Well-cared landscaping not only can bring oohs and aahs from family and friends, but it can also bring you more money when you go to sell your home. Landscape improvements recoup 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

But keeping up that curb appeal with a beautiful lawn and landscaping takes time each season.  Some people like doing their own weeding, bush trimming and planting. But if you are looking for a basic landscaping service that offers such extras as tree services, irrigation repair and shrub pruning, along with mowing and maintaining water features, there could be plenty of them out there to choose from.

How do you find the right one when more and more companies are offering such services? In fact, lawn and landscaping maintenance has become a highly profitable service for many landscape companies. A 2019 survey showed that 37 percent of landscaping companies say maintenance is their fastest-growing service along with 36 percent saying maintenance will be their best money maker this year, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Clarify costs, duties

That means you need to be careful of who you select to do the landscaping projects you want done. You need to make sure they do the work you need at the price you agree to from aeration to raking up your leaves to tree trimming.

Many lawn service companies also perform basic landscaping duties, as well.

Regular landscape maintenance in the United States can cost between $75-$100 for an 8,000 square foot lawn or $45 to $75 an hour, according to FixR. Of course, if you want the landscapers to bag those lawn clippings, it can be an extra $5-$10. If you want mulch put down, the bill could be $50 more.  Applying herbicides cost $40-$90 and winterizing your garden can $400 depending on where you live in the country.

Here are seven things to consider before hiring a basic landscape maintenance company:

1. Ask those closest to you for references

“First, check with friends and family for the companies they have used successfully,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals.  “These are people who have been vetted. Ask about the company’s work, how clean they left the worksite, did they show up on time, how was their professionalism, and was the work done to satisfaction.”

2. Make sure they have industry affiliations

Seek out small businesses to full-service companies that have memberships in local, state or national industry associations shows they have access to the newest trends and up-to-date information on best practices, adds Henriksen. There are many but a few national ones include The Professional Lawn Care Association of America, American Society of Consulting Arborists and Perennial Plant Association.

3. Request references and look at their portfolio

Go visit one of the landscaping business’s jobs in progress. Look around at the quality of work and how the workers do their job. Ask to speak to former customers, Henriksen says. Did the landscaper show up on time? Perform the job well? Clean up after themselves? Also ask to see portfolio photos of projects that will be similar to the type of lawn and landscape maintenance you want to be done.

4. Understand what each company offers

Landscapers vary in the number of services they perform. Credit: Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, Flickr.

The size of a company could make a difference in the expertise and offerings that they will be able to give you, she adds. A full-service business might have more staff such as an arborist, landscape designer and lawn specialist who could enhance your experience.

5. Get to know how they treat their employees

Their lawn maintenance employees will be the ones working at your home. This is a service industry, and a homeowner can ask the business owner what they do for their employees. Do they promote from within the company? “Professional landscape workers work hard,” Henriksen says. “Good companies recognize that and keep their employees happy by having opportunities for advancement with ongoing training and let them understand the career paths available to them.”

6. Consider value over price

If you find a landscape operator less experienced and less knowledgeable but has the lowest bid, rethink what you will be getting, she adds. There are landscape services for a variety of budgets. Just understand the value of what you are going to get so you will be a happy and satisfied customer. Ask about how many years they have been in the business. Check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if the business has generated a lot of complaints.

Henriksen uses a lawn maintenance company, too. Their contract specifies normal duties and costs. However, the health of the lawn, trees or plants could turn bad for some reason which may add additional costs.

For her, she expects that extra cost will come because of the family’s new puppy.

“He destroys our lawn when he goes the bathroom. There are brown spots all over. That wasn’t intended in our contract,” she says.

So, she understands when they come to repair the lawn that she will be paying extra.

Main image credit: Bastian, Flickr

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