Author Topic: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems  (Read 20693 times)

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Offline lucky

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #30 on: June 18, 2013, 06:13:49 PM »
Thanks @Irvine_RC! Totally forgot to mention his company name. :-p Yes, his website is pretty ordinary, but he's lucky he even has it because it was his son who insisted that he set it up for him.

@lookinginirvine - Thanks for mentioning me! It really means a lot to my wife and me that he knows how much we appreciate him. :D I hope he's the right choice for you. I think he's quickly becoming a Stonegate expert. Which community are you in?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 12:48:50 AM by lucky »

Offline lookinginirvine

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #31 on: June 18, 2013, 08:34:50 PM »
Lucky - I'm in San Mateo. Landscaping is the last thing on our to-do list. Once landscaping is done, we will have officially completed everything we wanted to do to the house and can finally sit back and relax and enjoy the house.

Offline lucky

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2013, 12:41:18 PM »
I know how you feel. We still have lots more to do for the house, but landscaping is the biggest thing on our list. The awful thing is we just got word back from the HOA and the person who approves landscaping plans just got back from vacation, so despite that we submitted our plans 3 weeks ago, she says we shouldn't expect a response sooner than 3-4 weeks from now. >: (

Offline Jenita143

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #33 on: June 29, 2013, 11:38:09 PM »
@Lucky ----My bad, he actually returned wife's call and we had the guy came over last night and apologized to him as well.  Nice and prof kind of guy he is.  He said will be back next week to give me the estimate.

Thanks for the update. Glad to hear it went much more like I would have expected it to. : ) I think you definitely won't be disappointed dealing with him, especially with how quick a turnaround you get with his designs and how much time he'll happily spend talking to you.

How was the design and pricing? I've gotten a few quotes, but haven't favored one landscaper over another. Wondering if I'll get lucky with John.

Offline lucky

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #34 on: June 30, 2013, 12:31:41 AM »
@Jenita143 - As far as quality of the final design, it is great, especially because we kept coming up with new ideas about how to change the design. John was totally easy-going about our constantly-evolving adjustments and patiently helped with lots of his own suggestions. As far as price, we went well above what we were hoping to spend, but (and it's a big but) it's because we were able to get *every* one of the featured from our design wish list included and our total price is still thousands below what every other landscaper quoted as a minimum.

Offline Irvine_Dreamer

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #35 on: June 30, 2013, 11:56:14 AM »
@Jenita143 - As far as quality of the final design, it is great, especially because we kept coming up with new ideas about how to change the design. John was totally easy-going about our constantly-evolving adjustments and patiently helped with lots of his own suggestions. As far as price, we went well above what we were hoping to spend, but (and it's a big but) it's because we were able to get *every* one of the featured from our design wish list included and our total price is still thousands below what every other landscaper quoted as a minimum.
Will you be updating your post w/ the final design?
When are you starting the landscaping?

Offline lucky

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #36 on: June 30, 2013, 01:24:23 PM »
@Irvine_Dreamer - Yes, definitely will. John gave me 3 copies for the HOA and I didn't bother to take a photo/copy for myself, but I'll do that whenever I have one in my hands again. We still don't have a start date because we're *still* waiting for the HOA to approve our plans. : ( We submitted the day we closed escrow immediately after they handed over the keys. Two neighbors on my street are already in the process of having their landscaping installed, so we don't understand why we still have to wait another 3 weeks from now. Just another example of our really horrible luck.

Offline irvine123searching

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2013, 05:57:17 PM »
Lucky - I'm in San Mateo. Landscaping is the last thing on our to-do list. Once landscaping is done, we will have officially completed everything we wanted to do to the house and can finally sit back and relax and enjoy the house.

Did you get your quote from John? Do you mind to share the quote? How do you think his price comparing with other quotes?

Offline shadyoc

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #38 on: December 02, 2014, 02:13:47 AM »
Also, there are plenty of landscapers out there who will take your money... believe me.   The hard part is finding somebody good.   Hmmm.... I actually haven't heard back from Chris in a couple of days...   Hope this is not the start of something bad...
I agree, but who?  Who can I trust, has reasonable price, does a good job and communicates on timely manner?  I see a contractor who's doing my neighbor's yard, and he doesn't have a license, and I saw him shortcutting few things.
By the way, Chris never came back with quote on time, so I crossed him off my list.

