I took some time since the completion of our project before writing this review. It has been about 1 month since Markstone Landscaping has finished our project. Overall, I cannot recommend this company to other people looking for landscaping needs. Numerous red flags and issues that came up during the project itself that left me very disappointed with my experience with Markstone Landscaping. I want to make it clear to people reading this - customers are not the experts. We rely on the guidance and knowledge of the people we hire to help us make decisions. Markstone Landscaping did not provide any guidance for us during our project until the issues were severe.
For reference, we asked Markstone Landscaping to expand our driveway to add an additional parking spot, replace the existing asphalt with interlocking stone, and to extend the interlocking stone around the front of the house to the side gate to create a walkway leading to the backyard. The space is approximately 1100 sq feet and the quote was approximately $29k for the project. They guarantee that projects will be completed in 2 weeks with a 2 year warranty.
1. April, our project coordinator, was the bright spot in this experience. She was able to get our project started early, she was available for all questions and maintained communication up until a point. I believe she tried her best to make our experience as pleasant as possible but there were too many issues that came up that were out of her control.
2. A professional opening experience with Zak. He came and surveyed our site, gave us a reasonable quote and slick materials for us to look through. All types of stone available, etc in the production materials. He was also readily available to help guide us in stone choice and directing us to their supplier, Tomar Garden and Supplies, in Mississauga.
3. The excavation crew was timely and completed their part within one day and had it cleaned up the next day. Very professional and courteous to our family for the time they were there.
Installation Crew: Our initial experience with the installation crew was positive. For the first few days they were polite, hard working, and had put in 12+ hour days to get our project moving quickly. However, the issues we had were numerous:
a. Lack of communication: No initial walkthrough by the installation crew to give us some insight on issues that may come up with the installation. Better communication may have saved us a lot of trouble.
b. They made unilateral decisions on how the project should proceed. Our driveway expansion was supposed to have a gentle curve bordering the additional parking spot. On what was meant to be the last day of work they decided to change that completely to a 90 degree angle (they removed the curve without asking us). It was only because we saw them on our house cameras that we knew what was happening. When asked about this, they simply said We dont have the tools for the job. What kind of answer is that? There were multiple areas that required curved cuts and they had elected to not do that at all because they couldnt be bothered to be prepared. Unbelievable. We had to directly contact April regarding the unplanned change, who then contacted the crew and instructed them to return to the original plan.
c. Another change that was also made on the same day was the addition of a small, half-foot step just adjacent to the front steps of the house leading to the walkway. This was not in the original plan and the rationale of the crew was that the excavators made the grading too steep to allow a level surface. In fairness, they did inform us of this change before they proceeded with it and we did agree to the change. However, this was done only after we intervened regarding the issue with the curve. If we had not initially contacted April, allowing the crew to work uninterrupted, then they most likely would have installed this step without telling us.
d. They buried our water valve/curb stop (the emergency access point for
water shut off installed by the city). This valve was sticking up 2 feet above the ground and they somehow managed to bury it.
e. Lack of courtesy to our household. At one point they had asked us to open the garage to get some materials stored. Instead of closing the garage, they kept it open and proceeded to cut stone. Our garage was covered in stone dust. Our van covered, our kids strollers, all of our storage. All covered. Just lack of awareness.
f. Overall, upon completion of the project, we were not happy at all with the quality of the work and decided to escalate to the owner. The curved areas in particular were made up of stone that was unevenly cut, with irregular and inconsistent spacing compared to the rest of the driveway. Some areas in between the stones making up the curve were not filled in with polymeric sand - adjacent stones were directly contacting each other. The half-foot step frankly looked ridiculous and was a clear tripping hazard.
I raised numerous issues to my main contacts that included Zak and April over email. April had told me that people would be there the next Monday AM to address the issue. I wasnt happy with the lack of details, so I decided to comb through Google reviews and LinkedIn to find contact information for Mark, the CEO. I took the day off Monday so I could meet this crew and discuss all of the issues. Unsurprisingly no one showed up the entire day. At least Mark contacted me and said that he could meet Tuesday and he would call me Tuesday to arrange a time. Another day not at the office. I follow up with him Tuesday with a couple of calls with no answer. He elected to call me late afternoon and says he will be there by 4 PM. When he did show up, we at least had a productive conversation. However, another huge disappointment was that the installation crew was the same crew from the start coming back to fix the issues. After we had finished, Mark said he would follow up with everything we discussed over email. Guess what, no email. Another example of poor communication.
The following day, the installation crew showed up. Again, I had to work from home to be able to work with this crew. The demeanor of the crew was completely different. They were not interested in being there and the gentleman who was the site leader ended up in an argument with me about what was discussed with Mark. An actual heated argument with him not happy at all with what we were asking. Unbelievably he left and he did not come back. He left the work to the other 2 people there. Poor professionalism and poor communication again.
The remaining crew finished the changes by the end of the day. We were accepting of the changes, mainly because we wanted to be done with the project. However, the overall quality is lacking.
- The curved area bordering the driveway expansion is minimally improved from the previous version. Inconsistently shaped and spaced stone comprises the curved border, compared to the straight border areas of the driveway which is made up of consistently shaped and evenly spaced stone laid out in a regular and repeating pattern. Several adjacent stones remain directly contacting each other, with no polymeric sand in between, and 3 of the stones already have large, visible chips. Not surprisingly the chipped stones are the ones directly contacting other stones. Now, we can appreciate the technical difficulty involved in creating a consistent, curved border. However, when we are paying $30k then we are expecting that level of skill and craftsmanship. At the very least, ensure that areas in between the stones are filled in with polymeric sand
- They found our water valve and cut out a small area of the overlying stone to allow for access. However it is still fairly recessed and difficult to access if needed - the city would have likely have to break up more stone around the valve or remove the overlying stone entirely
- The crew was able to get rid of the half-foot step with a barely noticeable grade of the resulting surface - a welcomed improvement. However, given the final result, not sure why the crew had initially insisted that the step needed to be installed
The last aspect is clean up. It is unbelievable what this company believes is acceptable.
- For nearly 2 weeks we had a large pile of gravel and cut stone sitting with pylons around them. The court where we live was essentially inaccessible for maintenance vehicles including garbage trucks for 2 weeks
- They did not clean up on a regular basis. Empty skids were on our grass for 2 weeks that killed the grass that it was on. The loose garbage was tidied but not taken away and again sitting on our lawn
- The reason was because of a lack of resources and a broken truck so only one crew was available for clean up. Whatever the reason may be, still unprofessional that they treat customers and their neighbours like this.
As mentioned, Markstone Landscaping offers a 2 year warranty on their work. However, I do not expect that they will honor this warranty if and when issues arise, which they already have. We are now actually looking at our landscapers to fix the dead lawn that we now have and to examine the work they have done. I will not be surprised if they have to tear up areas to fix their work.
Overall, I cannot recommend this company. If you are looking to hire them, please do your due diligence and look at the negative reviews. Those reviews reflect exactly what we experienced.