Sometimes it seems that the best-looking yards have some of the scruffiest looking guys working in them. You know they’re not Landscape Architects, but are they okay to employ?
Before hiring an independent landscaper, ask around for a recommendation. If your friends and neighbors have attractive landscaping, ask them who they used to create the look. If the name of the same independent landscaper keeps coming up, that is a pretty good sign he is a good choice.
Finding a landscaper with a style you like
After narrowing your potential choices down, ask your friends and neighbors for more details. Try to determine if the landscaper’s style and work methods are compatible with you and your lifestyle. If it seems as though he may be a good fit, take it to the next step.
(If you do not have any friends or neighbors who have used landscapers, you might need to go to the yellow pages. Most likely, you will discover many independent landscaping companies listed in the yellow pages. Even one-man operations realize the importance of having their business listed in the yellow pages. Give the landscapers you find listed a call and ask for references.)
Perhaps you do not need to go to the yellow pages to find an independent landscaper because you have seen a sign outside the contractor’s home or because you have spotted the phone number on the side of the company truck. If this is the case, you still want to get references.
If they can’t provide you with a list of references, this is a bad sign. Avoid working with those landscapers. If, however, some do provide you with list of references, make a drive by of the properties on which they worked. Use these drive-bys to determine which landscapers seem to have the style you are looking for.
Next, take a moment to visit with the owners of the homes whose landscaping you liked most. Look for examples of projects that are similar to yours. If your project is unique or particularly large, you need to be assured a one-man operation will be able to accommodate your needs. Ask the homeowners about their experience with the landscaper.
After narrowing your choices down to just a few, make appointments with them to visit your home. One advantage to a one-man operation is that they are often more flexible about appointments and more willing to make accommodations to meet your needs.
Discuss your vision and ask him to review your site. Take the time to discuss your plans and receive his feedback. The landscaper should be able to give you a realistic idea of what can be done. If your project is particularly large, you need to discuss this and be assured that he has the necessary resources. If you like the guy, but are still uncertain. Start with a small job.
Have him work while you are at home and can keep an eye on things. If all goes well, add on progressively larger work until you become certain of his skills, honesty and willingness to do your work the way you want it done.