Many homeowners can tackle and find enjoyment in regular yard maintenance tasks like mowing, raking, and even winterizing gardens. When it comes to landscaping, it is often a bigger undertaking than many want to or have the time to attempt. Landscaping is an art form, and if done well, it adds curb appeal to any property and can transform even the smallest of yards into a coveted outdoor treasure.
The yellow pages and internet directories are filled with landscaping contractors who claim to be the best, but how do you know which one is right for you? Rather than selecting the first one you come across or when you have simply become too overwhelmed to choose, here are some tips for choosing the right landscape contractor for all of your landscaping visions and needs:
Before you start your search for the right landscape contractor, it’s a good idea to get organized to make your search easier:
Setting a Budget: Landscaping budgets can vary greatly, so it’s a good idea to set one before you hire a contractor. Keep in mind that the costs can increase once a project has been started. Therefore, your landscaping budget should be a little flexible, but you should make sure to set a maximum price.
Have an Idea of What You Want: Whether you have a general idea or a specific plan, it helps to have a vision before contacting landscaping companies. Start collecting pictures from magazines, online images, and taking pictures from various landscapes around your community. You could even take a picture of your yard or areas around your home and sketch in your thoughts and ideas.
When Do You Want the Project Finished?: Are you hoping to have landscape work done for a special event such as a wedding or family gathering? It’s important to remember that landscaping companies are often busiest during the spring and summer months. If you have a timeline, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Research and Reviews
Thanks to the internet, conducting research has become much easier, but it’s always important to remember to stick with sources you trust and can give you honest information. In addition to reading business reviews online, ask for feedback from people you know. Did your neighbor recently have some landscaping done or you love the landscaping features at your favorite bistro? It never hurts to ask who they hired to do the work.
Browse Online Portfolios
As part of your research, take a look at a prospective landscaping contractor’s website. By browsing online portfolios or idea books and general information, you should be able to get a good feeling as to whether or not they should stay on your list of prospective contractors. If there are no online portfolios available, contact the company and see if they can email images of their previous work.
Ask About Experience
As with any home service, you want to hire someone with experience. Some landscape contractors may be professionally trained with a degree in Horticulture while others may be self-taught. Although everyone needs to start somewhere, you may not be comfortable hiring someone with little experience. As a potential client, you have the right to ask for references and any other relevant information.
Insurance and Warranties
Even the most professional and experienced of contractors make mistakes and accidents do happen. Consider hiring a landscaping contractor that has liability insurance that will cover the costs of any damage that may affect your property. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask a potential landscape contractor if he or she provides a warranty for the work that is completed. What happens if you don’t like the final results? Will he or she fix it at no cost or will you be charged extra?
Is Your Voice Heard?
When meeting or speaking with landscaping contractors, pay attention to how they respond to your landscaping vision. Although “the customer is always right,” a good contractor should offer constructive feedback if he or she thinks that some aspect of your plan may not work well on your property. Similarly, a professional contractor will work hard to create your vision, not do whatever he or she wants (unless you have given permission to give him or her that freedom).
In addition to having your voice heard, a good landscaping contractor is excellent at communicating and is easy to get a hold of, whether via email, text, voicemail, or phone. He or she should also be open to you taking a look at the project’s progress and always discuss any changes that need to be made.
Experience is one thing and choosing a landscape contractor based upon affordability is another, but you want to hire someone who is passionate about landscaping. He or she should be enthusiastic, take pride in the finished product, and be eager to make sure you are a satisfied customer.
Taking care of one’s lawn and garden can be an enjoyable experience, but landscaping is often best left to professionals who have horticultural experience and have the ability to transform a property of any size. Since landscaping is a financial and timely investment, it is important to choose a landscaping contractor who meets all your wants and needs.