10 Steps to Hire A Qualified Landscape Professional
According to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the nation’s premier landscaper association, besides adding to your overall satisfaction and enjoyment of your home, quality landscaping and proper lawn care can increase the value of your home by 15 percent. Your landscape is one of the first things visitors and prospective buyers notice when they see your house. Realtors estimate that 95 percent of home shoppers will not even get out of their car if the house lacks “curb appeal.”
You are proud of your home, and you love your landscape. And like many homeowners, you probably like taking care of your own property. But there are some projects where hiring a qualified professional landscaper makes sense.
A landscape professional can offer you 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.
But with all of the companies out there offering landscape services how do you find the right one? We asked the folks at PLANET for their advice, and they suggested the following 10 steps.
Follow these 10 steps, brought to you by STIHL, before you hire a landscape professional:
Clearly define what is involved in your project.
Landscape professionals are capable of much more than just installing plant material. Services can include landscape design, irrigation, patios, decks, retaining walls, swimming pools, gazebos, irrigation systems and outdoor kitchens and living rooms. Knowing the scope of your project will help you determine which landscape professional is right for the job.
Ask how long has the company been in business.
Professional landscape companies should have employees with either a secondary education in Ornamental Horticulture 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 or certified and insured.
If required by state law, the company should be licensed or certified. This license will assure you that the contractor is accountable to you, that the company is knowledgeable, operating legally, and has passed examinations demonstrating experience, knowledge and a level of professionalism. Certification is offered by the Professional Landcare Network nationwide. PLANET certified individuals have taken their experience, skills and desire for excellence to the next level by studying, testing and earning the title “Landscape Industry Certified.”
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 high impact design that is colorful? Determine your budget before you speak with a landscape professional. If you do not know what you want in a landscape design, a qualified professional should be able to help bring your needs and landscape style preferences into focus.
Concerning guarantees, find out what is covered, for how long, and what’s not.
Proof of insurance for workers’ compensation, liability and vehicles should be available to you. Check a company’s limits and policy expiration. Ask if they have an active safety program to minimize accidents. Under some circumstances, you could be liable for mishaps or accidents which occur on your property.
Visit a job in progress.
Ask to see a project that will be similar to the work you will request. You want to hire a company that does good work, reflects professionalism and integrity. Examine the quality of the job—and see if the crew’s appearance and job presence are acceptable.
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.
Tell the company if you want to care for areas of the landscape yourself.
Once your new landscape is installed, you may wish to become more involved as a homeowner by maintaining the landscape yourself. If you want to care for certain landscaped areas, tell this to the company.
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.
Homes.com offers many resources to assist you with your gardening and landscaping projects, such as how to set up a garden or common gardening mistakes and solutions. Or visit LoveYourLandscape.com to learn more about the value of landscaping and lawn care and to find a landscape professional or lawn care specialist near you.
Finding the right landscape professional for your needs is essential. Be sure to interview several companies so that you get a feel for what is being offered and check references. Reliable references for quality landscape professionals often come from family and friends. You can also contact your local, state or national trade associations for referrals. PLANET has member landscape companies listed on their website at landcarenetwork.org.
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