You’ve designed the perfect garden, delighted your customers with gorgeous plant recommendations, and received the green light to start your project. As you start gathering materials, two trees and three shrubs are nowhere to be found from your suppliers. Or maybe you’re the supplier, with the challenge of telling your design customer that the plants requested for the job aren’t available. What do you do? You consider your client’s needs and offer substitutions, of course!
How to Satisfy Customers with Substitutions
Whether you’re the garden designer or the supplier, keeping your customer satisfied is your top priority. Let’s be honest: telling your customer that the plants aren’t available isn’t pleasant, but it’s your follow-up that either will impress or disappoint your customers—and we know you refuse to disappoint customers, right?! Instead, offer your customer a well-researched substitution solution before you drop the bad news about a plant.
First, Evaluate the Plant’s Features
Whether you’re looking at the big picture design or trying to substitute plants from a list, look first to the predominate plant features. Was the tree chosen for its columnar habit for a narrow space? Is the planned perennial a seedless variety for extended bloom life? Was a native shrub selected based on its region and impact on wildlife? Or was a specified flowering tree chosen for its bloom time?
Looking at the features of the original planned plants informs you about the intent in the landscape, letting you choose substitutions that meet the same needs. If you’re a designer, sometimes it helps to have someone else’s perspective when choosing substitutions, because like any artist—it’s hard to alter your masterpiece. Working closely with your supplier and explaining the intent gives them a chance to hear your goals for the individual plants and offer solutions with good alternatives that meet your design aspirations.
As a supplier, you might not have the luxury to work closely with the designer or landscaper. Instead, look at the requested plant and analyze its key attributes. For instance, perhaps your customer needs Amelanchier, but it’s not available. Knowing that it produces white spring flowers, attractive fruit, and tolerates shade gives you a good start to look for alternatives. While a white flowering crabapple covers the first two attributes, Cornus kousa meets all three criteria. Try to make a substitution recommendation that covers all the bases of the original plant.
Next, Do Your Homework
If your client’s design calls for a stately columnar Blue Spruce that’s not available, look for a tree that offers similar mature size (25’ x 7’) and growth habit. It doesn’t help your customer if you recommend a substitution that’s short and squat or that boasts a pyramidal shape instead of a columnar form. Just as we discussed with upselling, listen to your customers—and offer proactive solutions to meet their needs.
If you’re unfamiliar with the original plant’s characteristics, a quick Google search will give you an overall idea of the plant’s habit. Perhaps you’ll find a fast solution for a substitution, but if not—get a little creative. You might need to recommend a plant outside of the original genus to find a substitution with the right look, but you’re demonstrating to your client that you’re willing to take extra effort to make their job easier.
Make sure to consider growing zones when recommending substitutions. If your design or landscape customer specified a purple flowering tree, such as ‘Purple Robe’ locust that’s hardy in zones 4-8, don’t recommend Jacaranda, which grows in zones 9b-11. You want to impress your customer with your knowledge and assistance—not make their jobs harder. Or maybe the conifer your customer chose is out of stock, but you found a variety with a similar look. While they may share similar shapes, mature heights, and zones, one conifer might tolerate wet feet, while the other needs dry soil and ventilation—or it will drop its needles. Read the details about each plant before you make recommendations for substitutions.
For a resource that provides fantastic, detailed plant information, try Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder. You’ll find size at maturity, flower color and timing, fruiting, fall color, growing preferences, native regions, and even the history of the plant. If you’re looking for information on specific patented varieties, scroll to the bottom of the plant information page. The last paragraph contains information specific to the cultivar, noting how it may be different from other cultivars or straight species. The information will give you an edge when recommending substitutions to your customers.
Of course, there’s nothing like going old school with Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs. It’s a classic resource filled with valuable information that will help you select great substitutions.
Finally, Ask Us!
If you haven’t found the specified plant on our website and are stumped for a good substitution, contact us. That’s why we’re here! We’ll be delighted to work with you to uncover the perfect alternative to your planting needs. After all, we want you to give your customers great service—and we hope we give you, our customers, great service, too! Give us a call, and we’ll work together to find the perfect substitution to make everyone happy!
We’ve all been there. A cracked screen on your iPhone leads you to your service provider’s store. You specifically tell the customer service rep that you only need a repair—and yet, you leave the store with the latest upgrade, an iPad for your kids, and a new phone case. Driving home, you curse both yourself for the expense and the customer service rep for selling you exactly what you didn’t need.
That type of upselling—and cross-selling—doesn’t win loyalty or build relationships with customers. Instead of listening to the customer’s needs, the rep pushed profits at the expense of creating a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.
