Inspiring Artscapes

How to Hire the Perfect Landscape Contractor

Published by Publié par Maria-Judith Wreh on le Jul 21, 2019 8:57:00 AM

With many of us spending more time at home in the past year, renovating our outdoor spaces has never sounded so appealing. You’ve scoured inspirational blogs and Instagram pages, figured out what design style you love, and have your Pinterest board ready. Now what? The next step is obviously finding a landscape professional to execute your vision, but you’re not quite sure how to find the right one.

While some may simply google ‘’landscape contractors near me’’ and go with the first one that pops up, we strongly suggest that more research be done before pulling the trigger. Renovating your landscape is quite the investment, and you want to ensure that the final product will be one that you’ll love for years to come. So, how do you hire the perfect landscape contractor? We’ve put together a list of key things to do to make sure that you have the best experience possible – let’s get started!

1. Decide what you want in your landscape design

Before you even begin your search for a landscape contractor, you should first determine what you want in your landscape design. By doing so, you’ll be able to narrow down your search with the skills needed to execute your project. For example, if you’re looking to redo your poolside, add a fire pit and build an outdoor kitchen, you wouldn’t want to choose a contractor who only has experience in renovating driveways. The same applies to the design style you’re going for. If a contractor specializes in traditional design, you obviously wouldn’t choose them to create an ultra-modern backyard.

2. Create a shortlist of landscape contractors



As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t just pick the first landscape contractor that crosses your path. Finding the right professional for the job will need a bit of research. Luckily for us, we live in a time where we can get all the information we need in a few clicks, making creating your shortlist relatively easy.

Search engines

The internet is a great place to start your search. However, you should keep in mind that anyone can easily create a profile to promote themselves. Be sure to read both positive and negative reviews from past customers to get a sense of how the contractor works. Many landscape professionals will also have a website or social media profile with details about the services offered and photos of past work.


Nothing beats word-of-mouth and positive feedback by satisfied customers. If you have friends or family who have recently renovated their outdoor space, you should ask them who did the job. Have a neighbor with a landscape design that you love? Ask them for a referral! The plus side of getting a referral from someone you know is that you’ll already have seen the contractor’s work and have a good sense of how their projects hold up over time.

Landscape Contractor Locator

This platform is an online directory of pre-screened and certified landscape contractors that have applied to our Techo-Pro program and met standard requirements, such as:

  • Two years in business, ICPI certified or APPQ member, NCMA certified
  • Valid General Liability Insurance Policy & work license
  • History of quality workmanship (with photos of hardscape projects to support)
  • 2 references from homeowners

3. Ask the right questions


Now that you’ve created your shortlist, it’s time to start the selection process. There is no such thing as a silly question, especially when it comes to a landscape renovation. Naturally, you will and should have many questions for your potential landscape contractor. To ensure that you’ve covered the basics, we’ve prepared a list of questions that you should be asking:

☐ Does the contractor’s previous work match your taste?

☐ How many years have they been in business?

☐ Can you get pictures or addresses of their previous work so you can visit?

☐ Can the contractor show their certificates? (Look for accreditations from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA))

☐ When will be the start and the end date of your project?

☐ What is their process from the beginning to the end of the project?

☐ What are the payment terms, and do they offer financing?

☐ Are they aware of the local bylaws? (Tip: do your own research and compare what they say.)

☐ What makes a good contractor?

☐ What is the difference between their quote and someone else’s?

☐ What is your expected involvement as the client?

☐ Who will be foreman and what is their experience/background?

Download the checklist

4. Compare key points between contractors


Even if you get good feedback from other people, you still need to do your own detective work. Once you have received answers from potential landscape contractors, it’s time to compare their answers. Comparing contractors is a great way to get a better idea about how your project will be handled. Compare the following things:

  • Previous work
  • Start and end date
  • Payment terms (if attached to deliverables)
  • Deposit: the initial deposit should not be superior to 20%
  • Overall craftsmanship
  • Communication
  • Responsiveness/reliability Education (certificates)

Get at least two, but preferably three estimates from different landscape contractors.

5. Protect yourself



As with any investment, it’s important to protect yourself. Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Impose a “bait” balance (a significant balance held until the landscape project is completed to your satisfaction).
  • Do your due diligence. Verify the contractor’s craftsmanship. Visit a project that is:
    • 5 years old to see how the project ages. This will show any engineering/structural problems (paved surface becoming wavy due to faulty foundation, retaining walls tipping, etc.);
    • 3 years old to see how the project wears; and
    • 1 year old to see if they follow the trends.

    6. Negotiate like a pro before signing

    For some people, negotiating is the hardest part. But if you've done all the previous steps before, your confidence will have a grown, and negotiating will be a breeze. Before signing any contract:
  • Get a thorough proposal in writing. Be sure to include a complete description of the work to be performed, specific products to be used, warranty length and coverage, payment terms, and any other pertinent issues.
  • Don't allow the use of “substitute materials” and be wary of any written stipulations or clauses that permit their use without your pre-approval.
  • This is especially important for larger jobs: have the landscape contractor put in writing the stipulation that all code requirements will be met and denote who will be responsible for obtaining the necessary permits.
  • Ask for invoices of material purchases for your records. Proof of purchases will be important for any warranties.

A clear and concise agreement will ensure you avoid some headaches along the way. Remember, never pay in full for work until it has been completed to your satisfaction.

7. Ensure Your Landscape Project's Success


Hiring the right landscape professional can sometimes seem overwhelming. And of course, nothing guarantees that you and your potential contractor won't encounter any setbacks. But your project can be undertaken with ease if you know exactly what you want and if you know exactly what you're doing. If you follow these steps, you have a good chance of driving your project successfully.

Be thorough in your research and be crystal clear on your limits and your goals. Select a person whom you feel will work cooperatively with you to find the best solutions. You’ve got all the resources you need at your fingertips to hire the right contractor and handle your project like a pro. Now it's time for you to start building your perfect outdoor space.


Subjects:Sujets: Homeowner's Hardscape Handbook, landscape planning & process, Contractors

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