Mar 29, 2006

A Matter of Timing

Interesting phenomenon: as soon as we got a couple of sunny days last week, my phone started ringing off the hook with people who "want new landscaping in time for summer." This actually is typical of this season, as it gradually dawns on us that winter may actually end some day, and we may get to spend some time outside again.

But this year things are particularly bad: all the rain has kept contractors from working, which has backlogged their schedules, which means they won't be available for your job any time soon, and they'll cost twice as much when they are. Even the most ardent DIY-er will have a tough time working the soil (yes, that muck is in fact soil) or setting cement.

So what's an impatient homeowner to do?

1. Throw money at it. There's no problem that can't be solved when you multiply your budget 4x. Hey, the markets have been on a roll lately, right?

2. Call more contractors for bids. After all, there's gotta be one that's not booked up. (Make sure you don't ask why they're not busy like everyone else.)

3. Lower your design standards. So what if you really wanted a stone patio and redwood arbor? You'll get used to the gravel in time, and you can probably get a really good deal on a charming patio umbrella on craigslist.

4. Do it yer damn self. Because you're really good at things like this.

5. Start planning now for autumn. Contact a really good garden designer now and commission a unique landscape design to be installed in the fall. Your preliminary concepts should be done by June. You can start contacting contractors in July. Get final plans and bids by August. And break ground in September. Your plants (installed in October or November) will appreciate all the winter rains, as will your irrigation budget. (Watch, now that I've said that, we'll have a drought next winter.) Your wallet won't get raked over the coals by the laws of supply and demand. And in exchange for your patience and wisdom, you'll have an excellent new landscape, at an excellent price, less than a year from now.

Oops... sun's out! Gotta go...

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