Diamond Certified Company Report

Gardens of the Wine Country

Diamond Certified Company Report

Gardens of the Wine Country

Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i
Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
  • Legal & Finance
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 195 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i

Ellen C.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

1 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I feel like they were very on top of everything and they had a great, knowledgeable crew. I like that the supervisor was on site each day once they started the work.

I would say, the information and process to start with. They streamlined it.

Albert S.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

2 of 195

Quality 7
7 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They know what they are doing. The installation was good.

Basically, the plants

June F.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

3 of 195

Quality 8
8 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They seem to care about customer satisfaction.

Read All 195 Survey Responses at Ratings View
Diamond certified VIDEO PROFILE
Diamond certified company PROFILE

Alan Kostelnik, Owner

Gardens of the Wine Country provides complete landscaping services for high-end residences, estates, inns, and wineries in all of Sonoma and Napa Counties. The company focuses on the landscape management, maintenance, enhancement and design of large residential properties. It installs planting, irrigation, and landscape-related “hardscape” construction such as decks, arbors, stone work, concrete, patios, walls, and water features.

Owner Alan Kostelnik is a veteran of the landscape industry, and he says one of his first loves has always been helping his clients realize their artistic visions. “Our clients are generally very busy, sophisticated, professional people who want their outdoor environments to reflect their tastes and match the quality found inside their homes.”

Gardens of the Wine Country stays continually connected with its clients by providing them with weekly reports and jobsite reviews upon request. “We think of ourselves as a small, personally connected group of professionals whom clients can feel comfortable communicating with on a first-name basis,” says Mr. Kostelnik.

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED CAPABILITIES ON Gardens of the Wine Country

COMPANY CONTACT
Service AREA

Sonoma
Napa Wine Country

SERVICES PERFORMED

Design     
Exterior Woodwork    
Garden Care     
Hardscape    
Installation    
Irrigation     
Lighting    
Tree & Arbor Care
Water Features

DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED ARTICLES ON Gardens of the Wine Country

Company Profile

Gardens of the Wine Country provides complete landscaping services for high-end residences, estates, inns, and wineries in all of Sonoma and Napa Counties. The company focuses on the landscape management, maintenance, enhancement and design of large residential properties. It installs planting, irrigation, and landscape-related “hardscape” construction such as decks, arbors, stone work, concrete, patios, walls, and water features.

Owner Alan Kostelnik is a veteran of the landscape industry, and he says one of his first loves has always been helping his clients realize their artistic visions. “Our clients are generally very busy, sophisticated, professional people who want their outdoor environments to reflect their tastes and match the quality found inside their homes.”

Gardens of the Wine Country stays continually connected with its clients by providing them with weekly reports and jobsite reviews upon request. “We think of ourselves as a small, personally connected group of professionals whom clients can feel comfortable communicating with on a first-name basis,” says Mr. Kostelnik.

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Company Philosophy

"We involve our clients as much as they desire, but we also recognize that we're hired to manage their projects for them. We communicate clearly, complete work on time and on budget, and never declare a job complete until the client tells us they're satisfied."

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Comparative Summary

Maintaining customer satisfaction is a crucial aspect of any business, but it’s even more important for landscape contractors that have earned the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Gardens of the Wine Country upholds its reputation for customer satisfaction by offering personalized service to each of its clients–a highly detailed approach rarely seen in the industry. “Each customer is different, but what they all have in common is a desire for us to design, manage and maintain their landscapes,” says owner Alan Kostelnik. “We’re a boutique company, which allows us to be very hands-on with our customers. Our goal is to serve them with quality designs and workmanship.”

A 36-year veteran of the landscaping industry, Mr. Kostelnik established Gardens of the Wine Country in 2001 to supply North Bay homes and businesses with landscaping design, management and maintenance services. “I really enjoy helping my clients realize their artistic visions,” he says. “They want and expect their outdoor environments to reflect their tastes and match the quality found inside their homes, and that’s exactly what we provide for them.”

