Gardeners love to spend time in their yards – but not every homeowner has the time or skills to create their own sanctuary. Sometimes experts are needed to create a space the owner loves to be in.
But hiring a landscaper can be intimidating. With over 2400 landscapers in British Columbia, how do you know you’re hiring the right professional for the job?
We asked Jeff Foley, President & CEO of Para Space Landscaping Inc., to share his tips on hiring the right contractor for the job. Here’s a list of the top questions he recommends asking to make sure you’re hiring a professional.
Ask to see a portfolio of their work – It is always good to see a portfolio of a landscaper’s work and ask for current and past client references. Visiting one of their projects will give an even better idea of the service product they are selling.
Ask what accreditation their staff hold – Internationally recognized, the Landscape Industry Certified Technician accreditation proves competency through written and hands-on testing. Other accreditations to look for are Certified Arborists and Irrigation Technicians. Landscape Horticulturist is a Red Seal Trade so you may want to request a journeyperson to be on site as well.
Ask how long has the company has been in business – The age of a business doesn’t always tell you about the quality of their work, however, a long-established company indicates that the business has been successful over time. This may be a way to weed out a fly-by-night operation.
Ask about membership with BC Landscape & Nursery Association (BCLNA) – Being a member of a professional association often means the company has agreed to abide by a set of professional standards or code of conduct and ethics.
Ask if the work will be done in accordance with the new Canadian Landscape Standard – The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects released the Canadian Landscape Standard (CLS) First Edition. The CLS is a single, authoritative resource for landscape construction projects across Canada. For the first time, there is a national guideline to set the standard of landscape work in every province across the country.
Ask if there is a product warranty – Plants are living organisms and rarely have a 100% success rate. However, credible companies should warranty all plant material for one year, subject to adequate maintenance of plants.
Ask for a certificate of liability insurance – If it’s an extended job, make sure that you are added onto their policy as an additional insured and notified of cancellation/material changes within 30 days. Coverage of $5 million is preferred these days.
Ask if the company is in good standing with WorkSafe BC – Make sure that the landscaping company is in good standing with WorkSafeBC. You can easily find a clearance letter on the WorkSafe BC website.
Ask for awards – Awards are a great way to vet a company, as their work has been professionally judged to a high standard.
Ask what work will be subcontracted – Ensure that your general contractor is familiar with all subcontractors. It is also advisable to ask many of the above questions of subcontracted companies working on your property.
A final word of caution is to ensure you have a signed contract that outlines the scope of work in detail. This will ensure clarity between you and the company you hire and will be helpful should there be any disputes over the project. And last, but not least, check out LandscapeBC.com to help you search for and hire the right landscape professional.
After all, bees need flowers and professional landscape companies know exactly how to create the best space for you and the bees.
Jeff Foley is a Red Seal Journeyperson Lanscape Horticulturist, Certified Landscape Manager, Certified Landscape Technician, and the Executive Vice President of Para Space Landscaping Inc. Para Space has won numerous awards for their landscape maintenance and installation and was honoured as one of B.C.’s best companies to work for in 2011.