Find the pros who can pamper your lawn and make the neighbors jealous
It may not be possible to always have the finest things in life, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for anything but the best when hiring a local professional lawn care service. Even if you pride yourself on the regular care you give your lawn, you can still rely on the pros to take preventative measures and solve any particularly complex problems—just like you still need to visit the dentist even if you brush and floss regularly.
Here are all the steps you can take to ensure that the professional lawn care service you hire will keep your landscape green and healthy.
How to Find a Lawn Care Pro
Start by searching online to read reviews of local lawn services. Look for companies that have proven reliable and which regularly service a large, stable clientele. Find out how clients have rated different companies’ customer service to avoid ending up with an overtaxed and disorganized landscaper. Look for a company with an owner-operator, office manager, or client rep who responds quickly to questions and booking inquiries.
Don’t hesitate to talk to neighbors—particularly those whose yards you admire. Nothing beats a solid reference from someone you trust.
Before Hiring a Lawn Service
As you do your research, there are a few different things you should be looking for.
Compare Treatments Offered
Not every lawn care company offers the same menu of services. As you compare different lawn services, find out what their standard treatment includes. Do they cover ornamental trees and shrubs as part of their turf care package? Does weeding include garden beds or just the lawn? Do they tailor their services to the particular requirements of your grass pieces or is it a one-size-fits-all approach? Some companies offer strictly organic, “natural” lawn services, while others do not.
Know exactly what you’re getting before you sign a long-term contract—you don’t want a shock down the road when it turns out you need to hire someone else to trim the hedges. Even if you want a pretty minimal regular care package, you probably still want a company that offers a wide range of services, since your needs will change with the seasons and as time passes.
When it comes time to diagnose the malady plaguing your beloved old oak tree or to hire someone to deal with your aphid infestation, it’s best if you can rely on the same people who already visit monthly to maintain the grass.
Understand the Average Cost of Different Projects
Before deciding to rule out one company or hire another, make sure you have a good sense of the typical costs for the work you need done. The average cost of lawn mowing depends on the size of the yard, but usually falls between $50 and $210 for most homeowners.
Regular lawn care maintenance work costs an average of $135 per month, or $50 to $200 per visit, though you should be able to knock around 25% off the price tag if you sign a long-term contract. Keep in mind too that there is significant regional variation in costs—lawn mowing costs an average of $120 in Pittsburgh, for example, while it’s $225 in Los Angeles. Special projects—like aeration, dethatching, and weed and leaf removal—may come with additional charges.
Get Multiple Bids
As you narrow down your options, begin contacting different lawn service companies directly and ask for bids tailored directly to your lawn care needs. The bids should offer a detailed breakdown of all the services performed. Don’t just opt for the least expensive option. Look for the company that has gone the furthest to customize its offerings to the particular requirements of your yard.
Tips for Hiring the Best Lawn Service
Once you’ve settled on one or two top choices, there are a few final steps to take to make sure you’ve selected the right professional lawn service for your needs.
Check Their Credentials
There are a lot of small, informal crews that offer high-quality lawn services at a low cost—but to minimize your own risk, make sure the company you hire is licensed and insured. You don’t want to have to foot the bill if a lawn mower launches some debris through your living room window—or worse, to be held liable by a laborer who injures themselves on your property and can’t get workers’ comp. Any lawn service company that carries insurance should be happy to share proof with you to keep for your records.
You can secure additional peace of mind by hiring a company that maintains an active membership in a trade organization at the state or national level, like the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
While many great lawn care companies don’t participate in such organizations, you can rest assured that those that do are up-to-date on all the latest methods and keep an active interest in the development of the trade.
Finally, before hiring any professional, you should ask about their credentials. Does the company have someone on staff with formal training in turfgrass science or agronomy? Do they support employees’ efforts toward continuing education? How do they keep up with the latest best practices?
Learn More About the Size of the Company
Ask how many lawns the company currently services and how many employees they have. Most pros consider a lawn service “well-established” when that company regularly works on about 30 lawns. A lot of less-established companies do great work—but they represent a slightly riskier choice.
You also want to make sure the company is large enough to reliably handle all the work on its plate—landscape companies, especially smaller ones that only take weekend jobs, can get overwhelmed easily.
Ask About Their Equipment
Find out what kind of equipment the company owns and regularly uses, where they purchased it, and how they maintain it. Even if you’re not well-versed in the technical details, certain answers can be revealing. If they buy equipment from big-box home improvement stores rather than a professional supplier, you know it’s a smaller, more casual operation. Ask them how many mowing hours they put blades through before sharpening. If the answer is higher than 10, you may get your lawn cut with dull, poorly maintained blades.
Get an In-Person Estimate and Treatment Plan
A reliable lawn service will visit your house to evaluate your yard directly before providing a real quote. Be skeptical of any company that doesn’t take this step and only offers a one-size-fits-all approach. When they do visit, take the opportunity to ask questions that not only provide you with necessary info, but which allow you to gauge the contractor’s knowledge and their attention to your specific needs.
A top-quality lawn service will begin with a soil analysis—if they ask to test for your soil’s acidity, you know you’re in good hands. You should also expect them to carefully note your different plant species and inspect how well your irrigation system serves them.
Do They Require Contracts?
It’s not unusual for a lawn service to require new clients to sign lengthy contracts and commit to a long-term care program before taking them on. Others are content with informal, handshake agreements—or operate with month-to-month bookings. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, depending on your own needs. Though you should tread carefully with any company that doesn’t at least make an effort to be accommodating—and avoid any service that will make you sign a long-term contract without some kind of trial period.