House & Home

Choosing a Landscape Contractor

By Bill McRea

Investing in a home landscaping project is a smart decision. Time, a budget, and a well-thought out plan are crucial for satisfactory results.

You will need to invest time in searching for the best professional landscape contractor available who can stay within your budget and yet do a satisfactory job. Look for someone who is both creative and competent, who can achieve the look you envision and meet your unique requirements.

A well-thought out plan is also crucial. Write down your landscaping ideas, including the specific details. You may want to cut out pictures from gardening magazines that interest you.

Next, prepare a budget. Is your dream garden financially feasible? Is it practical, or do you need to make some adjustments and/or compromises?

If you know what you want, it will be easier to identify alternatives if your budget fails to accommodate your vision. Having a plan, budget, and timetable for your landscape project will make it easier for you to negotiate with your landscape contractor. He/she is your practical accomplice in ensuring that this project will meet your budget and assure that it will look as much as possible like what you envision.

  • Now, you are ready to choose a landscape contractor.

  • Landscape contractors are capable of doing many different jobs. Ensure you identify specifically what you want him to do. If you like gardening and want to do some of the work yourself, communicate this with your contractor. That will not only help him provide an accurate estimate, it will save you money.

  • Be sure that you have already identified exactly what you want in the landscape design. Your ideas should be well defined before you even speak to a professional contractor. Do let him know that you would appreciate his professional expertise and input - he may have ideas you will like, or he may make suggestions as to how to achieve a similar look with less cost.

  • Know the reputation of the landscape companies you speak with, and don't be afraid to negotiate. Gauge their level of experience and the quality of their work by asking for photos or tours of previous projects. You should also ask for references and for their professional affiliations.

  • Ensure the company is operating legally.

  • Everything you agree to must be in writing. Never allow a contractor to start working without a written contract, including specific pricing.

Do all these things, and you can be confident that you will satisfied with your new home landscaping.

Bill McRea is the publisher of Garden Facts also Garden Decor and Landscape Trees Landscaping and Gardening with information and products.