For some, spring brings the exciting anticipation of time spent in their yards, mowing, trimming, planting, and watering in concert with Mother Nature’s annual greening. Others view it differently. Either due to lack of time or expertise, or simply an absence of interest, some start thinking about who to hire to take care of all those yard chores. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following advice to help you make smart choices when hiring professionals for your lawn care needs.
Who you hire depends on whether you need a mower or more
Companies in the business of caring for your outdoor spaces fall generally into three groups: landscaping, lawn maintenance, and sprinkler systems. It’s your job to consider which you need. Here is a brief rundown from BBB on differentiating those three categories:
• Landscapers can design your yard based on what you are considering, help you select appropriate plants, and then furnish and install them.
• Lawn maintenance companies keeps things looking good. They can do the mowing, edging, weeding, treating for insects, shrub trimming and fertilizing.
• Sprinkler system and irrigation specialists can install systems and perform follow-up maintenance and repair work on them. (A special license may be required to do this work.)
Weeding the bad businesses out of the mix
Selecting the right company might seem a bit daunting when you start rooting around the many choices. But by keeping these tips in mind, you can find a path to the lawn of your dreams with a minimum of missteps. BBB’s advice:
• Take advantage of BBB’s business profiles at bbb.org. Look up the companies you are considering to see if they are BBB accredited and read what others have experienced.
• Ask your friends and neighbors about which companies they use.
• Don’t settle for just one choice; get several names for comparison’s sake.
• Get an in-person estimate. Don’t trust phone estimates from someone who has not seen and visited your property.
• Tell them what you need as specifically as you can, although in some cases you may be requesting their input. Also, be consistent when dealing with different companies about your expectations so you can have an accurate measure of price differential.
• Ask about contingencies for weather delays and any special work you’d like done such as outdoor events.
• Safety issues should be considered. This involves assurance that they have the proper insurance to cover damage done to your property, damage to their equipment, and worker’s comp insurance.
• It can be helpful maintain the same crew or to have the same manager deal with your lawn. They will gradually come to know its special circumstances, enabling better decisions about its needs.
• Ask for and check up on their references, at least by driving by the residence and, if possible, talking with previous customers.
• Get a contract in writing, at least in the form of a letter of agreement. Remember that you should never sign anything with blank pages.
• Learn their cancellation policy and get it in writing.
• Beware of automatic yearly contract renewals.
• Environmental concerns should be addressed. Chemicals may be harsh and drain into the sewer system. Children and pet safety should be discussed as well.
• Pay with check or credit card when possible and always get written or emailed receipts.
• Consumer experiences matter to BBB – and businesses. BBB customer reviews allow customers to post positive, negative or neutral reviews about their marketplace experiences. Visit bbb.org after you have worked with a business to share your testimonial.
Leave no stone unturned when searching for the right service to work on your yard. If you have other questions or concerns about hiring out your lawn work, contact BBB by calling 800-856-2417 or visit the websiteBBB.org.