LAWN CARE SERVICES

Lawn Care Guide #1:
What Services Do You Need?

Prior to Hiring Lawn Care Services, 
Ask Yourself These Questions First!

Hiring professional lawn care services can make you extremely relieved or incredibly frustrated. It all depends on who you select to do the work.

Some of you may be looking to hire a professional lawn maintenance company for the first time.
Others may find it is time for a change in your service provider.
If so, you may be wondering:

  • How do you select someone to do the work?
  • What questions do you need to ask them?
  • Is there vital information to know about a business and the lawn care services they offer?
  • What can you reasonably expect or demand from a lawn service company?


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Questions like that are important. Most people start, focus and finish there. Yet those are not the first questions you should ask.
A companion article with a link just below will delve into those topics.

But before you go there to investigate the merits of one guy over another, let‘s take a look closer to home.
Major disappointments or surprises can develop when people are not fully aware of their personal situation.

This Guide #1 introduces nine factors you need to consider before approaching someone for help. As the first in a series of articles, it is designed to assist you in making this decision as an informed homeowner.
You will develop reasonable expectations and also be able to provide pertinent information to the estimator.

Guide #2: Comparing Lawn Care Companies is lengthier and will present you with insight and questions to ask the potential service provider about what they do, what they know, and what they have to offer. With this combined knowledge both parties have the best chance to enter into a compatible and successful relationship.

Let’s get started now with a comprehensive look at the things you need to be aware of before interviewing individuals or companies to provide lawn care services.


THINK BEFORE YOU ANSWER
THESE QUESTIONS:

1. What You Need Or Want.

What types of lawn care services are you considering? Where do you need the most assistance? Realize that the realm of lawn care can be all-encompassing and involve your entire yard or garden in addition to the lawn.

  • Do you want to turn over complete responsibility to someone else and have nothing left to do, except look at and enjoy your yard?
  • Do you want help with only mowing and edging the lawn and feel you can take care of everything else?
  • Do you want to pick and choose which tasks you retain and what you pay to have done?

Consider the various categories of lawn and garden care:

  • mowing and edging;
  • fertilizing;
  • weed pulling or killing;
  • bug and/or disease treatment;
  • lawn aeration or de-thatching;
  • irrigation system maintenance and repair;
  • trimming of shrubs or hedges;
  • planting or reseeding;
  • mulching;
  • clean-up and hauling; and more.

Which of these are on your “to-do” list, and which do you want to move to someone else’s list?

As you reflect on those options, consider more than just the actual tasks themselves. Think about the combined investment of time, energy and money to accomplish each one.

  • You may enjoy some gardening chores and hate others. How would your quality of life improve by making certain changes?
  • You may be willing to take care of certain items, but don’t have the time, health or knowledge to do them well.
  • You may be completely unwilling to continue doing some of these chores, or the cost of help may temper your reluctance.
  • You may have a family member to assist you or you may be on your own.

All of these factors should influence your approach to lawn care services.


2. Material Resources.

Do you have all the equipment and tools that you need if you reserve some tasks for yourself?

  • Is your equipment in good shape, or soon in need of replacement?
  • Does using this equipment frustrate, irritate or even scare you?
  • Would you feel differently if you had better quality tools, or more specialized ones? (Or “More Power!” as Tim The Tool Man Taylor used to say!)
  • What amount would you likely spend in the next year if you bought all the tools and materials required to care for your yard?
  • Do you have adequate storage space for your equipment and supplies?
  • Is it easily accessible or does it cause aggravation every time you approach
  • Do you wish you could devote that space to another purpose?

If these are valid concerns for you, you might want to consider to what extent the cost of lawn care services would be mitigated by no more tool purchases.


3. Time and Talent.

Can you be sufficiently satisfied with the final result at your own hands? Is it time well spent? 
Put another way, do you have a green thumb that will reward you for your efforts? 
Or would you be better off focusing your attention on an alternate area? (There’s no shame in identifying areas of weakness, and calling in an expert!)

  • How large is your yard, and how busy is your life?
  • Have you been constantly pressured to get to the chores?
  • Do they get put off until they are overgrown projects that become twice as difficult?
  • How much time would you likely spend each week doing the work, getting products you need, and cleaning up the mess?
  • 
 


Perhaps you have the talent and/or desire to have fun in the flower beds, if you could focus your attention on just that. 
Then select a lawn care service to get help with the tedious chores to free up time for the fun and rewarding parts.


