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Selecting Qualified Lawn Care Service Providers

There are many reasons to hire a lawn care service instead of doing it yourself. Convenience and expertise are two good ones.  Maybe gardening is not your favorite hobby and you'd rather pay someone else to mow the grass.  Or you don't like having to purchase, store, and maintain lawn care equipment.  Experts know when and how to fertilize, or the best way to control weeds, and this saves you the trouble of having to figure it out.  No more dead spots in your grass from misapplications... 

This tree was ruined by a landscape service that does a lot of work in this neighborhood. They do a great job with mowing and edging but have not been trained to properly prune trees.

Whatever your reason, a few traps to avoid when choosing a service provider include inexperienced, uninsured, or unlicensed companies.  

Many agree that good workmanship and price are the most important qualities they look for in a lawn service.  A well maintained landscape adds value to your property so it is important to protect your lawns, trees and shrubs from improper maintenance.  Even a simple task like mowing and edging can be done wrong with negative impacts to the health and aesthetics of your yard.  A low price is nice but the cost of quality includes the education and experience of those providing the service.

The landscape industry is highly competitive because it's easy to start a business with low overhead costs.  Anybody with a pickup truck, a few tools, and a trailer can hang a sign and sell themselves as a professional landscaper.  So beware; business cards, signs and flyers don't make them an expert and low prices might mean they are not insured. The competition between local businesses keeps prices down so a few extra dollars will likely buy you the expertise of a professional service.

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Things to Consider Before Hiring a Lawn Care Service

What you must know:

  • Do they have liability insurance?  Ask for a copy of their certificate of liability insurance.  Don't be held liable for injuries or damages someone causes while working on your property.
  • Are they licensed to apply chemicals?  In most states, anyone hired to apply chemicals is required to hold a professional applicators license.  Chemicals include weed killers, insect control, fertilizers, and even organic lawn care treatments often require an applicator's license.  Check your state's Department of Agriculture website for the laws and a list of licensed applicators. 

I recommend:

  • Checking out their reputation.  Get referrals from friends, family, and neighbors. What lawn care service do they use?  Are they reliable?  Visit a property where they work and inspect their workmanship.  Visit their website, does it have pictures of their work? 
  • Choose a company with knowledgeable and educated workers.  Look for a company that holds memberships with one or more of the local and national lawn and landscape associations.  These organizations provide continuing education through their credential programs.  Membership indicates a commitment to professionalism.  Many states have a state landscape association.  Other major organizations include the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the International Society of Arboriculture for tree care companies.

All landscape contractors are not equal:

  • You get what you pay for.  Lower prices often means less experience or a lower skill set.  Expect to pay more for a higher quality of service, experience, and education.
  • They might do an excellent job mowing, edging, and fertilizing, but that doesn't mean they understand how to properly trim your shrubs or prune your trees.  Hire an arborist to prune or remove your trees.    

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