But that’s not how you run your business. When done properly, upselling actually improves relationships with your customers, while enhancing your bottom line. So, how do we get rid of the used-car salesman (or mobile phone rep) stigma of upselling? Focus on a win-win philosophy when selling your services to your clients. Here’s how:
First, Listen to Your Customers’ Needs
Your client may want your help designing and installing a relaxing backyard escape that’s low maintenance, pet friendly, child friendly, but also elegant for entertaining. That’s what your client says. But what are they really telling you underneath that directive? If they have kids and pets—they’re busy and time-pressed, and kids and pets don’t necessarily equate to “elegant” outdoor entertaining. This is your chance to ask leading questions: how old are the kids? Will the space need additional security or fencing around a pool? How much time does your client have to maintain the landscape? After all, they mentioned a “low maintenance, relaxing escape”—do they like puttering in the garden, or is this an opportunity for you to handle ongoing maintenance?
Asking questions and really listening to your customers’ needs and wants helps form trusting, mutually beneficial relationships. Take a look at this article from Entrepreneur that elevates listening to an art—and also provides a good list of questions to ask your customers so you understand their expectations from your services. Probing questions help you uncover how to make life easier for your customers by providing additional services, recommending the latest innovations in pest- and disease-resistant plants, or creating a design that achieves the goal of meshing family-friendly with entertaining-worthy. Listening is key--make notes, ask open-ended questions, and consider how your ideas and designs enhance the quality of life for your client.
Create Benefits for Your Customers—and Increased Sales for You
We all know basic business marketing: it’s easier to sell to existing customers than convert new prospects into sales. In fact, it can cost five times as much to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. In his book, Marketing Metrics, author Paul W. Farris states that the likelihood of selling to new prospects is between 5 to 20 percent. But the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent. You already have a relationship. Now, how do you deepen that relationship to benefit both you and your customer?
Perhaps you finished a commercial landscape installation. Your customer, delighted with your work, shook your hand, paid the bill, and said she’d be happy to write a glowing review. End of story, right?
Your client is thrilled with your work, and now’s the time to mention that you’d love to continue the relationship, helping your customer keep the property looking picture-perfect. Suggest an ongoing maintenance schedule for mowing and pruning as a first step. Your customer invested in the landscape, so it makes sense that she wants to keep it looking fabulous. While your crew can handle normal maintenance, make sure you stop by personally once a month (or more, if possible) to take a look at the property. You may see opportunities that your crew doesn’t, like an overgrown shrub obscuring a sign or a less-than-healthy tree that needs attention. By investing your time—and an opportunity for more one-on-one scheduled interactions with your client—you’re gaining additional trust that you’re looking out for her best interests.
As your relationship strengthens, you can start suggesting more services. But don’t upsell too soon! Let your relationship evolve so that your client sees that you’re providing value—keeping the property pristine, solving issues before they become problems, and handling details so that she can focus on her business, not the landscape. You’ll become an invaluable, trusted partner.
Now, you can start upselling! As part of your monthly visit, remind your client that your company can provide seasonal containers to brighten the entranceway, remove snow to keep employees safe, or even interiorscape the office, if that’s a service you offer. Talk to your client, find out concerns and needs, and offer a service that meets those needs—make a proposal. (But don’t try to sell all of your services in one big swoop. That might undo all of your relationship building efforts.)
Let’s say that your client agrees to add containers. Once you’ve created a gorgeous display and arranged it to your client’s delight, then mention your subscription service—a benefit that helps your client keep the containers looking their best, with new plantings each season. Or maybe your client mentions her wish to improve employee morale. Consider recommending a design for an outdoor seating area where employees can gather, eat lunch, and relax during a break. (Maybe even add foodscaping elements into the design, like blueberry bushes.)
Upselling products and services to a delighted, happy customer is much easier when you focus on their needs. It’s not just a quick boost to your bottom line that you’re after—you want to provide value that ensures a long, profitable relationship for you both.
Help Your Customers Get More Value from Your Business
Upselling doesn’t only apply to landscape and design professionals. Suppliers can also use the same tactics when upselling customers. Establish a trusted relationship with your customers by using your product knowledge to ensure your customers make the best choices for plants, hardscaping, and even soils and mulches. Once they know to turn to you for the best information and plants, suggest complementary products that benefit your customer’s projects—and also your bottom line.
If your customer plans an installation for a shady residential space, for instance, and wants to incorporate impatiens into the design—but worries about the recent issues with downy mildew—encourage them to try the new disease-resistant cultivar, Beacon impatiens. Or maybe your customer plans a wildlife-friendly installation for a community park. By working with your customer to ensure that your inventory includes native pollinator plants, bird-friendly berry bushes, and trees that benefit wildlife while still looking lovely in a park setting, you’re saving time and resources for your customer by giving him what he needs—in one place. Stay on top of the latest cultivars available and communicate their benefits to your customers, so they appreciate your knowledge and consider you a valuable resource. And, when your customer is delighted with the service and advice you provide, then you can consider recommending additional products that might align with his wildlife park project: bat boxes, bird feeders, or blue bird houses, if appropriate. Or maybe the addition of landscape lighting will help create a safe, aesthetically pleasing ambiance to the park. Focus on your customers’ needs, and only offer additional products that might enhance his project and make him look good to his customer!