Don't overlook the fact that your own health is as significant as that of your yard and should factor into your decision!

  • Is gardening an enjoyable, therapeutic pastime when you finally get into it?
  • Does including it in your life, at some level, make sense for your physical and emotional health?
  • What can you eliminate that obligates or stresses you, or wastes money, so you can find the time and resources to garden?
  • Can you challenge yourself (or a partner) to exchange some bad habits for this healthy hobby? 


The benefits of turning over a new leaf (or lawn) can be tremendous. There’s no time like the present to evaluate priorities and establish some balance in your life!

These are important questions that deserve your time to reflect and anticipate before making a decision about lawn care services.
You should have a rather accurate idea of what it costs you in money, time and energy to do your own yard care. This is the only way to see the value in paying the fee to someone else.

Take the time to know what you want and need. Then make the effort to find the best person or company to give you that.


4. Choices and Concessions.

As you consider the various yard tasks and start to confirm in your mind exactly what lawn care services you may hire out, look at another angle. Do you need help year round? (Your local climate may determine this.)

Could you get by with seasonal help? Could you manage to do the weekly mowing, if you had someone take care of the occasional or more difficult chores?

It may be more difficult to find a lawn maintenance company that will accommodate a request for sporadic help. But at least verbalize what would be ideal for you. You may have to make concessions to get a particular company or a certain quote.
Taking this approach will let you know what you can afford to sacrifice. It will also clarify for what items you are willing to pay.

(Side note: It amazes me how many people just decide one day to get someone to mow their grass. They randomly select someone working in the neighborhood or from the phone book. They only ask ‘how much’, he starts next week, and after awhile they start to wonder. "How did they end up paying so much for all the extras?" Or, "Why do they put up with the frustration of lousy work or unreliable appearances or worse?" Soon they are back doing the work themselves or trying a new company.)


WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR YARD?

5. Dogs.

Do you have a dog or other pet, particularly one that has outdoor privileges?
Will your dog(s) impact the easy access to your property needed by employees of the lawn care services company?
Can you accommodate their scheduled appearance with a means to restrain or control your pet?
Is your dog a type that would be intimidating to some or most people who enter its territory?

Be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet will not be able to escape during the visit.
Gardeners should not be asked to watch out for a pet while they move equipment in and out of your yard.
They may be conscientious to avoid an escape, but if it happens, they really do not have the time or even the ability to recover your pet.

Another source of concern is pet droppings. You may be required to have used the “pooper scooper” shortly before their arrival. Will this fit in with your typical routines?
This will be a deadline that must be accommodated or an alternate established.
What will they do if it isn’t? Do they clean it up, go around it or over it? (Some companies may just skip you on the route if the lawn is loaded. It‘s a mess in their mower!)

Perhaps you would prefer to have them clean-up after your dog as part of the lawn care services? (If so, expect a hefty add-on charge!) But be sure to clarify that point with any company you interview.


6. Stuff and Treasures.

Do you have lawn furniture, lawn ornaments or anything else that will need to be moved or accommodated by the crew? This can add to the time required to perform your service, and in some cases require the addition of an extra crew member.

Do you have items or plants that are of special importance and might be at risk for damage unless people are extremely cautious? A prize specimen like a plumeria, sago palm, or fruit bearing plant, can be ruined for a season or life, by inappropriate pruning or fertilizing. Are you willing to take a chance and entrust it to someone else?

These types of needs or concerns must be communicated to your potential gardening hire, and potentially can add to the cost of servicing your lawn and yard.


7. Lawn Condition.

What is the condition and health of your lawn and landscape at this time? Will it require a lot of attention to get it in shape and perhaps less at a later time?

In these cases, a lawn care services company may want to give one bid for an initial renovation program, with a discounted price for subsequent months when services become more of a maintenance program.

Think this one through carefully. Once the yard is looking good, you may be tempted to take over the weekly chores. If you do that, then slack off, you risk losing the investment it took to get it healthy and attractive.


Another negative scenario can develop if you change your mind. You may be able to get a discounted price from someone who expects to continue on with the maintenance. 

If you dismiss that person or company once the hard work is done, don’t expect any follow up service should you later have a question or concern about the work they performed.


