Hire an OLCA Landscape Professional

Helpful Tips for Consumers

The NALP/ OLCA Certification program (Landscape Industry Certified Technician-Exterior) is a international certification program whose objectives are:
  • To raise the standards of the profession
  • To encourage self-assessment by offering guidelines for achievement
  • To identify persons with acceptable knowledge of principles and practices of the profession
  • To award recognition to those who have demonstrated a high level of competence in the profession
  • To improve performance within the profession by encouraging participation in a continuing program of professional development  

Finding the right landscape contractor for your needs is essential says the Professional Landcare Network.  Reliable references for quality contractors often come from family and friends.  Interview several companies - you will learn from this process.  Your landscape represents a real estate investment and asset. 

A landscape contractor can offer a variety of services, including design, installation and maintenance of your property based on your specific needs and requests.  Many firms have landscape architects and designers on staff, offering the expertise to create and orchestrate the complete design, installation and maintenance of the most complex landscapes.  Follow these 9 steps before you hire a landscape contractor:

1. Decide how a landscape contractor can help you.

Many homeowners do not realize what a landscape contractor can do to help them improve their living environment.  Landscape contractors not only install plant material, but also install hadscape material, including patios, decks, retaining walls, gazebos and irrigation systems.

 2. Ask how long the company has been in business.

Professional landscape companies should have employees with either a secondary education in Ornamental Horticulture or several years of experience.  Additionally, professional companies are most often active members in national or state landscape associations.  Affiliation indicates that a company is interested in excellence and progressive thought.  Ask the firm for a list of references and professional affiliations.  Look at each of the jobs listed to see if the work is the size, syle and quality you desire.

3. Select a landscape company that is licensed or certified and insured.

If required by state law, the company should be licensed or certified.  This license will assure you that the contractor is accountable to you, that the company is knowledgeable, operating legally, and employs staff that have passed examinations demonstrating experience, knowledge and a level of professionalism. 

4. Decide what you are looking for in a landscape design.

Do you want an area for entertaining, an extension of your living space, a low maintenance landscape or a high impact design that is colorful.  Determine your budget before you speak with a landscape professional.  If you do not know what you want in a landscape design, a qualified professional should be able to help bring your needs and landscape style preferences into focus.

5. Concerning guarantees...Find out what is and is not covered and how long the guarantee remains in effect.

Proof of insurance for workers' compensation, liability and vehicles should be available to you.  Check a company's limits and policy expiration.  Ask if they have an active safety program to minimize accidents.  Under some circumstances, you could be liable for mishaps or accidents which occur on your property. 

6. Visit a job in progress

Ask to see a project that will be similar to the work you will request.  You want to hire a company that does good work, reflects professionalism and integrity.  Examine the quality of the job--and see if the crew's appearance and job presence are acceptable.

7. Ask the company to provide a written plan and/or contract.

Prior to making any agreement, have the landscape contractor, designer, and/or architect prepare the details in writing.  The plan can include the design, plant material to be used, all costs, a time table and the terms of payment.  You have the right to amend the contract. 

8. Tell the company if you want to care for areas of the landscape yourself.

Once your new landscape is installed, you may wish to become more involved as a homeowner by maintaining the landscape yourself.  If you want to care for certain landscaped areas, tell this to the company.

9. Know which services are provided in ongoing maintenance.

Ongoing maintenance is necessary in order to protect your investment.  You can do it, or you can ask the company to do the work.  Generally, ongoing maintenance involves mowing, fertilizing, pest control, among other services.

Thanks to PLANET for providing "Tips for Homeowners".

 

Did You Know?

Your Licensed Landscape Contractor has the knowledge and ability to provide some or all of the following services: 

Construction
DESIGN - Planting, irrigation, night-lighting, and layout for your yard or business.

SITEWORK - Heavy machinery to hand tools.

IRRIGATION - Lawns, beds, and drip-installed according to state and local regulations by professionals.

PLANTINGS - Careful selection and proper installation.

TURF - Sod or seed installation.

WATER FEATURES - Ponds, creeks and fountains.

RETAINING WALLS - Rocks, blocks, wood walls, short to tall dry stack or mortar.

ROCK WORK - Flat work, walls, naturalized in plantings, planters and rip rap.

DRAINAGE - Surface and subsurface excess water removal.

NIGHTLIGHTING - Design, installation, security, decorative & safety.

FENCES - Wood, brick, rock, chainlink, installed.  (Screening, windbreaks, privacy, security.)

DECKS - Multi-level, flat, stairs, rails and planters.

PATHWAYS - Concrete, wood, stone, rock or soil.

CONCRETE - Flatwork, walls, stairways and curbing.

Maintenance
TURF CARE - Mowing, edging, feeding, aeration, dethatching and pest control.

BED CARE - Plant fertilization, shrub pruning, size control, week removal, mulching, plant installation, annuals, perennials and bulbs.

PRUNING - Ground cover, shrubs, trees, size control, hedges, or topiary.

PEST CONTROL - Biological, chemical, or integrated.

TREE CARE - Fertilization, pruning, removal, transplanting, planting and pest control.

LEAF REMOVAL - Fall and spring clean-up.

MULCHING - For water retention, weed control and soil amendment using bark, compost or rock.

SNOW REMOVAL - Mechanical and by hand.

SITE MANAGEMENT - Maintenance, pest control, tree removal and replacement and planning for the future.

IRRIGATION REPAIRS - Breaks, modifications and upgrades.