“Learn the ropes or work with dopes”. That’s mine, but you can steal it, and I hope you recite it to memory. If I save one person with this blog from an unscrupulous contractor, or self proclaimed “landscaper” who delivers the wrong plants for the right job, or pulls the “bait and switch” method of bidding, I’ve done my job for the karma police.
The chicken scratch bid above is the least you should expect from anyone working in your landscape. Even this bid is vague however, because it doesn’t list specific plants or trees, it also doesn’t state the length of the job or the starting date.
Before you hand over a check, card or any cash, this is what you ask for:
1) Every deal is in writing and there are no exceptions.
2) Every bid must include detail of materials needed to complete the job. You should have the linear footage, tons or approximate yards of each material, or pallets to be used on your property, and of course, wo/man hours. You should also see a specific list of plants including mature size and sunlight requirements, and they should be native perennials or real close to it. This is also where you account for deer resistant, evergreen, etc.
3) Ask for samples of all of the materials to be used.
4) study the samples over the course of a full day. Colors of materials can change wildly from sunrise to sunset so check the choices against the house and adjacent Hardscapes before it’s too late…
5) Get a starting date and hold them to it, but don’t be impatient. A hurried client is a vulnerable one so let them think it’s no big hurry, let them set a date, then expect them to be on time and professional.
6) Get a completion date and get this in writing. If weather is an issue you can expect delays, but if the contractor is lazy, you can refer to your contract for details and negotiations.
7) Use a trusted contractor in the first place. This should be a solid referral from a friend or colleague or someone whose phone number and business are public. Check the online feedback, look over their past work and ask a lot of questions when needed for clarification.
8) Finally, but this is really number 1, start by educating yourself on each process. Rather it’s with an Educational Consultation or Landscape Design like I offer, or an online design program, blog source or YouTube channel, do your homework first. literally start from the ground up and my blog and many others provide a wealth of free information on how to do just that.
A little due diligence up front, you can create both a lovely relationship and a lovely space which all any good designer/contractor could ask for. Remind them that you are “Happy” to give them a great review on their page right up front, and that lets them know that you will also leave a bad one, because you’re savvy like that.
Now go take on that project like a boss,
Lisa’s Landscape and Design
”Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time “