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Choosing the best landscaping service

Last Updated September 2019

Even the most impressive home will be overlooked if it features shoddy landscaping. What makes you stop and marvel is when man and nature collaborate to create the type of beauty that is impossible to ignore. That is precisely what the best landscaping service can do for you. Beyond that, a landscaping service can enhance the curb appeal and increase the value of your home.

Anyone who wants to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary can benefit from a landscaping service. These companies don't just mow the grass and do the edging along your driveway; they fill your yard with wonder and beauty. The best landscaping services design flower beds and walkways, suggest garden sculptures, build ponds and patios, erect fencing, and more.

If you want to start loving where you live, one of the best ways to do that is by hiring a landscaping service. If you've never used one before, there are quite a few elements you need to consider. But don't worry; this guide will help you find the right landscaping service for your needs.

Upgrading your yard is comparable to remodeling a room in your house. It adds appeal and value to your home.

Three reasons to hire a landscaping service

There are three main reasons why you might need a landscaping service: to add new features, to remodel existing features, or to update existing features. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you decide which landscaping service is best for you.

New landscaping

If you recently purchased a new home or are finally ready to begin landscaping your existing property, you will be starting from scratch. For this, you will need a service that can take you from concept to completion, guiding you along the way so you make the right choices. Additionally, this company will need to have the proper equipment and sufficient manpower on hand to make your wildest dreams a reality.

Remodeling

For remodeling, the job could go either way: it could require extensive work, or you could build upon the foundation and general design structures that are already in place. If you are changing flower beds and shrubbery, for instance, that would require a different service from one that would install new pathways or outdoor lighting.

Updating

If you are happy with your current landscape design but would like to modernize, repair, update, or upgrade what is already there, you have very specific needs. You will not be seeking a service that excels in design; rather, you will be looking for one that can listen to your needs and give your yard that extra tweak to make it a neighborhood focal point once again.

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The first three tasks

Before hiring a landscaping service, there is a little bit of preliminary work you'll need to do. The first task involves deciding if you will be starting from scratch, remodeling, or updating.

The second involves making a list of your desires. This is where you dream big. Do you want a gazebo, a pond, a vegetable garden, a patch of your favorite flowers, a fire pit, and a tennis court? It is important to create that list without editing yourself so you don't inadvertently forget anything.

Lastly, you need to come up with a plan. It doesn't matter if you are an artist or not; make a few quick sketches of how you'd like your yard to look after the work has been done. This will help you visualize the final product.

Only after those first three tasks have been completed can you begin to research landscaping services. At that point, you'll have a solid idea of what you need and what you'd like to accomplish.

EXPERT TIP

When initially consulting with a landscaping service, be sure to mention any activities you would like to be able to incorporate into the design. These could include anything from backyard barbecues to a basketball court.


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EXPERT TIP

Be sure the landscaping service you are considering has access to the appropriate equipment to perform the needed work.


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EXPERT TIP

If you have questions, the time to ask is before hiring a landscaping service. Don't make the mistake of waiting until the paperwork has been signed.


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EXPERT TIP

Landscaping your property should be a collaborative effort between you and your service. Be wary of companies that refuse to listen to any input.


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Researching landscaping services

As you begin your search to find the best landscaping service for your needs, there will be a number of boxes you'll want to check off as well as a variety of elements to consider. The following list will help you zero in on the ideal landscaping company.

Longevity

A landscaping service that has been in business for many years and has a long list of satisfied customers is one with an established reputation. Although there can be exceptional new services hungry to prove their value, longevity should make a powerful positive impact on your final decision.

Reliability

A landscaping service that consistently produces results, not excuses and apologies, is the type you want to choose. Check reviews, ask for testimonials, and do a little digging to be sure that the company you are considering finishes all work on time while delivering quality.

Professionalism

You should only deal with a landscaping service with proper credentials. The company should handle all the permits and paperwork that is required to do the work. You want a company that returns calls promptly, has a polite and efficient way of doing business, listens to your concerns, and is professional in every way.

Ratings

Other homeowner experiences are an excellent barometer of a company's integrity. Seek the norm, not the exception, when perusing comments. Don't focus on vague glowing praise or scathing complaints. Instead, look for reviews that provide a comprehensive snapshot of the overall customer experience.

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Variety and scope of services

One of the reasons for making a dream list first is so you can find a company that can do everything you want done. If you need a gazebo built from scratch, can the landscaping service you are considering do that? If you need someone to maintain your property after the project has been completed, can you count on this service, or will you need to find a separate lawn care service? Be sure to ask all of your questions upfront so there are no surprises halfway through the job.

Equipment

Not every landscaping service has an arsenal of equipment on hand. If you have a unique situation that requires specific machinery, be sure to find out if the company you are considering owns or has access to the needed tools.

Workforce

The landscaping service you hire should have a stable and reliable workforce. Each member of the team should be qualified to do the task that he or she has been hired to perform.

