How to hire a landscaper

November 25, 2013

The following report provides general information on how to hire a landscaper.

  1. Decide what landscaping you are looking for. Are you seeking a complete yard remodelling, a maintenance contract, or remedy of a problem?
  2. Obtain at least three detailed written estimates of the work you want. Some agreements break down costs, but for most residential work it is common to indicate a lump sum, and then detail what's included in the cost. Additionally, if you have specific instructions on items NOT to be done, (for example, your prize rose bush is to left alone) these instructions should be noted on the estimate or work order.
  3. Ensure that the landscaper checks for specific health, hazards and care of all the items in question.
  4. Allow the landscapers to make suggestions and recommendations for your specific landscape needs. If you see an example of the way you want the job to look like on completion, show it to the landscaper, and question its feasability for your yard.
  5. Ask for references, and follow up on them. Many companies carry a portfolio of pictures and letters from customers.
  6. Try to ensure that the majority of the work is to be done at the same time, so that the age and condition of the yard are similar.
  7. Always obtain any expressed or implied warranty on the company's workmanship in writing. Specifically request any refund or repair information.
  8. It is a good idea to be on site when the actual landscaping takes place. Oversee the job, and keep in mind that if you become concerned that the job is not what you had originally contracted for, you have the right to tell them to stop whatever it is that they are doing.
  9. There are several sources available for consumers to inquire about a landscaper. To verify the company's accreditation, licensing, or certification consumers should contact the following:
    • City business licensing information in Calgary at: 268-5521, in Lethbridge at 320-3831, and in Medicine Hat at 529-8135.
    • W.C.B. coverage may be verified by calling 297-6175.
    • If the company is requesting a deposit, they must be licensed and bonded to do so through Service Alberta. To inquire consumers may call toll free at 1(877) 427-4088.
    • Certification through the Apprenticeship Board for Landscape Gardeners is optional. The Board may be contacted in Calgary 297-6457, out of Calgary through the Provincial Government Rite number of 310-0000.
    • New laws regarding the use of pesticides require licensing and approval from the Alberta Environmental Waste and Chemical, Pest Management Branch. To verify proper licensing is in place, consumers may contact the above in Calgary at: 297-8262, or out of Calgary at the Provincial Government Rite number of 310-0000, and ask for 427-5855.
    • LANTA, (Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association) maintains a list of their current membership, and can provide consumers with a detailed step by step pamphlet on organizing a landscape project. LANTA is located in Edmonton at 800-378-3198.
    • The Alberta Association of Landscape Architects is another association that the landscaper may be a member of. They are located in Edmonton at 403-435-9902.

Consumers should inquire with any Association if they arbitrate complaints for their members.