Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Landscaping Hell

Ryan and I have a lovely home with a large backyard, one third of which is actually usable. The rest of the yard is covered with natural springs which turn the ground swampy, and good only for growing weeds. And not just any weeds, but the big prickly kind that make it their mission to hurt you before you hurt them.

When Ryan and I first moved into the house we loved the amount of water on the property. We liked the fact that some of the water was diverted to make a lovely little fish pond, and that the dirt in the garden plot seemed so dark and moist that we could grow anything without having to worry about watering it. Of course, over the past four years we have lived here, things have gotten worse. The water has come closer to the surface, and the muck has gotten worse. The stream diverting water to the pond has outgrown it's bank, and the garden plot has gotten so wet that anything planted there (other than the evil weeds) is instantly swallowed up into black swampy darkness. Because we worry that a mud bog is not a selling point when we eventually sell our house, and because Ryan would like to stop wearing hip waders when he mows the back lawn, we decided this year to finally do something about it. Little did we know that wanting to fix the waste land of our backyard would mean wandering into the wasteland of landscapers.

I have no idea how landscapers make money. They never answer their phones, or if they do answer they make appointments they don't keep, or if they do keep them then they never get back to their potential clients with an estimate until they are hunted down like dogs. Oh, and even if they actually get to the estimate phase half of them will say they are too busy to consider the project until the 7th of never, and the other give out estimates that make scribblings on used McDonalds napkins look notarized. I swear that one of the estimates had a two thousand dollar expenditure for, no, I'm not kidding, "stuff." Oh, and one of them charged me a $50 consulting fee only to come out and tell me that they don't do the type of work we need done. Luckily I had the kind of money they wanted to spend. At least they admitted they didn't know what to do with the water though. Two of the guys who came out kept saying how they had never seen a problem like this before, but that they were certain they could "work it out." One even said he could find a book on it. Not surprisingly both of them later begged off saying they had too much work. Dry work.

There is one landscaper that answered his phone, showed up on time for our appointment, seemed knowlegable about the problem, and submitted a reasonable bid in a timely fashion. He was also dressed in pants without holes (I guess if you refuses work you can't afford clothes) and was really nice. Of course, all of those factors made me instantly distrust him. I would hire him, but I think we need to go to couple's therapy before I can believe he won't flood my house and then run off with my dog.

It makes me want to brick the entire thing in. But I'm guessing that bricklayers are just as difficult.


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