The Cost of Florida Friendly Landscaping

grassless-yard

Grassless Yard

I have been talking to many of my clients for years, on the subject of reducing turf areas, or removing the entire portion of grass left in their yard, and doing something different. My background experience and knowledge database comes from a maintenance company I had owned for many years prior, and many others I had worked for prior to that.

I developed a style of landscape design that didn’t require the need for grass, irrigation, fertilizers, or constant maintenance. I thought this might be an attractive idea for most people, as nobody seems to have the time to care for a nice lawn, and spending more money to maintain such a cheap element in the landscape didn’t make sense either.

As it turned out, “Going Grassless” was a tougher sell than I believed it to be. For some reason, most people still want a nice lawn, even when to do so has proved impossible under current circumstances. I have to admit, I would like to own a unicorn …if I could. I don’t have the means to care for a horse, and if it were even possible to buy such an animal, I would need to be able to care for it like a horse. Having a nice lawn today requires deep pockets filled with resources you are willing to throw away… for something you will barely notice and have to constantly care for. At least you can ride a unicorn …or a horse!

Cost of Water

First, if you are on city water, you should notice this every month. When you are on metered water, you get surcharged for going over a certain limit of usage. In dry months, when you have to sneak in a day here and there to keep from losing your investment, you will exceed this threshold and see it in your water bill. Over time, if you add up the cost, you will be shocked! The cost of watering your lawn goes beyond the actual dollars you spend on the entire install of the lawn…  and all of your  water bills combined.

Cost of Maintenance

To keep a lawn healthy, You will obviously need water. Fertilizers will be needed to feed the lawn, but if your soil PH is not right (due to acidic trees such as oaks or pines), you will need to correct that before fertilizers will work. Then, you will need more water… to keep the fertilizers from burning your lawn. More water means more weeds, so you will have to stay on top of that issue. Also, during the summer months, more rain and humidity will make the grass grow… so you will have to cut it more often. Too much rain or water will cause fungus and disease, and that becomes an issue. In the dry season you will have to water more or watch your investment wither… grass is a live element that needs your attention and WATER.  Besides the time factor, which nobody seems to keep in mind, there are greater costs to consider as well.

 

Environmental and Ethical Costs

Some tell me “I don’t worry about my water bill, I’m on a well.” Okay.. you are free from a meter, but your water comes from the same source… THE GROUND. Pumping ground water to keep your lawn green and beautiful has a higher cost than you can imagine… did you know that it has been a factor to causing Sinkholes? You can certainly expect more sinkholes as Florida’s population surges. This problem isn’t going away by magic. We have to be more responsible and look for other methods to beautify our homes. If we continue to do the things we have in the past, our children will stand in line for water to drink. That is a harsh reality. We need to pay attention to this TODAY. Many people live in HOA communities that promote St. Augustine lawns, and waste millions of gallons of water to keep their lawns looking nice… if you live in these communities, ask yourself “Is it worth it?”

There are better options than harming the environment, and leaving little resource on the planet for our future generations, than having a green lawn. Go Grassless is one. Reducing your lawn is another. If you have a dead patch, do something other than resod.

Here is another article posted on Angie’s List, when they interviewed a client of mine, Tom in New Port Richey, about going Grassless.

Notice to All Visitors

poor-paver-job

Unfinished Paver Job

If you are one who looks for the best price on every purchase you make, this article should interest you.  I meet a lot of people in my day to day activities.  Lately, I have been meeting many of you who need repair work done to jobs that were completed not too long ago (mostly Paver work).  Looking at these projects, one thing is consistent among all of them (the one that was awarded the job was in a hurry to complete it to rush to the next one).  If you are one of these unfortunate homeowners who thought the price was right so you hired the contractor based on those numbers… I am sorry.  Sincerely… I hate to be the one to tell people that the only way to correct a poor job is to do it over.  A quality paver job begins with the preparation.

