Monday, July 19, 2021 / by Bill Jackson
Maintaining a beautiful garden and lawn can be a lot of work. There’s mowing, weeding, fertilizing, watering—the list goes on and on. If you don’t have time to putter in the yard, consider hiring a professional landscaper. Finding the right landscaping company for your needs requires some homework, so here are some things to consider when choosing a landscaper that’s reputable, knowledgeable, and reliable. After all, your yard is worth it!
1. When should I get a landscaper vs. doing it myself?
Gardening outdoors is an enjoyable and healthy activity, and many homeowners discovered their inner homesteaders over the past year or so. You can also save money by doing the work yourself. But what if you don’t have the time? No problem! You can hire out parts or all of the jobs to a qualified landscaping company, says Melissa White, operations manager for Landscapes Canada, a full-service landscaping company headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area that also serves locations across the country.
“First, determine what your budget is, then ask yourself if you can do the work yourself or have friends and family help,” she says.
2. How can I find a good landscaping company?
Take a walk in your neighbourhood and look at other peoples’ properties. Ring some doorbells to find out who did the work you admire, suggests White. You can also look up local landscaping companies online and read reviews, but keep in mind they may not always be accurate, she adds.
3. Is it the right time to do landscaping?
Depending on where you live, landscaping can be seasonal or year-round. White recommends booking a landscaping company as early as you can. They can book up pretty quickly, leaving you high and dry the longer you wait!
If you’re planting trees, shrubs, or perennials, autumn is actually a great time to do it. These plants all need time to establish root systems, and the fall season’s cooler temperatures and low humidity provide a perfect environment for them to do so.
4. How long has the company been landscaping?
It’s always good to ask how long a company has been in business, because if they’re well-established in the community, they likely have satisfied customers. Beware of companies that just launched, unless someone you know has recommended them. This doesn’t mean you can’t go with a newer company—they need to get experience somehow!
5. What do you specialize in?
Many types of jobs fall under landscaping. These can include garden and lawn maintenance, such as mowing, fertilizing, and weeding; assessing your soil and growing conditions; trimming trees and hedges; laying sod and planting flowers, trees and bushes. Some companies also build walkways, install retaining walls, and build decks or patios.
“Landscapers can also create designs for your dream garden, and incorporate seating, play areas, and hot tubs,” says White. “They can also design the planting area around pools, paving stones, and driveways.”
6. Can I get references and see pictures?
Don’t take an online star system’s word for it: Always get references before signing a contract with a landscaping company.
“Ask for references and also pictures of their work. If they have completed projects in your area, you can take a look at their work in person to see for yourself,” says White.
Ask references if the company was on time and whether work was done to their satisfaction. Keep in mind if the company is providing these references, they know they’ll get a good review. They’re not going to give you the name of someone who wasn’t happy!
7. How much will it cost?
Depending on where you live and what you need done, costs can vary wildly, says White—anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands for larger, more complex projects. No matter the size of the project, you’ll want to get a cost estimate up front. The last thing you need is unexpected costs tacked on at the end of your project.
“Make sure to get more than one quote, not only for pricing, but to get different opinions on the work being done,” she suggests.
8. Do you have worker’s insurance?
Ask the company if they’re insured and if they’re in good standing with the worker’s compensation board in your province or territory, says White.
Mistakes and accidents happen, so you want to make sure anyone working on your property is fully covered just in case. Plus, it’s just nice to know the company cares about its workers enough to make sure they’re protected.
9. What kind of agreement will I be signing?
The landscaping company should outline all the details for your property, says White, including the schedule for regular lawn maintenance and weed removal, the projected timeline of your project if it involves construction or installation, the costs, the number of workers onsite, and the potential disruption to the homeowner and neighbours in terms of equipment and materials.
“Keeping your neighbours informed and updated about your project will definitely help with complaints about noise,” explains White. “Make sure to map the work to be completed out on paper, and if you’re doing a larger project, it may be advisable to hire a landscape architect or ask the company if they have one in-house.”
10. What else do I need to know?
Don’t assume any landscaping project can be done on a whim, warns White. You’ll need to call your municipality before digging, and have all permits in place for work such as tree removal or grading of your property.
It’s also a good idea to ask your landscaper if they have any advice on things people usually don’t think about, such as the types of materials they use, or if bad weather could impact your landscaping project.
Landscaping projects can be daunting, so it’s never a bad idea to bring in a professional. If you need some advice on who to go with, check in with a local REALTOR®. They’re sure to have some great contacts, along with insight into trends in the area which could ultimately help with your resale value.