Searching for the Right Professional Landscaper

Searching for the Right Professional Landscaper
by Keith Markensen

Because there is a great deal of time and effort placed into the landscaping of your garden, it is wise to ensure that the job is done correctly. If you feel that you do not possess the necessary skills or knowledge to do the job, you should consider seeking professional help. Here are a few things to consider when you are choosing a landscaping professional.

How do you want your landscape to look?

Some people opt to go with whatever design the landscaper envisages and whilst this may be acceptable for some of us, for others it is important that our garden reflects at least some of our personality traits and ideas. Therefore, do your homework before you contact a company. Make a note of precisely what you are wanting in your garden. Include things such as pools, trees, vines, decking, paths and the color scheme. Make sure that the landscape company is aware of your wishes and be guided as to the feasibility of your concept. You should also set yourself a budget and communicate that to the landscaper as well.

Research Your Options

Obviously, you will first have to locate prospective landscapers. You may decide to go online to do this or use a company directory to get contact numbers. A smart thing to do is some local research – check out any projects that are happening around your home and make enquiries. Not only will you obtain contact numbers; you will also be able to ask about the quality of workmanship.

Meet Company Representatives

Organizing a meeting with the representatives of a number of companies will help you to establish if the company has the knowledge and experience necessary to complete the job to your satisfaction. Talk through your ideas with the representative and take note of their comments. It is also a good idea to meet with the person who is actually going to complete the project as its success will depend a great deal on how you relate. If you feel that either the representative or the worker is rude or arrogant or you don’t feel comfortable working with them, move on to the next company.

Check for Identifications, Certifications and Licenses

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Make sure that the company that you choose is a legitimate business concern by checking for their federal identification number. You should also make sure that they have valid up to date insurance cover and a sales tax license. Check the company representative’s credentials as well as the credentials of the person completing the project. Relevant experience also counts. Most companies with an operating license should have fully qualified staff.

Inquire about the time the company has been in existence

The number of years that a company has been operating is not necessarily vital in the decision making process, but the longer a company has been operating is an indication of their success and their understanding of the local conditions. As such, these longer standing companies will have an advantage over the newer ones.

Check out some ongoing and completed projects

It is quite acceptable to ask to view ongoing or completed projects. Arrange for a convenient time to visit a site and take a look. If you can, ask the owner about the work and gauge their level of satisfaction. The advantage of visiting projects that are still in progress is that you are able to watch the crew at work and assess for yourself the quality of the work.

If it is not convenient for you to visit the actual site, you can request photos to view as well as customer references. Contact the customers and ask what they thought of the service given to them.

Inquire about ongoing maintenance

Most landscape designs require regular to keep them looking good, so it is vital that you ask about any services that the company may offer in this regard. Check to see if they offer a mowing service, weed removal, pest control fertilizing etc and the prices for these services.

Some other issues to find information about

There are a few questions that you should remember to ask the company:

* How do you evaluate the condition of the soil and what measures do you take to improve the soil fertility?

* What fertilizers do you use?

* How important is water management to your company? What will you do to minimize the consumption of water on this project?

* What preventative methods do you use regarding pest control?

* What insurance do you have regarding accident or damage? How do you cover accidental damage?

When you have made the decision and “gone firm” on a particular company, ensure that you have a detailed contract or plan even if work involves only a small backyard that includes the following:

* the proposed design (e.g. tropical landscaping design, water front, etc)

* a list of the plants and other materials to be used

* payment options

* duration of work

* maintenance

* guarantees and liability issues

* start and finish dates

* the total cost

The contract should contain every important aspect of the plan and should be properly signed. Check the “fine print” and confirm any possible issues you may have with the landscaper before you accept the offer.

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