Hiring a Landscaping Contractor to transform your outdoor property into an outdoor oasis can be a little overwhelming for some home owners. There is such a range of Landscape Companies available and eager to take on your project. These Companies can range from one landscaper with a pick-up truck and very little experience to larger companies with many landscape crews, heavy machinery and lots of experience. My hopes are to educate those of you who are for the first time considering hiring a professional to estimate, design and install your new landscape based on your vision and their experience.
The first step is sourcing out the different Landscape Companies in your area. Landscape Ontario has a large list of landscaping professionals found throughout Ontario, this can be a good place to start. Most established companies will have a good web site with a thorough description of their company and numerous photographs of landscaping projects they have completed. This will give you a good idea of what these companies are capable of completing and the level of experience. Other sources are the yellow pages, local newspaper ads and best of all word of mouth. Most people are quite happy to walk you through their newly installed landscaping and discuss their level of satisfaction with the company that did the work. If you have a neighbour or someone in your area who recently hired a landscape company, knock on their door and ask them a few questions.
Once you have sourced out the Companies that you feel have good potential all you have to do is make the phone call. This will be the first indication of the level of professionalism. Is it a central office that you are contacting or a cell phone? Do you immediately speak with someone and if you have to leave a message what is the time frame that you get a response? Response time can vary between companies from a few minutes to a few days. When you speak with a representative of the company how professional and helpful are they?
During the initial phone call the company will usually ask you questions regarding what type of landscaping you want to have done, what area you are located in and will then set up an appointment for a consultant to visit you. The next clue to level of professionalism is punctuality of the consultant. Do they show up on time and if not do they give you a phone call ahead of time to let you know that they may be a little late (sometimes this is unavoidable due to traffic, length of time of the appointment before yours, etc).
Preparing for the appointment ahead of time can be quite beneficial for the homeowner and the consultant. It is wise to have a rough idea of the type of landscaping you would like to have done, use of space in your yard such as size of patio area, how much dining area you require, what size and quantity of outdoor furniture do you want the patio to accommodate, do you require lawn area or play area for your children, do you plan on installing a swimming pool in the near future. Having photographs of landscapes you like and a copy of your property survey (if available) are also very helpful to the landscape consultant. Check out Landscape Ontario or our portfolio for some possible landscaping ideas you may like to incorporate in your project.
Another very important factor to consider ahead of time is the budget you have set for your landscaping. Many times a landscape consultant/designer can design your landscaping to accommodate your budget and still provide you with a fantastic landscape installation. Estimates can vary drastically depending on what types of materials are to be used. Natural stone, for example flagstone, can be quite a bit more expensive than precast concrete products, for example tumbled stone brick. Other considerations are heights of walls, patios, etc. A more expensive route to take would be a raised patio and raised planters compared to the less expensive route of ground level patio with ground level planting beds. These are all reasons why it is beneficial to provide the landscape consultant/designer with a realistic budget so they can design your landscaping to fit your needs as well as your pocket book.
Birk’s Landscaping Inc.