Let’s be honest. At the end of a building project, you are more concerned with the final punch list from the building inspector and getting your client into their home on time than you are making sure the yard is manicured and has an assortment of plant material. While builders agree those final inspection tasks are crucial to work through, some confess that one of the last to-do’s on the building completion list, landscaping, is just not that important. Why? It seems to be an optional expense. When the homeowner has tons of change orders or upgrades that kill the budget, spending the landscaping budget on construction seems the path of least resistance for most builders to offset the shock of the final bill to the client.
When it comes to landscaping, many builders use their own crews to run to a local nursery or big box home improvement store to pick up a few of whatever is in season, plant them along the border, mulch or needle the plants, and call it a day. So what’s the alternative? Why should you as a builder even consider using a landscaper on your projects?
Curb appeal sells, and properly designed patios, retaining walls, outdoor lighting, and landscaped beds add beauty, value, and wow to any property. In our visually-focused society, seeing is believing. Clients with beautiful yards are more likely to entertain outdoors. Every friend and family member who visits is a potential new client for you when they are impressed with the entire package of a home well-built and a beautiful exterior to fully complete the project. Quite simply, professional landscaping makes a well-dressed home and sets it apart from the other homes on the street.
Not all landscapers are created equally. You wouldn’t think of putting an unlicensed plumber or electrician on a job. So why use unqualified people to deal with living plant material or patios? Soil, sun, water, and plant science all factor in to proper plant selection and placement. Knowing planting zones and plant sun/shade tolerances and amending soil for optimum plant growth and insect resistance are vital for plants to live beyond the first growing season. It is important to hire a licensed landscape contractor. Not only are they knowledgeable about plants, they have demonstrated competencies in paver work, short retaining wall construction, pesticide and soil science. As much as we strive for happy clients, why risk them being unimpressed within a few months of moving into their new home when an entire row of plant material withers away in the front yard?
There are greater reasons to use a landscape contractor than having a plant and soil expert on your project. What you may not know is that landscape contractors can also help with driveway and sidewalk shape and size placement (as well as paver driveway edging), pool layout or natural water features, patio, outdoor room and lighting planning, outside stair placement, gas fire pit construction, and more. It is vital to have a landscape contractor be part of the planning phase of a project rather than just the final, often neglected phase of a job, especially if your client expects creativity in the outdoor functions of their landscaping and hardscaping. Things like property drainage, outdoor stair lighting, sidewalks that require something other than concrete, conduit placement before the driveway is paved, and more can be properly planned when you partner with a landscape professional.
To properly plan for an adequate landscape plan, it is not unreasonable to guide clients toward budgeting 10% of their building cost to the outside (excluding grading and seeding work). So a $200,000 home can have beautiful curb appeal with a $20,000 design and installation that often comes with some sort of plant material warranty if maintained by the landscaper’s maintenance teams. Properly beautifying the exterior of a home can yield extended living space that adds usable square footage to any Georgia home while also adding aesthetically that enhances the quality construction you provide your client.
Take your time and do your homework to find a quality landscape contractor who is knowledgeable as well as creative and flexible. Developing a working relationship with the right landscaper can transform the end result of your jobs for clients. Remember that a landscaper who is good is in demand. If a landscaper can get your job done next week, that company may not be a good fit. Also many landscapers have high peak seasons March-October. When possible, utilize the months of November-February to meet with potential landscapers; they will be more likely to have the time in those months to meet you on a job or at the office to plan a large scale project. If you have a major building project coming up, contact the landscape contractor at least three to four months before you need them to ensure seamless scheduling. It will take some coordination to get the homeowner, builder, and landscaper together for the necessary planning meetings.