Sourcing

It might not have crossed your mind, but where your landscaping service gets its living materials can make a big difference in the overall cost and success of your landscaping plan. Local sourcing is not just a buzzword — it's often the preferred way of doing business.

Follow-through

The best landscaping services stand behind their work. A written guarantee or a warranty are two ways a company can express how confident it is with its work. Additionally, you will want a company that will not disappear or neglect phone calls if an unexpected problem shows up down the road.

Price

Be realistic about what you can afford. That way, you can target a landscaping service in your comfortable price range. Also, do not make decisions based solely on cost, as all of the other factors listed throughout this article should be of equal concern.

DID YOU KNOW?

One factor most individuals neglect to consider is the cost of maintenance. Be sure the long-term care and upkeep of your design also fits into your budget.

DID YOU KNOW?

A reputable landscaping service understands that getting a variety of quotes and bids is part of the process. Stay away from companies that tell you otherwise or use urgency to get your business.

DID YOU KNOW?

Simple landscaping jobs may be completed in as little as a weekend, while larger jobs may require a month or more of work. Plan early so the majority of your summer isn't taken up waiting for the work to be completed.

DID YOU KNOW?

Be sure that previous customers were just as pleased with the company's customer service as they were the work.

Common mistakes to avoid

Mistakes can be long-lasting and costly, especially when it comes to your home's landscaping. Here are a few of the most common mistakes you need to avoid when hiring a landscaping service.

Mistake #1: Not having your own ideas

You might not know what you want, but you will know what you don't want ...  the minute the work is completed and you see it. You hire a professional service because you trust that company's experience, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have any input. Come up with your own plan first so you and your landscaping service have a baseline design. The right company will tweak your ideas to make them blossom into artwork that is a collaborative effort. Additionally, your landscaping service should inform you if your ideas are impractical for any reason.

Mistake #2: Making your selection based solely on price

Quality costs a little more. If all you are looking at is your bottom line, that could mean your yard will not be very picturesque upon completion. In other words, you don't want to spend time and money on an upgrade that ends up decreasing the curb appeal and value of your home. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to get some local addresses or references so you can drive by and see some completed projects with your own eyes. Immediately, you will not only know if the two of you are compatible, but you will be able to see the quality of the landscaping service's work. Cost is a very real factor, but it shouldn't be the only criterion you use to evaluate a service company.

Mistake #3: Putting up with a non-responsive service

One of the biggest red flags is a service that is lax when it comes to returning calls. You may think that the service is popular and extremely busy, but if that is the case, there would be someone on the team who promptly returns phone calls. If a landscaping service is hard to get in touch with when you're offering good things, like a paying job, imagine the potential nightmare if there's a problem down the road and you need some additional work done. You might not ever hear from the company again. On the other hand, realize it may take someone time to get back to you, so be reasonable about your expectations. Don't expect a phone call to be returned after business hours or on holidays, but if you need to keep track by days or weeks instead of hours, that is a good reason to consider a more responsive service.

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Questions to ask before hiring

Once you've narrowed down the field to three or four possible landscape services, you'll need to make a few inquiries to decide which company is truly best for you. Following are a few questions to consider asking.

  • Can I see a sketch of the finished project?

  • What type of payment options do you offer?

  • How long will this project take to complete?

  • Will you be handling all the permits and paperwork needed to complete this project?

  • When will the work begin?

  • What type of hours can I expect workers to be at my house?

  • Does someone need to be home while the work is taking place?

  • Are you qualified to do electrical work?

  • Are you able to construct outdoor living spaces?

  • Who do I call if I have any concerns?

  • What type of warranty do you offer on plant life?

  • Are there any special instructions I'll need to follow after the work is done?

  • Do you offer any follow-up services for care and maintenance?

Having a beautiful landscape should only be part of your concern. Equally important is creating a safe environment for you and your family.

FAQ

Q. Should the landscaping service I am considering have insurance?

A. Landscape work involves heavy equipment, sharp tools, and other items that can cause significant damage to your home and property, your neighbor's home and property, or any individuals living or working in the area. If you hire a landscaping service that is not adequately insured and something unfortunate happens, that may leave you financially responsible for a bill that is beyond your means to pay.

Q. How important is it to hire a licensed landscaper?

A. It is essential. First off, a licensed contractor is required to be properly insured, which will quickly eliminate all of your insurance concerns. Beyond that, to become a licensed landscaper requires several years of experience and passing an exam that demonstrates a thorough understanding of native climate, soil, and greenery. Additionally, a licensed landscaper will be well-versed in environmental standards and local regulations.

Q. What is hardscape?

A. There are two categories of landscaping: softscape design and hardscape design. Hardscape involves the nonliving elements of your landscaping. These could include but are not limited to walkways, patios, retaining walls, fences, gazebos, fountains, and garden sculptures. The best landscaping service will be equally proficient in both softscape and hardscape design.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor