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10 Tips for Finding a Lawn Care Service

Do you own a lawnmower?  It’s amazing how many people don’t.  There are so many great lawn care services out there that can get your yard done in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it yourself.  Not surprisingly it has become a very popular and common home service.  I have to admit that I haven’t owned a lawnmower in 10 years.  It’s not because I am particularly lazy or avoiding the heat of Summer, it’s just that these lawn care companies do a better job of keeping my lawn looking good and they do it at a reasonable price.  Okay, I’ll also confess that I never particularly enjoyed doing yard work (to each his or her own).  Over the years I have hired several lawn care companies and these are my top 10 tips for finding a lawn care service:

  1. First you have to FIND a lawn care company.  You can search the web using the various tools that are available or you can use good ol’ fashioned word of mouth referrals.  If you know your neighbor uses a lawn care service and you like how their yard looks, find out who they use (or just look at the name on the truck that pulls up every week).
  2. Ask them if they are licensed to provide lawn care services in your State.  Most States require lawn care companies to get licensed by the State Chemist as well as the State Department of Agriculture.  So ask the company to make sure they are properly licensed and then just check the license out to be sure.
  3. Get a quote from multiple lawn care services.  Ask them to come out and look at your yard to give you an estimate.   While they are there ask for general suggestions and an opinion as to the current condition of your yard.  If they really know what they are doing you can tell pretty quickly.  At least for me, I can quickly tell if they know more about yards than I do (not a particular challenge to be honest so it’s a good minimum threshold).  You may ask them to specifically point out and explain the thing they would be most concerned about if they owned this yard.
  4. Find out about the fertilizers that they are using and their overall philosophy regarding long-acting fertilizers.  Do they actually test the soil before choosing what to apply or do they just apply the same products on every yard they service?  If they also spray pesticides, pay very close attention to what they use and how it may impact your family and especially any pets you may have.  Don’t gloss over chemical questions, they are important… Make sure you actually understand their answers!
  5. Find out other associations that they may be members of.  For instance are they member of the Professional Lawn Care Association (you can find out more about them by calling (800) 458-3466).  You can also visit their website here: http://www.plcaa.org.  Their involvement in the industry is indicative of how current they are on new products and treatments.
  6. Find out what their work schedule is and make sure that works for you.  So what days of the week do they operate (Monday thru Saturday) and how early in the day or late in the day do they schedule.  If you like to sleep in on Saturdays for instance, make sure they won’t be coming at 7AM on Saturdays (EVER).  When you are considering this also ask how they handle holidays like the 4th of July.  If you are scheduled on that day how to they juggle the schedule to still make sure your yard gets taken care of that week.
  7. Ask for references from them ideally for someone with a yard similar to yours (especially if you have any specific problems like grass that is dying, etc.).  They should be able to easily provide you with 2 to 3 references and then you really do need to follow up with them to get their opinion (also find out how they know and came to choose the company).  Now this is only important if you didn’t just grab your neighbor’s guy and/or already know the quality of their work.
  8. It’s also a good idea to know the people that will be working on your account.  Ask them if you will have a single point of contact that you can count on (what is their turnover rate for employees, etc.).  In many cases you will be dealing with an owner or manager directly for most of your needs (if not find out why that is the case).  It’s also important to know how they choose employees and whether the actual yard workers are consistent.  You really want to make sure that the quality is predictable.
  9. Get a written contract/agreement with the lawn care service.  This is really essential as you will want to make sure that they guarantee their work (will redo the yard until you are happy) and you will also want to be crystal clear on the services you expect (mowing, trimming bushes, treating for pests, etc.).  You should know what is included in the service agreement and what will cost extra upfront.  You also want to verify that they have all the appropriate insurances (covering your property and their workers) and that the contract requires them to maintain those insurance premiums.  If you question it require proof of insurance as a part of the agreement.
  10. Last but not least is budgeting and billing (of course we have to deal with paying).  As you are reviewing that contract know if you are agreeing to month-to-month or for a longer period.  Know what discounts may be available if you contract for a year at a time, etc.  Also, many lawn care providers offer budget billing (same amount every month including the winter months) this helps them make sure their business can cash flow through the whole year and is usually a win/win for everyone.  All of this is in addition to making sure you get quotes from at least 3 lawn care companies (the time you set aside can be well worth it).

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