Unlike larger landscaping companies that understate the importance of delivering timely jobsite reviews and inspection reports, Gardens of the Wine Country provides email and paper versions of both on the same day of service. Mr. Kostelnik explains that this business practice ensures immediate communication with clients and alerts them to any problems and proposed solutions. “In turn, the process creates a document that both we and the customer can work from and refer to as the project proceeds.”

Another distinguishing feature of Gardens of the Wine Country is its highly experienced employees, many of whom have been with the firm for years. “Everyone who works here understands both my and our customers’ expectations,” says Mr. Kostelnik. “I do a lot of hands-on supervising, but that’s only to give our clients an extra level of confidence. Our workers are dedicated and self-managed.”

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Industry Info

Take simple steps to turn your patio's old concrete surface into acid etch stained concrete. There are numerous choices when it comes to outdoor patio surfaces, including decomposed granite, concrete, pavers, flagstone, slate and tile. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and design, so it’s important to determine your exact patio needs before making a decision. A relatively new choice has been gaining popularity in recent years: acid etch stained concrete. “Acid etch stained concrete is one of the most cost-effective, highly stylized patio surfaces available,” says Alan Kostelnik, owner of Gardens of the Wine Country. “It’s so attractive that it’s become common to see it used for interior flooring and countertops.”

Acid etched stain applications work best on newly poured or installed concrete, but the process can also be applied successfully to old concrete. The key to refurbishing old concrete is an extremely clean surface, free of all stains, oils, grease and sealers. The acid etch chemicals must be able to react with the chemicals in the concrete, so it’s important to remove any foreign materials that might contaminate the process. If you can’t get the surface sufficiently clean, you can pour a thin concrete veneer over it. It also may be necessary to sand or pellet blast the surface.

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned your old concrete surface, consider the following tips for applying acid etched staining:

• Make sure you move, cover and tape off any surrounding vegetation to limit overspray damage from the acid etch coloring agent.
• Wear protective clothing, including safety glasses and rubber gloves and boots. Mix the acid etch coloring agent in a plastic bucket.
• It’s best to apply the etching agent with a garden sprayer. Keep the spray wand about 18 to 24 inches from the surface and keep it moving. You want the surface thoroughly wetted but not puddling.
• Let the surface dry for about an hour. If you want it darker, spray again after the first drying period.
• After the floor has dried completely, neutralize the surface by spraying it with a solution of one part ammonia to four parts fresh water.
• Once you’re completely done, you can spray the entire surface with a sealer to give it vibrancy and depth.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do your estimates cover all aspects of the job?

A: Yes. All our estimates are in writing and cover the entire job. If there are any exclusions, we clearly state them so there are no surprises or hidden charges.

Q: How long does a job take to complete?

A: That varies with the job, but we’ll give you a time estimate when we submit our bid. Once we start a job, we keep working until it’s complete. We don’t bounce from job to job.

Q: When can you start my project?

A: In most cases, we can start seven to 10 days after we provide the quote.

Q: How are your crews supervised?

A: Every crew has a foreman, and our owner, Alan Kostelnik, is often onsite supervising as well.

Q: Do you handle permits?

A: Yes. If permits are required, we’ll arrange for them.

Q: What’s your payment schedule like? Do you require a deposit?

A: We charge weekly progress fees based on the work completed each week, and the final 30 percent isn’t due until the project is complete. We don’t require a deposit.

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SELECTED PHOTOS FROM Gardens of the Wine Country

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTOR ADVICE & TIPS FROM Alan Kostelnik

Expert CONTRIBUTOR PROFILE

Alan Kostelnik: Wine Country Landscape Professional

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA – Alan Kostelnik hasn’t always worked in the landscaping industry—in fact, he started his career as an educator, but it wasn’t long until he found himself at an impasse. “I had been working as a high school teacher for a few years when I realized it wasn’t for me,” he explains. In what was initially to be a temporary transition, Alan traded his ruler for a shovel, his blackboard for topsoil and the inside of the classroom for the fresh air of residential landscapes. As it turned out, this provisional detour eventually became a permanent direction. “I had some previous experience in landscape work during my college years, so I decided to put together a small gardening business as a temporary means of making a living until I figured out what to do next. In time, I found I had an aptitude for the landscaping business, and I really enjoyed it.” After he decided to make landscaping a career, Alan returned to school to receive a more formal education in important industry aspects like horticulture and landscape design and installation.

