landscape maintenance

Landscape install fails from 2018

By March 1, 2019 No Comments

I love soft landscape installations with soil and plants because this kind of work breaks up my usual maintenance routine. Normally, everything goes well but this blog post examines two fails from 2018.

When I do all of the work I feel responsible for it. So when,  months later, I find out that things didn’t work out I need to know why. Let’s take a look.


Racetrack Dahlias

I remember this awesome morning well because my job was to plant Dahlias at a horse racetrack. First, I had to remove the dead plants in the planters.



Preparations for new flowers in the winner’s circle.


Second, I installed new Dahlias; long-stemmed on top and short-stemmed on the bottom.



All Dahlias are planted; only watering and clean-up remain.


Everything fit nicely and I had more than enough plants so I also planted some Dahlias into pots. As I worked, many of the female trainers commented on how nice it was to get some colour this close to the racetrack. Of course it was!




What worried me was the large truck which came by periodically, spraying the racetrack with a liquid I assumed was water to keep the dust down. I suspect it wasn’t straight water.

Once the plants were installed, I top-dressed everything with new soil to give the planters a nice dark look; and to give the plants a little kick because the existing soil looked spent.

The last step involved watering. I found a long hose but I had to track down the building maintenance dude to get a water key. Once I watered the planters, I also hosed off the concrete. This is consistent with good landscape maintenance: always leave your work area clean so the clients don’t even notice your presence.



Sadly, several weeks later, the live Dahlias had to be replaced with plastic flowers. Like most plants, they needed regular watering. I also suspect that the original soil in the planters was weak. And the racetrack dust also can’t be good for the plants. I didn’t ask but I suspect that the racetrack spraying isn’t done with normal water. There might be additives that help keep the dust down.



Like people, plants require water to function properly. The second fail involved a cedar hedge request. Here the case is 99% clear, the owners didn’t water the new cedars, even though a hose was available by the door.

I bought the plants, installed them and watered them in. The rest was up to the owner.

Months later I arrived on site and I was crushed because only a few specimens were still green. And while I am not responsible for watering, I did consider this project a waste of money and effort. New cedars (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’) are very thirsty.







I have no idea what will replace these dead cedars. I can’t imagine the owners would request more of them.



You always do your absolute best with landscape installation projects but there will be a few fails. Overall, 2018 was a great season for new installs. These two fails bothered me for a while but instead of dwelling on them, I wrote a blog post about them. That’s cheaper than therapy.

Plants require water just like people so always water-in your newly installed plants.


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