BBB: Get a contract before hiring a lawn or landscaping company in the fall | Company

When leaves begin to fall and garden plants go to seed, homeowners may consider hiring a lawn or landscaping company to clean up yards before winter.

The Better Business Bureau advises owners to check out companies carefully before hiring them and ask for a contract that outlines what will be done and when.

Some garden maintenance companies or chimney sweeps send mailers with offers that seem almost too good to be true. Other service providers may knock on doors and offer to clean up debris on site. Either way, it’s a good idea to do your research before hiring someone. The low-cost deal might force you to sign a more expensive long-term contract — or the company might do a poor job that doesn’t meet your expectations.

BBB Business Profiles are available on dozens of lawn care, tree trimming, or other outside service businesses. Reviews provide an A+ to F rating, how long the business has been in business, its physical address, complaints and how they were resolved, and reviews on whether customers are happy with the work.

Other tips for hiring companies for fall cleaning:

Look for an established company with a good reputation. Check BBB company profiles and ask several companies for references. It’s a good idea to get several offers for the same job before making a choice.

Be careful with door-to-door lawyers. Homeowners often complain to BBB about traveling tree trimmers or chimney sweeps knocking on their door, offering a low price and asking for money up front. Too often, work is done of poor quality, if at all, and consumers cannot contact the soliciting company for a refund.

Get an estimate based on an on-site inspection. Unless a contractor looks at your yard or house and understands what you want done, estimates might not be reliable. Estimates should include all labor, cleanup, and disposal costs, and a contract should outline exactly what will be done and when the company expects the work to be completed. If you need a service more than once, the cost and frequency should be stated in the contract.

Check the name of a company insurance cover. Trimming trees and maintaining lawns can be dangerous. A company that provides these services must be willing to demonstrate that it has workers’ compensation, property damage, and liability insurance.

Consumers should avoid companies that push them to do business quickly, without checking the company’s reputation and credentials.

For more BBB tips or BBB business profiles, go to bbb.org.

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