Prior to his watershed transition, Alan lived in Detroit, Michigan, where he was born and raised. A frequent visitor to the Bay Area during his college years, his growing affinity for the local weather and culture prompted him to relocate permanently. “The company I worked for in Michigan had an office in San Francisco, so I applied for a transfer,” he remembers. “Six months later, they called and offered me a job.” Later, when Alan’s teaching career dried up, he discovered that the Bay Area offered an ideal setting for landscape work. “The weather in Michigan simply didn’t compare to that of the Bay Area. Also, Sonoma County was in development stages at the time, so there was a lot of business to be had.” Nearly 40 years later, Gardens of the Wine Country’s business continues to thrive in its picturesque environment. “I still love the Bay Area vibe,” says Alan. “It’s a beautiful place and I feel blessed to live and work here.”

When describing one of the major aspects of his profession, Alan invokes the old adage of “you get what you pay for.” “Professional design and installation are crucial to landscaping, so if you’re only paying attention to saving money, you’ll be sorry down the road,” he says. “In my 40 years in business, I’ve seen customers make the same mistake over and over again: shopping for price rather than expertise and quality. The invariable result is a job that has to be redone in a few years because it wasn’t done right the first time.”

Outside of work, Alan enjoys golfing, hiking, wine tasting and photography. He also follows professional sports like basketball, baseball and football, rooting for both the local Bay Area teams and those in his hometown of Detroit. When asked about the first thing he would do if he could retire tomorrow, Alan has everything planned out. “I would take a long trip through Tibet, Burma, Bhutan and India. Then I would come home for a few weeks, visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, come home for a few more weeks, and take a trip to South Africa. After that, I’d take a few river cruises through Central America and Europe. And after thatI guess we’ll see!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: The Giants, the 49ers and the Warriors, as well as my hometown teams, the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Lions.

Q: What websites do you visit every day?
A: The Huffington Post, the New York Times and Facebook.

Q: Do you have a favorite tree?
A: I like the Burgundy-leafed Japanese Maple, the Mayten tree, the Oak and the olive tree.

Q: What’s your favorite local winery?
A: Kunde.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: I like dramas that have twisted, complicated plotlines, but I also like comedies and films based on reality.

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Expert articles
  • Droughts and Drip Irrigation

    SANTA ROSA — To be good citizens, Governor Jerry Brown has asked us to cut back on our water usage by 20 percent. It’s a fact that we won’t save that 20 percent by running our dishwashers, washing machines or showers less…in fact, would you or your family and friends really want to? So where is that 20 percent savings expected to come from? Your outdoor and landscape water use, of course…that’s where the lion’s share of everyone’s water use is anyway. As our Northern California summer heats up and drags on, our lawns are getting browner and our plants are getting droopier, all while the cost of the water we use goes up and our billing rates climb into the higher billing tiers at our water companies!

    What to do about it? Lately, we’ve been asked how to take existing irrigation systems and make them more efficient, saving water while preserve the existing landscape so it doesn’t have to be replaced later when the drought is over. That’s a pretty big subject and a lot to cover, but here are some quick ideas to think about along that line:

    • Large shrub areas that are currently being sprayed can easily be converted to drip systems by plugging and eliminating most of the spray head inlets, and then tapping into a few existing outlets to add drip hose and emitters. Pressure reducers and filters are also necessary, especially if you’re on a well.

     

    • Ground cover beds and areas can be converted to drip in the same manner as you would the large shrub areas outlined above. However, instead of drip hose and emitters, add a product called “Netafim,” which has the emitters impregnated into the piping. You simply snake the flexible pipe throughout the groundcover beds and tie it into the existing PVC lines underground.

