Recent research shows that at least 30 percent of homeowners nationwide have plans for a major landscape project sometime in the next two years. And that's aside from many more of us who have lesser projects planned that will add to the ambiance and enjoyment of our outdoor spaces.
Interestingly, this research also showed that most of us turn to our family and friends to get referrals when looking for help with landscape projects. It's easy to peek over the fence to see the neighbor's new project, and there's a built-in trust factor in the recommendation. That's good information and it should count.
But if you're in that 30 percent with a major project on your agenda, it will be worth your time to do some homework and make the selection process thorough.
Depending on your yard and your budget, a "major landscape project" can range from $10,000 to $150,000 or more. It's an investment in your ongoing property value and personal enjoyment, so it pays to be a wise consumer.
Four tips to get started:
• Identify your priorities, your "maybe" list and your problems. For example, you may know you want an outdoor kitchen but aren't sure about a fire pit. Or there may be an eyesore in the yard that needs a creative solution, but you're not sure what it is. Laying out your priorities, maybes and problems will help you match your needs to the right
• Know what your budget is and be ready to discuss it. This will help you get the best value from your available resources.
• Check out the company, even if you got the referral from a friend. Is it a member of ALCC? Does the company have industry-certified people on board? Are they aware of licenses and permits that may be required by your city? Do they offer to provide you with a certificate of insurance to show that they have the necessary liability and worker's comp coverage?
• Look for professionalism. Do they have everything in writing? A detailed landscape design, a well-written contract that protects the interests of both parties and a fair payment schedule are the marks of a pro. They should spell out exactly what you are buying and they are essential to doing good business. These documents will be critical should a dispute arise.
What about the drought?
Whether a new or renewed landscape is in your plans, water wise landscaping should be a priority. Look for a landscape pro who follows the green industry's Best Management Practices, which by the way, are the standard for outdoor watering adopted by the State of Colorado. Your pro should also understand smart irrigation and be on a first-name basis with low-water plants. Seek out these experts who can make your yard water-wise.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.