Gardening, Lawn Maintenance, and Landscaping Articles written by Kim Lewey
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Selecting the Best Lawn Care Professional
Part Three of a Three Part Series, written by Kim Lewey
The first two parts of this series focused on “Enhancing the Outdoor Beauty of Your Home” and “Creating Outdoor Beauty with Plants”. We discussed quick and/or inexpensive ways to provide a facelift to your home’s exterior, as well as the most effective approaches to plant installation. Now that you have had an opportunity to decide how you would like to improve your home’s landscape, how do your select the best lawn care professional for you?
The most convenient way to select a lawn care professional is to ask for referrals from your friends or neighbors. If you stroll through your neighborhood, observe the homes that reflect the outdoor beauty you would like to achieve. Also talk with your friends and ask if they utilize lawn care professionals for their maintenance or landscaping needs. Another common way is to search the Better Business Bureau or “surf” the internet using keywords that reflect your lawn care needs. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has common categories for lawn care professionals including “Lawn Care Companies”, “Landscapers”, “Irrigation Consultants”, “Landscape Designers”, and “Landscape Lighting Companies”. You can use similar keyword searches for your lawn maintenance needs and include your city/town or “Triangle” to narrow the search. You can also utilize keyword searches like Service Magic and Networx Systems that offer free services to consumers. They offer multiple quotes from lawn care professionals that are screened by the website provider; in return, the lawn care professional pays for “leads” either per request or through monthly fees.
As you are determining the method that you would like to utilize, consider the qualifications that may be important to you when selecting a lawn care professional. Is the company an A+ Accredited Business through the Better Business Bureau? Are they registered or have they had any complaints? Is the company properly licensed in the state of North Carolina, when required, for the services you are requesting? Is the company properly insured for liability and workmen’s compensation?
Now that you may have narrowed down your search of lawn care professionals, determine the benefits that are important to you and rank them. What is most important to you? Cost? BBB rating? Experience in the lawn care field? Name recognition? Length of time in the landscaping business? Supporting local small business? Full service availability? Immediate action? Be honest with yourself and the lawn care professional when you talk with them. If you are unsure whether you can afford the service you are requesting or are unsure of your choice of professional, let them know up front that you are seeking multiple estimates or quotes. Do not hesitate to ask additional questions about their qualifications or if they will provide a certificate of insurance as a condition of their contract.
Once you select a lawn care professional or quotes from multiple professionals, take the time to meet with them. Decide how you want to approach your service needs. You can be very specific about your lawn care and/or landscaping needs or you can ask for their professional opinion. While being specific about your lawn maintenance needs will shorten the conversation, it may also limit the “interview” of their qualifications. Lawn care professionals may also hesitate to offer their professional opinion, if it differs from the request, if not asked to share. Many times there are less expensive alternatives to specific requests; giving the lawn care professional an opportunity to share his/her expertise will not only open the door to other options but may provide you an opportunity to determine if their experience is genuine.
If you are seeking multiple lawn care services, decide whether you prefer one monthly payment or “a la carte” or “pay as you go” services. Either is fine; it is a preference of the person seeking the services. You may prefer a fertilization contract with seasonal mowing services. Or you may prefer an annual contract that includes mowing, fertilization, pruning, leaf removal, and irrigation start-up and winterization. Do not hesitate to ask for the services you require. Experienced lawn care professionals can accommodate most requests. If cost is a factor, go with multiple providers if it provides the services you request for the best price.
Depending on the type of services you are requesting, ask for expectations. If you are requesting landscaping services, make sure you receive proper care instructions and any warranties after installation. If you are requesting turf improvements, ask for proper care instructions as well as reasonable expectations of desired results. If you have contracted full maintenance services, ask for a monthly timeline of provided services.
Lawn maintenance is not a perfect science. The lawn care professional and you must work together to achieve the best outcome based your expectations tempered with proper care. Therefore it is important for you to be honest and select the lawn care professional that can meet the service needs based on your requirements as well as those that most benefit your personality and lawn care “character”. Just as a company seeks the “perfect client”, you also have the option to seek your “perfect lawn care professional”.