Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

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CC Mike
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:33 pm

Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by CC Mike »

I recently moved into my retirement home in the Fort Worth area. The home sits on a 1.1 acre lot. The home builder installed landscaping and grass on the front of the house and a small portion of the back of the house. I am planning on landscaping a large portion of the back of the yard and recently had the shrubs, brush, and trees cleared and trimmed. Does anyone have any guidance on their experience of how to manage landscaping work (piecemeal or with one contractor)? The work will require all of the following:

Some limited land leveling clearing (soil is quite rocky).
Install of new top soil for area where grass will be installed.
Install of significant amount of grass/sod (between 1/4 and 1/2 acre)
Extension of existing irrigation system for new grass and shrub beds.
Design and install of two large beds for trees and shrubs with stone borders

I am conflicted on whether to bid all work in one job or split it into 3-4 jobs (leveling and topsoil install, grass install and/or beds w/border install, and irrigation install). I will probably seek bids for both approaches but was wondering if any of you had advice based on your experience.
Californiastate
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by Californiastate »

Get multiple bids for the whole project. You can have the contractor break down the bid but that doesn't always attract the best.
OnceARunner
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by OnceARunner »

Maybe it is area dependent but around here (metro Atlanta) there are several large landscape companies that could easily handle that as one bid (and have designers in house) and do it all in-house (not contracting out anything). I would get a bid from 3 of them and go with one.

It may be different if there aren't companies around you that can do it all and would have to use subcontractors.
Last edited by OnceARunner on Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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TheTimeLord
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by TheTimeLord »

You need to work with someone who is both a designer and contractor in my opinion, not just hire a contractor to do what you say. When talking to them pay a lot of attention to if they are actually incorporating your ideas and hear what you are saying or just trying to talk you into their design. I would split landscaping and irrigation jobs, it is likely a landscaper would have to subcontractor major irrigation work anyway. Also, make sure you are seated when you receive the estimate.

As an aside, I would recommend trying to incorporate as many native plants as possible especially if you plant trees.
IMHO, Investing should be about living the life you want, not avoiding the life you fear. | Run, You Clever Boy! [9085]
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lthenderson
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by lthenderson »

If it were me, I would bid it out as one project. Getting all those bids, contractors, timing, etc. lined up and in a timely fashion seems like a huge headache. Also, recent times have increased the work load of all these subcontractors to the point where small projects are very hard to get someone to even look at much less bid. You would probably have more luck enticing someone with one bid project that would keep crews tied up for a few days.
mkc
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by mkc »

Start first with a design - you need to know how many zones and what type of irrigation you'll need based on the design. Grass has very different needs from shrubbery beds.

Once you have a design, go out for bid as a package. You'll want a project manager to coordinate so that things happen in the proper order. It may even be with the landscape designer - they likely have a list of subs they like to use.

And don't put in high-maintenance or disease-prone plantings, especially things like knock-out roses, in NTX unless you like doing lots of cut-back and have a place to dispose of the brush. Google rose rosette disease if you want to know why not knock-out roses. FTW Botanical Gardens lost thousands of rose bushes to the disease several years back (as did much of our NTX neighborhood). No Bradford pears (fast growing but short-lived), either.
Weathering
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by Weathering »

If you plan to have your landscape maintained after the project (bi-weekly yard service) then consider getting a bid from a few yard maintenance companies. Specifically, they may be keen to bid on the irrigation, land prep, and sod since they would be maintaining it in the future. For your berm/rock-lined bed you may need to bid that out separately because a yard maintenance firm will most-likely not have design resources.
Topic Author
CC Mike
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by CC Mike »

Thanks for the comments.

I have some design ideas but I will be using someone who can suggest some new ideas. I am not married to my preliminary thoughts and really will be looking for someone who could propose options based on their expertise. I have lived in Texas my whole life but the native plants and weather here is much different than the areas I have previously lived in so I will be looking to their recommendations as well.
mkc
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by mkc »

CC Mike wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:49 pm Thanks for the comments.

I have some design ideas but I will be using someone who can suggest some new ideas. I am not married to my preliminary thoughts and really will be looking for someone who could propose options based on their expertise. I have lived in Texas my whole life but the native plants and weather here is much different than the areas I have previously lived in so I will be looking to their recommendations as well.
If you don't have Neal Sperry's 2 books, I highly recommend them.

https://neilsperry.com/

Neal lives in McKinney these days (so generally similar microclimate to FtW), and literally wrote "the book" on Texas gardening and landscaping - his original published in 1991, covering each of the regions quite well.
123
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by 123 »

If you don't want to deal with contractors pointing fingers at each other I would handle it as one bid (it should also move to completion faster).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
Capsu78
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Re: Contractor Strategy for Large Landscape Project

Post by Capsu78 »

I have had very good luck working with an actual garden center that has a selection of hardscape and landscape materials. The owners son came out and did a look around. I tols hime "kinda sorta" the napkin designs I was thinking. We then met at his center and was able to walk me over to the hardscape material options he thought could work. He had taken pictures and measurements of the area, he printed out some pictures and drew out a map on the pictures. He gave me a proposal, with a couple of variations.
On install day, he actually sent out a third more rock material than was needed because he wanted his installers to have plenty of blocks to chose from.
The new soil and sod were no brainers for him and once again he pulled from his own stock. Installers were excellent, asked me if everything was looking good a number of times in the project, let me determine the start/stop points etc. Very easy to work with. I told him to take as many pictures of the completed project as he wanted and ok to post on his web site. Total satisfaction!
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