HOW PARTICULAR ARE YOU ABOUT THESE:

8. Organic Gardening.

Do you need or prefer to use all organic/natural materials or methods? Not all lawn care services companies are knowledgeable about organic methods. Unfortunately, not all companies who promise to use organic materials will stay true to that.

If you are sensitive to chemicals (or opposed to using them), especially weed or insect sprays, discuss this with the person in charge.
The options include using no products at all, or items that are labeled as approved organic materials.
The critical concern is always that the crew doing the work is as aware, and responsive, to the mandates that are promised to you by a supervisor.

On the other hand, some of you may be able to locate individuals in your area who specialize in the organic gardening approach. Specialized knowledge, techniques or materials will, of course, increase the charges for the service.

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9. Personalities & A Working Relationship.

This may be a non-issue, or it can have a substantial impact on your relationship with the lawn care services provider. Some homeowners feel the need to constantly look over the shoulder of the workers.

Are you the type of person who has a difficult time trusting someone to do their job? You may have difficulty keeping a company’s service if you operate as a back-seat supervisor.

A better approach is to communicate before and after, rather than during the work. Let your expectations be known before the work begins. The company should ask for clarification if they are uncertain about any of your requests.
Let them do their work. If you find deficiencies afterward, contact the supervisor or owner to remedy the situation in subsequent visits.

Difficulties can arise when the homeowner considers himself to be a supervisor and the worker as an employee. (This is only true if you hire a neighbor kid, not a lawn care company.) Instead, see yourself as a customer, not the boss.

Focus on getting the customer service, the final product, you deserve and expect, rather than second-guessing the manner in which they perform the work.

The actual relationship is one of an independent contractor being hired to perform a service. Approach it from that perspective, and ask to be satisfied. If they cannot or will not satisfy you, another lawn care services company may be a better fit.

The importance of this understanding is that you do not want to develop a reputation for being a fussy, nit-picking customer. Be reasonable and objective as you evaluate the finished product.
Lawn care services from a competent, reliable and trustworthy person are typically in great demand (because there is so much of the deficient alternative out there).
If you are a pain to deal with, you may find yourself going through the search process again.

Treat others with respect and hope to receive the same. (Sounds a bit like the Golden Rule, doesn’t it!)
Reciprocate getting great service with your appreciation and loyalty.
If a company is all you could hope for, be willing to write a reference letter for them. They will be thankful and take even more pride in providing you with excellent service.

An alternative problem in relationships is the friendly homeowner who loves to visit with everyone. Realize that a lawn care crew has a schedule to keep. They do not have time to engage in friendly conversation, look at your latest invention, or stay after the job for refreshments. (Some "pro-mowers" may be of the same persuasion as you and enjoy the interaction. Just don’t be offended if they are all about business.)


READY TO INTERVIEW
FOR LAWN CARE SERVICES

It’s an uncomfortable feeling to be in a position of needing help. Even worse is not knowing enough about a topic to be able to ask the basic or most important questions. When you need an auto mechanic or a plumber, you may be at their mercy. But those are usually a one-time event.

When it comes to hiring lawn care services, you will be looking at the success or failure of your decision on a daily basis. You will be reminded of your choice with each visit, perhaps weekly.

This article has introduced you to the fundamental questions about your situation that will prepare you to make a wise selection. Take sufficient time to evaluate your situation. Think about the options that would make your life better.

When you know what you want, begin to contact individuals and companies to inquire about their lawn care services. Share with them the things that are important to you. Most will be impressed that you have thought about this in detail.

Professionals appreciate working for educated customers. This eliminates confusion and misunderstandings which are a constant irritant and expense for a service company.

Once you know what you want, you are ready to go find it. Please utilize the follow-up article, Lawn Care Companies - Guide # 2 to prepare yourself for interviewing several candidates.

All the questions you need to ask will be presented, along with the important considerations that will provide you with the best opportunity for success in this venture.

Thank you for visiting The Garden Counselor. We hope you’ll return to investigate other topics on Lawn Care, and recommend us to your friends.



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RELATED ARTICLES

Lawn Care Companies - Guide # 2 

Why Grass Stays Brown for information that may help you decide to tackle a problem yourself, or call for help.

Lawn Fertilizer general info page. Perhaps a greener lawn is just an application away! 


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