It's never too early to think about your landscape projects for the upcoming growing season.
Why Hire A Professional Member
WLCA works to promote the growth, environmental awareness and professionalism of the landscape industry for the benefit of our communities. The association also seeks to educate the communities and promote the value and integrity of the WLCA members.
Whether you are selecting a LANDSCAPE INSTALLATION CONTRACTOR or a LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE CONTRACTOR, the information provided below can be very useful. The WLCA does not guarantee nor assume responsibility for the work of its members. We ask that you recognize the following statements may be used to evaluate landscape contractors but no guarantees can be made as to professionalism, quality etc. Buyer beware is still the best policy. You will find more helpful information on our FAQ page.
Is the landscape contractor insured?
Ask prospective contractors to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance. A Certificate of Insurance is a certificate issued by an insurance company or its agent verifying that the contractor has an insurance policy and that the insurance policy is in effect for stated amounts and coverages. This certificate also names those insured and it will state whether or not the contractor has Workman's Compensation Insurance which is relevant if someone is injured while working on your property. It is recommended that you give a copy of the Certificate of Insurance to your homeowner's insurance carrier. They will help you determine if the contractor is properly insured.
Ask for references.
Quality contractors should be eager to provide you with a list of references. Ask for several references that have had their work performed three to five years ago. That way you will be able to make determinations about the long term quality of the work and how well the contractor followed up on warranty requests. Call each reference and if possible visit each site. It is also helpful to interview references that are currently under contract. You can evaluate how the contractor is handling the construction process. Ask permission to visit the site and evaluate the crew, equipment and materials being provided. Keep in mind that work in progress can be messy so it is helpful to consider the finished project if you evaluate a site under construction.
Require a contract.
It is recommended that you request a contract detailing the scope of work, the exact price for the scope of work, terms of payment, materials provided and if any guarantees/warranties are provided. Thoroughly understand the terms of the contract. Many contractors require large sums of money as a deposit and this money may not be refundable if the contract is cancelled.
Is the landscape contractor a member of any business organizations?
Serious landscape contractors are more likely to belong to business organizations like the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association. There are many other business organizations that you can use to evaluate a contractor. Such as: MBA-Metropolitan Builders Association, BBB- Better Business Bureau, NALP - National Association of Landscape Professionals and IA - The Irrigation Association. Many contractors are also members of their local Chamber of Commerce.
What certifications or licenses are needed?
At this time the only industry specific, state license that might be required by individuals or businesses in the landscaping profession is:
COMMERCIAL APPLICATORS LICENSE - This license applies to those who mix, load and apply fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. All commercial applicators and mixer-loaders must be certified and licensed to use or direct the use of restricted-use pesticides or of pesticides that contain metam sodium. This certification and license is required if the property owner wants to hire someone to fertilize their lawn, spray for weeds, control weeds or algae in water, control mosquitoes or other insects and control or eradicate many diseases or fungus' on plants or turf. This is not a complete list. For more information check with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
What optional certifications or education might be useful?
There are numerous opportunities for those in the landscaping industry to further their education. This is an excellent topic to discuss with the contractors you are considering for your project. Serious landscape contractors are more likely to be promoting continuous education. Ask them to name some of the recent seminars, conferences, classes or training they have recently participated in. Following are some of the certifications available to those in our industry.
- Landscape Industry Certified Manager (Formerly known as CLP)
- Landscape Industry Certified Technician - Exterior (Formerly known as CLT-E)
- Landscape Industry Certified Interior Technician (Formerly known as CLT-I)
Manufacturer Sponsored Training
Many of the manufacturers of materials used in the landscape industry offer comprehensive training. They hold training sessions throughout the country and those attending receive hands on training learning the proper way to install their products. Many of the manufacturers will have a test and if the attendees pass the test the attendee and/or the company will become authorized to install that product. While this type of certification is not as comprehensive as the certifications listed above, it does say a lot about the landscape contractor who sends their staff to these events.
Are there any other considerations?
There are other things you can consider when evaluating a landscape contractor.
- Thoroughness of the contract
- Salesperson's ability to help you visualize the end result
- Helpfulness of those whom you talk with when calling the office