Whether it’s from “time to time” or “all the time,” there comes a point in every homeowner’s life when the possibility of hiring a landscape company becomes a topic of conversation. Before selecting a landscaping company, here are a few things you should know:
Consider Which Landscaping Services are Needed
Landscaping companies come in all shapes and sizes, often specializing in a particular service or set of services. Before beginning the search for a local landscaping company to hire, you should stop and ask yourself what services you most need. Not only will this help to narrow down the list of potential companies, but it may also determine the type of landscape company or professional that you are looking for. For example:
- Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers: These professionals specialize in working with clients to design beautiful, functional landscapes that fit the client’s needs. As design specialists, these types of landscape professionals may not offer installation or maintenance services.
- Landscape Contractors: These professionals specialize in building and installing landscapes, hardscapes, water features, and everything in between. While most landscape contractors will offer design services, not all will offer long term maintenance.
- Horticulturists & Arborists: These professionals specialize in plants – knowing how they grow, the diseases that affect them, and how to promote long-term health through proper care and management. Often, horticulturists and arborists will provide one-time consultations, long-term maintenance services, or a mix of the two.
- Landscaping Company: These landscape businesses typically offer a mix of design, installation, and maintenance services, but may or may not be able to accommodate advanced design, build, or maintenance needs.
If you are looking for specific types of work, use the search term that most closely fits your needs. Otherwise, doing a simple web search for “landscaping companies in my area” should provide a relevant list of local companies that provide a diverse range of services.
Review Your Local Landscaper Choices
A quick web search is an easy way to find out which professionals or companies are currently operating locally. Depending on where you live, a general web search can yield a large list, so it is important to have criteria for narrowing the list of potential landscaping companies down further.
The Website Test
We recommend beginning with the website test. A serious landscaping company knows that its website is its 24/7 salesperson, and will make sure that the website:
- Is up-to-date
- Clearly lists and explains the services they provide
- Includes contact information, including a physical address and phone number
- Displays quality photos of the company’s work, either with their services explanations or in an online project portfolio.
If one or more of the above items is missing from a company’s website, it can make it difficult for you to feel confident about the quality of the product or service the landscaping company will provide. Similarly, an out-of-date website with limited contact information can signify a landscaper who is rarely in the office and may be difficult to reach with questions or concerns during a project. If a landscaping company fails the website test, we recommend moving them to the bottom of the “to contact” list and exploring other options first.
Website Test – Round 2
While a lack of information can signal that a company may be challenging to work with, there are a few types of information landscape companies may include that demonstrate industry knowledge and a commitment to excellence. If you find any of the following items on a landscaping company’s website, we recommend bumping them up a few places on the “to contact” list:
- Professional partnerships and certifications – Landscape companies will often encourage staff to continue their education, certifying in design, build, installation, horticulture, and any number of related topics. While not every company will highlight (or have) industry certifications, it does demonstrate a level of dedication to the craft. Ultimately, it’s up to you if the lack of additional credentials is a make-or-break point.
- A founding date – While new companies can be talented and great to work with, a company that has been in business for a long time clearly knows a thing or two about customer service.
- Blogs or Articles – Much like Western Turf Farms, many landscaping companies have turned to sharing their knowledge with homeowners and other industry professionals through company blogs.
Pay Attention to Reviews
Companies of all kinds will often include glowing customer reviews on their business websites. While learning how another homeowner appreciated their experience with a particular landscaping company can be a powerful resource, it’s important to remember that companies will only put the best reviews on their websites. After all, a website’s sole purpose is to sell their services to anyone who stops by!
We recommend that you take the time to dig a little deeper. Word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations from friends and family is typically a reliable way to find a quality landscaping company, but not everyone has the advantage of a wide social circle of local homeowners to ask. For those who don’t, consider looking to see if the landscaping company of interest is on Facebook, Houzz, Yelp, or any number of other sites dedicated to providing feedback on customer experience. Since negative reviews cannot be easily hidden or removed from these profiles, you can often gain a more comprehensive representation of the potential landscaping company.
Landscaping Consultations & Budgets
Once the list of potential landscaping companies to hire has been narrowed down to a select few, it’s time for you to call and request a consultation.
Every property is as unique as the homeowner’s vision for it, so regardless of whether you need a landscaping company to handle a one-time project or long-term maintenance, there should always be an on-site visit before any service begins. If a company simply asks for an address and square footage – send them to the bottom of the list!
The first meeting between you and your landscaping company is known as a consultation. This commonly involves walking the property and discussing the desired project, the time frame it needs to be completed in, and a general conversation about the landscaping company’s policies and pricing.
It’s a tried-and-true maxim that first impressions are important, and no more so than when you are hiring someone to work around your home. Always listen to instinct during an initial consultation. If for some reason you don’t feel that you are being heard and understood as the potential client, then that landscaping company may not be a good fit. Similarly, if the consultation leaves you feeling uncomfortable with the idea of having a particular service provider around your home or family after the first meeting, say “no thanks” and move on to the next landscaping company on the list.
As green industry professionals ourselves, we know that homeowners often feel uncertain or uncomfortable discussing money during the initial phone call or consultation, but it is an extremely important conversation to have. By being upfront and honest about a project’s budget in the very beginning, you can empower a landscaping company to provide you with informed design or service choices, ultimately leading to a successful project or long-term relationship.
Get it in Writing!
Once you find a landscape company to hire, the final step is to put the agreement in writing. In the landscape industry, this is often referred to as a “Service Contract” or “Service Agreement,” and is typically created by the company that will be doing the work. Regardless of whether it’s called a contract or an agreement, this written document clearly defines your expectations, details the services the company will be providing to meet those expectations, and clearly states the fees that you will pay in return for services rendered.
By spelling out the expectations, services, and fees in writing, both you and the landscaping company can avoid costly miscommunication while holding each other accountable to the original agreement. Once the document is signed by both parties, it’s time to get to work!
Hiring a landscaping company doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or frustrating experience. With a small investment of time and effort, you can quickly discover one (or more) local landscaping companies suited to meeting your project needs.
Need help deciding?
If you’ve done your research and still find it hard to make your choice you may give us a call. We work with many landscapers across BC and we’ll be happy to refer you to one of our long standing relations.