The Green Green Grass of Home

Jointly written with Norma Miller & Zan Deary

Do you like saving money by cutting your own grass? Or do you like to save hassle by hiring someone else to do it? It’s that time of year, and the BBB suggests the following tips to make your hiring process better:

*Know what you want from a lawn service. Many offer mowing, maintenance, aeration, seeding, landscaping, fertilization, pest control applications, and/or tree care.

*Start with Trust: Research lawn service providers at www.bbb.org. Don’t forget to look up any contractors at your state department of Labor & Industries to be sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Also, are they licensed to apply lawn care products as required by state law? Check with your Department of Agriculture or Environmental Department.

*You can search bbb.org for “BBB Accredited Businesses” in the lawn care industry. Accredited Businesses promise to uphold the BBB’s code of ethics, which includes maintaining required licensing and answering complaints promptly and properly.

*Ask for a lawn inspection and a free estimate. Services that quote a price without seeing your lawn cannot be sure what your lawn might need.

 *Ask which services are included in the price. Lawn services may offer a yearly contract or a simple verbal agreement giving the customer the right to discontinue service at any time. Find out what happens if you have a problem between contracts. Will the service calls be free or is there a charge?

*Consider annual costs vs. cost per application. Many companies allow you to pay after each treatment and may offer a discount if you pay the annual cost up front.

*Beware the “negative option.” Some companies have a policy of coming by until you tell them not to, which has resulted in unhappy consumers who have forgotten to cancel and then found themselves with an unexpected bill.

*Get it in writing. Before you pay, document the duration and expected results of the lawn care service.

*Look for guarantees and refund policies. Some services may offer a guarantee of performance. Others may offer refunds if they fail to meet your expectations.

*Look for professional membership. A service’s membership in one or more professional lawn care associations and active participation in the local community is a positive sign. Professional organizations keep their members informed on new developments in pest control methods, safety, training, research and regulation. Most associations have a code of ethics for members to follow. Affiliation with a professional group is one indication that a company strives for quality in its work.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.