There are several reasons why choosing a gardener based on really low rates alone can backfire. From unplanned expenses to unguaranteed standard of work, which may further lead to avoidable injuries and fatalities. The BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries identifies that 789 landscape services workers died due to traumatic workplace injuries between 2003 and 2006. 45% of these fatalities resulted from operating tools and machinery in private residences. According to the report, 22% of landscape service workers are more likely to die due to falls, 17% due to being struck by falling objects, and 9.8% from electrocutions.
When hiring a gardening contractor, Informed homeowners first consider professionals nearby with the right resources to mitigate these risks. Secondly, they ensure their gardener has adequate knowledge of soil ecology, plant physiology, and the proper application of pesticides. You should also ascertain that your contractor is conversant with the standards and guidelines outlined by the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for gardening practices. Asking the following questions will help ensure you have considered other important matters in hiring the best gardening contractor near you:
Like all other landscape experts, professional gardeners are required to obtain a license from the designated state Department of Agriculture, licensing authority, or professional organizations before working. Generally, licensed gardeners must have at least three years of experience in the industry. Within this period, the gardener would have mastered services like pesticide application, garden maintenance, tree trimming, and so much more. Furthermore, some states like California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Tennessee require that a gardener takes a professional exam that shows they understand the industry's standards and regulations. You may look up the licensing requirements in your region to know what to expect from a licensed gardening contractor. Verification of licensed contractors can be done with the local licensing agency in your state, county, or city.
Work-related hazards like cuts, falls, amputations, and electrocutions are common injuries in the gardening industry. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 400,000 people get injured due to gardening or gardening equipment yearly. As a result, professional gardeners need to obtain the right type of business insurance. Generally, gardeners need general liability insurance to cover injuries sustained by themselves and other persons at work. Ask your contractor for their certificate of insurance to confirm and know which insurance they have.
Hiring a bonded gardening contractor near you guarantees that both parties adhere to the terms in the contract as well as assures satisfactory completion of the gardening project. For instance, if the gardener leaves work unfinished, the homeowner can file a bond claim and get compensation or refund for losses. However, this depends on the terms and conditions of the bond agreement.
Gardening services range from tree removal to hedge growing or maintenance. Most landscaping companies offer all these services to homeowners. It is critical to know your needs before making inquiries on your contractor's specialty. Generally, specialists are more experienced and efficient than generic contractors.
Lawn and landscape companies hire certified gardeners nearby who offer different gardening services. Therefore, you should note that the prospective contractor you are currently interviewing may only represent the company. Ask to know the specific gardeners assigned to your project, and verify they are licensed and insured.
In the gardening industry, warranty offerings are a bit tricky. This is because most plant damages are due to nature and are beyond human control. Most professionals choose to offer a warranty based on the quality of service delivered. These warranties cover plant damages done within six months. It does not include damages caused by natural events, vandalism, homeowner's pet, or theft. Generally, gardening is done on an ongoing basis to avoid the risk of losing plants to diseases- viruses or fungi. Most contractors use a recommended gardening maintenance schedule to ensure that the risk of losing plants to nature is reduced.
Reliable contractors near you will produce references of past jobs to show their competence and experience in the industry. References may be testimonials or reviews from former clients who have worked with the prospective gardening contractor. Some contractors may provide names and contacts of former clients, so you contact them and get direct reviews. Others may provide photographs of past projects that are similar to yours. Alternatively, you may check online review sites like Google Review or Yelp to read up reviews about your prospective gardening expert.
Most gardening issues are results of changes in nature, which are often beyond human control. This is why regular maintenance is essential in growing a beautiful garden. Gardening problems like weeds are easily spotted and resolved, while others require a professional gardening contractor's service. As such, homeowners are advised to regularly watch out for the following gardening issues to make maintenance easier and cheaper:
Weeds are plant invaders that can cause economic loss and health problems. These unwanted plants can equally damage the aesthetic of the garden. Weed control is not an easy ordeal to overcome. This damage is due to their high adaptability in areas where they grow and their ability to tolerate drought. Weeds that are left unchecked can restrict the growth of other plants and may also block drainage pipes. Resolving the issue of weed growth depends on the size of the growth. Smaller weeds spotted early can be removed mechanically, i.e., by mowing, plowing, hand pulling, or hoeing. Matured weeds are best treated by hiring professional gardeners who have mastered the application of synthetic weed killers. Professionals may also use the stale seedbed technique for managing and controlling weed growth.
Changes in rain and temperature are natural events that cannot be controlled by man. However, understanding these events can help you manage your garden correctly. For instance, warm temperatures and high humidity can cause damping off. This fungal disease may kill fragile seedlings and stop the growth of beautiful plants. Hence, the location and timing will play a large role in creating a beautiful garden. With the help of a licensed landscaper, you can choose a spot where your garden will get up to six or eight hours of sunlight each day. A professional may also create hot caps or floating row covers to keep the garden warm during winter. Additionally, in making the garden, ensure adequate space to allow air circulation in plants.
Aphids, root maggots, cutworms, and parasitic wasps are examples of common insects in gardens. However, some of these insects like ladybugs, green lacewings, and ground beetles, are garden-friendly. Therefore, it is imperative to plant nectar-producing plants or pollen in your garden. These plants will attract garden-friendly insects that can discourage the progress of pests in your garden. Ensure that your hired gardening contractor creates a bird net over your garden to stop big flying pests from eating the seedlings. Additionally, companion planting (planting resistant seed varieties), crop rotation, and proper use of pesticides are efficient methods for eliminating pests in the garden. You may also consider completely removing plants that are infected with aphid virus and wilt disease.