This is a crucial step and if it is not done to precision you will see the defects in the final product.  If you plan to park vehicles on it, then you really need to pay close attention to this part of the job.  Concrete Brick Pavers are not very expensive to purchase (its the labor that is the major expense).  When bidding on a paver job, I always keep in mind the time it takes to ensure every step is carefully taken, and I charge for it.  I only do one project at a time, so my focus is only on the project I am working on at that time.  I am not in a rush to jump to the next one, because every project I win is an opportunity to earn the rest of your trust.  When someone bids low to get a job,  the majority of the cost (being the labor) is where you will be saving money.  The problem here is that too many people are doing this so it appears that when you actually get a accurate bid, that one seems quite high (when it is the one that will not have to be redone).

I’ve seen the low bid game played back when I was cutting lawns.  My clients knew what they were getting for what they were paying, so under bidding my work was not easy to do (and still make a profit).  Paver work is very labor intensive and requires skill more than just cutting grass… my point is;  factoring in all that is needed to deliver a quality job, you really get what you pay for here.

People ask me all the time “how much does it cost to pave a driveway?” The answer depends on the amount of square footage and what is required to do it right the first time.  I found a great article on this website (Fixr.com).  They lay it our pretty accurately, but it can vary depending on what is involved…

I tell everyone I meet that if you really want to save money, cut out the waste.  Stop throwing out your hard earned money and your trust to the one with the best price, because its the cost that will always be the real number to consider in the end.

Saving Big on Landscaping Begins Here.

wasting_moneyIf you want to save big on landscaping, this article should interest you. I talk to many people daily about replacing or refurbishing their existing landscaping. One thing everyone has in common is that they all want to spend as little as possible. This is normal to want to do, but what if you were installing a swimming pool… would you want your contractor to cut corners to give you a great price? What if you were having a roof installed, would you be okay if the contractor used cheap materials or just placed new tile or shingles over rotten wood? These are very stupid questions to ask, I know… because if your pool contractor installs a less than quality job, you could experience issues that would require the job to be undone and redone. Same with the roof… if you had a bad roof and after hiring a professional to install a new one you had a leak in less than a year, how much did you really save?

Do it right the first time and you will save money.

Why is there enough money to do a job twice and never enough to do it right the first time?  Doing a job twice will not save you money. Doing it right the first time (even if you spend more up front) will. Some people that I talk to don’t see the value in putting money “into the yard”. Actually, if the investment is done professionally and is of quality, it will return better than any other home improvement project bar none. If you still don’t see value in a landscape project, consider not doing one (unless you like wasting your time and money). Of course, if this is an activity you do enjoy, follow your heart.

Most people do not know what they really want even though they really do. What most people really want is to save their money and get the best price on a quality project. Unfortunately, quality takes time and money. Lets say you hire someone to install a patio area because they had a price that was in your budget. This company offers you a low price but doesn’t tell you what is involved. Once they start, they cut corners and leaves out crucial steps that compromise the integrity of the project. While saving time they pave over your sewer clean-out and forget to grade the patio so rain water collects by the building and your doorstep. Another company is hired to correct that years later (after failed attempts to get the first company out to fix the problem for good). Who would you wish you had hired first?

Save your money and theirs too.

Selling a home is where a lot of waste happens. Surprisingly, thousands go to waste when a seller does a “quickie” to make a home flashy and clean to sell. That seller may spend a thousand or two in rocks to put into the planting beds for a clean look, but science will work against the buyer when the plants die of thirst in that rock bed and need to be taken out. That rock may have cost the seller a couple of thousand to install, but the buyer will spend at least that to remove and dispose of it.

Plants are living material and when using plants you need to consider that they need an environment to live in. Would you prefer to live in a desert environment where it is hot, dry and water was not available, or would you like it better if you could get a relief from the heat along with a sip of water once in a while. Dumb question? Think that way before you spend money doing that.

Invest wisely or just keep the cash in your pocket.

If you want the home you are selling to attract buyers, invest wisely on a feature that will attract buyers. Obviously, clean up the place if it has been let go, but to cover the planting beds with rock is not a good investment to make. The pictures may look good online, but people will go to see the actual home in the pictures, and what they see will appear to them as a band-aid to cover something you are trying to hide. A quality landscape project will reflect a seller that takes pride in their home. The outside is a reflection of the inside of a home.

In conclusion, the best way to save money is to first stop wasting it.  Here is another article I wrote on smart landscaping tips for Angie’s List.