Your neighbor’s yard is fabulous. Their landscaper is this little old guy in a beat-up pickup. And the yard between your and his is maintained impeccably by a professional landscape company. A Landscape Architect who runs his own nursery designed the one real showcase in the subdivision.
It is definitely time to take care of your shabby place. But how to you screen landscape professionals to find someone who’s both good and affordable.
Your local nursery should be a first stop. They often have landscapers of all levels on staff or they know most of the local workers. They know which ones have a good understanding of vegetation that thrives in your area. And they know which landscapers meet their obligations. You may not get a negative response on a particular landscaper, but you’re sure to get an earful about a great one.
Checking your landscaper’s Credentials
Degrees and Certification
When checking into the credentials of a landscaping business you’re considering, investigate as to whether or not the landscapers in question have degrees in landscaping. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are available in Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Additionally, Landscape Architects must pass federal exams before acquiring the title.
Some states also have examinations that must be passed in order to operate a landscaping business. Others leave the certification (other than Landscape Architect) to the trade associations, both state and national.
A degree or certificate means someone passed a test. It does not necessarily indicate experience, design skill or familiarity with your local conditions or plants. After all, that Landscape Architect whose books you like may be out of California. His advice works well there, but not in the sweltering South.
So, paper credentials are not the only, or even best, types of credentials to look for when searching for a landscaping business. The best way to choose one the right person to work on your landscaping project is to call several landscapers and to interview them. Examine their portfolios carefully and ask for (and call) local references.
Sketches and Resources
Good landscapers will usually take pride in showing their work. You may have them make a quick sketch of some of their recommendation for your yard. (Like a doctor’s consultation, expect to pay for this service. Often this fee will be subtracted from the bid should you accept their proposal.) And ask for a complete, detailed bid for your landscaping work. And check the references about reliability and speed with which they complete the work.
The proof is in the pudding. Actually visit their clients to check out their yards. And, if you see some landscaping that you really like while driving around, stop by and ask about them about their landscapers. Be sure to inquire about how the landscapers worked and how much they charged. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find excellent work.
Participation in neighborhood and community meetings are a good way to network for a doctor or landscaper or just about any other professional. You’ll hear, firsthand, the good and not so good experiences your neighbors have had. In addition, your community should be able to provide you with a listing of landscaping companies that are licensed in your area.