A Colorado State University study has shown that every dollar investment to improve a residential landscape appeal returns $1.35 (135%). The study concluded that maintaining an excellent landscape, which includes quality lawn care, increases your property value as much as 10% and brings up to 17% increase in overall curb appeal.
While lawn care may seem like a simple task, it involves routine tasks like watering, mowing, trimming, dethatching, aeration, fertilization, and pest and weed control. These essential activities improve the quality of your lawn but are timing consuming for today ever-busy homeowners whose best is to water the lawn. Also, they involve exposure to harmful substances from fertilizing and injuries ranging from overexertion and dehydration to cuts and amputations from using all kinds of power equipment. Every year, there are over 87,000 emergency room visits and 77 deaths from the use of lawn mowers alone.
As such the care for your lawn is a matter of safety as much a matter of consistency, and as much a matter of value addition to your property. Hence, it is best handled by a qualified lawn care contractor nearby with the training to handle these hazards and the time to keep your lawn appeal valuable. The following questions will help you determine the best lawn care service near you to hire.
Are You a Licensed Lawn Care Contractor?
The requirements for obtaining a professional license differ by state. Generally, a lot of states do not issue specific lawn care contractor licenses. However, in some states like California, Hawaii, and Louisiana, these contractors are required to obtain a Landscaping Contractor's license while in Maryland they are required to obtain a home improvement contractor's license. In Mississippi, you do not need a professional license for lawn maintenance as long as you do not advertise yourself as a landscaper, while Oregon does not require a license for lawn care and landscape maintenance that is considered casual, minor, or inconsequential.
Note that even though many states do not issue state-level lawn care contractors licenses, some of the cities, counties, and municipalities that are located in these states may have local licensing requirements. Also, if your lawn care job will involve the application of pesticides, then your lawn care contractor is statutorily required to obtain a pesticide applicator license. Therefore, you should always contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the specific licensing requirements for your area of residence and make sure that your lawn care contractor meets these requirements. You can also verify the licenses that any lawn care contractor near you presents to you through the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies licensing information webpage.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Lawn Care Contractor?
In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 124 fatal occupational injuries and 12,380 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses amongst landscaping and groundskeeping workers. These injuries, illnesses, and fatalities were caused by cuts, bruises, and lacerations, falls, slips, and trips, and even exposure to harmful chemicals. Also there have been more than 31,000 lawn care-related pesticide exposure incidents reported across the country between 1995 and 2002.
In view of this, the importance of hiring a bonded and insured lawn care contractor cannot be overstated. When you hire a bonded and insured lawn care contractor, you are protected from any financial liabilities that may arise during or because of your lawn care job. This includes any on-the-job injuries that may occur, or if your lawn care contractor defaults on the job and fails to properly complete it.
Always ask any lawn care contractor near you that you intend to hire for proof of their insurance and bonding. Contractors are generally required to have general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. Many states also require a bond of at least $2,500. However, it is advisable that you contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether there are any minimum bonding requirements for contractors in your area of residence.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Lawns are generally grouped by the type of grass used for them and by their location and purpose. When grouped by the type of grass, lawns are typically divided into cool-season grass lawns, warm-season grass lawns, and grass alternative lawns. When grouped by their location and purpose, lawns can be divided into front yard lawns, backyard lawns, sport field lawns, decorative garden lawns, and public lawns.
Lawns can also be categorized by the type of lawn care that they require:
- Conventional lawns: these types of lawns require regular applications of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides
- Organic lawns: these types of lawns are only treated with organic fertilizers and organic-approved pesticides
- Integrated pest management lawns: these type of lawns only use pesticides as a last resort
Before you hire a lawn care contractor near you, you should always make sure that the contractor is capable of properly tending to your type of lawn. Also, find out whether the lawn care contractor specializes in a particular type of lawn care. Lawn care typically includes the following:
- Lawn mowing
- Lawn aeration
- Lawn irrigation
- Lawn fertilization
- Lawn edging
- Lawn seeding
- Insect, rodent, and pest removal and management
Although many professional lawn care contractors are usually capable of handling all types of lawn care work, you should never make this assumption. Always ask and get confirmation that a lawn care contractor can handle the lawn care and maintenance job needed for your lawn.
Who Will Do the Work?
You should always find out who will be responsible for doing any actual work before employing the services of a lawn care contractor. Workers in the lawn care industry typically learn on the job, and your contractor may come along with an apprentice. Also, depending on the scale of work required, your contractor may decide to employ the services of a subcontractor to speed things along. Whatever the case may be, you need to find out the exact number of people that will be involved in your lawn's care and maintenance. This way, you can make sure that each of these workers is properly licensed, bonded, and insured per your area of residence's requirements.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Any professional lawn care contractors near you would offer their clients warranties that guarantee the quality of their services. Many times this warranty is referred to as a landscape warranty. Regardless of what it is called, you should always ask any lawn care contractor that you intend to hire whether or not you will be offered a warranty for the job.
Note that warranties typically come with conditions that have to be followed, otherwise they can be voided. The specific conditions of these warranties vary by lawn care contractor. As such, it is advisable to request written copies of any warranties that you are offered.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
A permit is a government-issued approval that has to be obtained before certain home improvement projects can be carried out. Generally, you need to obtain a permit for projects that involve a considerable change to your home's footprint or structure. Failure to obtain these permits can result in penalties like monetary fines.
