How does one select a landscaping company and how to brief them?
Typing in landscaping into Google is likely to generate a long list of potential landscaping companies, but how do you go about selecting a company that can provide you with a reasonable service that is within your budget?
Here are a few pointers to help you decide:
- Decide on your budget: Landscaping companies need to know whether you are in the market to spend R15 000 or R50 000. This will affect the advice that they give you. Many landscaping companies have a minimum fee that they will charge. Knowing what this is a good starting point. If you are only putting in plant material then you can expect a cost of approximately R250 per square meter. This should cover plants, fertilizers, soil preparation and labour cost. Measure your flower beds to estimate what this should cost you. If you are putting in larger trees then you can double this figure. If you need some hard landscaping (paving or pots or a water feature) then this will substantially increase the costs. Most landscaping companies will be able to give you names of pot suppliers that you can visit to select your own had landscaping. Landscaping companies should be able to show you brochures from pot, paving, or water feature suppliers to that you can select from a catalogue is you don’t have the time to visit the suppliers. (Note that it is always better to see the pot/water feature in the `flesh’ rather than selecting from a catalogue.
- Search within your area: Look for landscaping companies that are based in your area as this will reduce the travelling time and hence the cost. Local landscaping companies should also have done other work in your area so you can get local references from them.
- Some requirements of the garden: Landscaping companies should ask you about how you normally use the garden. Do you have young kids who require an area to play in? Do you have an entertainment area in your garden that you would like to landscape around? Or would you like an entertainment area built into your garden. Do you have dogs that need to be take account of? Do you need an area for your washing that needs to be screened off, or do you have a compost heap or rubbish heap that you would prefer hidden from the entertainment area?
- Your colour preferences: Landscaping companies should also ask about your colour preferences, and your plant preferences. You may have an aversion to orange; or you may only want white and blue in the garden. A landscaper needs to know this before starting to design.
- Payment: Do you pay up front or when the job is done? Most landscaping companies will need to buy the plants and hard landscaping supplies before starting the job. Most will require a deposit which will probably cover all of the out-of-pocket expenses. It is wise not to pay for the entire job up front as it may not be to your satisfaction. A retention of 15/20% would be reasonable. This may cover the labour costs and perhaps the travel expenses.
- Aftersales service: Do you have any come-back if a plant dies? Most landscaping companies will ask you to approve the plants, pots, pavers, and so on, and once they have been delivered and before they are put in the ground. Plants that are in bags would probably have been in the bags for an extended period of time. If they are alive when they arrive, and if they look healthy to you once they have been planted, then the responsibility shifts over to you. A landscaping company cannot be held accountable if a plant dies a week after it has been planted. Most landscaping companies will ask you to sign a happy letter once the job is complete. It is up to you to ensure that you have walked around the garden, inspected all of the plants, checked the pots and water features, and made sure that the irrigation system is working to your satisfaction, before signing the letter. One possible exception to his is the irrigation system. If two days after the installation the system stops working, most landscaping companies will come back to try and identify the fault. Most of the time the problem is trivial, such as the power having been switched off, but a good landscaping company will make at least one post-sales visit to keep the client happy.
If you are in need of a landscaping company with the right know-how and expertise, simply contact Windy Willows today.