This article is by Thumbtack
Your yard is the first thing people see, so when preparing your home to for sale, don’t forget the plants. Making sure it’s clean, attractive, and well-tended is an investment that could reap dividends at closing.
Hire a professional landscaper to clear out debris, trim shrubs, trees, and repair fencing. They can also design and plant flower beds and create desirable outdoor living areas. “A professional landscaper knows how to complete a yard,” explains Brent of Veterans Landscape. “The little things that make a landscaping project look finished and unique are always worth paying for.”
“You can do a lot of jobs yourself,” says Randy of R and S Landscaping, “but professionals have the time, materials and equipment to do the job fast. Most also provide a warranty.” While you may be able to do the job yourself, the question you have to ask is – do I want to? “Few people want to climb trees to trim them or cut dead branches,” says David of Everything Green Landscaping. “Fewer yet should consider felling trees close to their house.”
If you do attempt something yourself and get in over your head, a landscaping crew can come to your rescue. “We do a number of jobs each year where the homeowner started a project and realized there was more work involved than they expected,” says David. “Landscaping is an art form,” says Brent. “It requires a discerning eye and experience.”
Tips on Hiring a Landscaper
Choose someone you click with. “A person shouldn’t hire a landscaper simply because they sent the lowest bid,” says Brent. “The customer and landscaper should have amicable personalities so goals can be easily communicated and executed.”
Questions to Ask Potential Pros
- How many years of experience do you have?
- What’s the breakdown of your quote?
- Who does the work? Trained employees or day laborers?
- Where do you get your materials?
- Do you have background checks?
“We are honest with our potential customers,” explains David. “Sometimes we are not the best fit, so we let them know. Do you want to go with the company that the professional athletes use? Do you want to pay those Cadillac prices? Do you want two guys in a pickup truck? Most likely you need a company with experience in the specific type of landscaping you’re looking for.”
Licenses and taxes vary by state, and sometimes by county. Expect to pay taxes on products, but your state determines whether you pay tax on labor. You can also ask for a background check, if that would make you more comfortable. Landscapers are allowed access to your property, so you want to make sure you trust who will be in and around your home.
“Payment in advance should be avoided, if possible,” says David. “On most of our jobs, we do not require payment in advance. We have set a threshold that if a job is above a certain dollar limit, we ask for a partial payment to show commitment on behalf of the homeowner. We then do not ask for final payment until our work is complete. Each year we encounter homeowners who were taken advantage of after paying a significant down payment.”
Tipping isn’t necessary, but it’s appreciated. “It shows appreciation for the work the landscaper is doing. If the work is above and beyond, a tip is a reflection of that,” says Brent.
“The workers are paid an agreed-to wage for the work they are performing,” says David. But he mentions that if the weather is tipping the scale at either end, customers will often offer cold sodas or hot coffee to the workers – especially when they realize how much effort they’re putting into the yard. “I’ve only gotten one tip in 15 years,” says Randy. “Unless you count cookies and water.”