Permits are not typically required for lawn care. Note that the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining permits depend on your location. Professional lawn care contractors near you usually know the permit requirements for your locality, and this is one of the reasons why you should always hire one. You can also get this information for yourself by contacting your local building department.
Will You Provide References?
Requesting references helps you weed out unqualified and unprofessional lawn care contractors. Unprofessional contractors will be hesitant to provide you with references, while professional contractors will readily give you a list of satisfied clients including ones living near you. Based on the Federal Trade Commission's recommendations, this list should contain no less than three names. You should contact these references and find out their opinions on the lawn care contractor's services. You can also look up lawn care contractors through online review websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review.
Do You Have a Business License?
The United States Small Business Administration defines a small business as any business that has less than 500 employees. It is estimated that small businesses currently have a combined total of nearly 60 million employees, representing about 47.3% of the number of employees in the country. Lawn care contracting businesses generally belong to this category, and they are typically required to obtain a business license before they can legally conduct business in an area.
A lawn care contractor that is properly insured and bonded usually has a business license too. Nevertheless, you should always ask for proof of this. You can authenticate a lawn care contractor's business license by contacting the Office of the Secretary of State that is responsible for your state of residence.
What Are Common Lawn Care Problems?
The following are common lawn problems that require the attention of a professional lawn care professional:
- Presence of weeds
- Improper aeration due to compacted soil
- Presence of thatch and brown patches
- Bare/bald spots
- Thin and patchy grass
- Presence of white grub and insects
- Rodent and pest invasion
- Mold growth and mold-related diseases
- Presence of lawn moss
- Grass discoloration
- Pet damage
How Much Does Lawn Care Cost?
The average cost of lawn care in the United States is $100 - $200. The specific amount you will have to pay depends on the type of care that your lawn needs. As such, you can end up paying as low as $50 or as high as $400.
Some common lawn care and maintenance costs are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Lawn Care?
The cost of lawn care is mostly affected by the following factors:
Professional lawn care contractors typically charge a fee of $50 - $100 per hour and so labor-intensive jobs will generally cost you more. Likewise, the bigger your lawn, the more time spent working on it. Note that some professional lawn care contractors offer discounts for ongoing or recurring services. Some contractors also provide discounts if multiple neighbors require lawn care services at the same time. You should always find out whether your lawn care contractor offers any type of discounts and if you qualify for any of them.
What Qualifications Should Lawn Care Contractors Have?
The United States currently has more than 912,600 employed landscaping and groundskeeping workers. There are generally no minimum educational requirements for individuals that wish to become lawn care contractors. Instead, these individuals typically learn on the job. Also, many professional lawn care contractors obtain certifications in areas like horticulture, arboriculture, and landscape design from trade associations like the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the Professional Grounds Management Society. Certified lawn care contractors tend to be more competent and reliable than their uncertified colleagues.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Lawn Care Contractor?
It is always advisable to hire a professional lawn care contractor instead of any handyman near you when you have any lawn-related issues. A professional lawn care contractor is trained specifically to take care of any lawn-related problems. On the other hand, a handyman is an unspecialized worker that generally takes care of minor household problems. This usually includes odd jobs like replacing faulty light fixtures, childproofing a home, and hanging artwork. If you hire a handyman to take care of your lawn, there is a high chance that your lawn-related problem will not be properly resolved, thereby requiring you to still hire a professional lawn care contractor. Hiring a professional, bonded, and insured, lawn care contractor from the jump ensures that a proper job is done the first time, while also providing you financial protection in case a work-related injury occurs.
What Are the Common Post Lawn Care Expenses?
Lawn care is a maintenance procedure and there are usually no post-care expenses attached to it. In many cases, your post lawn care expense will be the cost of your lawn care contractor returning to perform another lawn care job. Many professional lawn care contractors offer discounts for recurring services, and it is always a good idea to find out whether your lawn care contractor does this too.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Lawn Care Expenses?
Yes, your homeowner's insurance will cover your lawn care expenses, as long as the damage to your lawn was caused by a peril that it covers. Generally, the types of perils that a homeowner's insurance policy covers are sudden and unexpected damages like fires, lightning strikes, hail, wind, and water damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 5.7% of all insured homes in the United States had an insurance claim in 2018, and 98.1% of these claims were due to property damage. The exact coverage that your homeowner's insurance will provide is dependent on the insurance company that issued the policy. Therefore, you should always properly understand all the terms and conditions of a homeowner's insurance policy before you buy one. It is also a good idea to make sure that your insurance premiums are always paid-up.
Note that if it is determined that the damage to your lawn was caused by negligence or a general lack of maintenance on your part, then your insurance claim will probably be denied.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Lawn Care Contractor?
Like most small businesses today, lawn care contractors near you, are willing to accept Digital payments. These are fast becoming a widely accepted means of payment due to their relative ease of use, speed, convenience, and security, especially when compared against cash payments. However, if you intend to pay for your lawn care contractor's services via digital payment, you should hold off doing so until you confirm that your contractor is ok with being paid this way. Also, if your lawn care contractor wishes to be paid via cash, you should always collect a receipt of payment for record-keeping purposes.