Keep Your Customers’ Best Interests in the Forefront of Your Relationship
Upselling provides an outstanding opportunity to increase your business—if done with your customers’ best interests in mind. After all, you want a successful, mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationship with your customer where you both find value in working together. There’s no reason to push a quick sale when you can invest in your customer’s needs--and cultivate a relationship that grows both of your businesses.
At LandscapeHub, we work to make your needs our priority. Whether you require logistics support or financing assistance, we want to make your experience a pleasure.
As a green industry professional, your clients look to you for the best advice, whether creating an outdoor living room or installing seasonal containers. And, when you're well-versed on the latest horticultural trends, it's easy to leverage your expertise to increase sales and expand your customer base. After all, understanding trends help you select plants, products, or services your customers desire—whether they realize it yet or not! Even focusing on a few specific trends helps show your clients that you're knowledgeable and prepared to keep their landscapes and installations fresh and trend-setting. And, if you're a supplier, understanding the latest trends ensures that you'll stock the "it" plants and products to meet your customers' demands.
But where do you begin? How do you know which trends have legs—and which become the "pet rock" of 2020? We have a couple of ideas to get you started...
Trend: Urban Greening
More than half of the world's population lives in cities—and by 2050, that number is expected to climb to 70 percent. But city-dwellers long for nature: tranquil, plant-filled spaces to relax, meet friends, entertain the kids, and post to Instagram. "Green Recreational Districts" and green infrastructure continues to grow as a priority. In fact, America in Bloom launched "Growing Vibrant Communities"—a program that measures a community's commitment and progress toward creating green, environmentally friendly spaces filled with flowers, urban trees, and vibrant landscapes. That's where you come in.
By understanding the rise in urban greening, you can focus proposals on urban-specific designs, city-appropriate plants, and green space hardscape elements to wow your prospective clients. As a supplier, you'll know to boost your inventory of plants appropriate for cityscapes. Trees under 30-feet tall, such as Acer campestre (Hedge Maple), Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud), and Amelanchier spp. (Serviceberry) work beautifully in urban environments under low utility lines or restricted spaces, for instance. Well-placed and well-managed urban-appropriate trees control stormwater runoff, sequester carbon, and reduce energy consumption—shading buildings during hot summers and reducing cold winds in winter. But trees aren't the only green needs. Gorgeous grasses, pretty perennials, and low-maintenance shrubs—choosing the best varieties for an urban setting gives you an advantage over the competition when you can sell the benefits of this trend to your clients. When a city issues an RFP for greenscape designs, you'll be ready, because you understand the needs for urban greening.
Or perhaps creating green roofscapes is your forte. Use the trend of urban greening to encourage your commercial clients to develop green escapes—above the city. By sharing your knowledge with developers and showing how green roofs will attract buyers or renters, your clients will look to you as a knowledgeable green partner. And, if you're a supplier, you can be ready for an increased demand for plant material that withstands elevated temperatures, wind exposure, and intense sunlight.
Trend: Plant Parenting
As you create proposals for urban greening, don't forget another trend: plant parenting. You've most likely seen the slew of books and social media accounts geared toward plant parents—millennials who pay top dollar for unique houseplants. However, why not extend the houseplant-love trend by marketing a growing "family" of plants—a green balcony oasis for houseplant parents! Creating small-space designs that utilize containers on an apartment or condo balcony gives an urban dweller a private green escape. Small-statured evergreens that provide continuous, year-round color married with seasonal tropical plants, annuals, and perennials look cohesive and refreshing when designed and installed by you. Consider suggesting a subscription service for ongoing maintenance, allowing your green balcony clients to enjoy the space without the stress.
By encouraging millennials' love of houseplants and showing urban dwellers how to extend plant parenting to balcony gardening, you've created new gardening customers. (The industry thanks you!)
Trend: Small-Space Edibles
There's nothing as delicious as a homegrown tomato—and growing food continues to surge in popularity. In the past, urban gardeners and apartment dwellers lamented their lack of space to grow tomatoes, melons, berries, and squash—all well-known space hogs. However, plant breeders listened—and new, compact fruit and vegetable varieties give small-space gardeners the perfect garden-to-table solution!
Introduce your clients to small-space edibles. Dwarf plants like Jelly Bean® Blueberry, Raspberry Shortcake®, or Baby Cakes™ Blackberry grow beautifully in containers on a porch or balcony. For a client with a small space garden, select a dwarf apple tree appropriate for the zone and espalier it along a wall.
Help your customers create a veggie container garden with new varieties appropriate for small spaces. Tomato varieties like 'Little Napoli' Compact Roma tomato, which grows just 2-3 feet tall, or Red Robin Cherry, which grows only 8-12 inches high, are perfect solutions for limited space. Likewise, 'Astia' French bush zucchini, bred for small space and container gardens, looks gorgeous on a balcony. And, if your client craves the sweet taste of watermelon but thinks growing it in a small space is impossible, introduce them to Sugar Pot—a watermelon that produces 8-10 pound fruit on vines only 18-20 inches long.
