The Best (and Worst) Times to Choose Custom Growing Contracts
How to know if a custom growing contract is a good fit
If you've read about the ins and outs of custom growing contracts, you're well aware of how it assures you of availability, quality, and price for trees and plant material. You probably also know that these contracts work well for architects, owners, contractors, and developers who want to ensure a finished look and, hence, a more marketable property upon project completion.
But is a custom growing contract right for your project?
When to Go With a Custom Growing Contract
There are plenty of reasons why a custom growing contract makes sense and taking these things into account will help make your decision a sound one. If your project calls for a large number of trees, knowing that those trees will be mature, beautiful, high quality, and available when and where you need them is paramount. Imagine if you had to go to several nurseries to secure the trees. The time and money spent and the uncertainty of not knowing whether you'll get what you want is argument enough to consider a custom growing contract.
However, there are more reasons to go with a custom growing contract. These days, many architects are designing projects with the finished look in mind. If your project calls for larger-sized trees, for instance, 72-inch boxes, a custom growing contract may be a good choice. Why? Because while you may find larger trees available in small sets at a nursery, chances are you're not going to find a large selection that meet your specifications for quality or size and quantity.
Also, if your plans specify a species not typically available or not available in large quantities, a custom growing contract is ideal. Consider the challenges, and/or time and delays that could occur if your plans called for Koelreuteria (golden raisin tree). Chances are you could find a few, but lack of availability and quality could force you to compromise on variety, size, or quality.
Quality growing of strong roots and good tree structure, along with meeting custom specifications, such as branching height, soil depth of the root ball, or form, allow you to control what will be planted on your project and help reduce future maintenance costs.
Locking in the pricing with a custom growing contract enables more accurate budget projections, reduces unpleasant surprises, or forcing you to “settle” for lower quality, undersized, or substituted plant material to stay within budget. Also, since the landscape is usually one of the last construction phases, a landscape architect will choose a growing contract to help ensure that mature plant material doesn’t get “value engineered” out of the project.
Ultimately, these contracts take the uncertainty out of the process and reduce the risk that the trees and plant material won't be available when you need it. When you can lock in price, availability, and quality, everyone's jobs are easier — and that goes for landscape architects, landscape contractors, and owners or developers alike.
When Not to Go With a Custom Growing Contract
As useful as custom growing contracts can be, there are times when it doesn't make sense. If your project calls for tree installation in nine months or less, this kind of contract won't work for you since not enough growing time is available. However, you might still benefit from committing to existing tree crops on a short-term hold agreement. Also, if you have a property owner, or other decision maker, who is likely to change his or her mind or who doesn't want to lock in a decision on the trees or plant material specified for the project, a custom growing contract is not ideal.
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