3 Common Interiorscaping Issues & Their Solutions

Whenever a business works with a living product, there’s always a risk, something will go wrong.  With over two decades in the industry, I have several stories of situations that tested my abilities and stress levels.  If you have a floral division, Murphy’s Law seems to apply to every wedding event.  One time, two staff members didn’t show up and I was literally finishing the table centerpieces in the back of the van, while my driver weaved in and out of traffic on the way to the venue. I could write an entire book on wedding mishaps. But for now, I’m going to focus on a few of the most common interiorscaping issues and blunders I’ve encountered.

Spilled Dirt

I could fill an entire truck with the amount of soil that has been accidently dropped on client locations. This usually occurs when people, including myself, are trying to rush.  Recently, I was working on a planter that was high on a cabinet.  It was close to eight p.m. I was tired, rushing to get home and as I was returning it to its spot, my hand weakened. I almost had it back on top of the cabinet before the planter crashed onto the floor. Crushed plants and wet dirt covered the recently installed carpet. My first instinct was to quickly scoop up the dirt to quickly solve this common interiorscaping issue. However, I stopped myself, knowing this action would make the stain even worse. Luckily, the building was empty so I went on to service other areas while the dirt dried. This exact incident is why I always carry a brush, dust pan and EZ sweeper. These three portable items can take care of most dirt spills when a vacuum isn’t available.  If I had none of the above, I would have used the tape dispenser from a nearby desk to pick up the small pieces.  

Another tip to prevent dirt accidents is to bring replacements or new installs inside a plant sleeve.  Overloading a cart or dolly is the quickest way for potted plants to fall over and I’m very guilty of doing just that.  If sleeves aren’t available, I use a strong trash bag that you can cinch tight against the stems as a second option.     

Plant Sourcing Issues

Recently, I’ve had difficulties obtaining certain plant varieties. Besides California, Florida is the second largest foliage producer so I’m going to guess other parts of the country are having the same problem. Some of this is due to economic struggles and partly from commercial greenhouses shifting resources to grow medicinal marijuana.

Last week, I preordered specific plants to match an existing atrium design that got destroyed by a COVID-19 disinfectant spray. This client had an important board meeting in a few days so I had to figure out how to restore the atrium quickly. Instead of using 6” plants, I got 8” in the same varieties. On the plus side, I needed fewer pots.  The downside is, it took more labor time to separate the three stocks of aglaonemas and section the jade pothos in half.  In the end, the price was about the same and I was able to keep my promise to revitalize the atrium.  

Know your local garden stores: When you don’t have time to wait, knowing the local garden centers in your area can save the day.  For instance, I know the ACE hardware garden shops will carry a more exotic and wider selection of foliage, but I’m going to pay a premium price for it.  

Home Depots in my area have the best prices, but the selection and quality is usually hit or miss. They put some of my local nurseries out of business during the housing crisis, when they changed their policy to pay only for the plants that were purchased. As a result, plants are often neglected. Be sure to check them over carefully for stress and disease.  

Can’t be everywhere at once

A reliable person that you can ask for help at a moment’s notice can be a lifesaver, especially if you provide holiday design. No matter how long you’ve been doing holiday decor, some interiorscaping issues happen anyways. Last year in a heavily secured building, the lights on the main tree wouldn’t work even after being checked the week before. You can’t start adding décor until this issue is fixed. The other problem was that I had three security checkpoints to navigate. To leave and come back, you’d have to go through all three points twice. Instead of losing two hours or more getting fresh lights, I called on a college student who worked on past projects with me to be a runner. She was able to purchase new lights at the closest store, drive downtown, drop them off to security which allowed me to stay with the holiday crew so we could complete other décor tasks.

There are so many aspects of the interiorscape business that I enjoy. It can be risky with a live product, and there will always be interiorscaping issues that will be out of your control. However, a bit of creativity usually offers solutions to the unique problems that arise with interiorscaping.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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