Whether you're a garden coach, designer, or installer, your knowledge of small space edibles will wow your clients, convincing them that yes—they can enjoy a "mini-farm" on the balcony, patio, or small backyard!
Trend: Wildlife Sensitive Environments
The reports of climate change—from the steep decline of North American birds in the past 50 years to wildfires, flooding, and melting Arctic ice—makes ecological, kinder, more "gentle" gardening top the trends list.
It's a good trend for the green industry to promote and practice.
Wildlife sensitive environments use fewer chemicals, focus on soil health, and include tough plants that are naturally pest and disease resistant. Savvy home gardeners and environmentally responsible companies embrace the trend, planting for pollinators and avoiding high maintenance shrubs, trees, and flowers that require chemicals for best performance.
Part of creating a wildlife sensitive environment includes incorporating plants your clients love—but selecting the most environmentally friendly, low maintenance cultivars. For instance, if your client adores roses, consider incorporating Earth-Kind roses or other cultivars with high pest- and disease-resistance to avoid chemical use. If your client requests a backyard wildlife habitat installation, include natives, like American beech, flowering dogwood, trumpet honeysuckle, goldenrod, viburnum, and spicebush in your designs. By giving your client a gorgeous design based on sound environmental practices, it's a win-win: you've created a happy client and protected the environment.
Trend: Water-wise Gardening
Along with the move towards environmental sustainability, water-wise plants and landscapes increase in popularity each year. Sales of succulents continue to grow, representing the most significant proportion of houseplants sold—and the trend expands into landscapes. With the increased awareness of climate change, xeric designs, and water-saving plants, top trends lists—and it's not going away.
Why should it? With so many stunning drought-tolerant, water-wise plants, your imagination can run wild, creating fabulous installations for clients. Plus, your clients will adore you for creating low-maintenance, lovely landscapes that will look great for years—while helping them feel good about their low environmental impact.
As a supplier, make sure to keep water-wise plants well stocked. This trend will continue to grow.
Trend: Pantone Color of the Year
Do you know that 2020 is the year of "Classic Blue"? For the past two decades, global color guru Pantone® proclaimed a "Color of the Year"—and trend followers everywhere quickly updated their wardrobes and interior décor with splashes of the anointed "it" color. By leveraging the Classic Blue trend, you can help your clients refresh their gardens with a bright burst of on-trend color with "Classic Blue" blooms!
Give your container subscription clients a stylish refresh with fabulous flowers like Geranium Rozanne. Add Eryngium' Big Blue' into your design plans, both for its on-trend color appeal as well as its multi-season interest. Source Classic Blue containers and cushions for outdoor living spaces. And brighten shady beds with the perfect blue flowers and variegated foliage of Polemonium Brise d'Anjou. Using "Classic Blue" to update beds, borders, and containers give your clients a fun, trendy refresh—and increased business for you!
Knowing the Color of the Year also benefits you as a supplier. Make sure to keep Classic Blue plants in inventory.
Whether you embrace one or all of the latest gardening trends, it's always fun to be on top of trends—especially when they can benefit both your business—and your clients!
When preparing estimates for clients, you want the most accurate, up-to-date costs for materials, whether you’re sourcing plants or purchasing pavers, and you want them fast. The first proposal in a client’s hand shows responsiveness and resourcefulness—attributes that define your company, but you don’t want to sacrifice profitability for speed. That’s why LandscapeHub integrated with DynaSCAPE, to make estimating easier.
What Are the Benefits of the DynaSCAPE Integration?
As the online marketplace for the landscape industry, LandscapeHub offers real-time costs for whatever your job requires. From conifers, perennials, and fruit trees to mulch, edging, and stone, you’ll find suppliers offering all the elements you need—in one place— to create a profitable landscape job. You may already use DynaSCAPE to manage your green business. (If not, take a look, because it’s a fantastic, comprehensive management program that supports you with budgeting, task management, billing, customer management, crew oversight, and even efficient routing for servicing clients.) As you build estimates in DynaSCAPE, you want the most accurate pricing available for your materials, whether they are plants or hardscape materials. The integration between our companies allows you to send job and estimate details directly from DynaSCAPE Manage360 to LandscapeHub. You list the items needed for your job, and we fill in the costs. We generate a quote for the materials, saving you time and ensuring accuracy when estimating, streamlining the product procurement process.
Why We Chose to Integrate
Both LandscapeHub and DynaSCAPE exist to make your job as a landscape professional easier. By creating an integration between our platforms, we give you higher accuracy when creating proposals and save you time when ordering, letting you focus on managing your business and creating landscapes for your clients—and a profitable return for you. Our goal is to help landscape buyers use technology to reduce the amount of time they spend building estimates and managing jobs. While often green professionals bemoan complicated technology, well-executed programs make a positive impact on landscape, hardscape, nursery, and green businesses, making procurement and management more efficient. We’re confident the partnership between LandscapeHub and DynaSCAPE will make your estimates and procurement much easier.
How Does It Work?
As a DynaSCAPE customer, you can enable access to LandscapeHub through your configuration settings in DynaSCAPE Manage360. (You’ll see the option under “My Company Settings”.)
