No matter the size of your next outdoor project, you may want to consider hiring a landscaping professional.
It could save you a lot of expense and disappointment in the long run.
An expert will be able to determine whether your plan will work based on the configuration of your yard, recommend plants, trees and other vegetation that will flourish in your specific climate, and supply the tools and manpower to get the job done.
Aaron Nissinen, owner of Preferred Landscape Services in Hillsboro, Oregon, says professional landscaping companies have the training and expertise that many homeowners lack.
“We have the experience and qualifications necessary to do the job correctly, which brings a huge peace of mind to our customers,” he says.
Some people run into trouble when they overestimate their abilities or willingness to commit to a large project. Owner Michael Van de Bossche of landscaping firm Earth-Wood Arts in Indianapolis knows that all too well.
“We have rescued many homeowners who began projects themselves only to find that they lacked the skills and time to successfully complete their projects,” Van de Bossche says. ”Sometimes projects look fairly simple when, in truth, they are not.”
CHECK OUT: Angie's List Guide to Landscaping
Check your landscaper's credentials
It's always smart to make sure your local landscaper meets state and local certifications or licensing requirements if warranted. Tree care companies should have staff arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. The federal government requires those who apply certain chemicals to control weeds, insects or diseases be certified pesticide applicators.
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Membership or certification by industry groups, such as a state's landscape or nursery association, demonstrates participation in professional development programs.
Nissinen says that a contractor license may be required for landscaping in your area, and you should check to make sure before hiring a landscaper.
“We are members of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Board, which assures a homeowner that we are fully licensed and bonded and have certification for all areas of landscaping,” he says. “We have passed all of the rigorous testing requirements and continue each year to maintain that license by taking additional courses and training.”
Of course, having the best credentials isn't much help if you don't have some idea of what kind of landscape you want. Will it be for entertaining, a place where children will play or a verdant retreat?
Having a sense of what you'd like to see in your yard will help you pick the landscaper. Some may excel in natural designs while others do best with a more formal setting.
Research landscaping ideas
Consumers should be prepared to do a little legwork to make sure they are informed enough to be able to communicate their ideas to a professional.
Alden Zove, owner of Cedar Run Landscapes in North Wales, Pennsylvania, asks clients to visit suppliers.
"They'll be able to see the difference between field stone and Pennsylvania field stone," he says.
Zove invites potential customers to stop by his business where he's installed 12 types of water gardens in order to see the full range of his work. He provides plant samples for his clients, or he sends them to nurseries to see, feel and smell what will be growing in their landscape.
Good landscapers will offer tips and suggestions about caring for and maintaining the plants in the landscape they just installed. Each landscaper may offer different warranties for work and plants, while some may offer nothing at all.
Consumers, Zove stresses, should be aware that jobs may be delayed because of weather or a lack of supplies, and make sure that contingencies are included in the written contract.
Editor's note: Angie's List contributor Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp added to this article.