Consumer Tips

Suggested Guidelines for Choosing a Landscape Contractor

It is important to remember that landscaping, particularly landscape design and installation, is not a commodity to which a price tag can be easily attached. It can be compared to purchasing art! Landscapes that are pleasing to the eye, functional, and of lasting quality require professional design and installation.

HIRING

If you expect to hire a professional Landscaper, you’ll want to use the techniques of a professional buyer.

  • Review photos and plans of completed work.
  • Ask for references and follow up. Visit sites of past projects.
  • Require proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
  • Examine and compare guarantees, contracts, and follow-up maintenance instructions.
  • If fertilizers of pesticides are to be applied, be sure the contractor is licensed.
  • Find out which professional trade organizations do they belong to, such as The Mahoning Valley Landscape and Nursery Association (MVLNA), Ohio Landscapers Association (OLA), or Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can check out any business by calling BBB’s automated system 330-744-3111.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

  • Know others who have used the contractor? Don’t get ‘sold’ on a flashy phone book ad by an outfit you’ve never heard of.
  • Certification & Licensing: Be sure the contractor has met the proper requirements, as well as if he/she has done any special projects, has been professionally certified or won any awards.
  • Insurance: Require the contractor to submit liability and worker’s compensation certificates. Ask if the company has a safety and drug/alcohol testing program. Any reputable firm would have a stacked first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the truck.
  • Personnel & Equipment: Determine if the contractor employs sufficient experienced staff for your project. Does their appearance reflect professionalism? Are the trucks in decent shape? Ask about the type of equipment that is to be used. Will the contractor be renting or is it a piece of equipment owned by the company. Be sure equipment is properly sized for the project.

SUMMING IT UP

  1. Communications: Does the contractor have an office and facility? Is their an answering service, voice mail, or cell phone number? Determine if the contractor returns calls within 24 hours.
  2. Value: Your landscape creates the first impression visitors have of your home or business. Professional landscaping increases property value and increases itself in value if properly cared for. The firm you choose should be based foremost on design and ideas presented, the salesmanship demonstrated by the contractor, adn his/her reputation and quality. Do not base you decision solely on the lowest bid. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is most certainly the case in landscaping.
  3. Professional Memberships: Ask the contractor for a list of trade organizations and affiliations. The fact that he/she has an interest in promoting professional growth is a good indication of the contractor’s preparedness to meet requirements and follow through with quality workmanship.