Select "Configuration" to allow sending estimates and jobs to LandscapeHub
Garden trends come and go—but the growth of small-space gardens continues to rise. Along with creative greening of small outdoor spaces, homeowners want low maintenance garden designs—and increasingly, they turn to professionals to maintain patio gardens or small landscapes. And, as the demand for container installations—both residential and commercial-- continues to soar, the need to source materials that look fabulous for four seasons can pose a challenge. Fortunately, you’ve found LandscapeHub—a one-stop source for compact evergreens to meet your design needs!
Finding the perfect evergreens to add year-round interest to small-space gardens and containers might seem daunting, but with our brilliant supplier network, you can easily source plants, compare prices, and order with a click of a button—all on one site. We’ve compiled a list of some favorite compact and dwarf evergreens that thrive in a wide-range of zones to get you started—all available through our supplier network. Simply click on the links to see available stock, sizes and prices, then start generating your clients’ quotes today! If there’s a specific compact evergreen you love, use our search function to find it—it’s simple!
If you’re a supplier, consider adding more compact evergreens to your offerings, if you don’t already carry them. The demand for low maintenance plants that provide multi-season interest in smaller landscapes and containers will continue to rise. Customers will appreciate a wide variety of compact, dwarf evergreens available through your company at LandscapeHub.
Compact Evergreens to Anchor Containers
Naturally, most containers change with the seasons, particularly if you’ve arranged a subscription service with clients. Still, a compact evergreen that looks terrific through four seasons anchors your design, allowing you to create beautiful seasonal combinations that complement an evergreen backdrop.
While you may have your favorite dwarf evergreens sketched into designs, LandscapeHub makes it easy for you to compare prices—and save time by ordering them in one place. After all, who has time to chase plants physically or online through multiple sources?
A few favorite compact evergreens for containers include:
Ligustrum sinense ‘Sunshine’‘Sunshine’ Ligustrum
Year-round golden foliage flourishes in full sun. This sterile, non-invasive cultivar works beautifully in containers, as an accent in landscapes, or as a low-growing hedge. Reaches 3-6 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Zones 6-10.
Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’Compact Japanese Holly
Glossy green foliage requires little pruning to maintain its shape. The petite size (8-12 inches tall, 12-14 inches wide) makes it a perfect choice for containers. Deer resistant. Zone 6-9.
Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’Slowmound Mugo Pine
A rugged, hardy evergreen with evenly mounded habit and finely textured, rich deep green foliage. Terrific for urban settings, this slow-growing variety rarely needs pruning or maintenance. Grows 1-2 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide in 10 years—maturing at 3 feet high. Zones 2-8.
Small Evergreens to Add Multi-Season Interest to Landscapes
Plants that look terrific all year long—that’s what customers crave. Multi-season garden interest can be as simple as choosing an evergreen with gorgeous texture or selecting a blooming plant with foliage that changes with the seasons. We’ve provided a few of our favorites, below:
Cryptomeria japonica ‘Globosa Nana’‘Globosa Nana’ Dwarf Japanese Cedar
The rounded, dense, somewhat loosely branching green foliage provides terrific texture to garden designs, but it’s the multi-season interest that adds appeal—the green foliage turns rusty red in winter. Stays nicely compact at 2-3 feet tall, about 3 feet wide. Zones 5-7.
Pieris japonica Mountain Snow™Mountain Snow™ Pieris
Showy blooms and gorgeous foliage make Mountain Snow™ a perfect multi-season plant for small spaces. Reaching only 3-4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide, the attractive, pendulous flower buds appear in summer and remain through winter, with beautiful ivory-white flowers finally opening in early spring. New bronze-colored foliage matures to dark green. Added benefits include both disease and pest-resistance, making this beauty a true gem in small gardens. Zones 4-8.
Thuja occidentalis ‘Concessarini’Pancake™ Arborvitae
A fabulous multi-season addition that builds structure in the landscape and adds year-round interest. The low-profile (1-2 feet tall), dense habit needs no pruning, tolerates full sun, resists pests and disease, and offers good drought tolerance once established. Deep sage-green foliage transitions to a beautiful blue in winter. Zones 4-8.
Abelia x grandiflora ‘Conti’Confetti® Abelia
A gorgeous multi-season plant. Vigorous, compact, rounded form with stunning pink, white, and green variegated foliage and spring flowers that attract butterflies. A lovely specimen, Confetti also looks fabulous in containers. Reaches 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. Zones 5-9.
Compact Evergreens for Groundcovers
Whether you’re looking for an evergreen ground color to reduce erosion on slopes or simply want to add continual seasonal interest to garden beds, you’ll find great groundcovers through our partners. A few favorites include:
Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’‘Blue Star’ Juniper
RHS Award winner! The sun-loving, globe-shaped mound of dense, sparkling silver-blue foliage morphs into a pretty purple/heather blue in winter. Drought tolerant once established. At 2-3 feet high and 3-4 feet wide, it’s a great addition to rock gardens or massed as a groundcover. Zones 2-6.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’‘Massachusetts’ Bearberry
The low-growing, evergreen groundcover spreads quickly and uniformly, producing white and pink flowers in spring to early summer. Red berries follow the flowers and last through winter, although birds love the berries. The foliage turns purplish-red in winter. Growing only 6 to 12 inches tall and spreading 3 to 6 feet wide, it’s an excellent groundcover for banks, berms, rock gardens, woodland gardens, and containers. Zones 2-6.