Leaf Spots in Plants
Leaf spots are common problems in gardens. It makes the plants look weak and discolored. These spots are caused by viruses, fungi, environmental factors, toxic herbicides, bacteria, or deficiency in potassium and calcium. These deficiencies make them susceptible to diseases and changes in weather. Several techniques employed by the gardening contractor to cure leaf spots include the correct application of potassium fertilizers, wood ash, and lime to discourage the spots' spread. However, in most cases, removing infected plants may be the only solution. To prevent the recurrence of leaf spots, it is advisable to plant your garden by hiring only licensed gardening contractors.
Problems with seed germination may be due to inexperience or lack of basic knowledge. While some seeds take longer to sprout, others may refuse to germinate due to the wrong planting time or location. First and foremost, it is essential to check the soil's pH. The soil's pH determines what nutrients are available in the soil and if it is favorable for growing a particular plant. Professionals may initially get a soil test to know if it is acidic or alkaline. This knowledge also helps them apply the best methods for planting your garden.
Other problems that may be experienced in maintaining a garden are pets, excess water/inadequate water, and inappropriate use of chemicals. These problems may be controllable by the homeowner and the service of licensed gardeners nearby.
Homeowners may spend between $100 and $500 per month for maintaining a garden. Of course, the total cost is often affected by the size of the landscape that will be maintained. However, note that a beautiful garden maintained correctly can increase the value of your property. The cost of different gardening services are:
Garden and lawn maintenance:
- Fertilization - $70 - $400 per application or $250 - $1,000 per year
- Garden planting - $50 - $150
- Hedge trimming and growing - $40 - $80/hour
- Lawn aeration - $40 - $50 per hour or $100 - $250 per project
- Lawn mowing - $30 - $80 per hour or $100 - $300 monthly
- Lawn seeding - $400 - $1000 per project
- Simple care and maintenance - $50 - $300
- Weed prevention - $60 - $90
- Weeding - $20 - $40 per hour or $100 and $200 per visit/session
Landscape and installation services:
Yard clean-up and disposal services:
Factors that may affect the final bill of maintaining a garden include:
Landscape size and type: Hilly gardens may take more time to work. This is similar to extensive flat gardens. The certified gardener may consider all these factors before providing a quote.
Condition of the garden: Gardens covered with debris and weeds may be more difficult. Professionals may need to use costly equipment in removing overgrown weeds. The amount of equipment and tools will also determine the final amount of the service.
Plant type: Plants like tulips, sunflower, hyacinth, and lotus are exotic flowers that are generally difficult to maintain. These plants need more fertilizers, time for pruning, and weeding. However, less costly native shrubs require more time to clean up during autumn due to the excess detritus.
Gardening tools: Some gardening jobs require costly specialized equipment such as skid steer loaders, wood chippers, and stone cutting machinery. Others need technical support and long working hours to carry out. These factors may be included in the total costs or treated differently depending on the gardening services required.
Seasonal changes: Garden maintenance is affected by seasonal changes. Little or no attention may be required during winter. This may increase the cost of hiring gardening contractors who have lesser jobs in that period. The reverse is the case during springs as more foliage begins to grow.
Location: As with other services, the cost of living in a particular area may affect the garden's maintenance cost. Due to proximity, a gardening contractor near you will charge less.
Typically, gardening contractors should have mastered the skill of:
However, most professionals started as apprentices working for a garden maintenance company. Through the two years (minimum) apprenticeship, learners are taught basic design and physical skills. After this period, apprentices may get an associate degree or bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. While an associate degree from a technical school or community college is required, a university degree is optional to become licensed in the industry.
A garden is fresh and clean immediately after maintenance. However, it is crucial to remove debris, dead plants, weeds, and felled trees from the property. Most residential trash pickup services cost between $25 and $100 per month. The contractor often adds these charges, including tree removal services, to the final quote. Speak with your gardening contractors on how debris and yard wastes will be removed from your home. Note that it is illegal to burn yard wastes in some states like Minnesota, Washington, and Hawaii, especially without a permit. However, gardeners near you are in a better position to know the requirements for yard waste disposal in your area.
Insurance companies typically limit the coverage of garden and landscape damages to 5% of the total dwelling coverage. Therefore, you cannot claim over $5,000 on landscape damages with a $100,000 policy, although this depends on the scenario. Homeowners insurance covers theft of gardening equipment, vandalism, and garden problems caused by explosions, aircraft, fire, lightning, and civil unrest. However, damages caused by earthquakes, poor maintenance, wind, erosion, pests, and pets are not included in the homeowner's insurance policy. Flooded gardens are covered under a flood insurance policy. Removing dead plants, trees, and shrubs may be covered by some insurance firms. However, this will be denied if the garden is used for commercial purposes.
Like most small businesses in the US, gardening contractors near you would accept digital payments. These payment methods are convenient and faster to use. Apart from being safe, contractors prefer these methods because they may enhance their credit score and allow them to get bank loans. Examples of digital payment methods are credit cards, mobile money, debit cards, ACH, and mobile wallets.