Garden and landscape maintenance can be relaxing, but it can also be stressful. Sometimes you may just not have the time or the patience to get all the work done. In that case, you may choose to hire a professional to get your yard to looks its best. A number of things should be considered when selecting a company. First of all, make sure you find a company that provides the services needed. You probably don’t want to hire a business that specializes in planting food plots if you need some trees removed from around your house. And you may not want to hire a company that manages sports fields if you want some trees and shrubs installed. Please find a checklist below of some things to consider when choosing a landscape professional.
Insurance, Licenses, and Certifications – Make sure to hire professionals who meet all state and local license and insurance requirements for the work they are are contracted for.
- General Liability Insurance – General liability insurance protects against bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury. Ask for proof of this coverage.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance – Worker’s compensation insurance provides medical and wage benefits to employees who are injured or get sick at work. More information on this coverage can be found at myfloridacfo.com.
- Pesticide Applicator License – A pesticide applicator license is required for individuals spraying pesticides in and around your home. Some licenses allow the applicator to spray your entire landscape while others only grant the applicator to lawfully spray ornamental beds and shrubs around the home. You can search for applicators by name or license number at Licensed Pesticide Applicator Search.
- Fertilizer Applicator License – A fertilizer applicator license is required for individuals applying fertilizer to turf and ornamentals on your property. You can search for applicators by name or license number at Licensed Pesticide Applicator Search.
- FNGLA – The Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) certifies landscape professionals on their landscape installation and/or maintenance expertise. You can search for certified individuals at FNGLA Certifications.
- FFL – The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program offers a Florida-Friendly Landscaping Certified Professional (FFLCP) certification to individuals are familiar with the latest UF/IFAS recommendations and who implement the 9 Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles by using environmentally friendly landscape management practices. A list of certified individuals can be found at Florida-Friendly Landscaping Certified Professionals Listing.
- ISA – The International Society of Arboriculture certifies landscape professionals and arborists on their expertise on tree care and installation. You can search for certified arborists at Certified Arborist Search.
In addition to checking for accreditations, a number of questions can be asked to determine if a company meets your needs. These questions will help determine whether the company follows environmentally friendly landscape management and installation practices.
- Does the landscape professional understand irrigation system design and know how to calibrate an irrigation system?
- Does the landscape professional maintain mowing and pruning equipment and tools to make clean cuts?
- Does the landscape professional maintain turf at the appropriate height for the species/cultivar being grown?
- Does the landscape professional follow UF/IFAS fertilizer recommendations for fertilizer rates and products?
- Does the landscape professional apply fertilizer only when turf and ornamentals are actively growing?
- Does the landscape professional use soil tests to help determine fertilizer needs?
- Does the landscape professional regularly check turf and ornamentals for insect pests and diseases?
- Does the landscape professional follow recommendations for plant installation and spacing?
These are just a few things to consider when hiring a landscape professional/company. After reviewing qualifications and asking tough questions you’ll also want to consider cost. Make sure to consider the scope of work of the companies that gave you quotes. For more comprehensive guidelines, please check out the UF/IFAS Publication Guidelines for Hiring a Florida-Friendly Landscape Professional.