Euonymus fortunei ‘Moonshadow’‘Moonshadow’ Wintercreeper
Deep green leaves with bright yellow centers provide bold evergreen color year-round. Plant in masses for a vibrant groundcover or use as a low hedge or bright edging along walkways. Works well in containers as a “spiller.” Reaches height of 3 feet with a spread of 5 feet. Zones 4-9.
Short-Statured Evergreens for Low Hedges
Whether you need to border a patio space or create a low hedge between properties, compact evergreens offer a low-maintenance solution. They’re also an ideal design element for knot gardens, creating structure for rose gardens, or defining potages. A few favorites you’ll find through LandscapeHub include:
Ilex glabra GemBox®GemBox® Inkberry Holly
A beautiful native alternative to boxwoods for creating low hedges and defining garden spaces. The small, naturally mounded plant offers good branching to the ground, never looking bare-legged. A perfect border plant, reaching only 24-36 inches high. Zones 5-9.
Buxus microphylla ‘Bulthouse’Sprinter® Boxwood
The glossy, evergreen foliage looks attractive all year long, making it ideal for low hedges. A more upright habit than other boxwoods, it also fills in more quickly than other varieties, producing a lush hedge quickly. Reaches 24-48 inches high. Best broadleaf evergreen for shaping and pruning for formal hedges and topiaries. Zones 5-9.
Ilex crenata ‘Soft Touch’‘Soft Touch’ Japanese Holly
A dense, mounded, compact evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves sporting a silver mid-vein, ‘Soft Touch’ makes an ideal low hedge, border, or accent in the garden. Black ornamental berries add interest during winter months. Reaches 2-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. Zones 5-9.
We’ve noted just a few of the short-statured evergreen options available for your installations to get you started, but take a look at the wide variety of options available from LandscapeHub suppliers. Search for your favorite cultivars or browse compact and dwarf evergreen options. You’ll find the perfect plants for your landscape and design needs—all with the click of a button!
We’ve discussed the advantages of aggregating shipping through LandscapeHub. But, you might be wondering how does freight with LandscapeHub, overall, work? How does LandscapeHub actually produce those advantages that come from aggregating shipping? Or those advantages that come from using LandscapeHub to handle shipping, period?
Glad you asked! (Or wondered.)
We have an entire department that handles shipping and helps you get the best price, the best carrier, and the best turnaround possible. Here’s how it works.
Using trustworthy carriers
Our Logistics Manager, Rahan Omar says, “Handling nursery stock is not everyone’s cup of tea. When you call drivers and say ‘I have a load of trees that’s floor loaded,’ some drivers aren’t into it. But that’s why we have Rahan, because he is into it and keeps calling and working his (virtual) rolodex until he finds a carrier that works. “I’ve handled shipping for everything and nursery is a completely different ballgame.”
He has brought his experience to LandscapeHub and put it to work, transitioning LandscapeHub’s shipping operation from a mostly brokered situation to a direct carrier operation much of the time. By focusing on freight full time, Rahan can vet carriers and develop relationships with drivers who are not only knowledgeable, but happy to carefully deliver nursery stock on time and in great shape. “Going direct also allows us to pass cost savings along to customers,” he says. “And, when there is a delay or issue, there are many fewer phone calls to make to quickly get accurate information for the customer.”
Knowing when to call a broker (and which broker to call)
Rahan still uses brokers for LandscapeHub orders on occasion for complicated loads. This allows LandscapeHub to continue offering flexibility in freight that would eat up a lot of time (or even be impossible) for individual buyers. For example, if the LandscapeHub Market Managers and Logistics are trying to build a load that involves pickups in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio and dropoffs in Indianapolis, Carmel, and Westfield, Indiana, a well-connected specialty broker is much better positioned to efficiently handle the project and ensure on time delivery at a great price.
That ability and flexibility of LandscapeHub to build multi pickup and multi dropoff loads allows buyers to place much smaller orders without incurring high freight costs, especially if they are operating within a broad timeframe.
Coordinating pickup and delivery capabilities
It’s not enough to just find a truck to carry product. The LandscapeHub Logistics Department also coordinates with Market Managers, suppliers, and buyers to ensure which types of trucks suppliers can accept pickups from and that buyers can accept deliveries from. “Some people only want flatbeds, but there are fewer flatbed drivers with their own quality nursery tarps than there are dry vans (enclosed trucks) or reefers (refrigerated enclosed trucks),” says Rahan. It’s the responsibility of the LandscapeHub team to come up with a solution that works for everyone to get the products from point A to point B in good shape.
