Knowing what the plant's mature height and width will be for a project, do you design with the desired container size in mind or the preferred range of height and width of a specified plant? 

For trees, design professionals always specify the caliper width along with the container size, but I rarely see on the West Coast a range of desired height and width sizing on planting plans for plants.  Why is that?  

I have attached 2 images:  #1 Star Jasmine at standard, or as the trade calls it "retail grade" versus "construction grade" of the same plant in the same container size. Why can't all jobs have retail grade, why is the landscape contractor/maintenance team expected to become the nursery grower on site, rather than a masterful maintenance professional?  Should we specify TOP DOWN rather than BOTTOMS UP?

Too many questions for me to answer, so I will let you... the design professional decide.  If you need more facts to help you answer this question, such as pricing, size of plant, or other considerations, please let me know.  

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I try to stick with AN-LA American Standards for Nursery Stock. It has never occurred to me or been suggested to me to describe plants in any way other way. I put a note on every plan saying that this standard must be adhered to.

 

The biggest problem with that is that many landscape contractors are the by-product of other landscape contractors who don't know much beyond what they learned before they bought their own truck. When they see a description of 4.5'-5' Blue Princess Holly they ignore the plant size description on the tag and look for the cheapest plant that has one twig that is 4'6" tall and call it good. That note on the plan allows me, if I'm paid to do so, to reject the undersized plant if it does not meet the standards which are very clearly described in the AN-LA American Standards for Nursery Stock. It either is or it is not what is described in the plant schedule and it either does or does not conform the standards. It is that simple.

 

The only way to have everyone on the same page is to have a competent ethical LA , or designer, or contractor tagging the plants and thoroughly overseeing the contract.

 

It breaks down when someone assumes that the plans and spec's are going to be followed without the right people checking on them. Those people think that we already plugged the holes in the process by writing it in the plans and spec's and they feel like they are paying us twice by having us see that they are followed. Worse yet are the people who don't pay for contract administration and expect us to come by and support them because their contractor cheated them on plant sizes or did not plant them correctly and they lost plants.

Agreed.  We also add additional notes if we're looking for a more 'special' plant (symmetry, leaders, # of canes -if we want more than the ANLA standard requires, branching height, etc).

I knew someone was going to share the world with the ANSI.  It has been too long since it was reviewed, and I can think of a few additions.  Container sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and injected vs. blow molded.  Also, with the advent of succulents - Dudleya, Echiveria, and Sedums, there is a lot more interest in those as groundcover and container plantings. 

 

A lot of landscape architects I noticed are unfamiliar with the ANSI on the West Coast.  Why is that?  And why aren't contractors adhering to it?

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