By Deb Pavlosky
Did anyone else see the cartoon with the two dogs staring at some ants on the ground? The ants are singing, “We’ve only just begun”, “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “Just like me”. One dog looks at the other and says, “Crap, we’ve got Carpenter ants.” BA DA BUM. It was good for a little giggle out of me… That’s the kind of summer I’m having. Silly jokes get me every time. My resistance is down and my need for water, rest and relief is definitely up. So, what do you do when the days are long and hot – too hot to really be out in your garden for very long?
Well, this is the perfect time to maintain, enjoy and maybe do a little planning in your garden. At dawn or dusk, when the temperature is a little cooler, take a walk around your landscape. Think about changes that you want to make – moving plants, removing plants, adding plants, adding a sculpture, planted pot or fountain or adding some seating. Sit in your hammock chair that you bought in June and peruse your favorite gardening periodical. Didn’t get a hammock chair? Well, you should really think about it now. Pick a picture from your magazine that strikes your fancy and then customize it for your garden in our planting zone (Zone 9). It’s not stealing, it’s paying homage to a great garden designer. Not sure about what grows well here? Come by the nursery and take a look at our plant selection. If it’s growing here and you live within 30 miles or so, you can grow it too (except, of course, if you are on a sand dune in Galveston. We still have stuff you can grow, but your list is modified a bit.).
Things for pondering when doing it yourself: Think about mature plant height and width (always give a little extra room so that plants have good air circulation), sun requirements and water requirements. Where do you find this information? Well, you can start with plant tags. But you have to consider the grower when using plant tag information. Is the grower in California? Well, then their full sun plants will most likely only take morning sun here. Plant tags will sometimes also tell you important things like whether the plant is deciduous or evergreen, whether it’s annual, perennial or biennial, bloom time, fruiting time, and days, months or years to maturity within a margin of error. Online you can find out even more and, of course, if you want the best information, come by and shop with us at the nursery. We have lots of experts here to help with a question or two and we also have information sheets available on how to properly plant trees and shrubs. Voila, you too can design your own little slice of heaven – In the air conditioning, with a glass of sweet tea and a tomato sandwich.
If you would like more help than just a casual question or two, give us a call to set an appointment. Jim and Daniel are more than happy to take a look at some printed photographs and measurements (better than ball park, but engineer exact isn’t required) and give you lots of wonderful ideas. Photographs can be printed on regular printer paper, nothing fancy is required, but please don’t bring in your camera, electronic devices or your cool Snoopy USB stick. Also, there is no need to email pictures in advance of the appointment. Jim and Daniel like to look at the photos with you, not before your meeting. If advice is all you need, there is no charge. Fair warning – please don’t expect to get a same day or same weekend or even same week appointment. This is especially true in the spring (which for us starts mid to late January) and fall. Everybody is in a hurry in the spring and the fall…
But, what if you aren’t a ‘do-it-yourselfer’ or you need more than just some advice? No worries. Call us to make a landscape design appointment. Again, don’t expect an appointment right away. Everybody wants their landscapes done tomorrow, but landscapes are like fine wine and cheese. A really great looking landscape design takes time. You will still need to do some homework and bring in those photographs and measurements (a plot plan of your home is helpful too if it’s to scale), and once again, there is no charge for your appointment. At your first landscape design appointment, you will talk about the landscape you desire. So, it’s important to think about some things before you come in: budget (most landscapes typically cost between $14 – $16 per square foot), sun exposure, drainage issues, anything large in the landscape that needs to be moved or removed, utility boxes, maintenance issues, etc. First meetings can last any where from 30 minutes to 1 hour. You will definitely discuss all the afore mentioned items as well as whether you would like the nursery to install or if you will be doing all or some of the install yourself. Also, it is very common for us to do landscapes in phases. Prices and plant availability may change a bit over time, but doing a landscape in phases is very common. At the end of your first meeting, if you do want a design drawn, we charge a $400 design fee and you can pay that in our garden center. If, after the first meeting you choose not to have a design drawn, there is no fee.
But, let’s say you do want a design drawn… How long until you get to see your completed design and quote? Well, that depends. Is it a large property and/or is it spring? Well, then it may be a number of weeks before we call you to schedule your second appointment. Jim and Daniel are pretty good about letting you know how long it will be before you hear from us again. Once your design and quote are ready, we will call you to set your second appointment here at the nursery. At your second appointment, you will go over the completed design and quote with Jim or Daniel. You can make any changes that you like until you are completely satisfied with the design. Once you are ready to install, we ask for a down payment of half to schedule your install. If you are doing all the installing yourself, you can start purchasing plants from your quote when you are ready. Just be sure to show your quote or tell your cashier your quote number when purchasing items. It’s important that we keep track of what you have purchased.
Once we have completed the installation of your landscape or you have purchased all the items off of the agreed upon quote and you are paid in full, you will receive a refund check for the $400 design fee. The refunded $400 design fee does not come off the top of your quote and it is not removed from the final invoice. A separate check is issued back to you once you are paid in full.
Also, once your landscape is complete, if we are doing the install, Jim or Daniel will make an appointment for a final walkthrough at your home to go over the landscape with you. Our planting is guaranteed for 1 year as long as you are watering according to our instructions.
If you are doing your landscape in phases or doing it on your own as you go, please remember that the design fee doesn’t get refunded until you are paid in full for the entire landscape. Also, remember, plant availability and prices may change over a period of time, but we usually are able to accommodate with comparable plants/ pricing. All numbers on quotes are always approximate until your final invoice. Plant prices change with supplier, season and availability.
You may be thinking that fall is the wrong time to plant, so why plan in the heat of the summer? Fall is a really great time to plant, HERE. You are going to have to water newly planted landscapes daily for the first growing season no matter when you plant. Also, fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. So plan away with no worries. Annuals are, obviously, only available for their season (for example – snapdragons in fall, winter or very early spring and vincas in late spring and summer), but seasonal annuals can be changed for the time of year of your installation.
Lastly, if you want Jim or Daniel to come out to your home, we charge $100/hour including travel time to and from the nursery. You will still have a meeting at the nursery after your onsite consultation to plan for your landscape design, if you are having a design drawn. Although there is no charge for landscape design meetings at Maas Nursery, onsite consultations are charged separately and are not refunded.
Ok. So, that’s it in a nutshell. There is plenty to do in the heat of the summer. Get out in the wee hours of the morning or early evening and start planning your next garden update. Don’t forget to come out to Maas Nursery. Whether you just have a few questions, want to check out plants for our zone or come here for a design appointment, we love to help our customers.