Getting the best price, regardless of load size
It’s much easier to coordinate orders that fill an entire truck from one supplier. Those are called “one pick” orders. In that case, Rahan sees an order come in and starts getting rates and seeing what equipment is available for shipping. Then he works with the Market Manager to clear the plan with the supplier and the buyer. “I might say, ‘I have a pickup with a flatbed Tuesday for delivery to the customer Wednesday. Can you accept this equipment for pickup and have the product ready by 8 am?’” He stresses, “There’s no delivery without successful pickup,” including the timing and the truck type. He’s careful never to send a truck that the supplier can’t accommodate.
In the case of a multi-stop pickup and dropoff or a smaller order, he will work to combine orders into one truck so that buyers can split the costs. “We just find out what their timeline is,” he says. “Sometimes, if a buyer needs product from a specific supplier on a short time frame, they’re willing to pay higher freight to get it when and where they need it. Other times, they’ll let us know they can wait and see what other orders come in.”
The same thing happens when there’s a weather delay. “If it’s raining and one supplier can’t dig trees on the customer’s timeline, the Market Manager might try to source from another supplier. It’s then my job to see how the freight compares and if it is worth trying to switch. Again, sometimes we’ll switch suppliers and sometimes we won’t.” Market Managers work closely with LandscapeHub customers to ensure the smoothest delivery possible for both buyers and suppliers.
An extensive network allows for flexible freight options
The short answer to how freight works with LandscapeHub is truly, “Our team takes care of it so you don’t have to.” We have the personnel and network to offer flexible freight options for orders large and small, over distances long and short, without stressing the resources of buyers searching for high quality material.
And that, well, that takes a load off of everyone.
Social media can be a landscape designer’s best friend — particularly Instagram. This visually-oriented platform is ideal for showcasing your projects, highlighting your services, and alerting your customers to seasonal (or even weekly) specials. Not sure how to get started? Follow these tips!
How to Get Started with Instagram for Business
Sign up for an Instagram account using your business name, not your personal name. Branding is everything here, and you don’t want potential clients scratching their heads to remember who that awesome designer was!
Use your company logo as your profile pic, or if your business is centered upon you as the designer, a professional headshot of you. Your profile information should be succinct, letting followers know what you do — and remember to provide a link to your website so they can contact you!
Decide ahead of time how you want your Instagram feed to “look” — colorful and playful, elegant and sophisticated, or relaxed and fun? Always keep in mind that Instagram is visual first, so your followers should be able to tell at a glance (without reading any post captions or comments) who you are, what your company personality is, and most importantly, who your clientele is.
Instagram Post Ideas for Landscape Designers
Install the Instagram app on your smartphone, and use it to post images once daily (but no more than twice) Instagram culture is very particular and people will unfollow you if they feel they’re being bombarded. Here are some great ideas for what to post:
- Before-and-after pics of your best projects
- Pics of finished projects
- Behind-the-scenes pics (you at your design station, at the wholesaler’s choosing plants, hanging out with your crew) — these are images that let people get to know you as a person, so inject your personality and humor into them.
- Plant combinations that you love
- A pic of you with a caption that talks about your “why” — why you design, why you are passionate about creating beautiful gardens, what you love about your work, etc.
- Videos up to 60 seconds long
How to Batch Schedule for Efficiency
If you have to remember to post from your phone once a day, you might find it a chore. However, once you’ve signed up for a business Instagram account, you can also sign up for a tool called Tailwind, which will allow you to pre-schedule Instagram posts from your desktop. It’s a lot more efficient to sit down and schedule the whole month at one time, rather than post one day at a time. Tailwind also lets you save hashtag groups.
How to Use Effective Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags, for the uninitiated, are ways for followers to find you based upon a particular topic they are searching for. It’s a word or a phrase, without spaces, and preceded by a hash sign (#).
What’s the importance? If someone in your area needs a landscape designer or contractor, they may search a hashtag like “#Bostonlandscaping” or “#AtlantaContainerPlantings”to see what comes up. If you’ve used these hashtags in your Instagram posts, your posts will show up in that search. Score!
- Use up to 20 — it’s allowed!
- Add your hashtag list after the caption on your post, or include it in a comment on your post.
- Create a custom hashtag list in the “Notes” section of your smart phone to save time — just copy and paste into your post rather than retype them every time!
- Make sure the hashtags you’re using correlate in some way to the image you’re posting, as the Instagram algorithm frowns upon unrelated hashtags in excess and may punish you by not allowing your post to be viewed as widely as you’d like.
- Consider creating a unique hashtag for your company and using it on all of your posts. It could be something like a tagline (if you have one for your business) such as #UniquePlantingsForNYC or #LandscapingWithHelenJones.
