Policies & Procedures
Phase 1: Site documentation
The starting point is a site visit, which allows us to determine the scope of work together. I document the site through photographs of the yard, take measurements to verify the accuracy of the existing drawings, make notes and sketches of other existing hardscape elements (i.e. existing fences & utility locations/ constraints), and catalog existing plants that will remain. You must provide a survey of your property at least one week before your scheduled appointment
My initial site visit fee is for an hour-long consultation and is non-refundable. That covers my time and expertise and gives you ideas, suggestions, and recommendations for solutions. I collect the site visit fee when we meet.
Phase 2: Conceptual design
My normal design process is a four to six week turnaround time from the initial site visit due to the time-intensive nature of designing, sourcing plants and materials, and formulating cost estimates. Design work cannot proceed prior to a site visit, nor will your project be queued for work without an up-to-date survey of your property. I request a 50% deposit as a retainer to begin your project and to hold your spot on the roster for design work, as I only take on four projects a month. I will give you an estimate on a design fee when I know what amount of work and time is involved.
I draw a base plan to scale of existing conditions based on our field measurements and use this plan to review site issues such as grade and drainage, privacy, circulation, property setbacks, climate and solar aspects, etc. It is the basis for design in addition to your information. Preliminary design concepts typically include hardscape and key plants.
After I complete a preliminary design, I will discuss the concepts with you to incorporate additional information and adjust to suit your requirements. The conceptual design meeting is a critical “team” meeting where we share ideas prior to the final design.
Phase 3: Final design
I incorporate suggestions, requirements, changes, etc. from the conceptual meeting into a final design. This phase may also include trips with you to select materials, finishes, and accessories, which is billed hourly should they be needed.
During this phase, I prepare and mail you a proposal to help you fully understand your new garden. This includes a copy of the final design plan, a final plant list with estimated costs for installation (subject to change based on plant availability and meetings with my landscape contractor), any necessary samples, photos, or presentation of proposed landscape finishes, and policies and warranty information that require your initials and signature. We can meet to review the final design—approval via e-mail or text is also accepted.
The remaining balance for the design will be due upon receipt of your final design and must be paid in full at that time.
Phase 4: Installation observation and scheduling
We will have one coordination meeting prior to installation with you and my landscape contractor(s) at the site to review the plans and establish a clear understanding of the design intent and direction. I will provide designer assistance during plant layout prior to installation of plants if needed by installer. I will also periodically review of the contractor’s work during construction to contribute to the contractor’s accurate interpretation of the installation.
All installation jobs require a signed contract and 50% down payment to secure plants and materials. Upon receipt of the signed agreement and deposit, we will then create your account and add your job to our queue. Projects that take longer than eight working days to complete are subject to an additional weekly draw after the first eight working days based on the percentage of work completed to cover our operating expenses, with the remaining balance due upon completion.
Before any work begins, a utility locating service such as NC One Call will be contacted for them to mark and identify all common utilities such as gas, cable, telephone, and power. Any property lines or personal utilities (septic system, well, dog fences, irrigation, lighting, etc.) is the responsibility of the customer to be identified and clearly marked. Amy Strunk Designs & our installation team will not be held responsible for any utilities or property that is not properly and clearly identified prior to work beginning. We will not begin work until all utilities and property lines are clearly marked. Homeowner needs to provide a path to the work area. We are not responsible for broken concrete, pathways or any unforeseen underground items such as tree stumps, bed rock, shale, boulders or buried propane tanks. If we run into these items, a new price will be given for removal.
Many clients do an install in phases and some do it all at once, depending on your time and budget. I am happy to help you figure that out.
Our installation schedule goes on a rolling basis. Whoever says yes, signs their paperwork, and pays their deposit has the next open slot on the landscape contractor’s calendar. Each job varies so much—some projects are a few days; some are a few weeks—so availability really can change on any given day. And we always have weather to contend with, too. Weather permitting; work shall occur during normal business hours (7:00am to 5:00pm) Monday through Friday. Amy Strunk Designs will not be held liable nor will the customer be compensated for work delays caused from: another contractor’s work holding us up, employee illness, change orders, and/or bad weather (i.e. rain, extreme cold, frosts, ice, high winds, storms, snow, etc.).
