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Posted:  08 Mar 2011 00:13  
Today I went to look at a potential job that is still under construction. It involves some large built in concrete and brick planters which are approx. 60' long, and 5'wide, 17" deep. They are equipped with drainage systems. Still considering myself fairly new in the business this would be my first major installation. I am feeling overwhelmed because I'm not sure how to begin. Many of you are experts in this field so I thought you might be able to help me with some of my concerns so here goes:
What is the most cost effective way you've found at installing these built in planters. Is it better to stage the plants in soil, or better to place the pots in the planter than fill in the gaps with some type of packaging material and than topdress with wood chips. Or is there an entirely better way to do this.
If I were to use soil, would I purchase large bags or are there suppliers that deliver truckloads of potting soil.

Any thoughts how I would price a project like this? What factors should I take into consideration?

Considering myself still a newbie, is this too big a project for me to handle?

Any input would be tremendously appreciated.

Thanks Nicki
Posted:  08 Mar 2011 16:20  

I think that if you think it may be too big for you as a newbie, you should trust your instincts here.  Maybe you just aren't ready for this size job yet.

There are many ways to do this kind of install, some good, some not so good.  You could hire a consultant to guide you in your proposal, estimating and bidding and give it a whirl, perhaps partnering with another 'scaper who does have some experience with this kind of install.

If you make any errors on a job of this magnitude, the consequences could put you out of business.

Posted:  08 Mar 2011 16:35  
Thanks Clem
Posted:  08 Mar 2011 20:58  
Nicki do not be overwhelmed use your common sense. I have done this both ways you have talked about. You may want to consider going the soil route since you have drainage. Be sure the planters are water tight first. This is important if you direct plant in soil. You may also want to consider sub irrigation systems to help cut down on labor costs. Primescape Products can help you in that area as well as soil amounts. Good luck better to try and fail than not try at all. If we all took the back seat approach our industry would not be what it is today. Annette
Posted:  08 Mar 2011 23:31  
Thanks Annette! Very inspirational words!!
Posted:  09 Mar 2011 00:32  
17" deep, 60 feet long, 5 feet wide is not a simple job.  What is the "drainage"?  If it's simply a drain pipe exiting the bottom of the planter in one spot, you need to know whether the floor of the planter bed is properly pitched to get the drainage water to flow into the drain.  The drain needs to be protected from clogging by means of the appropriate installation of fabric and possibly a layer of aggregate and a layer of drain fabric between the soil and aggregate layers.

My choice, should you decide to bid this job, would be to find the cheapest inert fill (shredded cedar mulch maybe) you can use to support CWI subirrigation containers holding each plant individually...DON'T DIRECT-PLANT IF YOU CAN HELP IT!  There are many reasons for that statement...message me privately for more info if you like.

Posted:  15 Mar 2011 02:21  
Do you work with a local wholesaler that could "help" with the install.  Bill accordingly so you might be able to pay them for their time.  YOU could do the service correct?  If it's just the install freaking you out, consider this suggestion as an option.

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