Blame the Landscaper


By Tony Catanzaro


Over the years I have been blamed for a lot of things in my career as a landscape professional. From broken gate latches to damaged light fixtures it seems the landscape contractor is automatically guilty. Now don’t get me wrong sometimes we inadvertently will cause some damage while performing our services but my observation has been to blame us first without any consideration of other factors.


Let’s take the broken gate latch for our first example. It may seem likely that the landscape personnel working on the sight broke the latch. The aluminum gate latches are the ones often damaged. I have witnessed client’s children and guests slamming the gates on numerous occasions but every time the landscape contractor is to blame.


Beyond damaged items we are mostly blamed for any and all horticultural problems that occur. The fact is that the landscape contractor works within the rules of nature and cannot always get winning results even when best practices are utilized. Was it the techniques, timing, selection, quality, etc. for the poor results? Quite possibly the environmental conditions and or circumstances beyond the control of the professional.


Trees, shrubs, perennials all are subject to the same environmental conditions. It does not matter if they are mature or new plantings. Weather extremes will affect their health. Just because one pays a service for maintenance does not mean decline or loss will never occur. Why not ask your M.D. if he guarantees results and perfect health every time.  It comes to un-realistic expectations in the green industry. Your M.D. is not with you 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days year. Even with that kind of service your M.D. cannot guarantee your health. Well consider this extreme scenario with your landscape contractor and your landscape.


Even with a complete maintenance program the landscape contractor is only at a site weekly. This makes monitoring watering, pests, weeds, diseases difficult. It typically only takes a few days for a problem to cause damage. The landscape contractor depends on the client to help manage the property together. This takes special efforts on both sides for successful results. It all adds up to time for the landscape contractor. The problem lies in the fact most people expect top results when paying for “mow, blow and go” and “splash and dash” applications. To really do things properly takes a much greater maintenance budget. In many cases 50 to 100% more than “industry averages”.


Increasing maintenance budgets by as much as 100% is not possible for many. So what is the next best solution? Creating collaboration between the client and the landscape contractor is what I recommend. Having clear goals and expectations on both sides with good communication is a must at any level. It is the landscape contractor’s responsibility to help educate the client and it’s the client’s responsibility to follow the advice and follow through example; proper watering.


Of course there are times the landscape contractor is to blame and a true professional will always work to rectify the matter. So, before you blame the landscaper next time take the time to consider all the factors. Resist the temptation to hand out blame when you have not collected all the facts. This will improve your working relationship with your landscape contractor and all parties will benefit. Evan your lawn and landscape will thank you!

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