Helpful tips for hiring help for your yard

By John North - Contributing columnist

What is the first thing people see when they come to your house? Your landscaping and lawn make the first impression.

Not to mention, maintaining your lawn and landscape is essential to the health and growth of your landscape investment.

Landscaping and lawn maintenance can be a lot to do by yourself. Many find it a big help to hire a landscaper or lawn service.

Here are tips from the Better Business Bureau to find the right service:

• Know what you want done and the budget before you start getting estimates.

• Ask family and friends with yards you admire for recommendations.

• Ask for inspections and estimates from at least three companies. Companies giving you a quote without even looking at your project can’t be sure what you might need exactly.

• Don’t sign up for services on the spot. If a door-to-door representative comes, get a business card and call the business directly.

• Understand some landscapers may charge to discuss your project to protect themselves against clients who want to get ideas and implement them themselves. If you contract with the business, they will often credit you back the initial fee.

• Ask for references. If possible, visit the finished projects and ask references about their experience with the company.

• Look at websites and online reviews to learn about customers’ experiences with companies.

• Get specifics on prices and be clear on what services are included.

• Check if the service is properly bonded, licensed and insured. Make sure any subcontractors are as well.

• Ask if the service belongs to a professional organization.

• Make sure everything is in writing and read contracts. The contract should include the project description, materials to be used, start and end dates, payment plans, cancellation policies and guarantees. Also, know the duration of the contract because some lawn care contracts are open-ended, which means they renew automatically unless otherwise stated.

• Ask questions. Do you need to be home? Is there anything you need to move before work begins? Do you need to protect your family and pets from pesticides?

• Pay by check or credit card and get receipts for any money paid. Make sure the receipt lists what you paid for with the payment.

• Get detailed instructions for taking care of the project yourself.

For more information about landscapers and lawn care services, visit or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. Better Business Bureau can provide lists of BBB Accredited Businesses in these industries and Business Profiles on companies you are considering.

By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.