Free Can be Your Most Expensive Landscaping Mistake

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    Free Designs! Free Estimates! Free (fill in the blank)! There is no other word in the English language that garners more marketing attention than the word “free”. By definition, free means that you, as the consumer, don’t have to pay for quoted services. There are times when free really is an exceptional deal, and other times where settling for free is the most expensive mistake you can make.

    When is Free a Good Deal?

    Free is a genuine deal when there aren’t costly strings attached, or the free thing isn’t too good to be true.

    • Landscape Estimates- If you’re looking for a simple estimate that doesn’t need design services or you’re getting a quote on something already designed, it’s okay to get a free estimate. Most of the “leg work” has already been done or isn’t needed. Economically, there are no red flags just for getting a free Kansas City landscaping or outdoor living project estimate.
    • Free seeding of bare patches if you sign up for a lawn chemical program. (Or some alternative such as a free flea treatment). These items are easily and realistically included in services without a bunch of hidden fees. Keep in mind that nothing is truly free though.

    When is Free a Pricey Mistake?

    Free can be your most expensive mistake when the thing being offered either sounds too good to be true, or is something that requires substantial time or material investments to produce a high quality end result.

    • Landscape Designs- simple mathematics dictate that the time and talent needed to produce excellent designs cost money. Companies don’t invest in talented designers and expect them to spend the time needed to design properly without charging for those services. Why?
      • Landscape designs require extensive time measuring, drafting, and creating concepts. None of that can be absorbed by a company unless they’re charging for that time elsewhere. If you’re considering a sizable investment in your property, why would you skimp on the one document/plan that will dictate the overall look and budget of the project. Do people build houses without blueprints?
      • Free designs equal rushed designs. Since the designer’s time isn’t being directly compensated, they have to rush through as quickly as possible. This never translates into a top-tier design with well thought out concepts and creativity.
      • Truly talented designers have invested tens of thousands of dollars in education and training. Their services aren’t free because they’ve worked to perfect their craft. Free designers are often in-experienced, poorly trained, or their company is in dire need of work.
      • A landscape design is the single most important document in the outdoor living process. It dictates how your investment is utilized. No matter how excellent a company’s install crews are, they can’t out-perform a mediocre design.
    • Free outdoor fires pits, grill, or other sizable item. These can be a good deal, but a consumer would be correct to be cautious of how this freebie is justified by the company unless they’re hiding the cost in their other work. Companies don’t just give out that size of freebie without some form of trade-off. One exception- if a vendor is having a sale on quoted freebie and you’re completing a large project. Then, the deal is no longer in the “too good to be true” category.

    In summary, very few things in the business world are truly free. However, some can be justified if they’re realistic. Just avoid anything that either requires substantial skill, or is too good to be true. It likely is.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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