Thursday, December 2, 2010

Landscaping Project Sorted - and how I picked "Mr. Right"

Yay! Finally, after countless quotes requested we've found the best landscaper for our project!  Since this is sort of my online building diary, I thought I'd share with you my experience requesting for quotes.

My intention was to get at least 3 quotes from different landscapers, I thought it would be quite easy to do this but it wasn't.

As part of our building package, Eden Brae have arranged for a landscaping company to draw our landscape plans.  March 26, 2010 at 7:30am was our appointment.  After an hour, we've got a draft plan of what we want to have for our landscape.  We were told that a quote, together with the plan will be sent to us after a week.  Waited a week, a couple, and 3.. finally our landscape plan was sent to me on 20 April, without a quote.  We needed it for the DA application.  To cut the long story short, i have followed up several times, last time being 5 November and there's still no quote.  Finally, I gave up.

Back in June, I have also rang another company, the lady was quite responsive, she forwarded my plans to a landscaper to tender for us.  This landscaper then emailed me saying that this company have asked him to tender for our landscape project. At last!! I told my self, someone will give us a quote.  Waited for a few weeks, no quote, after a month I decided to follow up the guy said i'll have the quote end of that week, sweet!  Waited a month, 2, 3, after 4 months I rang the guy again (also started sending queries to 3 other landscapers at this stage) and asked him where my quote is.  The guy said he thought he'd sent it to me already and told me he'll send it to me as soon as he gets to his office.  Up until now, the guy never replied back.

Anyway, 2 out of the 3 new landscapers I sent my request for quote to have replied.  I got optimistic again that I'll finally get a quote.  One landscaper emailed me to arrange for a meeting on the site, we then went and met him there.  This guy was suggesting sooo much, he said we have to have the shared driveway pavings re-laid as it will not look good with our driveway etc etc.  I panicked, cause it would mean extra cost!  This guy said he'll get the quote to me in a few days.  With the quote I asked him to include a simple outdoor bbq and sent him a photo of what I want.  I have also asked for a separate quotation for just the turf, few plants, and a swimming pool.  But then, after a chat with my husband who opposed the idea of having a swimming pool, I immediately contacted the landscaper to tell him not to proceed with the swimming pool quote and instead, stick with the plan that has already been approved by council.  This guy came back suggesting some ideas about a pool and a cavana which he said will cost us between $70,000 to $90,000.  So I politely said no again and to just stick with the original quote plus the bbq.  He came back asking me for our budget for the project, being new with it all, I don't know what a decent range should be.  He told me, he budgeted $20,000 for our BBQ alone!!!  I thought it's the normal pricing for landscape and got really worried! hehehehe...   He wanted to install a kitchen like thing in our backyard, complete with roof etc.  I told him not to worry about it and just stick with the plan, he then again came back asking for a budget.  So just to give him a range we said $25000 - $35000.  Never heard again from him since then.  After a couple of weeks, I asked him if he is still able to provide a quote for us but he never replied.  I got very disappointed, he even lives a few steps away from the site which would mean less hassle for him travelling to the site!  Anyway!!

The other landscaper came back as well with a quote (I also met with him on the site).  He came back with $47,558.50 ($37,000 for whatever is on the plan and extra $6000 for other wishes + GST).  He didn't know what sort of water feature it was on our plan so he just put an allowance for it on the quote.  We thought it was okay, and because of the trouble that I've been to chasing up the other landscapers, I thought I'll just accept it and not look for any more quotes.  I'm just tired of searching that's all!  However, me being the curious lady that I am, searched each item on the quote one by one to see how they look like. :)  I searched for a treated pine sleeper, a sandstone benchtop for the bbq, etc etc and saw that the treated pine is not the one that I really want.  I've also read that among other retaining walls it is the cheapest and will only last for 4 years, compared to the block ones which last 20 years or so (there are different types of blocks, like the Tasman, Heathstone, and the Norfolk which is almost the same price as the treated pine sleeper but not as lasting as the tasman and heathstone.)  This is what made me search for other landscapers to request for quotes!  I thought using the cheapest materials will not do justice to a nearly $50,000 landscaping job!  On a positive note, the guy I've dealt with in this company was by far the most responsive, polite, and prompt compared to the earlier ones I've contacted!

Tasman Retaining Wall Blocks

Norfolk Retaining Wall Blocks

Treated pine sleeper
Heathstone Grande - this is what Dekker Landscape is using for our retaining walls

Went to my trustee friend Mr. Google and came across and started looking at the websites of the different landscaping companies.  Contacted 3, and 2 responded.  Found out one of the 2 is from the northern beaches, so I thought I wouldn't wanna hassle him and not signing up with him if his quote is too expensive so didn't go ahead with him.  The other one was Dekker Landscapes.  So now I have 2, the $50,000 one and this Dekker guy.  I need one more to satisfy my requirement of 3 quotes!  OK so my husband told me to try and request for a quote from the landscaper our current neighbour is employing.  Rang him and he told me to email him the plans which I did.  Nice bloke too!

