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Desktop Review: Landscape Architects Beware

Desktop Review #6Landscape Architects Beware: An attorney defending a landscape installer for breach of contract asked for my review of the matter. Mediation was three weeks away. The allegation was that the plant material installed in a new commercial project did not rise to the level of acceptance or marketability. That allegation was spot on.

The attorney provided pictures of the subject landscape. To say that the plants were below par would have been an understatement. These plants were bad. And, the specifications formed by the landscape architect, and there for all to see in his Landscape Notes, specified that all plant material would be Florida Grade #1 or better.

So, the battle line was drawn on the Grades and Standards of Florida – a particularly difficult and exact set of standards. However, both the devil and the angels slumber in the small print of any document, which is there for the finding.

The Standard expressly states, in an area of the document nobody reads, that among a plethora of other specificity, the landscape (plants) must be inspected on the day they are delivered. Over seven weeks had passed before the client had the landscape plants inspected for compliance to the Standards. There was nowhere for the plaintiff to go or to hide.

I was told that the plaintiff had to be taken from the mediation room kicking and screaming. But his fate was sealed when he did not know the contract specifications, and his landscape architect didn’t know the Standard. Pity. The plaintiff needlessly suffered due to his own ignorance and that of his landscape architect.

More and more landscape architects are being brought into legal disputes. If you are a landscape architect, you might want to look at your Landscape Notes, which are the sum and substance of a binding contract. My dollars to your donuts, you haven’t read them in years, and you don’t even know how you came to put them into your work product to begin with. They are boilerplate language, thin ice upon which you are skating, my colleague.

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