Before meeting with a garden or landscaping professional you should have some goals in mind -- even if they are basic. Or perhaps your 1st meeting will inspire questions and thoughts that will prepare you for a second meeting. If even after reading this you're still "stumped" and do not even know where to begin, don't sweat it. We'll guide you through it. But here's some reading that might help you during your first or second visit with a gardening professional.
Here are some of the basics for your meeting:
- What are your goals for your yard? We (landscapers in general) can help you with those goals, but before we tell you what we think, you should have some thoughts too. It could save you a lot of money. Are you looking to have your yard spiffed up with a few plantings or do you want a total overhaul? Your yard seems "pitiful" but is it because you no longer have a pretty grass? A nice lawn can make your whole landscape look so much better. Try to put what's wrong with your yard (turned into goals for your yard) into words for your meetings with landscapers. Do you need sod or do you need to get on a "healthy lawn program" or both? Do your garden beds need dimension to really stand out? Don't hesitate to bring pictures of plants or landscapes from magazines to your meeting either. These pictures are goals. Goals are good.
- (However) Be open minded. A good landscaper or gardener is a better listener. Sometimes you're words and expressions are giving us clues to what you want, but more importantly what you need. Sometimes your yard itself does the talking for you. Your yard situation could be an easy fix. For example, if your grass isn't growing because your tree limbs are too thick and sunlight is no longer passing through -- you need an arborist. Or perhaps a tree has been removed and now your azaleas have turned for the worst because they're getting too much sun -- in that case you need a green thumb or a landscaper/gardener. You may not know that this is the reason why, but we should. We should offer good solutions to your problems.
- Don't call someone because you don't feel like you know enough. Listen, don't let the two previous bullets worry you. We've had customers say that they've considered landscaping for years but were too embarrassed by their lack of knowledge. Just know that first and foremost --- you are why we have a job in the first place. It's okay if you don't know anything. If we make you feel uncomfortable then we're not the team for you and we have failed in customer service. However, if we can guide you and educate you along the way -- without manipulating you, then we've done the right thing. Don't be afraid to bring a knowledgeable friend to the meeting either.
- What is your budget? You really should know your budget "range" before you start a landscaping project (or at least by the 2nd meeting). If Aunt Ethyl just left you a million dollars and you want "the works" then great, let's do the works. But you shouldn't engage in a $10,000.00 conversation with a landscaper when you know you only have $2,000 to spend. When you buy a car, you generally know what your budget range is. Same thing for a new refrigerator, stove or even a house. So you should know how much you are willing to spend and to save on your landscaping needs. Now, this does not mean you have to spend that much money, but be prepared after meeting with a professional to come back and tell them what you have available to spend and for what projects. Don't hesitate to prioritize your lawn goals. I often have people come to me and say, "I have $2,000 to spend, what can we do?". I say, we can do lots for you -- and we do. Sometimes a client will say, "I only have $500.00 so I know I can't get but a plant or two". That's crazy. You can or should get a lot for $500.00. The plants may be smaller, but they'll grow and in a few years you'll never know the difference. Who knows, maybe one day, heaven forbid, Aunt Ethyl will leave you with a lot of extra money. Hopefully you'll call us again because you were pleased the first time.
- THIS INDUSTRY GOES THROUGH PHASES (PART 1): There are two times a year that we get really busy (the biggest is between May 1st and April 1st). During those times it will seem that we are moving really slow and don't want your business. That's simply not the case. You should realize that we are fully taking care of our clients (some are ongoing clients) to the best of our ability. This is a service that you, too, will appreciate in your yard even if it's a few weeks later than you wanted. If we say we'll get to you in a week tack on an extra few days to a week for good measure. We want your business, but we want to keep our regular clients even more. Hopefully you'll soon be a regular client.
- THIS INDUSTRY GOES THROUGH PHASES (PART 2): I'm going to get in trouble for saying this but it's the truth. Right now the landscaping industry is going through a terrible price gouging on several fronts, but specifically lighting. You have to be rich to have professional lighting installed. It has an amazingly high profit margin so every "landscaper" should be doing it if they can go home with themselves at night. But what happens is that the "high-end" well runs out and people stop doing lighting. The reputation that lighting is expensive takes it's course (and potential clients) until some brilliant young company comes in an underprices everyone. Eventually, lighting, or whatever, becomes popular again but some formerly potential clients will be forever burned. Overall, the lawn and garden industry is overpriced right now. Prices from wholesalers are way down because of the quantity of purchases, but the prices that landscapers are charging are going up (it should be going down). Being a small company allows us to right that wrong and try and readjust the baseline for landscaping so that more people can afford it. It costs me less in 2007 to landscape than it did in 2004 --- my prices should reflect that.
Landscaping your yard is supposed to create a relaxing atmosphere, not one in which you cringe everytime you walk outside because you think of how much it cost you.