Installing a landscape is not like remodeling your house. A garden is composed of living things moved to your yard where they must adapt to this new situation. Sometimes they can’t take the transition or transplanting shattered the root ball or the soil won’t drain. When it’s a $500 boxed tree or a pricey specimen succulent, you can’t afford the unanticipated losses. For this reason, your contract for landscaping must include a designated maintenance period for an insurance policy. If a plant is jeopardized, it may not show it for a few weeks. This period can be 30, 60 or 90 days long, depending on how the contract is written. During this time the contractor must guarantee the success of EVERY plant in the project. Those ailing, dying or dead must be replaced within the maintenance period. This is the most commonly ignored aspect of landscape contracts, yet it is by far the most important.
When going over your contract, make sure you schedule your payments in such a way that you don’t hand over large sums all at once. Incremental payments are the only way to ensure the project goes smoothly as the contractor is always working toward the next payment. Because landscapers often ignore the responsibilities of the maintenance period, structuring the final payment is crucial. Do not pay until the maintenance period is over, so you can deduct what you need to fix things and buy replacement plants if he bugs out on you. Make that final payment too small and he might leave anyway, knowing the fix costs more than you owe him. The larger the final sum, the better incentive to finish properly and on time.