How to Work with a Landscape Contractor

Landscape installation work, including sprinkler systems and maintenance, can cost thousands of dollars. Using a qualified, professional contractor is a must to get value for your money and to help ensure a return on investment and increased property values.

Landscape Contractors Association MD • DC • VA (LCA) recommends the following advice in choosing the right contractor and services for your landscape.

What services do you want?

  • Determine how the landscape will be used (entertaining, children's play area, outdoor living space, etc.)
  • Consider design services, plant selection, construction, and maintenance.
  • Decide if you plan to care for the landscape yourself or if you prefer to have a contractor provide the ongoing maintenance.

Are they professional?

When selecting a contractor, talk to a few different companies. Ask them:

  • How long has the firm been in business?
  • What certifications and professional affiliations do the company and/or employees hold?
  • Find out how they incorporate industry best management practices.
  • Does the firm intend to use subcontractors?
  • Get proof of insurance for liability and workers' compensation, and ask what local licenses and permits will be required.
  • Do they follow industry best practices such as the ones detailed in the Landscape Specification Guidelines?

Demonstrations of professionalism

  • Dress: Typically company crews wear a company shirt so you know that person is supposed to be on the job site. They are also equipped with boots and PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Promotional Materials: Professional contractors will come prepared with business cards, brochures, and a quality portfolio. They can also provide a website address for more information.
  • Contracts and Design: Professional contractors will create designs that show you what you're buying. The bids are detailed and complete, and the contracts spell out the work, payment plan, and how to handle disputes, if they arise.
  • Trucks and Equipment: Trucks and equipment are kept clean, labeled with the company name, and look well maintained.
  • Checking in: Good contractors follow-up a couple months after the project is done to make sure you are still happy.
  • Professional Affiliation: LCA member companies don't just belong to our association, they get involved. They join up with other organizations too, because their members are the people we work for!

Get references

  • Visit current in-progress jobs. Not only can this be fun, but you can view the crew's appearance and job site to see if they are generally tidy. (Remember that construction sites will not be pristine).
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau. If there are complaints, read them to see how they have been resolved.

Talk to past and present customers and ask:

  • Did the contractor display good work habits, return calls promptly and keep appointments?
  • Did the contractor honor the contract and respond to concerns expressed by the customer?
  • Would the customer hire the firm again?

Get it in writing

  • Professional firms will have written estimates and contracts that include the scope of work, estimated time of completion, total costs, payment methods, warranties, and possibly dispute resolution options should a conflict arise.
  • Review the contract carefully before signing.

 

Choose your contractor wisely and you'll have a landscape you can be proud of.

Find a qualified Landscape Contractor now.

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