This article was originally going to be titled, “Reasons Why you should leave the DIYing to the professionals when you landscape your outdoor space.” It was a working title and too many words I know, but that no longer matters, because now it is what it is and we have to share our regrets and how to pick up the pieces and how you can do better than us, dear reader.
We’ve wasted thousands of dollars.
Granted, we have the materials like rocks that go into a rock wall and trees that haven’t drowned and died from poor irrigation, but the labor we paid for will have to be paid for again (unless we can take legal action). The company we hired was way over their heads on this project. Here’s what we learned.
First, two or more references are a must.
We were REALLY wanting a great landscaper who was worth the cost and who would achieve our vision. We would see pictures online for other companies but didn’t have physical proof. Then, our neighbors had their yard done and it was BEAUTIFUL. The sod was so plush. The rock wall was well done. It looked so nice. So we asked them to bid on our yard.
Apparently, they had never done what we were requesting. So even though we had seen them work well, didn’t mean they would work well for us. Ask around more, ask for physical projects similar to yours, etc, etc.
Second, make sure the company you hire is licensed and insured.
And they read the fine print of your plans. The guys we hired took a copy of our landscape plans, but I don’t think they did more than glance at it. I felt like I had to constantly be checking on the project as it was progressing to be sure it was being done right. And I’m not a micromanager! I don’t want to be either!
Third, request only the best materials, don’t try and skimp if you’re hiring out.
If you are going to hire someone to do your yard, let them know you have the highest of expectations. We didn’t come across cheap, but I think the company we hired was trying to win the bid (cause we got multiple bids from other companies) and they estimated low, then told us later on in the project they were losing money on our project.
They were so bad at communicating, so be sure you hire someone who is comfortable talking about money and budget. A bid is always an estimate. And a business should know how to talk money with the client.
Our landscape tarp was the cheap kind, tearing easily with weeds easily growing through, defeating the purpose of weed barrier, our grass was laid dead, our rock wall was thrown together quickly and unstable to save on labor cost, the list goes on.
Fourth, do a little research on the aspects of your project.
Find out everything about retaining walls if you want a retaining wall, flagstone patio installations, laying sod, plants, trees, mulch vs gravel, the works.
I know you want to just have the pro do it, and you don’t want to micromanage, but be sure you know it all so as you interview the landscapers. Then you know the jargon and cover all the bases.
Fifth, be sure to sign something to protect you and them.
And don’t pay before you see the project finished. We met one landscaper who said he doesn’t charge the client until the work was done. I really loved that and wish I knew it was an option.
Ultimately, we hired out to have a company come landscape for us because first, B didn’t have time between work and helping me with a toddler and newborn, and second we wanted it done right and we could just enjoy our yard.
We are kicking ourselves for not being more thorough with our investigation and research for a good company, we hope to do better now that we are hiring a new company to come make our yard beautiful! Wish us luck! Hope our experience helps you along.