Do You Know What to Look for in a Landscaper? Here are 4 Tips to Help you Make an Informed Decision…
As you drive around San Luis Obispo County you will see countless trucks with landscaping equipment in the back and a logo on the side door. With so many different landscaping companies to choose from, how do you make a decision? Why not just call the number off the first truck you see? Should you pick the one with the cheapest price?
For those of you are in the market for a good landscaper, we have provided a list of 4 important things to look for when making a decision. These are all things you should be able to find out during a consultation. Most landscapers will give you a free consultation meeting to look at your yard and discuss the work that you want done. When shopping for a landscaper, we always recommend making consultation appointments with at least two different contractors before making your decision.
1. They Come Prepared
When meeting for an initial consultation, a good landscaper is well prepared. They come to the meeting with a clean appearance, are prepared with a notebook to take notes, have business cards, and are ready to talk with you about your landscape. Make sure they ask pertinent questions, listen to what your needs are, and are knowledgeable and friendly. Ask the contractor if they have a portfolio, references, testimonials, or any other supplemental information about their services.
This first tip may seem like an unimportant detail, but it’s exactly the kind of thing you should pay attention to. The more detail and attention that the landscaper puts into providing you with a nice first impression, the better. It’s typically a sign of things to come. It shows professionalism, organization, and that they care about your experience.
2. Plant Savvy
Anybody can get a truck, a lawnmower, and a clever company name and call themselves a landscaper. But it takes education, practice, training, and experience to really be one. A person who isn’t educated in plants can do some damage to your landscape. Improper pruning techniques, pruning at the wrong time, incorrect watering schedules, choosing the wrong plants for the climate, and so many more things can go wrong when the person maintaining your landscape doesn’t know about plants.
When choosing a landscaper for an installation project, this advice is just as important. For example, just think about how disappointing it would be to have a nice new landscape only to have all the plants die the next time it gets cold. Plant knowledge is crucial to creating a successful landscape.
When having a consultation with a prospective landscaper ask them about their education and experience. Ask them about specific plants in your yard and see if they can tell you about them. Don’t expect them to be familiar with every single plant that you have but be sure they know a good majority of them and will to admit the ones they don’t know and are willing to learn about them. A superior landscaper will even educate the homeowner about their plants and help them get acquainted with their own yard.
3. Licensed and Insured
Like I said before, anyone can call themselves a landscaper but to legally operate a landscaping business in the state of California, they must be licensed with the Contractors State Licensing Board. In order to get a license through the CSLB, the contractor has to have passed two different exams which demonstrate thorough knowledge and skill in their trade. There is also a required minimum years of verified experience and a full background check. Contractors must also post a bond which protects consumers from any damage as a result of defective construction or any license law violations. The licensed contractor also needs to be fully insured in order to keep his or her license.
This is crucial information when looking for a landscaper. You don’t want an unlicensed, uninsured person working at your home. When you are interviewing landscapers ask them for their license number. To be sure your potential landscaper is licensed, insured, and in good standing, you can enter their license number under the Consumer – Check a license link on the CSLB’s website at cslb.ca.gov.
One thing to note here…
We don’t mean to say that there is anything inherently wrong with the guy or girl who decides to start a landscaping business and throws a mower in the back of their truck and slaps a magnetic sign on the door. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit!
In all honesty, that’s how the majority of landscaping companies are born, including ours. Here’s the thing though, the reason we are adamant about giving this advice to consumers is for your protection. You can have little to no recourse if your unlicensed and uninsured landscaper causes damage to your home. On top of that, choosing a licensed contractor is simply an easy way to have your landscaper pre verified by the state. So no offense is intended to the unlicensed landscaper, but our first priority here is ensuring that you make a smart and safe choice.
Your landscape is an important investment that you’ll want to protect. So don’t just choose the lowest bid based on the price. The person who has the lowest price might be the least qualified. This can mean that they don’t know plants, they rush through the work, don’t have the proper equipment, and may not do quality work in general. Although it is tempting to go for the lowest price, it may end up costing you more in the long run from having to replace plants and pay for labor to fix mistakes.
When shopping for a landscaper, get a few bids, and do your research. Look at their company’s website, ask them what the work will entail, and find out the pricing details.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get for your money. Choose a landscaper based on the value that they will provide rather than the price they charge.
Keep these things in mind when looking for a landscaper to be sure you hire a qualified professional. You deserve to have a beautiful landscape that is well maintained so take your time and do your research. If you would like to discover more tips on how to find a qualified professional and learn how to spot red flags, sign up to receive our Free Consumer Guide. The Consumer Guide is an educational tool for homeowners and a way to keep standards high in the landscaping profession. To get the Consumers Guide to Landscaping in SLO County CLICK HERE.