grass, mushrooms, vines (such as ivy (on that note poison ivy), rhododendrons, pansies, palm trees (on that note coconut trees thou this is tropical), and no gee I can't recall any ornamental grasses right now ...
    I'd guess some of those are actually flowers, but then they are ALL plants, are they not?
    Right, grass is a plant also, sure is.
    Besides, flowers are just bushes that bloom :laugh:

    See what you got going?
    Come on, it's fun, dive right in!
  10. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    Matt, check out the programs offered at Cook College over the winter. These programs are specifically designed for folks just like yourself. The instructors are a mix of professors and real world installers,nursery owners as well as designers and landscape architects. If you put in the time and effort, you will get that and more in return.

    I would recommend starting here;

    and moving on to this class next;

    These two classes will give you an excellent basic understanding of identification and use of trees and shrubs. If you are really feeling aggressive, there are quite a few more classes that will expand your knowledge, but I wouldn't want to see you overwhelmed.


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