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Review: Jason Fragomeni & Matt Magaletta Landscaping

by Chris Komuves, 2001-07-03

In the autumn of 2000, I contracted with Fragomeni & Magaletta Landscape Associates, Inc. to do some major landscape work on my yard. I knew they were a little more expensive than most other landscapers, but they presented themselves as providing very high quality work, so I didn't mind paying a little extra in return for getting top-notch work. Unfortunately, the work they did was not top notch, they lied to me, broke their agreement, and didn't finish the work that they charged me for. In total, I paid them more than $36,000 for the work they did on my yard. I am documenting my experience with them here in the hope that I will at least be able to help others not to be fooled by them.

At this point, as of July 3, 2001, I have called them several dozen times. Jason Fragomeni promised me several times that he would come over and finish the work that he was paid for, and make good on anything that was wrong. He told me to just trust him and be patient, and it would be done. After trying to "be patient" from late last year, pausing for the winter since the ground was frozen and I knew they would not work then, and then taking it up with him again early this spring, I finally learned that Jason Fragomeni and Matt Magaletta had split up, and now each had their own separate landscaping businesses. After directly promising me twice that he would do the remaining work this spring, he finally began replying that Matt Magaletta was supposed to do it, and told me to call him. So, I called Matt, and he said that Jason never told him to do the work, but that nevertheless he would take care of it within the next week. That was in April, and he still hasn't done it and still doesn't return my phone calls.

I take great pride in my own work, and pride in my own honor and honesty. It is hard to relate to people who seem to care only about making the maximum amount of money, and not caring if they even honor their own contracts or not to do it. I think it is even worse to be told "yes" by someone every time you ask them to live up to their end of the contract, but then have them never follow through.

Some of the work that their people did was excellent, while many other parts of it were incredibly poor. Two of their masons built a low stone wall that was fantastic, and I have no complaints about that. The pavers that they put in were well done, other than the fact that part of it pitches towards my house rather than away from it, so that water puddles up next to the side of my house. So, here is some of the nice stuff (you can click on any of the photos on this page for a large-size version).

Unfortunately, they edged the pavers in several areas with very thin lines of regular concrete. When they were doing this, I specifically asked them about this, saying that from everything I knew, a thing line of concrete like that would just crack as soon as the ground froze. I was told "we know what we're doing". As you can see, they obviousely don't, since during the winter, it all cracked.

I was very disappointed by the belgium block curbing they installed alongside my driveway. I was initially going to have a local mason do this, but they convinced me to have them do it instead, since it would be integrated in with the rest of their work, and would be done by their masons who they told me were really good. As you can see, there are usually huge spaces in-between each block, the spacing between each block varies widely, and the amount of morter in-between each varies widely and is very poorly done.

They put stones under the deck stairs, but they didn't pitch the soil underneath, they didn't use landscape fabric under all of the stones, and they very poorly installed a piece of edging to border it. I'm currently in the process of pulling out all the stones, washing the dirt off of them, and will, like many other things they did poorly, do it right myself. The thing is, it is four times as much work to re-do this as it would have been if I did it myself from scratch.

The paver pathway on the side of the house was supposed to be exactly 6 feet wide at the point where I had already contracted with a fence company to install a 6' arch with a double gate. I had even re-confirmed with the fence company the exact size of the arbor, and made the importance of the width of the walkway at that point very clear to Fragomeni and Magaletta (there are four posts that had to be installed, one at each corner of the arch, so it was critical that the pavers ended before the posts). When I came home from work on the day when they put the walkway in, I was shocked to find that it was 7 feet wide instead. I challenged them on this, and was told that "that's just the way it worked out", and was told that when the fence was put in, that I could just remove the extra pavers, and they would come back and cut the remaining ones and finish it off. I wasn't very happy about this, but they agreed to make it alright, so I accepted it. Ironically, they charged me extra to install the extra pavers which I never asked for, and which had to be ripped out! After both Matt Magaletta and Jason Fragomeni repeatedly agreed to come over and finish this, beginning in November 2000, still neither of them has ever honored their agreement.

I had them completely re-sod my lawn, since what was there wasn't very good and since their construction equipment would pretty much destroy a lot of it anyway. When then rolled out the sod, they pulled and stretched it to meet up with the next piece. This too, I thought was wrong, since I always learned that you should try to compress each piece of sod so that gaps don't form. As expected, there were 1" to 2" gaps between pieces of sod throughout the lawn, which I have tried to fill in. This is what my front lawn looked like at the end of April, after only partly recovering.

They also built a dry well with all of the stone debris left over from building the wall. Since they just shoveled soil on top of it without any sort of a barrier, it was already partly filled in with soil, and over a few years, it would have continued to fill in and become worthless. So, I had to dig it out completely, and rebuilt it--which was very time consuming without any equipment, and given that I had to clean the mud off of all of the stone and large pieces of rock that made it up.

When digging up my garden, I found that they had just covered over several rotten railroad ties, rather than disposing of them as they agreed. They also covered over a stack of slate pieces that was was going to re-use for a walkway (I was shocked when I hit that with my shovel!). They also buried some soda cans left over from their lunch in my garden--which should give a good indication of how conscientious they were.

I am very much saddened by my experiences with them. Not only because of the financial impact to me, but because I actually thought that there was a relationship of trust that I had with them. They did a good job of making themselves appear to be trustworthy, and I was foolish enough to buy into it. I was also foolish enough that when they asked me to pay them the final 10% of the bill on the evening when they finished most of it (not even being able to see that in the light of day) telling me that they'd come back to finish the pavers as soon as the fence was in, I agreed. For myself, I will continue to do my own landscaping work from now on, since I actually care about doing it right.

They used to be located at 113 Cornelia Street, Boonton Township, NJ 07005, Telephone: +1 973 263 3665