At first glance it would seem that hiring a new landscaper wouldn’t be all that hard, it’s a tedious job but not all that complicated, right? As it turns out, there are a lot of things that could go wrong that might have disastrous consequences, but if you ask all the right questions before you have them working you should be all right. Here are the right questions you should start with.
They Should Lead With Their Contractors License and Insurance
In nearly every municipality in the US, people that do work on your home or yard need to have a license and insurance. The business license or contractors license will almost always be issued by the county, city, or state in which they do business. The municipality requires these in order to help eliminate fraud and protect homeowners.
If a contractor doesn’t maintain his license he can be fined and made to appear in court. In addition to that, if they are caught cheating customers they can have their license suspended or revoked to stop them from future crimes. If a company in the landscaping business has no license, beware, there may be a reason, and you don’t want to find out the hard way.
The same goes with insurance as well. The insurance will cover a multitude of things that could go wrong on a landscaping project that the contractor would be liable for. For instance, one of their workers is using a lawn mower which kicks up a rock and damages your car. Auto body work is very expensive, maybe the bill is $1,000, does business have insurance? There are hundreds of scenarios that could happen and that’s why they must carry insurance to have their license.
Having the license also helps to ensure that they are legally paying their employees, their taxes, their accident insurance, and unemployment taxes. If the contractor doesn’t pay these and an employee hurts their back, you could be sued for damages.
Ask How Long They’ve Been In Business
Everybody loves a hard working start up company that’s rising to the top, but they also go out of business frequently as well. After you ask how long they’ve been in business, go online and search for reviews. If there are none, maybe it’s because they had to change names to avoid bad publicity, you’ll never know.
If they have no reviews, skip them, if they have a few bad ones but mostly good, read through them all to decide whether they should be given a chance. Most reputable companies will have a website and maybe an office. Offices are becoming less and less important with all the new technology, but a website is highly necessary instead.
What Kinds Of Services Do The Offer?
There are going to be lots of answers here, but basically there are landscape companies that only maintain yards in their current condition with few modifications or upgrades.
Then, there are full service landscapers that have heavy machinery and can tear up your yard, replant all your plants and even install a new lawn. Some specialize in sprinkler systems too. Do you need those services or do you really just want your yard kept looking beautiful the way it is? You’ll need to ask.
They Should Have a Pest Control Applicators License
This will vary from state to state, but most states are very particular when it comes to spraying insecticides, herbicides, or other types of pesticides. If all they will be doing is fertilizing your lawn, then maybe no license is needed but, if there are weeds to be killed and leaf-cutter ants crawling up your trees, they’ll have to be licensed to take care of the problem.
If they are going to be pruning fruit trees or ornamentals, they should also have an arborist on staff. Not every employee will need this title to follow the instructions of the professional, but pruning trees without the right knowledge can ruin or kill some trees.
Will They Haul Away All Of The Yard Debris
In some areas this is not a problem since they include yard debris pickup as part of the waste management service in the city or county. Other places will have burn days or compost piles for recycling.
However, if none of that is available where you live, taking care of a pile of grass clippings, bush trimmings, or tree limbs could be a major amount of work. Some landscaping companies take away all of the debris and recycle it into compost on their own property. Ask them what they offer, this can be a very important point on who you hire.
What If It’s Raining On Your Scheduled Mowing Day?
This can happen anywhere, but some parts of the country are very rainy for months on end. This will be a problem for the maintenance crew as well, ask to find out. Some will cancel by phone and reschedule for no charge, others will charge an additional fee, while still others will just not show up and you’ll have to make the calls. It depends on how much time, energy, and patience you have, so ask.
If They Are Doing A Project What’s The Guarantee?
This will depend on whether you’re just having maintenance done or re-landscaping your yard. Most companies will offer a guarantee of 2 to 4 years on most plants that they install. Plants do die, sometimes for no reason, but also because they are installed hastily. They also need lots of care at the beginning and ongoing care afterward.
They should explain their guarantee and how different events could affect the life of the guarantee. Obviously if you change maintenance companies the old company isn’t coming back to water the plants they installed. So ask all the pertinent questions and know what you need to do to keep your guarantees in force.
This list is only the beginning of what you should ask depending on the work you want done. You should at least have some idea of the right questions to ask when hiring a lawn care company. Make a list and don’t be shy about asking.