Columbus, OH (April 25, 2018) – Spring has sprung, and so have dreams of a well-manicured yard. A beautiful lawn can be both appealing and environmentally friendly, but it can take a lot of work and be tricky for a DIY project. Hiring a landscape contractor or lawn maintenance service gives homeowners the professional help they need.
Lawn and plant care generally falls into four categories: landscaping, lawn maintenance, interior plant maintenance and sprinkler systems. Before selecting a company, BBB encourages homeowners to evaluate your needs. Some companies specialize in one area, while others offer a variety of services.
Landscaping: Landscaping companies design landscapes for designated areas, select the appropriate plants, and provide and install the plants.
Lawn Maintenance: Services generally include mowing, edging, weeding of flower beds, treating for insect disease, weed control, trimming of shrubs, irrigation systems checks and fertilizing.
Interior Plant Maintenance: Most indoor plant maintenance companies offer design services, watering, fertilizing, pruning, trimming, insect and disease control and cleaning. Some companies lease indoor plants, including blooming plants, with decorative containers.
Sprinkler Systems: Services provided by sprinkler system companies include design installation and general maintenance and repair. Check with your state or province to see if there are special licenses required to do this work.
Once you have decided what services you need and have determined your budget, get recommendations from friends and neighbors with lawns and plants you admire. Check bbb.org for Business Profiles on companies you are considering and keep the following tips in mind when you call prospective vendors:
Ask for a lawn inspection and free estimate. Services that quote a price without actually seeing your lawn cannot be sure what your lawn needs. Companies will sometimes charge you to discuss specific landscaping ideas to protect themselves against clients who want to get their ideas and implement them themselves. If you contract with the company they will often credit you back for the design fee.
Make sure you have a clear scope of work before asking for estimates. This includes defining the area to be worked on and what you want done. When getting bids, don’t compare apples with oranges. Make sure that each company has included the same services. Also, be sure that each company breaks the cost down in the same way (per visit, month, year, etc).
Ask for references and pictures of other indoor or outdoor landscapes they have installed or maintained. If possible, visit these locations to get a first-hand view of the quality of their work. Ask the references about their experiences before, during and after the work was done.
Get specifics on prices and be clear on what services are included. Are you paying for a specific project or ongoing maintenance? Do you pay by the mow or by the month? Many companies allow you to pay after each treatment and may offer a discount if you pay the annual cost up front. What happens if it rains the day someone is supposed to come mow your lawn? Does mowing include edging? Who bags the clippings? Find out what happens if you have a problem between contracts. Will the service calls be free or is there a charge? If you will be maintaining the landscaping yourself, ask for detailed instructions and be prepared to follow them.
Check to see if the lawn care provider needs a license. In particular, they may need a license to apply pesticides. Does the company provide liability and workman’s compensation insurance to protect you in the event of an accident on the job? Ask for a certificate of insurance from the company’s insurance agent.
Look for membership in a professional organization. A service’s membership in one or more professional lawn care associations and active participation in the local community is a positive sign. Professional organizations keep members informed on new developments in pest control methods, safety, training, research and regulation. Most associations have a code of ethics for members to follow. Affiliation with a professional group is one indication that a company strives for quality in its work.
Get everything in writing and read all agreements and contracts carefully. Make sure the contract contains all topics discussed and promises made. Document the duration and expected results of the lawn care service. Some contracts are open-ended, meaning they renew until the client specifically terminates. Make sure you understand how that works and what you have to do to cancel. Be certain the contract lists the quantity, size and types of plants and other materials. Look for guarantees and refund policies. Some services may offer a guarantee of performance. Others may offer refunds if they fail to meet your expectations. Get copies of anything you sign.
Ask about timing and safety. Will the work be done while you are home or when you are away? Are there any safety precautions you need to take during or after the work? If pesticides are being used, do you need to do anything to protect your family or pets?
Get receipts for any money paid. If you make full payment in cash, be sure to obtain written verification from the company with a list of labor and material charges covered by the payment.
Homeowners can find a list of monitored, screened and approved Accredited Businesses by searching at bbb.org. Additional resources, tips and DIY home improvement plans can be found at bbbhomehelp.com!
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.