Just when you’re done with shoveling snow, you can set your sights toward spring (and summer) and mowing the lawn. But, for many, the grass would be a lot greener if they could just get someone else to do it (the mowing that is). But, weeding out a reputable landscaper, one who not only knows what he is doing but also one you can trust and can afford can be quite challenging and tricky, especially if you’re not sure of what to ask about or look for. With that said, professionals offer the following advice for homeowners who are a bit “green” in the gardening arena.
1. Put Your Money Where Your Word Of Mouth Is: If you’re going to invest in any professional, your best bet is to choose among those that come highly referred by those you know and trust. After all, there’s no better advertising, than a content client. And, by all means, don’t be afraid to ask strangers and neighbors (with lovely lawns) for their recommendation.
2. Dig A Little Deeper: Go beneath the surface and unearth some solid references. Not only should you ask for client approval but ask to take a look at their yards. You’ll also want to ask your potential service provider to see a sample of his work, including photo albums and any work featured in magazines.
3. Refrain From Planting A Financial Seed: Sometimes service professionals will charge you based on what they think you can afford, or a “comfortable” number you’ve revealed to them. Instead, experts suggest giving the prospective landscaper a detailed wish list and allowing him to generate an estimate.
4. Sign On The Dotted Line: Although many (service) professionals may insist that their word and their handshake is as good as a written contract, experts suggest “getting it in writing” It’s likely your chosen landscaper will request a 50 percent down payment (up front) with the balance due upon completion of the job/services. However, professionals point out that a landscaper worth his weight in soil will honor the contract even if you hold back 10 percent of the payment until 30 days after completion (or sooner if you’re happy with the work). And, they suggest asking for a specific guarantee for the services agreed upon.
5. Get An Education: Get informed by brushing up via the latest gardening books and magazines, you that you learn the lingo and can properly ask for what you want, and maybe even have some pictures to show making your expectations more concrete and clear.
6. Insta-Garden Alternatives: If you’ve got the time, energy, and ambition about doing much of the work yourself, experts suggest hiring a landscaper or landscape architect to draw up the plans and a planning schedule (preferably starting in the spring). And they note that some nurseries offer this service either for free or for a nominal fee.