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. 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.
Portions of the information by permission from PLANET’s “Landscaping: It Works for Everyone”