What do landscapers and car salesmen have in common? Actually, probably lots, but one thing that unites them in particular is a general distrust of the industry as a whole. It’s sad but understandable that this is the case, as I have had many conversation with clients who come to us because a builder has started a job then disappeared, or they have trusted someone who knocked on the door and offered to do the work for cash, or the landscapers have done a substandard job then refuse to rectify it.
Not all landscaping is a specialised skill. If you just want mowing or power-washing, then it might be appropriate to find a local ‘man with a van’. However, for planting, maintenance, patios, beds, walls, ponds, drives, trees or anything big; you need an expert.
Most people get their three quotes before starting a big job, but price isn’t everything. Here are the main points you may want to consider when choosing who to work with.
- Have they planned ahead?
- The weather in each season brings its own challenges.
- Has your landscaper experience of working in wet or windy conditions? Do they understand how extremes in temperature can affect the products and techniques they use? Have they planned ahead in case weather delays the job?
- A reputable landscaper should be able to explain how they have factored these considerations into the work schedule, so you feel reassured if delays occur or plans change.
- What products / techniques are they using?
- Landscaping and building products are constantly improving to reduce environmental impact and improve the quality of the finished product.
- Ask your landscaper what products they use and why. Do they have a code of best practise to ensure consistency and quality, and is it reviewed regularly? Have they provided you with a specification and scope of works, so you know exactly what you are paying for? Can they provide a scaled drawing or plan to help you visualise the finished garden? Have they taken measurements or just estimated by eye?
- Your landscaper should be able to guarantee the same quality finish every time.
- How easy is it to get hold of them?
- If you have questions, queries or concerns there is nothing more frustrating than calling a mobile that’s never answered, because your landscaper is driving, picking up supplies or on another job.
- Have you been provided with a landline and an email address? Do they have dedicated office staff to answer calls and help with queries? Do you feel as if they are focused on your project and what you need?
- It’s worth investing a bit more for a reputable firm if you require more support and structured customer service for your job.
Which brings us to the most important point…
- Do you trust them?
- Think of your garden as an additional room in your house. It’s part of your living space and influences the way visitors perceive you. Your landscaper needs to understand and respect this.
- If your landscaper comes to you with a problem in your garden and recommends a solution, do you accept their judgement? Do you feel they have your best interests at heart or are you suspicious of their motives and claimed expertise? Do they offer any contracts or guarantees in writing? If not, why not?
- If alarm bells start ringing, or if for whatever reason you just don’t trust them, find another landscaping company. It may feel like more hassle at the time, but it’s not worth handing over your hard-earned cash when you will only have to pay again to get it fixed.
- Do they offer a follow-up program?
- So, your garden’s finished. It’s exceeded your expectations and every time you look at it you pinch yourself. But nature never sleeps. The grass will grow, the patio will get dirty and weeds will start to push through.
- Can your landscaper give advice on how to look after the garden all year round? Do they offer patio cleaning, lawn treatments, weed control, hedge trimming and regular maintenance?
- If a landscaper claims to work in all weathers, they should have knowledge of how to maintain a garden throughout all seasons.
- Have a heart
- Landscapers are a proud lot, but it’s worth remembering that working out in all weathers means exactly that; driving rain, freezing cold, bitter wind, relentless heat; so if you see them sheltering in the van from a downpour, or trying to get warm on a frosty day, don’t judge them too harshly. A cup of tea or coffee and the odd biscuit can do wonders to improve morale and will probably inspire them to work even harder for you.