We will render our services as expeditiously as is consistent with professional skill and care. During the project, anticipated and unanticipated events may influence any project schedule. The owner acknowledges that significant changes to the project schedule, budget, or the project's scope may require additional services by the designer. This will be discussed and approved by the client prior to any additional fees or work commencing.
Phase 5: Final walk-through
After the work is completed, we will schedule a review of the completed work with the customer within five business days. The review consists of going over any plant/sod/seed care instructions, irrigation/lighting operation and maintenance instructions, and any other items to ensure the overall satisfaction of the work completed.
Upon completion of the final walk through, the remaining balance for the project will be collected and is due in full.
Payment, Pricing, and Miscellaneous Terms
Fees are due upon receipt of invoice. We accept checks or cash. All payments must be made according to the terms of the invoice and the account must be in good standing in order to maintain an active account and warranty validity.
Invoices that are not paid within 15 days from the date of the invoice will be considered past due. Past due invoices are subject to an additional 1.5% monthly interest charge. Past due invoices that are more than 45 days late will be forwarded to a third-party agency for collection. Past due invoices that become more than 60 days late are then sent to an attorney to place a lien on the home or property with a claims court date set. The customer will be responsible and liable to reimburse Amy Strunk Designs for all reasonable legal fees and collection fees, and any applicable court costs. The laws of the state of North Carolina shall govern this agreement
Change orders and pricing validity
All prices quoted are valid for 30 days unless otherwise specified.
Any additions or changes made to the original signed contract are subject to an additional 30% above our standard pricing to recover time lost, schedule fluctuations and procurement time. A new proposal will be submitted for approval via text or e-mail prior to any added work commencing and any additional deposit will be requested at that time.
All the documents we prepare are specifically for the project of this agreement and cannot be reused on other projects without the designer’s written permission. The drawings cannot be used with another designer to complete this project unless the designer agrees in writing or has materially breached this agreement.
We reserve the right to include representation of the project in its promotional professional materials without compensation. You may request anonymity.
We are not responsible for and will assume no liability for the results of any improper construction, installation, or maintenance.
Either you or we may terminate this agreement upon seven days written notice. Fees to date will be due and payable on the effective termination date.
There is NO warranty on perennials, annuals or transplanted items. All trees and woody shrubs purchased and installed by Amy Strunk Designs carry a 6-month limited warranty.
Plants that die as a result of insufficient watering, over watering, drowning, improper watering, lack of watering or infrequent watering will void the warranty. All plants are installed with soil conditioners and slow release fertilizer. Any watering, insect or disease treatments, and ongoing plant care such as pruning, fertilizing, and other annual maintenance are required on the part of the homeowner in order to maintain the warranty. We will make periodic site inspections after the installation to ensure proper practices are in place. We do not guarantee neglected plants. Animal/insect or disease damage, damage caused by others, vandalism, or severe weather is not covered. Transplanted plant material, plants provided by customer, and tender plants such as perennials and annuals cannot be guaranteed and do not have any warranty extended to them.
If during the 6-month period plants die due to causes other than listed above, we will replace the trees and woody plants one (1) time during the current spring season or the following fall season as seasonally appropriate. This is to encourage the customer to water and care for the plants after the installation and notify us of plant problems as soon as they start to occur.
Some plants may have a limited availability and may only be available in a bigger or smaller size. If a certain plant is not available, it may have to be substituted with another suitable and similar plant species.
Plant Care Information
Hand watering with a watering wand is the most effective method, that way you can deliver as much water as possible right over the root ball and surrounding soil.
If hand watering isn’t an option:
Sprinklers – A good way to soak an entire bed of plants, particularly beds with a high number of annuals and perennials. You should let your sprinkler run long enough to give your garden bed one inch of water.
