For some, spring brings the exciting anticipation of time spent in their yard, mowing, trimming, planting and watering in concert with Mother Nature’s annual greening. Others see it differently. Either for lack of time or expertise, or simply for lack of interest, some are starting to think about who to hire to take care of all these chores. Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following tips to help you make wise choices when hiring professionals for your lawn care needs.
Who you hire depends on whether you need a trimmer or more
Companies that take care of maintaining your outdoor spaces generally fall into three groups: landscaping, lawn care, and sprinkler systems. It’s up to you to determine what you need. Here is a brief overview from BBB on the differentiation of these three categories:
• Landscapers can design your land based on what you envision, help you select the appropriate plants, then furnish and install them.
• Lawn care companies keep things in good condition. They can mow, trim edges, weed, treat insects, trim shrubs and fertilize.
• Sprinkler systems and irrigation specialists can install systems and perform maintenance and follow-up repair work on them. (A special license may be required to perform this work.)
Eliminate bad companies from the mix
Choosing the right company can seem a little daunting when you start to focus on the many choices. But with these tips in mind, you can find a path to your dream lawn with minimal missteps. BBB’s tips:
• Take advantage of BBB’s business profiles on bbb.org. Research the companies you are considering to see if they are BBB accredited and read what others have experienced.
• Ask your friends and neighbors which businesses they use.
• Don’t settle for just one choice; get multiple names for comparison.
• Get an estimate in person. Don’t rely on phone estimates from someone who hasn’t seen and visited your property.
• Tell them what you need as precisely as possible, although in some cases you may want to ask them for their advice. Also, be consistent when dealing with different companies about your expectations so you have an accurate measure of the price gap.
• Ask about contingencies for weather delays and any special work you would like to do, such as outdoor events.
• Security issues must be taken into account. This involves ensuring that they have the appropriate insurance to cover damage to your property, damage to their equipment, and workers’ compensation insurance.
• It may be helpful to keep the same team or have the same manager looking after your lawn. They will gradually come to know his particular circumstances, allowing for better decisions about his needs.
• Ask for and check their references, at least by walking past the residence and, if possible, talking to former clients.
• Get a written contract, 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 annual contract renewals.
• Environmental concerns must be taken into account. Chemicals can be harsh and flow into sewers. The safety of children and pets should also be discussed.
• Pay by check or credit card when possible and always get receipts written or emailed.
• Consumer experiences are important to BBB – and to businesses. BBB customer reviews allow customers to post positive, negative or neutral reviews of their experiences in the marketplace. Visit bbb.org after working with a company to share your testimonial.
Leave no stone unturned when finding the right service to work on your land. If you have any other questions or concerns about renting your lawn work, contact BBB by calling 800-856-2417 or visit the websiteBBB.org.