Unfortunately, landscaping is not a highly regulated industry in Ontario and many see it as “easy money”. Pretty much anyone can get a business license, slap a sign on their vehicle and call themselves a landscaper without the first clue as to what they are doing. Many think that you just have to “slap down some soil, throw in some plants and TADA!”. Um, no! Hiring an amateur can be costly and it really hurts the whole industry (not just the clients). I truly cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a professional to do your landscaping.
When you are looking to hire a landscaper or gardener you should inquire about their skills, experience, knowledge – not just from the company’s standpoint but of the actual people who will be working on your property. Are they educated in what they are doing? Did they go to school or are they self taught? (Btw, self taught is not a bad thing – provided it’s self-taught over a number of years (preferably more than 5 years). Some of the best professionals are self-taught. But so are most of the worst of amateurs, so be wary).
Never hire on the spot.
Listen to the information provided. Take notes. Do your homework – was the landscaper actually knowledgeable in what they were talking about or were they just taking you for a ride? Did they have knowledge not just on plant species, but how they grow and how to care for them? Did they know about soil, sun and water requirements? Do they have any big name commercial clients? (You may have likely seen their work already!)
Trust Your Instincts
If something feels off, it probably is. With a highly experienced professional, you should feel comfortable and feel assured that the job will be completed on time. If you get even just one bad vibe from your landscaper – you maybe should reconsider hiring them.
Below we have compiled a list of 6 warning signs that your landscaper is not really a true landscape professional.
Are they insured?
You have every right to ask for proof of insurance. If your landscaper is unable to provide you with a business license, business insurance and commercial vehicle insurance, you need to find yourself a new landscaper! While a business license and business insurance information is not typically carried on us at all times – emailing over proof should always be a readily available option. Never hire anyone to work on your property if they do not carry the proper insurance!
Was your consultation & estimate thorough?
Wait…First off, was the estimate free? It should have been! And more importantly, was the consult thorough? Informative? Reassuring? Do you feel the landscaper really knew what they were talking about? Did you take notes so you can verify the information they provided? Anyone can be charming and persuasive – it doesn’t mean they know what they are actually talking about. Be prepared to do a little homework of your own.
Were you heard?
If your landscaper displays a negative attitude or completely dispels your ideas for your yard, it’s a definite warning sign. A professional landscaper should be able to take your ideas and make do with what will work with your yard. It’s important to note that a professional landscaper may disagree with your ideas but typically with a very valid reason that will be explained to you. For example, if you want to put shade plants in a sunny spot (or vice-versa) your pro landscaper will advise against it, but also advise WHY! Dismissive landscapers are not professional landscapers.
No portfolio or relevant work history.
Everyone needs to start somewhere and it may be tempting to give a contractor who is new to the business their first paying job. It’s not always a bad idea — many times contractors that are new to the business can be the most creative, dedicated and innovative. But there’s a big difference between a contractor with very little work history and a contractor with absolutely no work history. Even if they’re just starting out as an independent contractor or business, contractors should have some jobs under their belt, such as working as an employee for another contractor or as an apprentice. If a contractor has limited work history, ask that they provide references of other contractors or companies for whom they’ve previously worked.
If they ask for odd payment arrangements.
Landscapers who request large amounts of money upfront or cash-only payments should be cause for concern. A professional should be charging you HST as well. If you feel uncomfortable with a landscaper who makes a low-ball offer, or one that wants in-full payments upfront, trust your instincts and select a landscaper you feel comfortable with. However, it is not unusual (for larger jobs) for the landscaper to request a deposit (up to 50%). This is typically to cover the cost of materials should the client decide to skip out (unfortunately, it happens!).
Late or Can’t Keep Appointments.
Lastly, no one is on time all the time. It’s just not possible. It’s normal if your landscaper has a day where they are either late or forced to reschedule – life happens. However, if there is a pattern, it’s best to look for another landscaper. Anyone who repeatedly shows up late, misses appointments or cancels with little warning should be crossed off your list.
BUT PROS ARE EXPENSIVE!
Absolutely we are! Professional landscapers know their worth. Years of experience, years of education, skill enhancement and knowledge. But trust me, it’s worth it to hire a professional. We truly put extensive effort into what we do. It’s a passion, not just a job! You will likely pay more than the amateur would have charged, but the job will be done right and it’ll be completed exactly how you envisioned it.
Looking for a professional? Hire Green Care Services! With almost 10 years of experience, a keen eye, a knack for creativity and with an extensive knowledge of the industry and the practice – you cannot go wrong. You can be sure you’re hiring a pro who will do the job right the first time! Contact us today!