Soaker hoses – A good way to water garden bed or row plants. The hose should cover all sides of the plants and run long enough to thoroughly soak the root ball and surrounding soil. For plants that are 18+ inches tall, let the sweating-type soaker hose run for at least four hours during hot, dry weather.
Gator bags – A good way to water trees during the hottest and driest months. They hold up to 20 gallons of water and are secured to the trunk of a tree to slowly release water to the root ball over a 15-20 hour period of time.
Check the soil for moisture before you water!
It usually takes a full year for a plant’s root system to become well established. Until then, you must check the moisture of the soil near the root ball to determine if you need to water or not.
Dig into the root ball and surrounding soil (about five inches) and use your fingers to feel the moisture level.
If the soil is dry, thoroughly water until the root ball and soil are wet. Deep watering like this encourages roots to take deeper hold in the soil and allows the plant to better withstand droughts.
If the soil is wet, do not water. Cover it up again and check again another day.
Once you saturate the root ball and surrounding coil, do not water again until the soil is dried out once more.
Different plants dry out at different rates, so it is necessary to check each one before watering. It is a good idea to keep track of your watering activity so you can determine how quickly your soil dries out, decide if you need to apply more water each time or not, and create a watering schedule to help you keep track of what each plant needs and when.
Wilted leaves do not indicate that a plant needs watered, as they can also be a sign of over-watering, so it is important to check the soil.
For plants in the ground:
Summer – Check soil moisture every 2-3 days for small plants and 3-5 days for bigger plants and trees.
Spring & Fall – Check soil moisture ever 3-5 days.
Plants in the shade of trees will dry out faster due to competition with the larger tree roots, so check those more often and adjust watering schedule as needed.
Check container plants and handing baskets every day. Add a water-grabbing polymer like Soil Moist to help reduce the frequency of watering. These work by absorbing the excess water that would usually drain through and releasing the water when the roots dry out again.
Sod Care Information
Install your sod immediately and begin watering! Do not wait until the next day!
Sod is perishable and must be installed immediately upon receipt and followed by a deep watering. Heat can build up within a roll and cause damage to turf. Most successful sod installations are installed right after delivery to the job site.
After rolling, begin irrigation deeply, six inches down into the soil until it’s soggy to walk on.
First two weeks after installation:
Proper watering is essential to establishment (rooting) of your new sod. It’s nearly impossible to over water new sod! As a rule, keep sod and soil moist all throughout the day. Typically, two sprinklings during the day (morning and afternoon) are required until sod begins to root.
Adjust as needed for location, sprinklers, and temperature.
Stay off new sod until after the first mowing. Try cutting back frequency of irrigations just before the first mow to firm up the soil.
First mow is approximately 21 days after installation, except in winter, which will require a longer time before the first mow.
Mowing high is least stressful to the new sod. Never mow off more than one-third of the grass blade. The mower should be set to no lower than three inches.
Three to four weeks after installation:
Re-adjust your watering clock or timer. Reduce frequency of watering gradually after each mowing, while increasing minutes per watering.
Deeper, less frequent soakings will help roots grow down deeper and establish more quickly into the soil. Pull or tug on turf to check rooting.
Fertilize your new sod lawn at the one-month mark to continue encouraging rooting and establishment.
Sod not rooting? Most sod varieties will begin to root within 10 to 14 days. Check watering schedule and adjust to deeper, less frequent soaking. Excessive shade will slow down rooting.
Bluish-grey spots on lawn or footprints show after being walked on? Drought stressed spots in the lawn. Try increasing minutes per watering and check or adjust sprinkler coverage.
Mushrooms? Temporary nuisance, usually growing in compost mixed into the soil at preparation. As waterings get deeper and less frequent, mushrooms usually dry up and wither away.
Edges turning brown and/or gaps between rolls? Sod is shrinking or has pulled up at the corners – due to lack of water! Increase minutes per watering and frequency to minimize gaps. Also, hand watering sod will help shrink gaps. Press down edges with foot after watering.
The more you can stay off the sod, the more successful results you’ll have!
Please review our plant policies and warranty information (included in the project proposal) to make sure you know if your plants are under warranty or if replacement will incur a cost!