Whose Designing Your garden?

Getting Help With your Landscape
Richard Heller, CLP, CLTDuring a design consultation, I asked a client how they selected their landscape gardener. “He’s very honest” she told me, “ and he’s reliable, he comes every week and cuts the grass”. That sentiment is very common, and though honesty and reliability are important qualifications for any contractor, a little knowledge and expertise are helpful as well. This particular individual had been caring for a lawn that was all weeds and it was evident that despite his reliability and honesty, he was doing little to build the soil, and remove the weeds.When selecting landscape help, consider what your needs are first. The landscape industry is divided into three basic categories, and though there is often overlap between the areas of specialization, for the most part, quality landscapers operate within specialized niches. These are lawn care,  landscape maintenance, and landscape design and build. Often, landscape companies will perform well in two of these areas well, but rarely all three.Distinguishing between landscape contractors can be difficult. Price and location are often the motivators for many people’s choices, and this can be a mistake. First, you want to know what perspective landscapers do best. If they say “everything” doubt it immediately. There are very few landscape companies on the face of the earth, much less in Westchester that do everything well. Do they have clients who recommend them? Pictures of their work? What is their training? Certification? Association affiliations? How long have they been in business? Are they insured? Registered  with the county? Do they soil test? 

Qualified landscapers will have positive answers to all these questions. Landscapers who are members of associations, have some landscape education,  and have attained some level of certification, are registered and insured, will also tend to be honest, reliable and knowledgeable. These are individuals and companies that have proven their commitment to the industry and have proven their integrity.

If your not sure where to find qualified individuals, contact the Plant Landacare Network or PLANET, which is the national association of landscape and lawncare professionals. They have thousands of landscapers listed on their web site along with information regarding their areas of specialization, certifications, and the PLANET website can be searched by city and state at www.landcarenetwork.org. Also  try the New York State Turf and Landscape Association at www.nystla.com. The NYSTLA will  have listings of companies that are certified organic lawncare specialists. 


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