It’s that time of the year again, when the temperatures rise and the smells of mulch and freshly cut grass fill the air. With the anticipation of summer barbeques and lazy days on a hammock, early spring is a popular time to do yard work. Whether you need tree removal services, or just want someone to mow the lawn, it is important to select a company that is both efficient and ethical.
Better Business Bureau | Greater Maryland received 6,183 inquiries and 39 complaints about lawn maintenance companies in the past year. Complaints include issues regarding customer service, billing/collection, contracts, and refunds or exchanges.
BBB has the following tips to consider when choosing a lawn maintenance company:
Know what you want. Today’s consumer is often “green” thinking , price conscious, and may offer a diversity of services which may be “subcontracted” out. Have in mind the types of services you are seeking (fertilizing, weeding, aerating, maintenance), ask about the products used, and request a lawn inspection and free estimate. Be wary of any company that quotes a price without first seeing your yard.
Make sure the company has an up to date license, when appropriate. Different types of services require licenses from different state and federal agencies. Requirements for common lawn and garden needs are as follows:
- Tree Care: All tree care professionals practicing in Maryland must be licensed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Visit the DNR’s website to search license holders by company, last name, or county. Tree expert licenses must be renewed every January in order to be valid.
- Pest Control: Pesticides are used to protect homes and yards from a variety of pests including insects and weekends. While effective for controlling pests, pesticides can also be hazardous to humans. Be sure to deal with companies that are licensed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, which requires all pest control employees receive proper training. All trained personnel are issued MDA identification cards, and the business license number must be on the service vehicle.
- Fertilizers and Pesticides: In addition to the training of employees, MDA regulates the types of products that can be used on lawns. The MDA website features a list of registered products.
Scrutinize the contract.
- Ask if the service is automatically renewed annually. Some contracts automatically renew services, unless you specify otherwise. If you do choose to sign a long-term contract, make sure you get information about cancellation rights in writing first, in case you find the services to be unsatisfactory.
- Understand the pricing, frequency of services and any guarantees. If the lawn is not performing as anticipated, understand what recourse you may have.
Shop around. Get written estimates from at least three different companies. Keep in mind that the cheapest estimate is not necessarily the best option. You may have to invest a little more for higher quality products and services. And research the reputation of specific companies by checking reviews, asking for references and their affiliation with national “franchises”.
Research the company with Better Business Bureau. Look up local businesses by name, type of business, URL, or phone number on your BBB’s web site.