Last week a portion of our landscape architecture group visited a local general contractor as they were looking for tips and ways to achieve proper landscaping on their job sites during construction.They were having problems with their bare landscapes after completing their buildings. Instead of scrambling at the end of the job, the General Contractor asked our landscape architect’s to highlight items that they could and should be doing throughout the project life cycle so the site would be ready for occupancy as soon as the buildings were constructed.
Our group methodically described the overall site design process, beginning with topographic survey followed by base map development, site analysis + programming, conceptual design, construction documents, bid + award and lastly, construction administration. During the site analysis and programming stage, we advised that we typically put “wish list” items into two categories of tangible and intangible which helps guide the design of the project.
After programming, a conceptual design is born and refined which then leads us to the construction documentation phase. This is the technical design aspect of the project. We provide a set of documents that the client can use to send to various contractors and subconsultants for bidding purposes. Landscape construction documents include removal / relocation, improvements (such as site furnishings, lighting locations, signage, etc.), minor grading & drainage if needed and planting plan to include specific plants with quantities.
After the design process was discussed, we got right into the tips and tricks we have worked out over the years.
For contractors, we can help choose a qualified site and landscape contractor and engage with them early in the process. We would send out our technical construction documents to qualified contractors and ask for bids. We would then work alongside the chosen contractor throughout the construction process and answer any questions that may arise. We would also review installation to ensure quality and provide inspection reports.
If any conflicts arise with the drawings or specifications, the contractor should bring to the prime consultant’s attention as a RFI or RFC. However, overall most non-planting specs are good.
Where things fall apart is in soils, turf, tree preservation and planting. This is due to the fact that almost no one on the design team (besides a landscape architect) are knowledgeable about the LIVING COMPONENTS on the site. The landscape contractors often do not get engaged until very late in the project.
Look out for these specs:
– 015640 – Temporary Tree and Plant Protection
– 312000 – Earth Moving
– 329201 – Turf and Grasses
– 329301 – Plants
Engage an ISA Arborist. A good one that you can trust who will help consult on root pruning, fencing systems for protective measures and matting for tree preservation.
Contract needs to ensure soil tests are acquired per Turf / Planting specs early after stockpiling. The problem is that tests are not done until late and the landscape architect requires amendments to meet requirements and this forces a surplus of volume onsite. Send the results to the landscape architect.
Maintain plant bed finished grades at 1-inch below all non-planted areas. Maintain Finish Topsoil Grades for turf 1-inch below all non-planted areas.
Retain 1-Year warrantee and maintenance on all plants beginning from notice of substantial completion.
Use Bermuda Grass since it is the only thing that will survive long-term with little maintenance. Use Temp Rye Grass for Out-of-Season Seeding, then come back to seed Bermuda upon next available window.
The long and the short of it is, send all site related data to the landscape architect to confirm and for review. That includes the plant sourcing, topsoil tests, certificates for all soil amendments, planting schedule and watering plan. Review our seasonal planting window sheet above for the Hampton Roads region and use your resources! WPL is happy to field phones and at the very least, point you in the right direction. Having the right team in place makes all the difference with the end result..being the site and building as a whole!