I left Dekker a voicemail (Alex Dekker that is), same afternoon he rang me back but I missed it!!! D'oh!  Rang him, not picking up, maybe he's busy cause it was office hours.  Sent him an sms, this way, I won't miss anything hehehe...   He replied back 2 seconds later and told me to email him the plans and he'll get back to me later that week. He also asked me what type of retaining wall I wanted, Block or Treated Timber.  For the first time, a landscaper asked me this PRIOR to giving me a quote! He really knew what he's doing.  So I then waited for the final 2 quotes I needed!!!

After about 3 days I received an email from the other guy (current neighbour's landscaper) telling me there'll be some delays in sending me the quote, that's fine.  He's professional enough to send me an email instead of letting me wait for nothing!  I appreciated it much!  After 2 days I got the quote and was so surprised about the price difference!!!!  $26000 price difference! phew!  (But, the same with the $50,000 one he didn't know what type of water feature is on our plan as well - but it wasn't a big deal) I thought this is it, we'll be signing up with this guy!

The following day, I got a call from Dekker, a courtesy call telling me that he's just waiting for a nursery to give him prices for the plants we need for our landscape and that he will send the quote Wednesday evening.  Another point for Dekker, very professional I thought!  Wednesday evening around 9, and no quote from Dekker and I thought "he's just one of them".   The following day when I checked my email there I found a quote from Dekker sent at 10:39pm on Wednesday 24 Nov.  Wow! He really sent the quote when he said he would!  And the quote, $24,409 inclusive of GST.  This is half of the original quote we got yet using much better materials!!  When I added my wishes (outdoor bbq with timber cupboards, and ceasarstone benchtop as opposed to the sandstone benchtop included in the $50000 quote) it lifted our contract price to $29,766 which is still very low compared to $50,000.  And unlike the other landscapers, Dekker knew what type of water feature that is on our plan, he itemized it on our quote exactly as what it is on the plan.  Again, I thought, this guy knows his stuff!!!  Plus our landscape project will be completed within 3 weeks max! :)

So another afternoon while my daughter Alana was having her nap I thought I'd search for Dekker Landscape (I already knew that he's a member of The Landscape Contractors' Association of NSW and ACT) and found the following:

Amber Great Australian Tradies (from

Also read that they are ranked as one of Sydney's elite landscaping companies and has been awared as Highly Commended in Landscape Design in 2005 Inbloom festival!  I have also found out that they have been recently awarded a 52-week contract to do landscape for RTA which is worth $440,000.  And this company constantly appears in etendering website for government projects, from marickville up to the blue mountains!

Another interesting fact about this company is that their work has been featured in 2 magazines: Outdoor Design Living, and Garden Lover's Magazine.

And another one!! I found this article about Backyard design ideas:

Top right corner gives information on who designed this gorgeous landscape (from:

Well, for one, I do not know Alex Dekker or anyone from Dekker Landscapes personally!  I just admire beautiful things and believes that if something is worth praising and commending then let the world know especially my friends whom I want to benefit from the good things that I may find! hehehhe...

I just couldn't believe how this Dekker guy interacted and dealt with me throughout the quoting process. I never felt intimidated especially upon knowing that this guy is handling big budgeted projects compared to our project!!  Then I told myself, this is why he wins big contract! Yes, on his website it says he's got strategic partnership with his suppliers, and with the quote he gave us, I believe that this guy is passing on whatever his savings he gets from his suppliers to his customers, unlike others who may get discounts from suppliers but still pass on full costs to the small guys like us.

Well, the landscaper who ignored me upon knowing I can only go up to $35000 for a landscape may have made me feel intimidated.  But finding out about who we ended up signing into for the landscape, and a contract which didn't even reach our maximum budget, the excitement is building up even more!


  1. wow this is a very very impressive post! So much information! Just in time for a good read over the weekend!

    Thanks for sharing the good information!

  2. Many many thanks for that post! We also have a landscape plan and we will need at some time to get quotes. I am sure you just made my life far easier by sharing your experience!

  3. thanks Hao and Christophe!

    i've really learnt so much during the building process, and still learning some more.. it's very exciting! :) it's fun diarising them as well, few years from now - if this site is still active - at least i could go back to it and read the experience :)

    i'm glad you guys liked the post, hope it would help somehow..

  4. omg wow! This was such a great post! Ive learnt so much in a matter of minutes hehe :) I wasn't sure whether or not we should get a landscaper..but I actually might get a quote from Dekker! Do they do deckings and timber fences too?

  5. Hi Tonia! I'm glad you find my post informative.. That was my intent when I posted it :)Yeah, I'm pretty sure they do...