Need a landscaper? It’s important to choose right! But of course, this isn’t something we do every day, so we might not know how to go about it. With that in mind, we decided to put together a little guide to help you determine what you need and how to hire the right person or company for the job.
First, let’s make sure you know what type of services you want to hire.
Design or Maintenance?
There are two basic categories of landscaping services out there. That doesn’t mean there can’t be overlap, but it’s good to know exactly what you’re looking for before beginning to shop.
Some landscapers specialize in the design aspect. They’re also known as landscape architects. Their services are often “one and done.” You hire them to create and install the overall look and feel of your yard and garden. Once that’s done, so is their job.
On the other hand, some landscapers do ongoing maintenance of your yard. They trim hedges, mow lawns, and perform all the routine tasks involved in keeping your yard looking great.
Some landscapers specialize in one or the other of these tasks. But many will do both. It’s important to know what services they offer, though. That way you don’t waste time and you’ll know if you have to look for two different service providers.
Landscaper or Gardener?
It’s also important to remember that a landscaper isn’t the same as a gardener. A company that designs landscapes likely has a gardener on staff to handle that aspect of the job. But for maintenance, you are probably looking for two different services.
A gardener, of course, takes care of the garden. That includes flowers and maybe even vegetable- and fruit-bearing plants.
A landscaper, though, will take care of your lawn, trees, and bushes. They also help keep the decorative elements in proper order. This could include stone trim, decorative rocks, or other parts of your yard.
Again, some companies may provide both services as a package deal. However, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before hiring someone.
What To Look For When Hiring A Landscaper
Whether you are hiring a landscaper for design or maintenance, you’ll want to ask many of the same questions. Of course, knowing which of those services they offer should be on your list, too!
Here are some steps that can help you make the right choice.
What Do Your Contacts Say?
Recommendations from people you know always carry the most weight. With landscaping, you can see the results easily whenever you visit an acquaintance.
Ask about the work done, the cost, and the customer service provided by landscapers who’ve worked for people you know. This is a great way to get started!
What About Online Reviews?
Check online reviews and consumer protection services like the Better Business Bureau, too. This is especially helpful if you’re in a new area where you don’t have personal contacts.
Remember to take online reviews with a grain of salt, though. Even though Facebook, Google, and other platforms try to prevent fake reviews, many still get through.
How Is Their Customer Service?
Recommendations and reviews go far to help you understand who offers good customer service. You want the job done right, but you also want to be able to ask questions and get responses before, during, and after the work is done.
Sure, any landscaper probably answers the same questions a thousand times a year. But you still need to understand the work they’re doing. And you should expect good answers in a timely fashion. No, you don’t have a right to 24-hour concierge service. But you should be able to expect reasonable responses to questions or requests.
Is The Landscaper Bonded and Insured?
Any time you hire a contractor, you should make sure they have the proper insurance in place. This protects you as a homeowner in case anything happens to them while they work on your property. It also protects you in case they do any damage to your home or land.
Do They Guarantee Their Work?
Insurance may cover damage, but you also want the work itself to meet your expectations. Look for a landscaper that guarantees their work. That can include that it turns out as agreed upon. It also should protect you in case plants or trees die early on.
Will They Work With And Around Your Desired Features?
Landscapers deal with forming the land and with plants. But you may have particular features that you want to be included, so it’s important to hire someone who will work with that.
For instance, many people like to incorporate large rocks into their yard. Not every landscaper will deal with them, though. They often require special equipment to move them in addition to an “eye” for how to make them work.
Even working around a swimming pool is something to ask about. This usually just calls for the landscaper to work around it as they would work around a hill, a wall, or existing trees. But some may specialize more in making a pool seem a natural part of the yard.
What Will The Finish Project Look Like?
This applies to landscape design and not maintenance.
A landscaping project is like a work of art. It’s not easy to put it into words and make sure everyone understands the same thing.
Ask your landscaper for a sketch or drawing of what the layout will be. This will help make sure everyone is on the same page.
With modern computer programs, it’s even easier to get a vision of how your garden will look now and how the vegetation will fill in over time.
What’s Included – And How Much Will It Cost?
Of course, you’ll want an itemized quote before signing off on a project. Be sure you understand what’s included, whether it’s a maintenance or design project.
You’ll want to be sure labor and supplies are included. That includes any plants, trees, sod, and seed you’ll need. A good landscaper will know how to calculate the needs for your particular situation.
For maintenance, too, make sure responsibilities are clear. Make sure your contract lists the responsibilities you expect the landscaper to perform. This could include mowing, fertilizing, trimming hedges, and more.
Whether you need a landscaper for a one-time installation or ongoing maintenance, it’s important to choose wisely. A few simple questions will help make the process easier. With these, you’ll be able to make the right choice and have the yard of your dreams!