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How to Avoid the 10 Worst Plant Buying Mistakes

Avoid these 10 Worst Plant Buying Mistakes | Pacific Nurseries
If you want to avoid the 10 Worst Plant Buying Mistakes when ordering plants for your next project, we’d like to share over 150 years of experience on how to accomplish that.

Read on to learn how Bay Area Landscape Pros improve satisfaction with their customers and prevent landscaping project train-wrecks.
Plant Buying Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake 1
Ignoring the need for an Estimate
With high expectations of both you and the end result of the project, customers want to be in the know about their landscape. Especially when it comes to providing an accurate estimate of the cost of plants.

To help you prepare a professional estimate for the plant material that’s competitive and accurate, we make it easy and convenient with our Online Estimate Form. All that you have to do to take advantage of this free, valuable service is to follow these simple steps.

  1. | Make a complete list of your plants
  2. | Share all the details including size, color, form + more
  3. | Attach a digital plant list to our Online Estimate form

Our online Estimate + Order form allows you to attach your plant list—preferably a Microsoft Excel .xlsx file—so that we’ll know with certainty exactly what you’re looking for. With your plant list in hand, our sales team can then prepare a detailed Estimate and email it back to you.

It’s best to move ahead with a Plant Material Order within 1-3 days of receipt of your Estimate. That way, you improve the opportunity to get the exact plants that are available and you avoid one of the worst plant buying mistakes.
How to Buy | Pacific Nurseries
To order plants online, just attach your plant list to our convenient online form | Pacific Nurseries
“My clients really appreciate understanding the cost of their plants and I rely on how easy it is to get an estimate online at Pacific Nurseries.”
Jared Sussman | J&W Gardens
Mistake 2
Searching lots of wholesale nurseries
Our approach is simple. The plants that you want are the plants that you should get.

So avoid one of the most frequent plant buying mistakes by wasting time and searching lots of wholesale nurseries to find exactly what you need. Because we’re both a Plant Grower AND a Plant Broker, it’s in our DNA to not try and “sell” you only the plants we have on hand.

We have developed deep resource knowledge of other quality plant growers over the last 150 years. And we often turn to these well-established relationships to get specific plants. Whether it’s exotic palms, a group of espalier fruit trees or balled and burlap multi-trunk specimens, our trusted network of plant partners enables us to fill your plant order with the plants that will satisfy your clients and make you look your best.
Available plant stock ready for sale + delivery | Pacific Nurseries
Get the exact plants that you’re looking for and not just what’s on an inventory list | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 3
Ordering sun-loving plants for shade
Bay Area landscapes have plenty of areas that only get limited or no direct sunshine. If that sounds like your project challenge, it doesn’t mean that a shady garden has to be dreary or uninspiring. Shade tolerant plants play an important role in providing needed contrast, texture and interest in garden areas that can sometimes be neglected or overlooked.

According to the California Native Plant Society | CNPS, there are a wide variety of CA native plants that are perfect for a shady or mostly shady location. Check out some of these great options before you install a sun-loving plant that may quickly be compromised and put you in a bad light with your client.
12 great plants made for the shade | Pacific Nurseries
Great shade plant solutions are within reach | Pacific Nurseries
“I love how Pacific Nurseries delivers timely information on plant groups and specimens right to my email inbox. It helps remind me of plants that I hadn’t considered for a solution.”
James Ingels | rhaa Landscape Architecture + Planning
Mistake 4
Choosing water-inefficient, non-native plants
California Native plants are important because they’re water efficient and provide biological diversity for surrounding ecosystems. Using “California-friendly” plants is a best-practice that benefits both local habitat and area inhabitants including people and wildlife.

From ground covers and grasses to flowering shrubs and trees, native plants provide the benefits of lower water needs, reduced maintenance requirements, improved soil health, and increased diversity that attracts birds and butterflies. They also blend in naturally with surrounding landscapes and provide aesthetic beauty.

Check out our recommendations for CA Natives that can make your project a success. It can help you avoid one of the plant buying mistakes that we see so often.
Bouteloua gracilis | Pacific Nurseries
California native plants offer so many compelling benefits to grow a more sustainable future | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 5
Neglecting fire prevention
With its Mediterranean climate and hilly, mountainous terrain, the Bay Area has historically been affected by wildfire. Yet, given this history and the unique topography of the region, experts recognize that more can be done to prevent future disasters like the 2018 Napa and Sonoma fires. As a Landscape Pro, you should have clear and simple goals when planning and installing a fire-safe landscape with compliant defensible space including:

  • Decrease potential fuel
  • Interrupt fire paths
  • Install fire-resistant plants
  • Comply with local fire department WUI codes + ordinances

The good news is, making a landscape fire-safe doesn’t have to be unattractive or cost-prohibitive. Fire-safe landscaping can both conserve water and increase property value while improving the aesthetics of just about any location.
Fire-Resistant Landscape | Pacific Nurseries
Are you preparing your customers for the next Bay Area firestorm? | Pacific Nurseries
“When planning a fire-resistant landscape, consider more than just the selection of plants.”
Nancy Roche | Roche + Roche Landscape Architects
Mistake 6
Picking common, boring plants
Where do you look for garden inspiration that provides fresh ideas, innovative design concepts and unique use of plants that you can integrate into your projects? Fortunately, we are blessed with many world-class, public gardens here in the Bay Area that demonstrate and display the beauty, diversity, and opportunity of what a landscape can be. Timeless aesthetics, tailored design, and excellence in the use of plant form, color, and texture all are reflected in these cherished and very popular destinations.

