Choosing a landscape contractor is easy, but choosing the right landscape contractor takes more work. Whether you need a landscaper to design an empty lot or care for an existing one, you’ll want to choose a landscaper who is creative, knowledgeable, and experienced. Use this short guide to make the best possible landscape contractor choice for your home or business.
· Ask your architect for recommendations – If you worked with an architect to design your home, chances are good that the architect also has a vision for the exterior. Not only that, architects regularly work with local landscape contractors and can quickly tell you which ones are the best at making those visions become a reality.
· Consider why you are landscaping your property – Are you investing in landscaping in order to increase your property value? Make a more eco-friendly landscaping choice? Express your unique personality? Just as other business types have their own specialties, the same is true of landscapers. Knowing what you want to accomplish and why can help you find a contractor whose specialty aligns with your landscaping choices. For example, if you have your heart set on a Japanese landscape, it’s smart to choose a landscape contractor who specializes in Japanese gardens. If a drought-tolerant landscape is important to you, you’d be better off choosing a landscaping contractor who is passionate about native plants and water conservation than one who specializes in creating lush, tropical landscapes.
· Peruse your neighborhood – Drive or walk around your neighborhood, paying special attention to your neighbors’ landscaping. Be critical and ask yourself what you love or don’t love about a given property. When you find a beautifully landscaped home, ask your neighbors for a referral and a personal reference. Make sure to ask about the contractor’s reliability and creativity as well as how well the landscaping has performed over time. For example, as landscaping matures, it should mature as the landscape designer envisioned.
· Find out about licensing – Most states require landscape contractors to be licensed. For example, in California, landscape contractors working on projects valued at $500 or more must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board. Licensing requires specific experience and bonding. Hiring an unlicensed contractor could cause liability issues should injuries or property damage occur.
· Get competitive bids – Once you’ve found a handful of qualified landscape contractors who are highly recommended and appear to be a good fit for your project, ask for competitive bids in writing. While each contractor may have his or her own unique ideas for your project, make sure each bid lists all proposed work (including site preparation and finish/cleanup work), labor costs, and plant and materials costs. Ask bidders to bid on the same materials (such as the same brand of sprinklers) if possible so that comparisons are easier.
· Ask for referrals – Though your neighbors, family members, friends, and other professionals may have recommended the contractor, it’s still smart to ask for referrals and visit actual job sites.
By following these steps, you should be able to find the right landscaping contractor for your business or residential landscaping project. Take your time and make the best possible choice for you!