November 14, 2012

Choosing the Best Landscape Design Company

Cleveland LandscapingWhen you turn your landscape design over to a company, you give them more than the responsibility to get the work done. You also give them the responsibility of caring for your home's landscaping and maintaining your professional appearance. If the company does a sloppy job on your landscaping, that shoddy work reflects on you. Likewise, if they cause damage to your property and aren't properly insured, you'll be stuck with cleaning up their mess.

Fortunately, there are many criteria you can check to make sure a company is worthy of your hire before you sign them on to do any work. You don't have to take a gamble on your landscape design. Just do a little homework ahead of time, and your experience will be smooth sailing.

As you investigate different landscaping companies, be sure to ask about the following:

1. Are they bonded and insured? You often hear this phrase in advertisements, but what does it really mean? Bonding is like reverse insurance. A bonded company is protected by an insurance company when a customer, sub-contractor, and supplier doesn't pay them. You already know about insurance. Always make sure a landscape design company is insured. Sometimes accidents happen on the job, and an insured company will be able to make full restitution for any damages that occur on their watch.

2. Are they licensed? Landscaping companies, like all other types of construction companies, should hold business licenses in their local jurisdictions. The state of Ohio doesn't issue a specific "Landscape Contractor's License," but it does require landscaping companies to secure other licenses. For example, they must have a "Nursery Dealers Certificate" if they sell any plant materials to you. They must also have an "Applicator's License" if they apply any chemicals (like herbicides or pesticides) to your lawn. 

3. Do they have any certifications? Membership in trade associations and certifications from professional organizations are a great sign. For example, the Ohio Landscape Association's main goal is to provide its members with up-to-date education about current landscaping developments. Membership in that association means that the company is serious about staying on top of their craft. There are also a few designations here in Ohio to look for: Certified Landscape Technician (CLT), Ohio Certified Nursery Technician (OCNT), and Certified Landscape Professional (CLP). You know you're working with professionals when they have passed these certifications.

4. Do they guarantee their work? You can trust a company that guarantees their work. Be wary of any company that doesn't. If they don't have confidence that their work will hold up over time or that you'll be satisfied, keep looking. There are landscape design companies out there, including ours, that guarantee their work.

5. Do they have landscaping expertise? Some people start landscaping businesses because they think it will be easy and doesn't require much skill. These are not the kinds of people you want to hire to take care of your home. Professional landscaping requires training, technology, artistic skill, and technical know-how in many different areas. Find out what kind of background and expertise a company has before entrusting your home to its care.

6. Do they have good references? Don't be satisfied with seeing a list of references on a piece of paper. Actually do your homework and call the references. Hearing the good (or bad) experiences of former customers will help you to make a very informed decision about hiring a landscape design company.

Once you do your homework, give us a call. We would love to speak with you about what we can do to make your life easier.

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