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Educational Consumer Tips

Landscaping tips

Author: Better Business Bureau

Have a Vision for Your Landscape - Drive around the neighborhood to check out landscapes you like. Make sure to take pictures. - Decide for yourself how much and what kind of work you need. There is a big difference between planting a few trees and flowers and constructing a rock garden and sprinkler system. - Understand the layout of your yard so you can get a better idea of which areas get the most sunlight, most water runoff during the rain, etc. so you can plan accordingly. - Find out if there will be any licenses or permits needed to do your job. Bring in Several Contractors for Estimates - Visit to find trustworthy landscapers in your area and contact them for an estimate. - Make sure they are willing to come to your home to do the estimate so you can physically show them your ideas and compare them to what they are capable of performing. They can also offer suggestions if you are unsure what to do in certain areas and help you decide on the right cost. - Ask if they use subcontractors and who will ultimately be responsible for the work done. All contractors should be licensed and bonded and ask to see proof of liability insurance and worker's compensation. Get Everything In Writing - Get all estimates and contracts in writing with as much detail as possible so there are no disputes as the work is being performed. - The estimate should breakdown an itemized cost of both materials and labor. - Ask about guarantees on the materials and plants to be used. Will there be a replacement given by the company or will you receive a cash refund? Avoid High Upfront Fees - A deposit is not unreasonable, but you should not be paying a significant portion of the total cost in advance, even for materials. - Insist on a payment plan that coincides with the work schedule. For example, if your project will be completed in 4 phases, insist on 4 equal payments due when each phase in finished. - If your project includes a lawn maintenance schedule, check to see if the first payment is included in the initial down payment or if it begins for the month following completion.