Despite the snow on the ground and the temperature barely making it above freezing, now is the time to begin thinking about spring and summer outdoor projects.
A frequent question we receive is how long does it take to complete a landscape project? We live in the era of immediacy, but landscape projects take time to plan, design, and install. So how long should you plan for your landscape project? Is there anything within your control?
Phases of a landscape project
Landscapes come in different shapes and sizes, and they vary depending on purpose and desired outcome. In general, landscape projects occur in several phases: consultation, design, planning and procurement, and installation.
Consultation is the initial step when we sit down with you to discuss what you want and need in your outdoor space. We ask questions about likes and dislikes, concerns, budget, and overall goal for the space so that we can best understand how to design the project. After the consultation, the design is created and presented. At this time, you can approve the design and move forward with planning and installation or return to design for additional items.
After a design is approved by you, planning and procurement can begin. This is when material selection and procurement occur with timelines regarding estimated delivery on products. Once all the material is received, then installation can be scheduled.
So why does a landscape project take so long after a design is approved? The simple answers are labor and supply.
Let’s dive a little deeper into both the labor market for landscape companies, as well as the supply chain for inventory necessary for project completion.
As we all know, there is a labor shortage in Colorado. Driving down the street will offer as many now hiring signs as businesses. However, seeing signs on the side of the road is rarely an indicator of facts.
The current unemployment rates for Colorado is 2.3 percent. This is compared to 3.9 percent for the rest of the country. Of 88 construction firms surveyed, 80 percent reported having a hard time filling some or all their open positions. This puts pressure on landscape companies as they compete with construction for skilled and non-skilled labor.
A program which has historically been offered to alleviate labor shortages is the H2b visa program. Unlike the agriculture visa program, the H2b program offers seasonal help with 6 months as the average stay for a non-immigrant worker. The visa program is not a path to citizenship.
Unfortunately, the current political environment has added instability and costs associated with the program. Landscape companies can no longer rely on the program to supplement labor shortages.
As we can see, labor is hard to find. What does this mean for your job? It means that crews are being scheduled out weeks and months in advance.
The supply for a landscape project relies on product inventory and labor. As we discussed above, labor is difficult to find in sectors reliant on skilled and non-skilled labor. Just as this shortage affects landscape projects, it affects the ability of suppliers to grow plant material and pull products for availability.
Also, as the season moves forward, vendors have less inventory on hand.
In general, suppliers require a minimum of one week to process new orders for products, excluding special order or backlogged items. The time allows vendors to ensure accurate on-hand count and pull for pick up. Requests for immediate product are impossible for vendors to fill. Even if they have inventory, they lack labor to pull the order.
Of course, the timeline applies if the material is grown in Colorado or is in stock. Due to Colorado’s shorter growing season, much of the plant material is grown out of state and imported into Colorado. The import requirements limit both plant selection, quality, and lead times.
Best way to approach a landscape project
The first and best way to approach a landscape project is to plan your project well in advance. Spring and summer projects are best planned during the fall and winter, ensuring everything is prepared for installation in the Spring. If the desired completion date is June, begin planning your project in January/February. This ensures crews will be scheduled and specific materials for your project will be available.
The second is to embrace two more seasons as an opportunity for projects. While we are all excited to work on our gardens during April and May, summer and fall can offer some of the best opportunities to install projects. Often times, suppliers offer better pricing at this time so they can clear their inventory before winter.
Also, contracts control scheduling and ordering, as neither occur until the executed contract is returned. A project start date of June 1st will not occur if the contract is not received several weeks before a planned start date. The longer the delay in the contract, the more likely other jobs will be scheduled.
Our commitment to you
We understand the moving variables regarding project budgets. At the end of the day, we are here to give you the outdoor space you want and need. Our talented, skilled, and certified staff are here to provide excellent service and landscape. We will guide you through the process.
We will continue to build value on your site, exceeding your expectations, and maximizing your outdoor space. Call us today so we can begin planning your landscape project.