Need Help!!! Bad landscaping job?? Feel ripped off

segaJune 11, 2011

I hope someone can help me! Im so upset. I am a complete novice about landscaping.

Just had a smallish job done this week. One that I save up money for 2 yrs. to do and still could not really afford.

The landscaper was highly recommended by a very high end nursery nearby. She made a proposal which I liked and didnt get other proposals which is my fault. There have been many problems and I dont know what to do. She was to put in a drip line with 2 timers and install plants in 2 small beds in the front of the house and a narrow bed in the back of the house. The final invoice included the following:

5 Loropetalum 3 gallon at $30 each

9 Knockout Rose 3 gallon at $25 each

13 Breeze Grass 3 gallon at $18 each

14 Bulbine 1 gallon at $12 each

2 confederate jasmine at $35 each

Drip line irrigation for $110

2 timers for $50 each

Labor $325

sales tax $100

They were here maybe 3 hrs.

I had to leave to work and could not stay for the job.

When I returned I found the rose bushes were very small with no blooms and had cut stems. The plant arrangement was different from the plan she proposed. She had also divided and moved my mexican petunia without checking with me to my dismay. One bed around a tree was completely skipped and no pine straw put down.

After carefully examining the invoice I realize how exorbitant her prices were. I asked her about it and she said she has to charge extra per plant to make money cause she is lower on her labor and she has to pay retail herself for the plants. I didnt understand why that would be. I also asked her why the roses so small and no blooms. She said they had just been cut back which happens in spring. However, I had been to Lowes and another place which had beautiful big blooming roses for much less with no cut stems. I tried to be understanding but it didnt sit well with me. Especially since she charged a premium price. Only a third of the bulbines were blooming and the others were just a clump of green leaves. I wanted color and instant gratification! Why else would I have paid so much-I could have tossed these small plants in myself.

She didnt tell me I had to water and in fact said irrigation was fine.

the next morning I came out and everything looked wilted. I noticed brown crispy leaves on the roses. I checked the drip line and saw it didnt even come near 3 plants at all. I contacted her immed. to tell her and ask her to check the roses and the drip line. Remember I am totally uneducated about this stuff and was trying to figure it out on the spot. She later said she came by and that they looked fine. But I may need to hand water the plants for about a week.

I again checked the line and saw the first emitter didnt come out till about 15 inches past the first 2 plants and missed another. along one side it was pulled away from the plant bases. I called her and she came out and put additional tubing on the line. She also said the roses were just "stressed" and would look great in a month!

Well I feel totally hoodwinked. The plants look like crap, all seem too small for 3 gallon, and now the roses have BLACK SPOT!!!

The front beds are also totally uneven with holes and I almost tripped in one today. The bushes are sitting down in deep holes and look like they were thrown in with no care. I dont see where the soil was ammended at all.

I dont know what to do but I feel ripped off. Any advice would be welcome.

BTW I paid in cash and was not given a receipt :(


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Perhaps you will hear from someone who does landscaping. They will be able to give you a better idea about appropriate expectations. I am just a casual gardener. I am also cheap. I can't tell from your description whether you were poorly treated or not.

I thought the labor cost seemed low, so I can believe her approach about charging extra for the plants. I AM surprised about the knockoouts without blooms at this time. I sure wouldn't expect black spot on nursery plants.

Personally, I would be interested in layout (design)and viability rather than instant gratification. But here, you may have serious concerns, since the irrigation may be inappropriate and the plantings poorly done.

I see that you are a new poster. You didn't mention your location. Conditions can vary greatly in the Carolinas and planting methods could be greatly different. Those with more experience will want to know more about your region, etc. before they would feel comfortable judging the situation and giving advice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 9:32AM
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Ok sure-I am in Charleston, SC.
I guess my biggest concern is the black spots all over the leaves on the rose bushes as well as the dying leaves. They look terrible and seem to look worse by the day. It hasnt rained since they were planted. It would seem to me that they came diseased since they were put in 3 days before I started to see the black spots. I want to give this person the benefit of the doubt but I feel very uncomfortable with what Im left with here.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 12:42PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Well, first thing you want to do is check the soil moisture daily and hand water as necessary..remembering that over watering is worse than underwatering.
Water the soil, not the plants..especially the roses and after you have trimmed off the leaves and collected up the dropped leaves from the soil (and disposed).

Go back to that high-end nursery and give them your complaint and get their advice. They are local and know how to establish plantings in your area.

Honestly, the prices you paid for plants and labor seem in line with costs here in Charlotte area. The dripline components seem high priced but small companies tend to do that. Usually, labor to plant is equal to the cost of the plant. That's been my experience over the past 50 years of gardening.
And, I have never been satisfied with the quality of labor provided from any commercial landscaper. I usually wind up pulling and repotting all the plant material and mulch (I hate mulch) and resetting them myself after loosening the soil better. The harder job of clearing out lawn areas to establish the beds has been done by the laborers and now you get to personalize the job.
As for that mexican petunia..don't worry. They are tremendously hardy. I've divided and root pruned the remains intending to move it ..never got around to doing it and with it half out of the ground it resettled in that position to bloom happily. They have alot of fibrous,cord-like roots and you can divide them anytime so long as it goes into a spot with lots of sun and decent drainage.

