How to Hire a Landscaper: Tips for Hiring a Landscaping Contractor

Hiring a professional, licensed landscaper is the safest method for hiring landscapers. Taking time to hire a reputable landscaping contractor can ensure that you get professional, high-quality work for a fair price. The type of landscaping contractor you hire will depend upon the type of services you need.

Types of Landscaping Contractors
1. General Landscapers - They provide routine landscaping maintenance, including mowing, fall and spring yard clean up and light gardening. Some general landscapers provide irrigation system services.

2. Landscape Architect - They develop plans for landscape design projects which are then given to a general landscaper. Landscape architects are commonly used for new home or building construction.

3. Design/Build Landscape Contractor - They are professionals who can both design and create your landscape.

4. Landscape Designers - They provide ideas for gardens and landscapes and determine planting plans. Landscape designer usually work with landscapes that are already in place and need re-designing.

Proper Credentials
Some cities and states require landscapers to have a business license. Make sure your landscaping contractor is licensed, insured or bonded, especially if required in your area. Ask to see licenses and make sure they are valid. It's a sign of responsibility when a landscaper takes the time to become properly credentialed. Ask the landscaper you are interested in if he has completed any landscaping certification programs. He will have a document to verify his certification.

References are extremely important when hiring a landscaper. It's important to ask for references and to speak to the homeowners the landscaper has worked for. Ask for the addresses of homes in your neighborhood where the landscaper completed work. Drive by and get a first-hand look at the yard. A good landscaping contractor will be proud of his work and should be willing to provide you with this information.

Your family, friends and coworkers can be the best resources when searching for a landscaper. If your friends or family were happy with a landscaper, then chances are you will be, too. Spend time asking your friends and family questions about the landscaping contractor they used. Include questions about whether the job was completed on time; whether he followed the details on the contract; whether mowings were completed according to the proposed schedule. Keep in mind that each person has his own idea of quality. Inspect the landscaping work completed at your friend's house so that you can determine if it is the quality that you want. Consider asking strangers whose landscapes you admire for the contact information of their landscaper and whether they had a good experience.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau is a good source for researching information about a specific landscaper. You can also do a search for landscapers who are in good "A+" standing. You can search the BBB online or contact your local BBB branch office. If the landscaper you are interested in had a complaint against him, find out the nature of the complaint and how it was resolved.

Estimate, Contract and Payment
Be wary of a landscaper who does not want to give you an estimate or contract in writing. You should be provided with a detailed estimate, including the cost breakdown of all plants and flowers to be purchased. For landscaping maintenance contracting, be sure to have the following information specified:
* Types of nutrients and chemicals to be used.
* Breakdown of monthly charges: maintenance, fertilizing and mowing.
* Any additional services needed, such as aerating or snow removal.
* For larger landscaping projects, a specific timeline should also be included.

Payment should never be more than 50% upfront. Openly discuss a reasonable payment schedule for the rest of the work. A typical payment schedule is: 50% upfront, 10% at the start, 10% halfway through and 30% at completion.

Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about local landscaping techniques in your area. Knowing which plants and flowers are native to your area will help you determine which plants are best for your garden. The more you know, the easier it will be to hire a landscaper to fill your needs.


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