10 Questions to Ask Your Landscape Contractor

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questions to ask your landscape contractor

10 Questions to Ask Your Landscape Contractor


Hiring The Right Company

As a quality Landscape Contractor, we at Southern Exposure feel that our customers should be well informed and educated in the process of hiring the right Landscape Contractor. Below are 10 of the most important questions to ask your Landscape Contractor before hiring them.

1. Does your landscape company have Workman’s Compensation Insurance?

Hiring a Landscape Company that does not have Workman’s Compensation Insurance exposes you to Liability and Law suits if an employee of the company you hire gets injured on the job. Your Homeowner Insurance Policy in most cases does not protect you from this; it is in the fine print.

2. Can you provide me with landscape referrals?

This is one of the important questions to ask your landscape contractor. A quality landscape company should have no trouble providing you with several like references for you to see and talk to. These references should be similar to your need.

3.  Can you provide comprehensive maintenance of the plants, hardscapes, lighting, etc. you install?

After you have installed your project, you have an investment that needs to be taken care of professionally in order for it to achieve its optimal appearance.  Hiring a landscape contractor who is not limited to installation only should give the homeowner a peace of mind that their landscape and investment will be cared for in the best possible way.

Rittenhouse 24. Why should I have a scaled landscape design/drawing for my project?

An aerial snapshot of your project not only allows you to get a quick glance at what the entire project will look like when finished, but it will offer so much more.  Designs can help with phasing a project if taking on the entire job at once isn’t feasible for time restraints or financial reasons.

It also will cut out a lot of the confusion from contractor to homeowner on what the actual scope of the project is.  Having a properly scaled design offers an ‘apples to apples’ comparison for the homeowner to get another quote and can be used to get exact measurements for material.  Having a 3D design also allows all users to be on a level where they can understand what the project will look like before it is installed.  This will not only help visually, but will help reduce change orders that were not seen or planned for. When using Southern Exposure, we will credit you back 1/2 the cost of the design if we implement from the plan.

5. Are your evergreens, trees, and shrubs locally grown?

Soil and climate conditions vary in different growing zones. For the long-term health of your landscape investment, it is very important to use locally grown plant material.

6. What is your process to install pavers or a retaining wall?

Paver installationA minimum of 6-8″ of existing soil should be excavated below final grade.  Next the subgrade should be leveled and compacted.  Most contractors skip this next step even though it is one of the most important parts of keeping your pavers or wall stable and free from settling.  A ground stabilization fabric should be used (similar to a thick trampoline fabric) and layed over subgrade before any base material is brought in.

Installing a minimum of 4-6″ compacted ABC Stone base (crusher run) is the basis of patio/wall and gives the strength and longevity to the project.  The base should be installed in 1-2″ lifts when using a plate compactor to achieve proper compaction.  Next, approximately 1″ of washed concrete sand (not granite dust) should be installed as the setting-bed for pavers.  Washed concrete sand has broken down as far as it ever will unlike granite dust (which can lead to settling). Granite dust also holds moisture.

Proper measurements should be taken and string lines should be popped to create perfect lines and edges for your pavers and walls. For pavers, a plastic edge restraint with 10″ spikes should be used around outside edge to provide stability to the project.  Last, but not least, a polymeric sand should be used to sweep in the joints.  This is also another step most contractors skip.  Polymeric sand looks and feels like regular sand, but once the joints are filled, a garden hose should be used to spray and ‘activate’ the sand.  It actually has a small amount of portland cement which hardens creating a true ‘interlocking’ effect on the pavers and provides an excellent weed barrier.

** Remember just as your home is only as good as its foundation, your Paver and Wall Installation is only as good as its base.

certified 7.  Are you a Certified Segmental Retaining Wall Installer (CSRWI) or Interlocking Concrete Paver Installer (ICPI)?  

Why should you choose a company with a certified installer?  CSRWI and ICPI certified installers are industry professionals. They recognize industry standards on constructing interlocking concrete pavements and segmental retaining walls. You can be sure that a company with a certified installer on staff is dedicated to quality installation standards and on-going education.

CWRWI and ICPI sets installation standards for the industry. Certification helps contractors meet or exceed these. You want to do business with a professional company that knows industry standards. Certification identifies installers who know them.

8. How do I determine that I am getting the best quality and value for my landscape dollar?

Unfortunately, the landscape industry is a very hard business to compare apples to apples. This is because of many reasons. there are many ways for companies to cut corners or shave dollars to get the job. The basic truth is that you must feel confident in the company you are working with and know they are credible, honest, and experienced.  For instance, finding someone who has been a certified landscape professional for over 15 years.

9. How many people do you employ? Do you use Subcontractors?

It is very important that the contractor you choose not only has the expertise, but also the ability to follow through and finish your landscape project. As with building a new home, not enough employees or an abundance of Subcontractors may delay or jeopardize your new landscape.

10. What is a realistic budget for my new landscape?

The answer to this question can vary quite a bit depending upon your needs. The Association of Realtors has explored many different studies to answer this question and have estimated that in the Greensboro, High Point, Burlington, Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Browns Summit, Jamestown area, a budget of 10% to 12 % of real property value is an average. The good news is that this expense according to Appraisers and to Money Magazine has up to a 100% to 200% recovery values within five years. That is why we refer to your landscape as an “Investment in Nature”.

We hope that we have provided you with the information to make an educated decision about our industry and make you certain you have chosen the best option, with Southern Exposure Landscape Management and Southern Lights.