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.
Hi, I’m on the west coast and am battling a huge nutsedge infestation. It’s in my hedges, flower gardens and grass. You stated not to use dangerous chemicals, but I’m at the end of my rope and no of no other option.. Do you have anything you can suggest?
Chemicals can be usefull IF applied properly and not excessively. I have heard Sedgehammer and/or Dismiss or equivalents work well.
If you have warm season grass Monument is a product I have heard about but know nothing about it.
Of course, I don’t know what is available and effective in California so take what I say as only a starting point (everybody else too).
Mark B. says
I see some local japanese gardens that have sooo much mulch, and it is piled up against the trunk of plant. I wonder if water or rain will finally reach deeper to the roots since all that mulch will just soak up the water like a sponge ?
Sam R says
Unfortunately people who have a lawn mower call themselves landscapers and most clients believe that they know what they’re doing.
What about volcano mulch ? Eventually trees will grow advantageous roots and slowly die.
Don’t get me started on mulch, but I am sure there will be a part 2 (and 3…).
Joan Siegel says
Like Lacey Bloom, I can’t resist telling big box and nursery personnel that they shouldn’t be selling invasive plants as well as greatly overplanted varieties like Stella de Oro. Of course, they look at me like I’m from Pluto.
The previous owner of my house apparently got talked into a so-called pro landscaper’s insane method of giving her four “no-maintenance” flower gardens, the largest 80 x 15 ft. Presumably after tilling the soil, he lay down thick nonporous black plastic sheeting, cutting holes just large enough to insert a variety of perennials. Before absconding with his ill-gotten gains, he covered the entire surface with four inches of black large-chipped rock. I’ve removed most of it over five years, but OMG. One day when my young grandchildren were visiting, I offered to pay them $10 for every worm they found as I dug up the buried plastic. As I knew they would, they went home no wealthier than they’d arrived. But they learned something about what’s needed for healthy soil.
Warren Braun says
As usual, a very interesting post, Jim.
You are well-studied and fortunate is the Client that wil use your
Services. They will have an outstanding result that will stand the test of Time and bring great satisfaction.
Best wishes for your continued success.
Lacey Bloom says
Amen Preach it brother!
I’ve dug up acres of that stupid netting! And the people who had our house before us let landscapers put landscaping fabric over 12 inches of “soil” underlayed with 2 layers of landscape fabric!!!!!!!
I normally don’t curse, but when my shovel hit that 2nd layer of blasted black fabric I cursed out loud.
And don’t get me started on sprays…
I’ve had to stop going to box store nurseries bcs I can’t stop myself from warning people to NOT buy the invasive/monstrous plants they sell.