     

    • Set multiple start times on your irrigation controller so the water you do apply actually sinks into the ground (called a soak cycle) and doesn’t run off onto the sidewalks, driveways and gutters. Your soil is like a sponge—after it gets saturated, the additional water just runs off, so set “soak cycles.” Instead of watering your lawn every day for 10 minutes, water it twice a day for 3 minutes each time or cycle (say 5am and 12pm). That way, all the water gets absorbed and used where it should be.

     

    • There’s a lot of new, efficient irrigation equipment on the market that can easily be added to old systems. “Smart Controller” rotating spray heads, check valves that make sure water lines don’t continue to drain when they’re turned off…these are just a few examples of how to make your existing irrigation system more efficient!

     

    Call us if you need an evaluation and more water saving information.

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  • How to Protect Your Garden from Local Wildlife

    SANTA ROSA — In addition to watering, one of the most important aspects of maintaining a garden is protecting it from the local wildlife. While this can be a challenging endeavor, there are several simple ways to deter harmful animals and keep your garden beautiful.

    Some people put up bird netting to protect their plants from wildlife, but there’s a simpler home remedy that offers a natural, nontoxic way to deter animals without diminishing your garden’s aesthetic value. Just follow these simple steps:

    1. Combine raw garlic cloves, habanero peppers and jalapeno peppers in a blender and mash them up.
    2. Put this mixture into an empty plastic container, add some water and let it steep for three to four days.
    3. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and put the liquid into a spray bottle.
    4. Spray the liquid directly onto your plants.

    In addition to vegetation, another thing that attracts animals to a garden is water, particularly from an automatic drip system. In some instances, deer will attempt to get a drink of water out of the drip system and pull off one of the water emitters in the process. Since a damaged water emitter can result in overwatering, it’s a good idea to periodically check your drip system for deer damage and watch for water-stressed plants.

    Besides deer, two other common culprits of plant damage are moles and gophers. Moles thrive in softer soil, which is another reason to avoid overwatering. While traditional rat poison can be used to eradicate moles, the best products to deter gophers are “gopher baskets.” When these metal wire baskets are placed in the soil beneath your plants, they surround the roots and protect them from gophers.

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Expert video tip
  • Video: Simple Remedies To Protect Your Plants

    Complete Video Transcription:

    SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you have a garden around your home, you’ll not only want to protect them from the elements but you’ll also want to protect them from wildlife as well. So today we’re in Santa Rosa with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Alan Kostelnik of Gardens of the Wine Country to learn how to protect your plants from wildlife.

    Expert Contributor, Alan Kostelnik: When designing, planting and managing your garden, consider its exposure to the wildlife present in your area.

    There are many remedies, there is people that build cages, there is deer netting or bird netting. A simple home remedy you can make in your own kitchen is to take garlic cloves, jabanero peppers and jalapeno peppers, put them in your blender and mash them up. There is no need to peel, there is no need to cook. Mash them up in your blender, then take the mash and put it in an old plastic gallon milk jug , empty gallon milk jug, add some water and let it steep for about three or four days in your garage. After that, you take it and strain it through some cheesecloth, put the liquid in a little atomizer spray bottle and spray that directly on the plant.

    This plant is called a euphorbia. The problem here is the deer haven’t bothered it but what they have done is deer get thirsty and when the drip emitters are working, the deer see that and they will attempt to get a drink of water out of it and many times they will pull the emitter right off which will cause the plant to drown because of over water. So you’ll need to check your emitters for deer damage when you see stress to your plants.

    Two other major culprits when it comes to native wildlife are gophers and moles. Over watering tends to bring them on because it increases the food source, especially in the case of moles. If you’re constantly watering your lawn day in and day out, you’ll have a very wet subsurface and the moles will continue to thrive. The best thing to do for plant material as far as gophers are concerned are gopher baskets, which is essentially a wire basket that you put the plant roots in, put the plants in the basket in the ground in the planting hole altogether. Moles are essentially subterranean rats and they will eat rat poison, which are little green cakes that you can buy at any hardware store or garden center.

