We all like deals providing they offer value for money; two for the price of one or buy an item today get one free. Holiday price drops drastically if it’s not during a school holiday term…
The gardeners are however very different to the rest of the world when it comes to exchanging your money for service. Not entirely due the fault of our own. You see the seasons dictate when and what we can do. For example you might want to prune your overgrown Magnolia tree but it might be that you asked at the wrong time of year for this. Some trees can only and should only be pruned at certain times of the year or it can affect how they grow, flower or they can bleed.
Yes it’s not a typo, they do actually bleed once the sap is rising and it can even kill them or make them very ill. Laying of the lawns during the summer months should be avoided; Bamboo plants should not be trimmed because it will change their growing structure and rate (in most cases). You get the idea. There are many ways not to ask gardeners about the tasks you would like them to carry out. So how do you proceed and most importantly when do you ask for discounts and offers when it comes to gardening services. Be it garden design, landscaping or maintenance.
Let’s start with how you should ask. Do your research first as to what the company or gardener actually offers. What credentials do they have? Organisations like The Gardeners Guild can provide information for professional gardeners in your area or BALI, APL for landscaping firms or sole traders. In general, try to speak to the right people with authority and relevant qualifications. Avoid anyone who is not regulated and or is readily available or asking for cash payments. Most reputable gardeners are booked up for months and even years.
So how do you get the right people for the job and most importantly at a reasonable and affordable price? Be understanding and avoid demanding, especially during the busy growing season. Even if you speak to a company, they won’t be interested in your haggling techniques and pipeline dreams. Let alone hard working, knowledgeable gardeners. If you manage to get hold of them don’t waste it as these days, skilled, hardworking gardeners are very rare.
Once you have done your research try to be considerate and treat them with as much respect as you would like to be treated. Present them your dilemma and ask if they would be willing to consider your request. The important emphasis here is not when they can do the job or what they’ll charge. The key here is to ask them for consideration. If you do this their guard will be down and they will know you are not a time waster and actually do care about your garden by showing respect. The reason it’s important is there might only be one good, skilled, experienced gardener who can actually do the job in your area and the next one is 60 miles away. That’s how sparse the skill shortage has become.
But here is the money saving tactic that you can use. Ask if your chosen gardening expert can offer a plan of action for your garden. Offer a payment and this can be as little as your MOT of say £35 or full car service £250. Unlike the MOT or car service it will only be done once or twice in your ownership of your garden. But not only will you wow your gardener you will also get the full report of what you can or should not do. You can also use the report as a reference with other gardeners to provide for their quotes based on the report particulars.
It’s a bit like having an architect’s drawing for your builders to follow. Once again it needs to be from a qualified and reliable source. By asking first and offering to pay a very small price, not only will you receive the attention from a very busy, reputable horticultural specialist but also save lots of money in the long run. They are likely to offer this for free based on the fact that you offer to pay. Design can also be a cost saving option in the long run if you wish to change a few things.
Now the timing. If you can help it avoid asking or expecting to have anything done ASAP, certainly if you contact a gardener, designer or landscaper between April and October. So much is going on during the growing period as well as the RHS trade shows so you are unlikely get any good deals or available slots. You can of course and should still ask but be very cautious and be prepared that the actual works in your garden might not start any time soon. Winter is the best time for most gardening work. From pruning to transplanting. Even building can be still done during the winter so you can enjoy your garden in spring and summer when it’s all about vegetation control.
The best bit is that you can save a lot money by booking it for the winter. The trick is to have a conversation with your gardener/s in August or September that you would like the works done in winter. This way they will know you have a plan for them, and they are likely to offer you a good value for money service. Most retailers and suppliers will also have plants and materials at reduced prices during the winter months. Again, the emphasis is on offering your gardening team an opportunity to say no but if they are really good and forward thinking they are likely to accept it. There are far too many people who put too much unnecessary urgency on their gardeners during the growing season often followed by a short-term cancelation later on some as early as October -November period. Not only are you likely to lose a good gardener but also your price will be increased next time or even refused. You are also likely to incur additional costs for things that can only be done during the winter. Plus, your garden won’t look the best it can be. Be it the missed lawn aeration in the Autumn, or Winter Wisteria pruning. These things can’t be fixed later on. So, it’s not a good costs saving practice.
After all, if you want someone really good and trustworthy coming to your property and being capable of doing the job well for a good rate, you need to look after them. Build a long term relationship with good gardeners if you want to benefit both financially and have the best garden in your neighbourhood. It’s as simple as that.