Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday in Texas - In Need of a Little Grass

I am happy to report that our plumbing project is complete!  That is a good thing because we had a slow start due to the amazing amounts of rain we had last month and now we are about to get slammed with more rain from tropical storm "Bill."  Hopefully the parts of Texas that are still recovering from the May deadly flood waters will not be hit again.

Our next project is to replace the yard that was destroyed during the replacement of the pipes.  I have to be honest here and say that we were never in contention for yard of the month.  We have put off investing time and money in the yard, but now we have no choice; it has to be done.  Though I love beautiful plants and flowers, landscape gardening is not my forte.  If I am going to spend time gardening, it is going to be vegetable gardening; and I haven't done much of that lately.  Thinking through this project has become kind of like the landscape version of the children's book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

At a minimum, the entire front yard has to have new sod put down.  We don't have a sprinkler system so we decided that this would be a good time to have one of those put in, while we have no yard to speak of anyway.  Then there are a few bushes that really need to go and some trees that need to be trimmed...you see where this is going.  We decided that it was time to call in a professional.  I went on the search for a landscape company with whom to work.  I first tried asking friends for recommendation, but came up empty.  Then I went to the Internet.  I looked for company's that were local and who had good reviews.  I looked for those that did landscaping, hardscaping, and irrigation systems.  I also checked to make sure that did residential work.  Still, it felt like I was working in the dark.  I narrowed my choices to two.  Then I made the first phone call.

This is how that first call went:

Woman on the other end: Hello. **** Landscaping.  How may I help you?
Me: I have a yard that is in need of some TLC and I am hoping that you can help me with that.
Woman on the other end: We don't do residential work.
Me: Really?  Your website says that you do.
Woman on the other end: Well, we do only if you are intending to spend $50,000 are more.  Are planning to spend more than $50,000?
Me: (Feeling perturbed) Well, I hadn't really thought about it in those terms exclusively.  I don't think we really have anything else to talk about.  Thank you for your time.  Click.

No.  We are not planning on spending $50,000.  LOL!  That is not what perturbed me. The thing that got me is that based on whatever, she made some determination that I was not worth her time.  How did she know at the point that she told me that they did not do residential work that I wasn't planning on spending $150,000?  This woman didn't know my name, my address, anything about me.  Even if I was going to spend that kind of money, it definitely wouldn't be with that company.

I know that landscaping is expensive.  I also know that landscapers can be kind of difficult to work with, but surely there is someone out there who wants the business of the average American citizen.  Everyone else wants my money!

Feeling a little skeptical, I made the phone call to my second choice.  Thankfully, that conversation was much more civil and relaxed.  The landscape architect came out this morning.

There is no question that he felt a little overwhelmed by the disaster that greeted him.  I suspect that he was worried about how much it would cost to accomplish what we need to accomplish, but he didn't make any assumptions about what we could or would be willing to pay; he simply talked to us about what we need and what we want.  We walked around the yard and talked about possibilities.  He and I seemed to agree on the general feel and style that we are going for.

At the very end of our conversation, he did finally ask what our budget was.  I told him that what would make me happy is if he would draw up a "dream plan" and see what that would cost.  Then, if we have to start whittling away at it, we will.  I don't want the whole thing to be driven solely by money.  Plus, I figured if I gave him a hard and fast dollar amount, he would spend every last penny of it even if we could do it for less.   We'll see what he comes up with.  Our first step is to have a survey done.

Funny story about the landscape architect...when he first got to the house, he and Weber kept looking at each other funny.  Finally Wil said, "You look familiar."  Weber agreed that he looked familiar to him as well.  In situations like this, the familiarity is usually because Weber has taught the person. After a run down of where the landscaper went to school and where they both had worked, the two finally realized that they had actually been colleagues back in 2003.  The landscaper had been the orchestra teacher at the school where Weber still teaches.   2003 was Weber's first year there and it turned out to be Wil's last year as a teacher.  He decided that being a music educator was not is calling and went back to school to become a landscape architect.

It really is a small world!

Stay tuned for before and after photos...

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