Constructed properly, the landscape of your home or business will look and function beautifully from the moment of its installation and will continue to flourish for many decades to come. Designing and implementing a beautiful and highly functional landscape, however, is no small feat. A successful end product is more likely if you use a professional landscape company that has an extensive knowledge of plants, design, system technologies and construction. Here are some tips for choosing the best landscaping company for your home or business.
1. Full-service company
A company that can manage a landscaping scheme from start to finish not only helps ensure that the project is delivered as originally envisioned but on time and on budget as well. Landscape companies with limited experience in all aspects of landscaping wont have the same control over quality, costs and schedules that full-service landscape architecture companies have. Even if the proposed project is small in scale, hiring a company that is equipped to manage everything from concept to completion is a sound idea.
2. An established reputation
It takes both time and experience to build a solid reputation. Landscape companies that can point to a broad array of past accomplishments are more likely to deliver the best product. The best landscape companies will not hesitate to provide references and will take pride in pointing out the diversity of their successfully completed projects.
3. A team approach
Landscaping companies that can boast a team of certified professionals are likely to take a rounded approach to a landscaping project. Companies that can draw from the expertise of a team of individuals make it more likely that only the best ideas, technologies and materials (for the project) will be employed. No matter how many people are involved in the project, however, it is important that the company provides the client with a single point of contact, a project head that the client can go to with any questions or concerns.
4. Industry affiliations and memberships
An affiliation with national trade organisations demonstrates that the company is keeping abreast of innovations and advancements in the industry. Organisations like the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and the Landscape Industries Association of Western Australia indicate expertise in landscaping. Landscaping companies that are skilled in structural landscaping may be affiliated with the Housing Industry Association and the Master Builders Association.
5. Sound practices and policies
The right landscaping company will have established safety practices that ensure the company complies with industry standards and government regulations. Companies that also have water conservation, waste and recycling programs in place demonstrate a commitment to the client and the community over the long term.
6. Make sure they have insurance
A very important point, as public liability insurance means you are covered by the landscaper if any of their work is found to cause damage to persons or property. A fact of life means things can and sometimes do go wrong and by having insurance in place, the landscaper has their bases covered. It's a great peace of mind. Should the contractor encounter a problem on yours or someone else's site, their insurance should look after any financial losses meaning there is less chance of the business going under and you being left with an unfinished project.
7. Get at least three different quotes.
This will help you to compare and choose the one that suits you best. Look around for a landscaper. Check out online directories as well as in the phone book, and also ask around for recommendations.
8. Shared vision
The landscaper that you choose should share your sense of style, and your vision for your landscape. There are greatly different looks that can be achieved in landscaping, as in building design. Its important that the overall look and feel that you want will be acknowledged and worked towards by your landscape company. Viewing examples of their previous work is a great way to assess if they will be a good fit with your aim. Its no good hiring a company who specialises in cottage gardens if you like a slick, sculptural feel, for example.
For your initial consultation with your landscaper, these things are important to notes:
- Can you communicate well with them?
- Do they ask you what you want, and ask further questions?
- Are they interested in your opinion?
- Are they enthusiastic about your project?
- Are they rushing you or pressuring you into something you dont want?
- Do you feel comfortable in discussing budgets and timetables with them?
After this initial meeting, plans will then be presented to you. Review and evaluate your different quotes., with the following points in mind:
- Did the landscaper listen to your needs?
- Is it in line with your budget?
- Does it fulfill your requirements?
- Are all points being considered, such as drainage of excess water, as well as the aesthetic considerations?
- Is the plan and bid delivered on time?
- Do you feel that it is achievable with the budget and timeframe you have specified?
- Are there changes that need to be made?
Evaluating these points realistically will give you a good idea of what it will be like working with the company once you accept their quote and design. Professionals are comfortable in meeting the clients needs, and will be happy to make changes to the initial plan if required. Review the plants specified to see that they are the right choice for now and also in the longer term. Look the plants up on-line or ask a nurserymans advice if you are not familiar with the specified plant. A good landscaping company will have the knowledge to not only do the hard landscaping work, but also choose the right plants to fit your needs.
Hopefully these tips have helped you decide on how to best sort through the many landscapers and design companies out there. Like anything, do your homework, get no less than three quotes, evaluate with a cool head, and you should be one happy customer.