Those loropetalums are likely to get huge and know that you need to trim them at least once a year, if not twice in your area. They may broaden to overrun your beds so keep that in mind. I have the big ones, one on a trellis and a row of the fastigate form which I've decided is a hoax..just a regular form trimmed and trained to upright growth.
You can get control of your situation and personalize with some of your own labor but I wouldn't get too upset about the knockouts. They are easily replaced.

Take lots of photographs so you can work from those to visualize what you want in color and form. In the meantime, you can tuck in some large red geraniums in lieu of the knockouts for the instant gratification of color you seek. Just be sure to clear out the dropped,blackspotted leaves as you pull out the knockouts.

Come back and keep us informed with description or photos. We'd love to see what you've accomplished and I love to applaud others efforts to overcome a bad situation.
You can do it, we know you can and you don't have to do it all at once (in this heat). As I said, tuck in some heatloving annual/semi perennials to your zone like geraniums and enjoy the sparkle of color.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 11:11AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Hmm, bulbines..never heard of them before until you mentioned and I Googled. Looks a lot like the syserinchium I adore here that blooms blue but a small flower as compared to the volume of green plant leaves.
A joy to the gardener but unnoticed by passerby at the street or sidewalk.
Another punch of color(from leaves) is setcresea(sp) the royal purple leaved wandering jew tucked amidst your bulbines that bloom well above the foliage will be a purple punch of color below the yellow/orange/rust tones of the bulbines. When the bulbines stop blooming you still have the purple coarse foliage below and among the grassy foliage of the bulbines.
Like that idea? I gotta ton of 'em.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 11:27AM
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Dottie; I hope I misread your post. It sure sounded like you were suggesting that someone who just spent $225 for knockout roses, should just throw them out and spend half that again to get a season of color (well perhaps geraniums don't die in coastal SC?).

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:28PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Not at all , chas. I recommended she pull and pot them up so she can give them specific attention during the heat of the summer and try to replant them in better weather.
Her knockouts are obviously stressed and have been trimmed or had fungus attack what leaves are left so transpiration is a problem that would benefit by lifting,potting and careful watering in a well ventilated area.
Generally, knockouts don't require such babying but unless you're home all day and can monitor for rain added to drip watering these babies can drown and root rot pretty easily.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Well, you picked a terrible time to install a bed. These plants are under tremendous strain right now with the heat and lack of rain. I might question wether the roses are knockouts, as they are supposed to be blackspot resistant. I might go out and lift one of the roses from it's hole. Check to see if the hole is twice as wide as the rootball of the plant. Check to see if the soil has been amended. Fill the hole with water and see if it drains empty with 24 hours.

From what you said about the time they were there, unless there was an army of them, I doubt they did proper soil prep.

And as someone suggested, go back to the nursery and express you concerns. But most of all, remember this lesson. Always get your agreement in writing. Be clear what you expect to get and how much you will pay.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:01PM
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linda_jo(Raleigh, NC 7b)

Ask the landscaper if she got a guarantee on the plants. Even l-w-s gives a year guarantee. Maybe she will replace them with healthier ones. I too would be very upset with results. Be honest with the landscaper and keep your cool. He/she should be inclined to want to please you since you are future advertising. Hope it works out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 12:14PM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

I agree with most of what's been said. It seems likely they were not planted as well as they could have been. At the same time it is a really bad time to be planting so extra water to establish may be necessary. The black spot on the roses might concern me as well since those don't tend to get it. But the lack of blooms really isn't a bad things. Plants use a lot of energy to bloom and although you don't get instant gratification it allows the plant to focus on the root system and growth which is better in the long run. I hope that turns out to be the case. The prices may be a tad high but they don't seem unreasonable really and you are paying labor as well. But it's hard to tell without someone coming to look and see if the job was done properly. Good luck I hope you end up happy with it

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 9:38AM
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Austintatious Landscapes of Austin texas ripped me off for $290.00

Michael Bauer can not even mow a yard correctly, he runs all over your bushes and plants, weed whacks all of your flowers and leaves the grass all over the sidewalk. He takes your money and leaves town with it to "probably" go to Mexico to get more drugs to sell. He is a dishonest thug punk and needs to leave the Austin Tx area. He has a drug case in Travis County Criminal Court 12-13-13 c-1-cr-13-152334 selling marijuana charge 930am in CC5 PTR3C

He has multiple convictions and is an overall deadbeat.

Don't use him to sweep your sidewalk.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 9:32PM
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Without a receipt, you really have no legal recourse except to repair at your own expense.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 9:04AM
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