A Plant Guarantee Is Only As Good As The Landscape Contractor Behind It

dead arborvitaeWhy Do You Want A Plant Guarantee?

The answer is obvious – if a plant dies the company that installed it must replace it.

Of course that’s the main reason to want a guarantee.  But I don’t think we choose a product or service just because it has a guarantee.  Most of us want a “quality” product or service, and then if the product or service has a problem, it’s taken care of under guarantee.

But no matter how good a plant guarantee is, it’s still a hassle to go through the process.  Typically you call the company; they have to send someone out to look, schedule the replacements, make sure they have the right plants…you know how that goes.  Yes, eventually the plants are replaced (mmm, most of the time), but it’s still something we’d all rather avoid.

Now I have to say, there are landscape companies out there that respond very well to guarantee issues.  In fact, I know of some companies that check their more recent projects and spot plants needing replacement before the homeowner does.  Rare, yes, but they do exist.

A good landscape company confidently stands by and fulfills its plant guarantee obligations. How are they able to do this?  They control plant loss with:

  • Knowledge of plant types and planting design
  • Ability to find and identify quality plants
  • Knowledge of soil types, drainage and other influential conditions
  • Knowledge of installation practices for varying conditions & circumstances

A company that operates at this level can be confident that their plant losses will be minimal.

A poor landscape company will struggle with a plant guarantee because of constant plant losses.  The picture above tells a grim story.

Not one of these nine arborvitae survived.  Why?

The exposure is directly south.  The planting area is elevated behind a wall.  There’s an asphalt parking lot in front.  I’m feeling hot and thirsty just thinking about it!

The first thing that should come to mind in this situation is: “Brutal conditions.  What can I design to sustain in this environment?”

Yes arborvitae like sun, but they prefer moist conditions.  If they struggle with dryness and challenging conditions (like these) they are doomed to failure.  Even if they somehow survived they’d be stressed and predisposed to numerous ailments.

No Worries… There’s A Plant Guarantee!

Yes, I suppose there is.  Although these have been dead for awhile.  Let’s give the landscape company the benefit of the doubt.  They’re waiting for the “fall planting season” to replace them.  I wonder if they’re going to replace them with more arborvitae?

When I say a plant guarantee is only as good as the landscaper behind it, I don’t mean to imply quality of character.  It is very likely this landscaper had and will continue to have the best of intentions.

The lesson here is don’t get false hope just because there’s a guarantee.  Do your “due diligence” and make sure a good, knowledgeable company goes along with that plant guarantee.

There are many plant guarantee stories out there.  Have any good ones?  Let us know in the comments.

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    3 Responses to “A Plant Guarantee Is Only As Good As The Landscape Contractor Behind It”

    1. Tom Says:

      You are exactly right. Anybody that knows plants would not plant arborvitae in that situation. Taxus would make a good, low cost plant for that area. And it would not mind the heat and dryness.

    2. Adam Says:

      How is a landscaper supposed to guarantee something he isnt there to take care of. 90% of plant deaths occur due to customer neglect. They either drowned the plant or dont give it any water.

    3. Roger Says:

      Adam,
      I feel your pain. And it’s not just the irrigation that can be mismanaged — there are other things having to do with a plant’s care that can be done poorly and contribute to plant loss.

      Ideally you have the maintenance contract for your planting projects, and then you and your guys can keep tabs on things. But we know that’s not always the case. In fact it sounds like you’re like me, you don’t have an in-house maintenance division. So back to your question: How is a landscaper supposed to guarantee something he isn’t there to take care of?

      The reality is you have to offer a guarantee just to be competitive. I’ve known a few contractors that will let customers purchase the plants on there own, have them delivered to the house, and then they’ll install them — with no guarantee on their part. If there’s any kind of guarantee it’s through the plant supplier that the customer bought from.

      I don’t like this “business” model for a number of reasons — not the least of which is: not many customers like the “no guarantee” aspect. Plus, you’re eliminating the profit potential in supplying the plants.

      For me, since I’m overseeing these planting projects, I’m involved with the irrigation system design and set-up. I’ll continue after the job to check on the plantings till I feel the irrigation schedule is doing the job properly. It’s standard that the sprinkler controller be mounted outside where I can always access it for the “tweaks” it will inevitably need.

      Yes, these follow-up visits take time, but they really do improve the odds of your plantings being watered properly, especially in those first, critical weeks. And if you’re able to work the cost of some of those visits into your overall price, that would be great.

      And finally, most of the contracts for planting work I see include wording that clearly describes the conditions and limits of the guarantee. I can’t get into all the specifics, but they’re written to not only protect the client, but the landscape company too. In short, that instance you’re describing where plants are either over or under-watered can be addressed in how the contract is written — at least to the extent where the customer is clearly aware of “their responsibility” after the job is done. This is definitely one of those times in business where it pays to get a lawyer’s help. Then both you and your customers know where everyone stands with the guarantee.

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