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Lawn Treatment
Choosing a Professional Lawn Care Service
by Gabby Hyman
 
Once you've decided that you need to engage a professional lawn care service, you have homework to do. Not everyone with a pick-up truck, a magnetic door sign, and a trailer with mowers, edgers, and other gear necessarily runs an honest, straight-forward operation. You need to decide the level of lawn care maintenance you're after and the budget you can commit to the service and then thoroughly investigate different contractors before signing a contract.
 
First, decide the level of maintenance you can afford. Are you looking for help with design, soil preparation, planting, pest and weed control, mowing, edging, leaf removal, tree maintenance, sprinkler installation and maintenance, flower bed design and construction, patio design and installation, trellises, weather damage cleanup and prevention? Knowing precisely what you need helps you evaluate your budget along with the abilities of potential lawn service contractors.
 
Asking for Lawn Maintenance Bids
You want written estimates from a number of lawn care service providers. Perhaps you've gotten recommendations from neighbors, friends, or a family member. Ask each bidder how long they've been in operation; if they have a physical business address; whether they have bonding, licenses, and insurance; if they guarantee their work; and then request a list of references. Don't be shy. Contact any bonding, insurance, or licensing agencies that the contractors cite and examine their claims. Contact your local better business bureau or state contractor's board to determine if they have received complaints or if there are outstanding disputes.
 
As you narrow your choices, determine whether your lawn care service has a landscaper who will participate in the design process. Does the company have sufficient resources to devote to your lawn? Do they have experience in the work you're after, can they provide materials at reduced costs, do they need to call in subcontractors to perform the work, and visit projects they have completed.
 
Sources
Bob Villa, Choosing a General Contractor
The Nevada State Contractors Board, How to Choose the Right Landscaper
 
About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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