How to Choose a Professional Landscape Designer

All professional landscape designers are the same, right? Well, not necessarily. All will vie for your business, but not every designer will be the best fit. And some may even be scam artists in disguise.

Proper preparation is essential to prevent potential mishaps and legal issues. If you do your research in the beginning, you will enjoy a seamless experience in the end.

Licensing

Every homeowner wants to hire a landscape company that is licensed, but do you know what to look for? There are several different licenses and each hold a different meaning. Check your state requirements. Every company should have general liability insurance and carry additional certificates as defined by the state in which they do business. Insist the company shows you their certificates of liability and make sure they carry adequate insurance.

Complaints and Reviews

Companies may add testimonies to their websites but they may be fabricated. Ask for references. Contact previous customers and ask them if they are happy with their end result and whether they would recommend the company. Take a look at their landscaping and see if it meets your level of quality. Ask the references if the company communicated with them throughout the process and their opinion on the level of reliability. Inquire about any hidden costs or overages and how they adhered to the time limit of the project. Check with your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints as well.

Fixed vs. Estimated Costs

An estimate is not the same as a fixed price contract. Some companies will offer an estimate to get you to agree to its services and pull the old “bait and switch” at the last minute. Request a final proposal that specifies final pricing.

Remember that you get what you pay for. Don’t be dazzled by excessively low prices. It costs money for a landscape company to pay for labor, materials and equipment. If a company quotes you a low price, the difference may not be coming out of its profits, but in the level of quality and materials.

Get everything in writing before you sign. A contract should specify materials, time limits and final costs and anything else you deem necessary.

When you compare estimates, remember the phrase, “All things being equal.” Each estimate should contain the exact same materials, time limits and scope of work. If one condition is different, you are not comparing apples to apples and you risk dealing with less-than-qualified contractors.

Guarantees

Does the company offer any guarantees? Does it stand behind the value of its work? Not all companies offer guarantees and some offer only partial guarantees. When you compare, read the fine print. Look for a promise of 100% satisfaction with no stipulations.

If you perform the research prior to choosing a landscape designer, the process is sure to be seamless and enjoyable. There are many reputable companies that will create a beautiful design within your price range and parameters. You just have to roll up your sleeves and do a little legwork to find them. Good luck!