Professional Landscape Services: 10 ways to tell you’re making the right decision

Once the weather breaks each spring, it seems like one in every five vehicles on the road is a pick-up with a trailer either filled with mulch, equipment or a little of both. All at once, there is what seems to be an overpopulation of landscape experts.

Until you look a little closer.

Everyone has heard the story about the contractor who takes a deposit and never shows up. Or the project that begins and never sees completion, the one that includes one problem after another or the disastrous disappointment that is nothing like the plan. There may never have been a plan to begin with.

We’ve seen it in our customers’ eyes when we first meet with them, the wondering, the worry, maybe a little skepticism if they’ve had a bad experience with someone out there. Until we walk them through what comes standard with a professional landscaping experience. That’s when the furrowed brow turns into a relieved smile and we can get down to the fun part.

But first, here’s what we cover with our customers and what you should always expect before you sign on:

1) You have peace of mind

So this one is not very scientific or quantifiable, but we all have intuition and most times it’s actually built on the unconscious gathering of visual, verbal and other clues as we interact with someone. They don’t have any references but they assure you they’ll do a great job? You can’t see any of their work in person? They don’t show up or call when they’re supposed to show up?

You can see the writing on the wall. Listen to your gut or at least be sure to resolve any lingering questions right off the bat.

2) You have a point person

Some very small operations can do incredible work, but they can be maxed out beyond their capacity pretty quickly. That’s when you can fall between the cracks. Schedules can slip. Budgets can slip. Your patience can slip.

Make sure you have a point person. Someone who will take your calls, answer your questions and be accountable. Now, as the project progresses and after it’s done.

3) You have a plan

You know what all the experts say about having a plan, right? You’ll never have something to work toward, you’ll never clarify expectations and be on the same page with others unless you document the plan. We believe in the plan.

That’s why you should never begin without one. Start gathering your own notes, inspiration photos from Pinterest or neighborhood drive-by’s, what you love and what you want to stay away from. Then bring all of this information to your landscape manager and they will listen to you first. They will get to know you and your yard. They will take everything they’ve learned and match it with what they know and love to come up with a plan just for you. You will be able to review this plan and love it or tweak it (or both) and this final plan is what everyone will be working from. This is how your project will be judged, against the plan.

Every landscape project at Altum’s begins with an At-home Consultation, the first step toward a professionally designed and installed landscape, one that fits you, your lifestyle and your budget.

4) Your plan includes options

Every plan includes options, including creating a plan that can be tackled over time, one that includes pieces that you can tackle yourself after the professional portions are complete or opportunities up front to tweak and change things until you love them.

After the plan has been signed off on, change requests will require additional investments. This is standard practice and is something that protects both sides of the partnership. Changes can add cost and time to a project, and the original plan is designed to eliminate those changes in as many cases as possible. But, if it needs to happen at some point, changes can always be accommodated at the agreed upon charge.

By the way, this language—how the change requests are handled—will be discussed before you begin the project, they’ll never be a surprise.

5) You have a schedule

If you have all the time in the world, great. If you’re having a graduation party or company coming, take that into consideration. Hiring a landscape crew can require some time to meet, plan and execute the work, so a professional landscaper will be realistic about the time needed to complete the project and they will take that schedule seriously.

Weather can impact schedules, that can be unavoidable. But a professional team will work to stay on schedule and keep you posted of any delays and how they will addressed.

6) You have a contract for the project and pricing

Handshakes are charming and we do love them. But they’re no way to do business, at least on their own. You’ll have a contract that states an estimate or hard costs for everything included. You’ll have a chance to talk through and ask any questions. And then both parties will sign off.

A ceremonial handshake is icing on the cake.

7) They have the experience

Your landscaper should be an expert. Especially if you expect that hiring a professional will give you professional results. That means that they will pay attention to the details, stick to budgets and schedules and do professional, exceptional work.

Professionals not only know their business, but they know the right questions to ask to get to what you may not know you wanted. They’ll make recommendations without you having to ask. They’ll think in solutions and have alternate options. They’ll be committed and smart and accountable.

8) They do great work

Ask to see some of their work. You can get a list of addresses and drive by. Sometimes homeowners will agree to be contacted so you can discuss their project. Sometimes you can see dramatic before and after photos. Sometimes all of the above.

If you love the work, chances are you’ll love what they can do for you. They’ll be sure of it.

9) They take care of the details

Details can make or break a project. The edging on a new mulch bed. The combination of plants that complement each other and bloom in every season. The boulders that are handpicked and installed. The trees or shrubs that are chosen for your small spaces or special requirements.

Sometimes you notice these things are missing right away. Sometimes you don’t discover until a year or more from now. But a professional will take all of these things into consideration and plan and design with them in mind. You’ll notice the difference.

10) Their work comes with a guarantee

A professional will guarantee their work from defects and ensure that you are 100% satisfied with the results. They will leave you with detailed care instructions and guarantee planted material for a specified amount of time. All of this information will be spelled out before they begin the project.

. . . . . . .

For help deciding between doing it yourself or using a pro start here. Also, here’s a guide to projects many people like to tackle on their own and some that are oftentimes best left to the pros.

And if you’re ready to get help from the Altum’s landscape design team, we’d love to help! Start here.