We used Jefferson Rand and was very happy with them.  It's owned by an Asian woman and they have an in house landscape "designer".  Try giving them a call.  714-253-3167.

Hi Bones,

I am looking at landscaping and read your post of them. A lot of TI members say KS is good.  Also Jo from Echo but dont know his work.  His pics seem kind of simple.

Do you have any pics or details you can share about what you did?  May I ask how much you spent and the timeframe to complete? You can PM me if you dont want to post here.  Thanks for the help.

Offline bones

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #39 on: December 02, 2014, 11:49:47 AM »
Also, there are plenty of landscapers out there who will take your money... believe me.   The hard part is finding somebody good.   Hmmm.... I actually haven't heard back from Chris in a couple of days...   Hope this is not the start of something bad...
I agree, but who?  Who can I trust, has reasonable price, does a good job and communicates on timely manner?  I see a contractor who's doing my neighbor's yard, and he doesn't have a license, and I saw him shortcutting few things.
By the way, Chris never came back with quote on time, so I crossed him off my list.

We used Jefferson Rand and was very happy with them.  It's owned by an Asian woman and they have an in house landscape "designer".  Try giving them a call.  714-253-3167.

Hi Bones,

I am looking at landscaping and read your post of them. A lot of TI members say KS is good.  Also Jo from Echo but dont know his work.  His pics seem kind of simple.

Do you have any pics or details you can share about what you did?  May I ask how much you spent and the timeframe to complete? You can PM me if you dont want to post here.  Thanks for the help.

I would love to share but sadly, I can't.  I do have some advice for you:
1. Pictures are great, but visit the landscaper's other jobs in person if you can.  They are usually more than happy to drive you around, or tell you which houses.  I would also personally talk to the homeowner and ask them specific questions about the job.  There have been instances where contractors bring clients by homes that they DID NOT do.  Also, talk to more than one homeowner (I suggest talking to at least 3) to get a broader opinion. 
2. In terms of timeframe, I know everyone wants their landscaping done ASAP but I would not use this as a deciding factor when choosing contractors.  Good work takes time.  Value getting it done RIGHT versus getting it done QUICK.  Landscapers can work neatly.  If you want, ask them to only use 1/2 of your driveway so you can still park your car in the garage on certain days and have clear access to your house.
3. Ask for a written contract with a detailed invoice.  This will allow you to see how much stuff costs on a PSF basis, etc.  And if you decide to cut certain aspects of the job, you know how to do that math.  Also, if you want to add to the job, you can also calculate.  The invoice should also outline a payment plan.  You should not pay more than $1000 initial deposit and have the contract broken up into multiple pay stages.  For example, 15% for initial start/materials, 20% for ground work, 25% for face work, 20% after sprinkler set up, etc.  There have been tons of stories about contractors getting fired midway through the job with 80% of the $ in their pocket.
4. If you are doing new construction, get the brands/colors/grout of your house exterior from your builder.  Give that to your landscaper and have them match everything - insist on it!  You'd be surprised driving around how much stuff (i.e walls) do not match. 
5. Double check their license #.  There have been instances of landscapers giving out a license # that appears to be correct but not. 
6. Ask them the order in which they do things.  For the life of me, I can't understand why landscapers plant trees/flowers prior to finishing all the hardscape.  Also, make sure they don't cut corners on drainage.  No one ever said - man i have too much drainage….

Landscaping can be a complete PITA but if you take the necessary steps, it can actually be a good experience.  Best of luck in your search/project.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 11:58:32 AM by bones »

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Offline lnc

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #40 on: December 02, 2014, 12:43:25 PM »
Hi Bones,

I am looking at landscaping and read your post of them. A lot of TI members say KS is good.  Also Jo from Echo but dont know his work.  His pics seem kind of simple.

Do you have any pics or details you can share about what you did?  May I ask how much you spent and the timeframe to complete? You can PM me if you dont want to post here.  Thanks for the help.