- Great hashtags for landscapers and designers include #landscapedesigner #(yourcity)landscapedesigner #containergardening #containerdesigner #pottedplants #yourcompanyname #landscapecontractor
- Local hashtags are your friend! Using #yourcity_______ anything will help you grow
How to Use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Landscape Business
Instagram stories are a unique opportunity to post seasonal sales, sale codes (if you have an online or ecommerce site), or promotions. While you could add these to your feed, Instagram is nicer to you if you don’t. Additionally with the algorithm changes, a promotion could end up in the regular feed long after it has expired, while stories last only 24 hours.
Also great for IG stories? Design tips, planting tips, and educational tidbits — ideal if you also offer online courses, garden coaching, or want to establish yourself as an educator or speaker.
Pro Tip: Use the “highlights” feature to keep “evergreen” Instastories around. Highlights are great ways to categorize stories for subjects like “design tips,” “how-tos,” and more. Keeping some highlights on your profile lets potential customers see you in action, giving a more personal feel. (And keeping highlights on your profile takes some pressure off of you to constantly post new Instagram stories — though those do receive a lot of interaction.)
Remember to Be Engaging and to Engage
And finally, never forget that social media is social. Ask questions in your posts, get people to engage with you, respond to every question (yes, every one), and actively comment on other people’s posts. (Post and ghost as a strategy doesn’t work well.) Your goal is to be seen, and to teach people to know, like, and trust you, which will make them call you for their next big landscape project!
Container gardening as a trend shows no signs of slowing down, and for good reason. These micro-gardens are workhorses in the landscape — providing dramatic focal points, welcoming entryway plantings, seasonal spots of color, and self-contained greenery for small spaces.
Container gardening also offers unique opportunities for the landscape designer, contractor, and landscape materials supplier to upsell both residential and commercial clientele. By and large, container gardens are seasonal plantings that require quarterly replantings and monthly maintenance — and when stylishly designed and perfectly installed, create a high demand with a waiting list of repeat clientele.
To tap into this market and make it a lucrative part of your business, consider offering a container garden subscription service for your market rather than focusing on a “one and done” approach to sales. Your goal is to create regular income without needing to chase your clients or require your client/buyer to chase you by creating a year-round service that is built in to your business.
Container Garden Subscription Services for Suppliers
Whether your business supplies plants, pottery, soil, or décor, you’re in a unique position to cater to your buyers and, in the process, turn yourself into their “one stop” supplier for all things container gardening. You can even “plant the seed” of a new business opportunity for them.
Here are some tips for you:
Email your buyer list and let them know you have what they need for their container gardening projects. These materials include specialty potting soils, seasonal color, high quality containers, lightweight containers, evergreen topiaries — all in-demand materials for the container garden designer. If you’re primarily a grower, then just focus on the plants. (See next tip.)
Create a seasonal container garden display at your place of business to inspire projects for your buyers. Label each plant/product, and have a price list available both at the counter and as a regularly updated online PDF. Create order forms for standard container sizes so that your buyers have a turn-key solution to turn around and sell to their customers.
Encourage your buyers to place custom growing orders. Many professional designers plan at least a season ahead, knowing that they will need a certain amount of specific plant material later in the year. Market that you’re available to grow custom orders of annuals, evergreens, flowering vines, and ornamental cabbages and kales, and have them ready for pick up at the designated time.
Interested in setting up a container subscription service for your clients? First, you’ll want to plan out a 4-season schedule with details about which plants are in season in your area. Then, design container plantings accordingly. Seek out suppliers in your area to partner with.
Before you start selling the service create some simple marketing materials showing the container design options available for each season, including sizing and prices (installed) and detailing payment information.
Email your client list and let them know that you are offering this service. Include inspiring images of container designs you’ve completed. No previous designs? No problem! Create a pair of containers for your own entryway or garden and take pics of those! Email well before a given season and encourage clients to “get into your schedule” by a particular date — this not only helps you plan your installation schedule, but creates a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and a sense of urgency with your clientele.
Play up the holidays. From October through December, the latter part of the year presents many opportunities for container planting designs. Think ornamental grasses with harvest-colored annuals along with a few well-placed mini pumpkins for the fall, and elegant topiaries or seasonal branches, cool-weather annuals and twinkly lights for the holiday season. And remember, you’re not selling “container plantings,” you’re selling “cozy and welcoming!”
Consider a year-round payment plan. Many clients want those extravagant poolside or entryway container plantings, but may not have the budget to get what they want. Smart designers allow their clients to place larger orders and pay it off monthly — this creates options for upsells, income during the leaner winter months, and clients who feel like they’ve scored the jackpot.
Not sure how to price? Most designers have an hourly rate for installation, plus the cost of the materials. In-demand designers charge anywhere from $75 - $130/hour for their style and expertise, with plant material marked up 100%. Think people won’t pay that amount? They will and do!
Offer a maintenance service. To keep those container plantings fresh and colorful, a little maintenance goes a long way — the problem is that most clients aren’t willing to do it. Sell them on a maintenance service that includes weekly check in, monthly fertilizing and trimming, plant replacements, and irrigation checks.
By planning out your offerings, whether you’re a buyer or a supplier, you can offer more standardized “plug and play” solutions for customers. This makes your business more efficient, and increases your bottom line.