Whenever I hear the phrase the “Green Industry” when people are referring to Nurseries and Landscapers, I cringe. Here are just a few of the reasons.
1) Using nylon netting when installing grass.
Burying a layer of plastic netting in the ground that will be there until past the time you are in the ground just does not make a lot of sense to me. Every time I dig in an area that some landscaper used this stuff and I have to deal with this crap just makes me angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I get angry.
2) Installing weed fabric in planting beds.
Weed fabric is generally a waste of money and time as weeds will eventually just grow on top of it or through it. It does work for a while, so you will be happy with your landscaper that first year. Long enough for him to get paid at least. Five years later when it is falling apart into pieces or the weeds growing in it are impossible to pull out, you might have a different opinion or their weed fabric suggestion.
3) Planting fast-growing trees & shrubs that are less expensive, but will require more care later from the landscaper.
Sure lets plant that privet hedge, it will grow nice and quick!
4) Not telling their clients that basically everything they spray is pretty much a poison.
Most sprayed chemicals are meant to kill something. Sure some chemicals are better than others, but the good guys will tell you what they are using and why they choose it over other choices. I hate to be harsh but 90% of the time, they will spray what works and makes them the most money with no regard to its toxicity.
5) Selling you plants that they have too many of, not ones that are right for your landscape.
This is a concern mainly with nurseries that grow plants but also landscapers that carry stock in their yards and maybe bought a few too many of something. If they have 100 too many Red Maple, guess what will be in your design even if a Red Oak may have been a better choice.
6) Selling you old inferior plants instead of better ones.
I get it, if you are guaranteeing a plant you want to make sure it will survive, so you plant what you know works. I also understand that if you are selling Autumn Joy Sedum still when you could be installing Autumn Fire Sedum, you are planting an inferior plant more likely to flop because you are being lazy in your plant selection and just picking what you have always used.
It does not always have to be a new cultivar either. Goldstrum Black Eyed Susan will now get leaf spot pretty consistently, when it could be easily replaced with the more disease resistant native Showy Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia speciosa var. sullivantii).
7) Still planting invasive plants.
Invasive plants have a strong tendency to spread. Some, such as Norway maple (Acer platanoides) produce thousands of easily scattered seeds per plant. Others, including Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), burning bush (Euonymus alatus) and barberry (Berberis thunbergii), have fruit that birds eat and distribute far away.
If your landscaper recommends Japanese barberry, Callery pear (Cleveland Select is the most common one sold now) or burning bush , they are either ignorant or they don’t care. In either case, I would find someone else to work with. Unfortunately nine times out of ten that other guy will be no better. You will have to screen them yourselves. If you are on the east coast, you can look for members of the Ecological Landscape Alliance.