Hiring tips and planning your project


You have decided to enhance your property and your quality of life by improving your landscape.

Improved air and water quality

  • One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, equaling 11,000 miles of car emissions
  • 2,500 sq. ft. of turf absorbs carbon dioxide and releases enough oxygen for a family of four to breathe
  • Runoff from hard surfaces carries 5.5 times more pollutants than runoff from green spaces
  • Proper landscaping reduces nitrates leaching into the water supply and reduces surface water runoff, keeping pollutants out of our waterways

Lower heating and cooling costs

  • Properly placed deciduous trees allow air conditioning units to run 2 - 4% more efficiently
  • Trees shading homes can reduce attic temperatures as much as 40 degrees

Better health

  • Green spaces lower blood pressure, relieve stress, reduce headaches, improve attention and reduce fear and anger
  • Employees with views of green spaces experience less job pressure and greater job satisfaction
  • Gardening and yard work contribute to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and emotionally

Quality of life

  • Green spaces encourage gatherings, promote the feeling of community, reduce crime, domestic violence and aggression
  • Green spaces also encourage physical exercise and reduce sports-related injuries

Increased property values

  • Consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3% higher than its base price
  • A landscaping investment is nearly always recovered and can help reduce the time a home is on the market

Information from Project Evergreen. Learn more at projectevergreen.org

Hiring a professional

A landscape contractor can offer a variety of services, including design, installation and maintenance of your property based on your specific needs and requests. Many firms have landscape architects and designers on staff, offering the expertise to create and orchestrate the complete design, installation and maintenance of the most complex landscapes. Here are some pointers to hiring a qualified landscape professional:

  • Decide how a landscape contractor can help you. A professional landscape contractor can help you improve your living environment. Landscape contractors not only install and maintain plant material, but install hardscape material, including patios, decks, retaining walls, gazebos and irrigation systems.
  • Ask how long the company has been in business. Look for firms that are stable and well-established in the community. Most professional landscape companies will have employees with education in horticulture-related fields and/or several years of experience. Additionally, professional companies are most often active members in national or state landscape associations. Affiliation indicates that a company is interested in excellence and progressive thought.

For instance, members of the Georgia Urban Ag Council agree to this Code of Ethics:

As a member of UAC, I agree to adhere to the following principles:

To promote honesty and professionalism always;

To promote and encourage best management practices;

To improve my skills and knowledge and to encourage education and research; and

To elevate public awareness of the professionalism of the urban ag industry through my investment in the association.

Ask the firm for a list of references and professional affiliations. Look at each of the jobs listed to see if the work is the size, style and quality you desire.

  • Select a landscape company that is licensed and insured. This license will assure you that the contractor is accountable to you, that the company is operating legally, and is demonstrating a level of professionalism. Ask for proof of adequate insurance coverage for worker’s compensation, liability and vehicles.
  • Decide what you are looking for in a landscape design. Do you want an area for entertaining, an extension of your living space, a low maintenance landscape or a colorful, high impact design? Determine your budget before you speak with a landscape professional. If you are not sure of what you want, a qualified professional should be able to help bring your needs and landscape style preferences into focus.
  • Ask the company to provide a written plan and/or contract. Prior to making any agreement, have the landscape contractor, designer, and/or architect prepare the details in writing. This plan can include the design, plant material to be used, all costs, a time table and the terms of payment. You have the right to amend the contract.
  • Know which services are provided in ongoing maintenance. Ongoing maintenance is necessary in order to protect your investment. You can do it, or you can ask the company to do the work. Generally, ongoing maintenance involves mowing, fertilizing, pest control, among other services.

Planning your project

Things to consider as you go through this process:

Questions for you:

  • What are your needs?
  • What are your interests?
  • What is your lifestyle?
  • What is your personal taste?
  • What are your entertaining needs?
  • Do you like to do yard work?
  • How much time can you spend on maintenance?
  • What are your favorite colors?
  • What are your favorite flowers?
  • What are your favorite shrubs?
  • What are your favorite trees?

Questions for the company:

  • Length of time in business?
  • Education/experience of employees?
  • Client references?
  • Safety record?
  • Business license?
  • Workers comp insurance?
  • Professional memberships?

Questions about the project:

  • Written contract?
  • Landscape plan?
  • Plant/materials list?
  • Timetable for completion?
  • Payment terms?

Learn. Get inspired. Connect.

  • Read tips from our members
  • Get ideas for your landscape
  • View award-winning projects