people if the company returns phone
calls—even after the job, and were the
workers neat, quiet, respectful, and
•What are their warranties or guarantees?
What hardscaping mistakes have
you had to correct, typically?
Restorff: Do you have three hours?
Well, it’s easy to answer what’s the biggest mistake when building the proper
foundation or base for a patio or other
structures. What’s underground is the
most important part—at least fifty percent of the cost! If you don’t dig deep
enough for that foundation, winter will
Tim O’Donnell, (T. O’Donnell Landscap-
ing): People need to do due diligence:
it’s about who do you trust on your
property? A crew of people will be in
and out of your yard for days, probably,
and you’ll be living with their work for
years. So ask about credentials, ques-
•Does the owner, as well as some
team members, have a CNLP creden-
•Does anyone have training from
ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement
Institute) or NCMA (National Concrete
•Get customer referrals. Ask those
What should a homeowner do to
avoid landscape nightmares?
Restorf (Restorff’s Landscaping): I
want them to get educated about the
project and ask a prospective contractor the right questions. There are
so many sources, even videos online,
to show you what it takes to support
a patio for instance. Ask the contractor how he plans to handle it. Ask how
many years they’ve been in the business, how often the owner or foreman will be on the job site, and who
is doing the actual installation? Just a
few questions tell you lots about what
The Dirt/Crimes in the name of
BY SALLY CUNNINGHAM, CNLP
At a recent Plant WNY award ceremony, landscaping pro
Roger Restorff, who has more than thirty years in the
business, confided, “You wouldn’t believe the shoddy work—
inexcusable!—that’s done in the name of landscaping. Some
of these guys think they can do it all without any education.
It keeps me awake at night!” That rant led to this article.
Here is some honest talk from veteran landscapers about
their pet peeves and what consumers need to know. All of
the interviewees have decades in the business and many are
Certified Nursery and Landscaping Professionals (CNLPs).
On choosing a
•A low bid isn’t necessarily the smart
choice: Cheap can be very expensive.
•Education is so important, but a degree
isn’t enough. Experience counts.
•Don’t give the job to your cousin or the
lawnmowing guy who says, “Sure, I can
put in a patio…”
•The prettiest pavers are no darned good
if they’re sinking and heaving by next
Eric Page (left) and Roger Restorff agree that what’s underground is the most important part.