|Creative Gardens Policies|
Payment and Guarantee Information
Revised February, 2009
Spring Newsletter: Returning customers will be mailed a spring newsletter in early March highlighting current horticultural topics as well as any additional services offered by Creative Gardens and any policy changes. You will then receive a follow-up phone call during March or April to ask about your garden plans for the upcoming season.
Season Plan: After talking with you initially each year or meeting with you (there is no charge the first time I come to your home), I will mail you a written "Season Plan" stating what you and I have discussed for the season or job. Returning customers will receive a Season Plan only if this years work differs from the routine we have already established...a revised season plan for returning customers can specifically indicate hours per week and frequency of work. The Season Plan is written so that we both have a clear idea of what I am to do, and if there are expense limits for materials and labor, and if there are deadlines. First Time Customers will be given a dollar estimate on your Season Plan. This estimate is a projected cost for labor and materials and is not a firm amount, as labor costs can change when encountering roots or rocks, and materials costs can change at the whims of the market. I ask that you sign and return your Season Plan along with one half the estimate amount in the included self addressed stamped envelope. First time customers for maintenance work are asked to forward one half of a ten-hour work bill, which would be $150 out of $300 total. I will then schedule your work day(s) and return a copy of the Season Plan to you when I come to work. I will also take a few photos of your garden when I finish the job that will be returned to you when the balance is paid on your account. Please Note: If other landscape professionals (lawn or condominium/grounds landscapers, etc.) are working on or adjacent to the garden where you have hired me to work, I will include a "hold harmless" statement to that effect on your Season Plan.
Fees: The current hourly rate will be charged for work time in your garden and trips to purchase materials. The current rate is $30.00 per hour. The clock starts & stops when I leave and return to my house (the West Side of Providence), thereby charging more for customers farther away. In the current gasoline market, this is the only fair way to price hourly work. With this in mind, I will make every effort to combine two jobs in nearby areas and travel at non-peak traffic hours, to save my customers money for travel time. I will keep a detailed log of the date, time, hours and work performed that day. If my work at your garden takes all day I will probably stop for lunch and that time is not included as work time.One Hour Minimum: Although I will make every effort to combine jobs in your area (i.e. Providence’s East Side), I need to reserve the right to charge you for at least one hour when I work at your garden, as sometimes happens with watering for customers away on vacation. I also make every effort to combine jobs when making purchase trips, so you may see partial hours for those trips (1/4, 1/2) on your bill.Bills: An itemized bill listing labor and materials will be sent to you monthly, or if yours is a one-time job you will get a bill at one month and monthly until job completion. If you are a full season customer and have a preferable time of month to get your bill, please let me know. If you are a periodic customer with low hours (2 hours every 3 weeks), I probably will let you accumulate 10 hours before sending you a bill. Please let me know if you want that done differently. To make things easier I will always include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your bill.
Labor Time for my Own Stock: Often customers will want plant stock that I grow that is too expensive or impossible to obtain from a supplier. When I use my own stock that is either divided from perennials or grown from seed or cuttings, I will charge you for labor to raise the plant only, not the plant material (listed under "labor" not "materials" on your bill). This helps me to avoid the record keeping required by law to make retail sales. The cost to you for that plant will always be less than you would pay at a garden center and the plant will be healthier. I also add soil amendments (organic composted rabbit manure) to customer's gardens having poor soil. This is done on an as-needed basis, without charge, but should you want even more of this "black gold" you are charged only for the labor time needed to bag it up and put it in your garden!
Payment: As with any small business, cash flow is a survival matter and bills are payable upon receipt. However, I’d like to give my customers time to look over their bills and question anything they don’t understand. A two week grace period from the bill date is fair to both customer and Creative Gardens, and as all my materials are purchased on credit, the interest charges incurred after two weeks must be passed on to the customer.
Guarantees: Some of my suppliers guarantee their nursery stock for one year from the date of purchase. "Nursery Stock" includes roses, shrubs, trees. I will inform you if I cannot get the stock you want from a supplier who guarantees stock, and let you make the choice to buy or not. Annual flowers and vegetables however, do not fall under guarantees by suppliers. Annual flowers and vegetables that I plant in your garden were selected for you because they looked the healthiest and these varieties will thrive in the microclimate of your garden. However the first two weeks are critical for watering of all stock, and trampling by feet or consumption by critters can bring a swift end to a healthy plant. If you have hired me to water your plants daily, then they are my full responsibility. If not, you need to invest concern the first two weeks and occasional care after that to keep them living (this basically means WATER if it doesn’t rain). As a check of flower and vegetable health and viability, I raise the same stock from the same suppliers in my own garden, and if there is a question of poor stock or disease, I will know immediately. Please consider these things when requesting replacements.
Written Garden Plans and Consultations: Some customers would like a written garden plan and cultural notes, but no actual labor performed in creating their garden. The flat fee for a written garden plan of one area of your property (i.e. front yard or back yard or side yard, unless extensive acreage) is $150.00; each additional area is $50.00. This includes visiting your garden site, talking with you about your ideas, noting light exposure, microclimate, soil quality, existing plants and shrubs and style of house. I will produce a garden diagram, keyed to a list of suggested shrubs, plants and possibly architectural features, indicating height, color, foliage, bloom time and any explanation or comments. Usually I can produce this plan for you in about two weeks, depending on the time of year. If you do decide to hire me for actual garden labor, $30.00 of the $150.00 fee is applicable to that garden work. If I am unable to make your plan a reality because the work is too extensive or heavy (i.e. removal of old yews), I will refer you to someone whom can handle that. A "Consultation" which is a walk-around advice session only, with no written diagram or plan, falls under the current hourly rate for time spent at your garden.Qualifications and Background: My undergraduate degree is from the College of Agriculture and Forestry at West Virginia University where I took thirty credits in the areas of horticulture and resource management. My Masters Degree is from URI in exercise science, which includes nutrition and food science, giving me an angle on the various food and herb crops that I grow. My horticultural work experience begins in 1973 at area gardens in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and locally at Case Farm on Poppasquash Point in Bristol, RI (1985) and the Robinson Estate in Wakefield, RI (1986-90). I have been in business as Creative Gardens since 1990.
Garden Speaking Engagements: Since my alter ego has been that of an assistant professor at several colleges, speaking before a group about a subject as colorful as gardening is a welcomed assignment. I do this for free because it’s a great advertising tool and it’s fun!
Referral of New Customers: Because word-of-mouth is the best advertising, a new customer referred by you will earn a free hour of garden labor (a $30.00 value) on your next bill!
Creative Gardens is a legitimate sole proprietorship paying Social Security self-employment taxes, eliminating the need to list me as "household help" on your tax form.
Web Site: Creativegardens.50megs.com