Lawn care services and costs can vary greatly, even in the same geographic area. Although the old adage “you get what you pay for” is largely true, there are exceptions to every rule.
It’s important to look further than the costs and examine qualities of each professional lawn service to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. High prices don’t always mean quality services.
Here are seven important qualities to look for in a good landscape company.
1. A Well-Established Business
Although the length of time a company has been in business isn’t the only important factor, it is usually a good indicator of a successful operation. Start-up operations and landscape companies who have been in business less than five years may not have worked through all of the initial business hurdles that new companies often face. On the other hand, a company who’s been providing professional lawn care for over 10 years is doing something right and a landscape company with more than 20 years in business is obviously providing professional lawn service with successful results and happy clients.
An established landscape company with a busy clientele is a credible company offering quality work and great customer service. When you’re looking for the perfect fit for your Bergen County home, look for a qualified professional with years of knowledge, experience and skill in various areas of landscaping. The professional experience and qualifications will prove to be a valuable asset for your long-term landscaping needs.
2. A Good Industry Reputation
A qualified Bergen County landscape professional has probably developed a reputation within the neighborhoods they service. When a company is doing work in certain areas, it doesn’t take long for word to get around about the quality of their work and service. Whether the results are good or bad, word is sure to get around.
Check with family, friends and neighbors for referrals and information on professional lawn service providers they have worked with. A personal referral is much more valuable than word-of-mouth referrals from people you don’t know. When you’re looking for a qualified lawn care provider, ask the company for references. Any reputable business will be happy to provide credentials and client references to justify their reputation within the landscape industry.
You can also do online research to investigate company information. As an instant resource, the internet has changed the way we get information. Now you instantly read and review a company’s information and service reputation online. While Yelp reviews don’t provide the whole story, they do provide a glimpse into the company. If a professional lawn service has few positive reviews and tons of negative reviews, it’s probably justified to eliminate them. Although online research and reviews don’t tell everything, they are a good research tool, especially in weeding out unqualified or unreliable landscape companies that others are dissatisfied with.
3. Great Customer Service
In many Northern NJ areas, good customer service from a lawn care company seems to be rare these days. Professional lawn service ranges from gardeners with old, worn-out trucks and equipment to professional-looking workers with new, equipment and vans with colorful logos.
However, just as the gardener with the beat up old truck might provide great work and customer service, the professional-looking company with shiny new vans may be amateurs with no real landscape knowledge or skill. This can make it tough to get a quote or reliable service. Many landscape companies, both large and small, may provide basic professional lawn service, but no real customer service at all. If there’s a specific lawn problem, special request, change in service or billing question, you may spend days or weeks playing phone tag without getting answers or help.
When you’re looking for professional lawn service for you home, look for a landscape company with an office manager or someone who will always respond to your calls and service requests promptly.
Look for a qualified, experienced lawn care company that’s up-to-date on the latest lawn care techniques and specialty lawn care treatments including organic lawn care, fertilization and pest management. In addition, look for a company that’s got the latest landscape equipment to handle even the most difficult projects with ease for future home needs.
If you’re investing your time and money into hiring a landscape company for your long-term property needs, excellent customer service should be at the top of your requirement list. Good customer service goes a long way towards successful long-term lawn care and maintenance.
You might be surprised at the number of lawn care providers who don’t show up as scheduled or simply disappear. One week they may be mowing your lawn and trimming your hedges, and the next week they don’t show up at all. Although this seems surprising, many small or unqualified landscape providers simply don’t have the operational capacity or skill level to expand or keep up with service demands, so they just collapse.
The most common types of lawn care companies are the “mow and go” crews. They often operate in areas scheduling two or three houses within close proximity at once, providing fast mowing, blowing and string trimming services for a cheap price. Some crews may also offer tree trimming, fertilizing, mulching and pest control services, but unless they’re knowledgeable and experienced in these services, it could result in more damage than good.
Rather than hiring a “mow and go” crew to provide fast, inexpensive lawn service, it may be best to invest in an established landscape company who can provide valuable horticulture knowledge and expert skills in professional lawn service and maintenance procedures.
5. A Business License and Professional Liability Insurance
Being licensed and insured is a must, but unfortunately it’s not the standard in the lawn care industry. With so many independent gardeners and small lawn care operations, many of them don’t bother or are not qualified for a business license.
With a licensed and insured landscape provider, you know that they are dedicated to their profession and have gone through necessary channels to secure these credentials. They’re not just trying to make a quick buck on the side. And more importantly, if they get injured on your property, or the mower throws a rock through your kitchen window, you will not be held liable for the damages. Hiring a lawn care provider who is not licensed or insured can leave you holding the bag for personal injury or damages to your home or property.
6. A Variety of Valuable Landscape Services
Regular lawn care and maintenance is essential for a healthy, well-maintained lawn. Without regularly scheduled services, your Bergen County lawn can quickly become overgrown and full of weeds. Most professional landscape companies provide basic professional lawn service on a regular weekly or bi-weekly basis to keep growth under control. Professional crews who are trained, experienced and well-equipped will provide basic lawn care and maintenance services that typically include:
- Weekly lawn mowing.
- Regular sidewalk, walkway and driveway border edging.
- Routine weeding and weed control.
- Cleaning for hard surfaces like sidewalks, walkways and driveways.
- Yard cleanup each spring to get rid of dead winter growth and debris.
- Yard cleanup each fall to clear dead growth and prepare for winter.
In addition to basic lawn care and maintenance services, there are other important services available that can be scheduled as needed throughout the year. These services include:
- New planting and foliage
- Lawn renovations
- Tree and shrub pruning
- Irrigation repairs
- Garden design
- Organic lawn care
One major advantage of hiring a professional landscape contractor is the additional valuable services they can provide for your home. As well as professional lawn care, a licensed landscape contractor can help you with many other home services, such as:
- Landscape Design – Creating a landscape design that may include new trees and plants, garden design, outdoor walkways or pathways and special outdoor features.
- New Landscaping – Creating a feasible budget and developing a new landscape layout and design for your property.
- Landscape Grading and Resloping – Providing grading or resloping for home additions like pools, spas, outdoor patios and terraces and new planting and garden areas.
- Land Clearing and Cleanup – Providing land clearing, hauling and cleanup of seasonal debris such as fallen limbs, dead shrubs, excess leaves and dry brush that could become a fire hazard.
- Landscape Lighting – Installing landscape lighting that includes accents lights, pathway lights and motion detection lighting for added security.
- Design/Build Services – Designing, building and installing a variety of specialty outdoor features for your home that add beauty and increase property value. Special outdoor features include:
- Swimming pools
- Spas and hot tubs
- Patios and terraces
- Outdoor fountains and waterfalls
- In-ground ponds
- Pathways, walkways and driveways
- Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits
- Fully-equipped outdoor kitchens
7. Membership in Professional Trade Organizations
While there’s no doubt you’ll find an abundance of lawn care providers who don’t belong to any trade organizations, those that do are a special breed. Why? Because being a member of a professional lawn service trade organization means that they are committed to their profession.
Trade organizations typically require a commitment to continual learning through standards set forth by the lawn care industry. When searching for a qualified lawn care professional, look for a company that belongs to New Jersey state organizations or well-known and respected national organizations.
Professional affiliations are an important part of a company’s credibility. Check to see if they are affiliated with some of the better national or Northern NJ organizations. All of the following organizations promote and support horticulture education and safe, ethical business practices:
- Professional Landscape Network (PLANET)
- New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association
- American Society of Landscape Architects
- Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program