Every landscape improvement has the potential to be a rewarding project you can do yourself, but sometimes it is better to just hire a professional landscaping company (like handy landscaping services) to do the job. Here are some objectives to remember when deciding whether you need a professional to do the work for you.
Protect the health and safety of your family and guests. If your attempt to do it yourself fails, will anyone be harmed? A botched vegetable garden is not a threat to anyone, but a poorly designed or built deck could collapse.
Obey all local codes. If you are not familiar with these, consult someone who is. Many projects require a building permit. The local building department can review your plans and let you know whether you need them to be professionally prepared.
Stay on your own land. Do you know where your property lines are? If you want to build a permanent structure near your property edge but can’t locate your property line markers, a survey might be worth the cost.
Be realistic about your time. Will the project take more time than you want or are able to devote to it?
Be realistic about your talents. Do you care more about the experience of doing the project than the results?
How to Hire a Landscaper
Decide what areas of your lot you want to landscape.
Consider your lifestyle. Do you need a flat open area for children to play in, or a fenced-in area for gardening out of the reach of the deer? Do you want to increase your privacy from the street or neighboring houses?
Sketch out a plan that meets your needs and wants. Or consider hiring a landscape architect if your project is large or if you’re having difficulty deciding what you want.
Ask friends and relatives for recommendations of landscapers, or look in the yellow pages. It may be good to note the names of several firms from trucks that work frequently in your neighborhood.
Have several contractors visit the site and review the terrain. Give each contractor a written description of the project. If you have an actual plan drawn, give each of them a copy.
Discuss your proposed design with the landscapers. Consider their suggestions, particularly if you’re uncertain about the layout you want.
Ask for the addresses of several past projects from each, and drive by to take a look.
Get bids from the contractors.
Ask for references. Contact these past customers and inquire about their satisfaction with the work done. Was everything completed on time? Did the contractor replace any plantings that died?
Select a contractor based on a combination of price and the quality of past projects and references.
Execute a contract specifying the work to be done, price, payment schedule, start date and estimated completion date.
Tips & Warnings
- Make sure that you know the size and appearance of the plantings in the contractor’s bid. Many trees and shrubs are quite small when first planted.
- Don’t forget fencing, patios, pathways and similar fixtures as part of your overall plan. You may use a different contractor for some of these items.
- Make sure that your contract includes a warranty for the replacement of shrubs and trees that die after planting.
To save money, consider supplying your own trees and shrubs and contracting out the labor only. You may be able to get better material prices this way.