Lisa's Landscape & Design

Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time
Lisa’s Landscape and Design

Landscaper vs Lawnscaper…Know the Difference!

Landscape crew

This is a relatively hostile rant as I have about hit my limit of “my landscaper did this” comments. Over the years while providing consultations and meetings with perspective clients the term “Landscaper” has been used far too loosely. Interestingly enough these same clients are now calling ME to help with the mistakes the previous or current “lawnscaper” has made. This is frustrating and offensive as I am a professional who is trained formally and practically in my field, but equally concerning is that otherwise really intelligent and successful people trust one of the most important aspects of their lives, (their yard and personal space) to a not so qualified Lawnscaper.

Lisa’s Landscape and Design

Know The Difference 

What is a “Lawnscaper” you ask? it is my word for individuals or companies who focus on lawns and while they may skillfully push a lawnmower, edge, blow, and maybe even mulch, may have no idea about plants. Would you go to a plumber for your skin condition even if they had some ointment? Would you hire your dentist to do a plant design for you? I think not…, so why are you assuming a guy or gal who owns a lawnmower and maybe even a fancy shovel or two can take care of your landscape plants and trees?

I know, it is a good question. That is not to say that people who are truly “landscapers” don’t sometimes stink at what they do, but there is an important distinction here.

The biggest problem in my particular field is that people who do not have the skill set but need the money and frankly do not care about your long term issues, will take work they are not qualified to do. Furthermore, the people who hire them are not checking their credentials. If the person you are hiring cannot name the first three to five plants you point to, have them mow your lawn, and call a landscaper for your plant work. That being said, just because someone knows plants does not mean they know design, has ever seen those plants growth patterns or can understand the seasonal aspects (dormancy, flowering time, water needs, etc) of the plant selection they may choose.

Are They Organic? 

Anyone who has ever read my blog knows how I feel about the need for organics. With all the many organic solutions out there, does your lawnscaper practice these or are they looking for the “quick fix” that only does harm in the long run? Do you know that most organic solutions last for years and the results to your water bill, pest control and plant health will be almost immediate? Most companies nowadays will charge you the same rate for it and with all the knowledgeable, qualified, educated professionals in Austin, why are you taking short cuts?

Organic protocols and treatments

Chemical fertilization at the wrong time and wrong rate of application of products like Weed and Feed can kill your trees and shrubs and applying too much can kill the planet. Organics are safer, no more expensive in most cases, longer lasting and vastly more beneficial in every way when applied correctly. Chemical fertilizers make your plants and lawn dependent on them and are toxic to our air, water and soil. Organics when used correctly, strengthen the symbiotic relationship between your plants and soil.

Tree and Shrub Care

Never allow anyone to trim your trees unless they are an educated Arbor or Tree Care specialist. Oaks should only be trimmed and treated by an Oak Wilt specialist. Shrubs need to be trimmed at the proper time. If shrubs are planted in the right place they shouldn’t need to be trimmed, but if they do, make sure the person knows it growing and flowering habits. 

Live Oaks are a Texas landmarks. Improper trimming of Oaks can kill or permanently damage a huge asset to your home and to the planet. The improper trimming of any tree can cause permanent damage and disease to any tree.

Live Oaks are a Texas landmark. Improper trimming of Oaks can kill or permanently damage a huge asset to your home and to the planet. The improper trimming of any tree can cause permanent damage and disease and improper mulching to any tree can also create a haven for pest and disease. A properly trimmed tree should look natural and an educated tree trimming protocol and Oak Wilt prevention should always be used.

You Get What You Pay For

There are tons of really qualified professional Gardeners, Landscapers and Landscape Designers here in Austin Texas, and it is going to take some time to research a qualified person to get the job done right. Well worth the time and effort when you consider the ramifications of the expensive mistakes an uneducated person could make to a mature tree or expansive landscape, not to mention the cost.

Trimming Topiaries is an art form. Cutting the wrong branch or stem can take the plant years to recover from.

Trimming Topiaries is an art form. Cutting the wrong branch or stem can take the plant years to recover.

Another important consideration when hiring a lawnscaper/landscape is whether or not they are insured for the work they’re doing. If your immediate thought is “who cares if it’s cheap”, I am not going to change your mind anyway, but if this is something you had not considered, this might be a good time to do so.

Anyone who works on your property could be a liability for you. Not just for the work they do, but for any injuries they incur while on your job. Any legitimate landscaper should be able to provide you with a current copy of their liability insurance and the standard amount is $1,000,000 to cover property damage and personal injury. If you don’t have this, anything that happens to your property, to the workers or adjacent properties are your responsibility.

 

Landscape Design Austin _Lisa LaPaso

Landscape Design , austin, Lisa LaPaso

 

Insist On Quality Work and Materials 

A lack of knowledge can wreak havoc in more ways than poor plant selection. It’s imperative that the installers understand the need for proper soil amendments. Adding sandy dirt to rock and clay is going to be a nightmare in the long run. It’s also important that they understand how to properly work with rock, metal and any hardscapes they agree to work on. Irrigation must be done by a licensed irrigation specialist unless the system is existing and then it needs to be watched and the changes recorded for future reference. 

Dark, nutrient rich soil is another area that most "Lawnscapers" do not understand. That orange dirt they paid $10 bucks for may have made them a profit, but it just cost you and your landscape a fortune. Compost can save the world!

Dark, nutrient rich soil is another area that most “Lawnscapers” do not understand. That orange dirt they paid $10 bucks for may have made them a healthy profit, but it just cost you and your landscape a fortune. Compost can save the world!

Change your dialog with your lawnscaper/landscaper and interview them for the job, just like any employer would. Ask for references, look them up online, have a running dialogue that lets you know they understand your needs, they understand your vision and they understand what the heck THEY are doing. This needs to be someone you can potentially reach long after the sale. Any good company or small business has a blog/website, TicTok, Instagram or Facebook page. 
Keep a close eye on how things are going and when they show you who they are, believe them…If you have a good one, pay them well and refer them often, as we are a dying breed.

You either know plants and design, or you don't...

You either know plants and design, or you don’t…

No go get your landscape on!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape and Design (like me on facebook!)

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

Check me out on YouTube!

5 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Lisa's Landscape & Design and commented:

    Here is an important one people, if you did not read it the first time, take a few moments this morning to do so…it could save you a lot of money and frustration.

  2. AMEN to everything you said. It sickens me also to drive around and see all the incompetence and expensive mistakes these “so called” landscapers are making to uninformed homeowners. I too wrote an article on this subject http://centraltexasgardening.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/are-landscape-professionals-professional/
    Landscaping is a significant investment and worth doing right, design, construction and maintenance.

  3. Right on! So glad I found this!

  4. Great! I think I;ve said a few things like this about what happens to the large, more commercial landscapes I’ve designed…and tough to fit in time to talk to the owner to put a stop to it. But tougher to hear the architect who hired you justify the mow-blog company’s actions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: