Don’t lose your precious cash to a rogue trader. Here’s how to find a reputable landscaper.
With budgets becoming tighter, it’s more important than ever to look for the best deals in whatever you are buying. But lower prices doesn’t necessarily mean better value. Particularly when it comes to trades people like landscapers.
Landscaping is a skilled job. It calls on many disciplines. An experienced landscaper will have a good understand of structural engineering, drainage, bricklaying, carpentry, lighting, horticulture project management and CDM regulations. However, as the UK landscape industry is not regulated, it’s possible for anyone to call themselves a landscaper and start messing about in other people’s gardens.
So how can you tell the difference between a reputable landscaper who will do an excellent job and a self styled tradesman who may lack knowledge in some areas?
Garden features such as steps, retaining walls, water and lighting really must be installed by skilled tradesmen if they are to be safe
Here are five pointers that you should consider before you hire a landscaper
5 Ways To Spot A Reputable Landscaper
- The company is a member of a trade association such as the APL
- They come personally recommended by your garden designer
- Friends and family have heard great stuff about them
- A reputable landscaper will happily show you examples of their work
- You are provided with a written quote and asked to sign a contract before work can begin.
Trade Associations and Registered Contractors
Because the UK landscape industry is not registered, it’s important that you make use of all the resources available to you to check that a landscaping company really are capable of building your garden to the highest standards.
One way to verify the standards of a landscaper’s work is to find out if they are members of the Association of Professional Landscapers, aka the APL. The APL has a vetting procedure to check that a landscaping business is run properly and that their work is top notch. For example, to be accepted as an APL member, a landscaper must have all of the correct insurances, as well as a formal complaints procedure.
APL Members all carry the Trustmark badge too. Useful to know, because well, if you are going to have a stranger working on your property, you need to know they’re totally trustworthy.
Some of the paving and decking manufacturers have their own schemes to help you decide whether or not a landscaper has the right skills for your project. Manor Landscapes are on the Marshalls Register. That means that our team has been trained in the correct way to lay hard landscaping materials so that they will stay put and look good for decades.
Ask A Garden Designer
If you are having your garden professionally designed, your garden designer will doubtless have some recommendations for landscapers. The landscape industry is quite small and tight knit. We all know a little about our competitors and their work specialities. Designers especially know who they prefer to bring their designs to life.
Reviews and Recommendations
Before you approach a landscaper about your garden makeover, do lots of homework and find out as much as you can about them. Look for online reviews, talk to friends, family and work colleagues. And, if you see their van parked at a job, watch them working for a while – do they seem competent? Are they well behaved? Would you want them in your garden?
Check The Portfolio
Facebook and Google are great places to find examples of a landscaper’s work. But don’t let this be your only criteria for choosing a reputable landscaper. By nature, landscapers are not very good at marketing themselves. They’d rather have their hands buried in the soil than sit in front of a screen uploading images. Plus, images snapped with a smartphone rarely give you the full picture of a project. By all means check their portfolio pages to see if you like their style of work, but don’t condemn a company just because their instagram hasn’t been updated in a while.
Paperwork can be a pain, but it’s your only protection if the work isn’t done to your satisfaction. Make sure that you get a written quote – a verbal estimate is useless to you. And if you want to make changes to the design part way through the project, expect your landscaper to re-quote so that the paperwork is up to date.
Take time to read the terms and conditions of your contract carefully. If you are not offered a contract, think very hard about hiring that landscaper.
Where To Find A Reputable Landscaper
Start by checking the APL website. Or, if you are in the Guildford area of Surrey, give Manor Landscapes a call. We are APL members, we’re on the Marshalls register and we work with some of the best garden designers in our region.
Everything you wanted to know about hiring a landscaper but were afraid to ask.