I would love to share but sadly, I can't.  I do have some advice for you:
1. Pictures are great, but visit the landscaper's other jobs in person if you can.  They are usually more than happy to drive you around, or tell you which houses.  I would also personally talk to the homeowner and ask them specific questions about the job.  There have been instances where contractors bring clients by homes that they DID NOT do.  Also, talk to more than one homeowner (I suggest talking to at least 3) to get a broader opinion. 
2. In terms of timeframe, I know everyone wants their landscaping done ASAP but I would not use this as a deciding factor when choosing contractors.  Good work takes time.  Value getting it done RIGHT versus getting it done QUICK.  Landscapers can work neatly.  If you want, ask them to only use 1/2 of your driveway so you can still park your car in the garage on certain days and have clear access to your house.
3. Ask for a written contract with a detailed invoice.  This will allow you to see how much stuff costs on a PSF basis, etc.  And if you decide to cut certain aspects of the job, you know how to do that math.  Also, if you want to add to the job, you can also calculate.  The invoice should also outline a payment plan.  You should not pay more than $1000 initial deposit and have the contract broken up into multiple pay stages.  For example, 15% for initial start/materials, 20% for ground work, 25% for face work, 20% after sprinkler set up, etc.  There have been tons of stories about contractors getting fired midway through the job with 80% of the $ in their pocket.
4. If you are doing new construction, get the brands/colors/grout of your house exterior from your builder.  Give that to your landscaper and have them match everything - insist on it!  You'd be surprised driving around how much stuff (i.e walls) do not match. 
5. Double check their license #.  There have been instances of landscapers giving out a license # that appears to be correct but not. 
6. Ask them the order in which they do things.  For the life of me, I can't understand why landscapers plant trees/flowers prior to finishing all the hardscape.  Also, make sure they don't cut corners on drainage.  No one ever said - man i have too much drainage….

Landscaping can be a complete PITA but if you take the necessary steps, it can actually be a good experience.  Best of luck in your search/project.

That's a very nice write up and great advice for those seeking landscape contractors. 

I just want to preserve it before it disappears. :)

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Offline irvinehomeowner

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #41 on: December 02, 2014, 12:54:21 PM »
If you want, ask them to only use 1/2 of your driveway so you can still park your car in the garage on certain days and have clear access to your house.
But what if you don't have a driveway? ;)
Once you go 3-car garage... your junk can never go back.
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Offline barton

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #42 on: December 02, 2014, 03:03:12 PM »
Hi Bones,

Your post about landscaping was useful information. I am also going to preserve it and make sure it does not disappear.
Jefferson Rand is one of the landscapers we have interviewed
but have not made a final decision.


Offline bones

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #43 on: December 02, 2014, 03:20:27 PM »
Sorry, one last thing on landscapers that I forgot to mention in my last post re: plants/trees.

The "lushness" of the plants/trees in a lot of the yards you see around really depends on the homeowner's budget/taste/vision (and not the landscapers).  That's why I say go look at a few homes to get an idea of the landscaper's body of work.  Once you look at the various homes, you can ask the landscaper how much each house spent on trees/plantings.  This will give you an idea of how "lush" $x will get you.  Any good landscaper should be able to work with your softscape budget.  If you want ginormous olive trees that need to be craned in, they should be able to get those for you.  If you want smaller trees, they can get those as well. 

Here's a good resource on trees.
http://selectree.calpoly.edu

 If you type in the name of the tree, it'll give you a picture, how tall they get, how fast growing, etc.  For example, a lot of people like California Peppers except most don't know they get to 50 feet tall, has a canopy width of 25 feet, and grows 3 feet per season.

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Offline shadyoc

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Re: Starting Landscaping - Rare Earth Systems
« Reply #44 on: December 07, 2014, 08:36:43 PM »
Also, there are plenty of landscapers out there who will take your money... believe me.   The hard part is finding somebody good.   Hmmm.... I actually haven't heard back from Chris in a couple of days...   Hope this is not the start of something bad...
I agree, but who?  Who can I trust, has reasonable price, does a good job and communicates on timely manner?  I see a contractor who's doing my neighbor's yard, and he doesn't have a license, and I saw him shortcutting few things.
By the way, Chris never came back with quote on time, so I crossed him off my list.



We used Jefferson Rand and was very happy with them.  It's owned by an Asian woman and they have an in house landscape "designer".  Try giving them a call.  714-253-3167.

Bones, we are thinking of using Jefferson Rand also. Supposedly they do a lot of the portola springs homes with succulents and lush gardens.  Mind sharing price and lot size and what you did so we can know if we are in the ballpark?

How did you decided on them over others?  Did you give Jo at Echo a call?  People said he is good but from pictures they seem so so.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2014, 08:42:11 PM by shadyoc »

 

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