If you need to look at a landscape challenge a bit differently, or if you just need some landscape inspiration from those who have accomplished award-winning success, check out our comprehensive list of Bay Area Public Gardens.
Inspiring Bay Area Public Gardens | Pacific Nurseries
Magnificent Bay Area public gardens inform, inspire and delight | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 7
Trashing used plant containers
When your next installation is complete, make sure you’re doing all that you can to keep the Bay Area green and support the sustainability of the planet. Just bring your empty plant containers to Pacific Nurseries. We’ll put them in our Plant Container Recycling Program that we’ve had in place for over 15 years.

This popular program provides reuse and recycling of over 200,000 plant containers a month. From mudflats to 15-gallon containers, over 2 million plant containers a year don’t spoil the landscape or end up as trash.

Do your part to keep the Bay Area green after your plants go in the ground and don’t make this one of your plant buying mistakes.
Recycle plant containers | Pacific Nurseries
Recycling your used plant containers is easy | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 8
Dismissing soil amendments + mulch
If reduced water use is making you thirst for a solution to keep your client’s new or existing landscape installation beautiful, don’t despair. Helping a landscape thrive in a warming climate with increasing water restrictions doesn’t have to be a challenge.

There’s no better way to conserve water and save the investments that your clients are making in their landscape than by using mulch and soil amendments. Using mulch in your installation offers great benefits including:

  • | Holding in soil moisture, protecting plants from drying out quickly
  • | Keeping plant roots cool in hot summer temperatures
  • | Moderating soil temperature fluctuations
  • | Inhibiting weed germination and growth
  • | Preventing weeds from stealing valuable nutrient resources
  • | Adding nutrition to the soil as it breaks down
  • | Protecting plant roots from winter cold and frost-heaving

The best mulch to use depends on your site, soil condition and your preferred method of irrigation. Check out the wide range of specially formulated soil amendments and mulches that we offer to make you and your project look their best.
Water Saving Mulch | Pacific Nurseries
Mulch retains soil moisture to protect plants from drying out | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 9
Neglecting adequate young tree support
Staking a freshly planted tree or young sapling is a sound strategy to promote healthy roots and optimal tree health. It’s also a recommended way to protect a young tree from damage during strong wind and challenging winter weather.

When additional tree support is properly applied, it supports trunk sway to enhance the spread of a deep root system and reduces the risk of trunk or limb damage.

To avoid a call back from your client to address a damaged or dead tree, check out these great tips that we offer on proper tree staking for freshly planted trees.
Pro tree staking tips | Pacific Nurseries
Give young trees all the support that they need to thrive | Pacific Nurseries
Mistake 10
Missing out on opportunities + learning
Throughout the year, we often make available special specimens that we or our partners have grown that take advantage of seasonal temperatures and soil conditions. Many of these seasonal items have received special handling and care.

The best way to take advantage of these limited opportunities is to sign up to become a member of our Bay Area Landscape Pro community. It’s the fastest and easiest way for you to stay informed with valuable content that will make you more knowledgeable, effective, and profitable as a Landscape Pro.

Each month we provide in-depth articles and updates from our community that help our subscribers get the most relevant and valuable information to better serve their customers. It also keeps you informed of new featured plants, updates to our Prime Plant List, and news about special promotions and events. And best of all, it’s absolutely free.
Avoid Plant Buying Mistakes | Pacific Nurseries
Sign up to stay in the loop to take advantage of special opportunities | Pacific Nurseries

Helping landscape pros avoid mistakes since 1869

Avoid Plant Buying Mistakes | Pacific Nurseries From one item to an entire installation, our seasoned nursery specialists are ready to work with you to answer questions about plants for your landscape project.

For over 150 years, landscape pros have turned to us for our personalized service, expert advice, and an ever-growing selection of plants in over 40 acres of inventory that includes everything from the ordinary to the exotic.

As both a grower and a plant broker, we can provide just the right trees or native, water-wise plants that will make your project a success. It’s one of the many qualities that make us different from just an ordinary nursery.
Growing Plant List for fire-resistant landscape | Pacific Nurseries
Learn what we’re growing right now in available sizes | Pacific Nurseries
If you want to know what we’re growing right now for your project, check out our Growing Plant List. This alphabetized and searchable list includes all of the plants that are just right for your project. All of these plants are available for immediate purchase or delivery.

And if you need a Plant Material Estimate or would like to place a Plant Order, just click on over to use our convenient ONLINE ESTIMATE | ORDER FORM.

And you?

What’s the worst mistake that you’ve made when buying plants for a landscape project? Send us your experience to share with our community.

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