    Host, Sarah Rutan: To learn more from local, top-rated companies, visit our Diamond Certified Expert Reports at experts.diamondcertified.org.

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Gardens of the Wine Country WEBSITE AND EXTERNAL FEED
  • Gardens of the Wine Country SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
COMPANY WEBSITE
www.gardenswc.com
Diamond Certified RATINGS ON Gardens of the Wine Country
Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i

Each surveyed customer was asked, “If you needed any helpful expertise, did this company provide that expertise?” To calculate this score, total “Yes” responses were divided by total responses (excluding those that stated they hadn’t needed any expertise).

Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
  • Legal & Finance
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 195 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i
Gardens of the Wine Country : Average 8.0 out of 10 based on 195 unique customer surveys of customer satisfaction.

Ellen C.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

1 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I feel like they were very on top of everything and they had a great, knowledgeable crew. I like that the supervisor was on site each day once they started the work.

I would say, the information and process to start with. They streamlined it.

Sonya Y.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

2 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Easy to work with and the quality of the work

The communicativeness of Allen, he was on email each day with updates on the process. Whenever we had a question, he sent a responsive immediately. And he gave up to date timeline information every so often.

Terry E.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

3 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They did a very solid job. They are responsive, neat, and did a thorough job on every aspect of the work. The quality of the craftsmanship was very high.

They have solid work in both design and repair. We had two different scopes of work for them, repairs and new work which required the design. So the quality and expertise, I would say was the best.

Diane L.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

4 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

We like going there. The staff is awesome. They were able to make our areas look amazing.

The options they gave us, I guess.

Bob M.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

5 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They were reliable, they did absolutely beautiful work, and they were responsive to all of my questions and needs.

The job they did on my landscaping, they even worked on Thanksgiving, and they were awesome.

Ellen C.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

6 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I have already told friends that he got right to the nut of what I needed to have happen. It was beautiful and relatively affordable. It made my little front yard livable, and it put everything into focus. I am very satisfied, and I have mentioned him to a lot of people. He also worked well with me on getting the materials to look natural. He was patient, and he did his end of the research. I ended up with something that was just really beautiful.

I had interviewed about 4 other people, and he was very down to earth and very experienced. He dealt with making everything walkable and safe. I really do think the world of him.

Holly G.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

7 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are easy to work with.

They are very easy to work with.

Jamie P.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

8 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Excellent service

I like their customer service, and they are on top of things. They get back to you in a reasonable amount of time.

Tim B.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

9 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I have been very, very happy with their service.

They get things done without me having to tell them, and they are very thorough.

Kathy R.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

10 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Good attention to detail and very consistent

Consistency

Mary F.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

11 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I have a specialized garden, and they are able to do different things every time. They are very willing to do whatever I ask.

I like the fact that they speak English, which makes it much easier to communicate.

Chuck R.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

12 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They'd be very happy with their services.

I think that the men take their jobs very seriously. They're very earnest about customer service, and they know their plants very well. They're absolutely a '10'.

Conrad J.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

13 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

The employees are extremely considerate and very helpful.

When they finish the work, they always ask if there is anything else they can do.

Marel P.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

14 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

He's very conscientious and he's on it. He returns phone calls and emails right away. He's not difficult to talk to. He's a really good gardener.

They are always on time. Alan returns emails almost immediately. He is very good about communicating. The bills are nicely detailed.

David E.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

15 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Very prompt, very thorough, good follow-up, and the work that they do is great.

Kim B.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

16 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are great. They are really thorough, they do a nice job with the plants, they seem to know how to trim everything properly, and the garden has never looked better.

Sharon W.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

17 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They were honest, informative, and they did a very good job replacing my lawn.

Grace S.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

18 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I have only worked with them for one month, and so far so good. They show up on time and take care of things.

John D.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

19 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are reliable.

Tom N.

VERIFIED Gardens of the Wine Country CUSTOMER

20 of 195

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

The garden looks wonderful.

Read All 195 Survey Responses at Ratings View