Choosing a Landscape Contractor

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Picking “the right” landscape company can be a challenge so it is important that you begin with what you want for your yard and determine your expectations. If you only want general yard work and maintenance, many residential lawn care services are available for hire. Other companies offer more comprehensive services and will do everything from basic landscaping, to turf and irrigation installation, to complete property renovations, while some may offer “organic” lawn care alternatives.

Smal backyard landscape

Image by Mandy Jansen, Flickr CC BY-NC_ND 2.0

Ask for Credentials

When you have narrowed your choice, an estimate from 3 or 4 landscapers is the best way to give you an accurate idea of cost for the desired jobs. Do not feel pressured to always choose the lowest estimate. Keep in mind that more experienced landscapers or higher quality materials may cost more. 

When interviewing a potential landscaper, remember some basic questions to ask:

  • What are the comprehensive services they offer?
  • What are their certifications?
  • Can they provide proof of insurance?
  • Can they provide a list of references or recent clients? 
  • Are there any photos of completed short- and long-term work that you can see?
  • What is their communication process? 
  • How will you be billed? 

Be realistic about your expectations

It is easy to place blame on a landscape company when things go wrong; remember though, that in even the best of circumstances, plants are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Talk to your landscapers and ask them questions. A reliable company will be communicative and keep you regularly up-to-date on issues/work as it relates to your yard. Being completely hands-off about your lawn is unrealistic. Some amount of input will be required on your part.

For information on getting professional help for large trees, see the NC State Extension publication How to Hire a Tree Care Professional. Also explore the Landscape Design chapter of the NC Extension Gardener Handbook.

Sam Marshall

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