Backyard Landscapers

Choosing and hiring a landscape contractor can be overwhelming. Even if you obtain 3 or more quotes from landscaping companies and private contractors, you might wonder if you would be better off doing the landscaping yourself or looking up just one more contractor for an estimate.

The fact is, landscapers are not at all uniform in their estimates, and negotiating a landscape package that you believe is fair might not be enough to stretch your dollar as far as it can go. Here are a few helpful tips for hiring backyard landscape contractors.

  • Use the internet to crosscheck prices wherever possible. With many landscapers now advertising online and with innumerable message boards and blogs about landscaping, you can usually get a rough estimate of what the landscaper himself is paying for a product so you can determine the markup and cost of labor. You  might even be able to find the specific costs in your region.
  • Walk around your neighborhood or development to see what elements of backyard landscaping appeal to you. Talk to your neighbors to see what they did to save money and create a beautiful backyard. People are usually happy to share their stories, and you might be able to avoid a bad landscape service just by chatting with people you see while you’re walking by.
  • Walk through your backyard and try to envision it completed and how it will look in 10 or even 20 years. If  you are trying to save cash, it can be advantageous to purchase young plants that will take 5 or more years to mature. Even though this would give rise to a landscape in transition for a few years, you’d stretch your dollar much farther than if you were to purchase large, mature plants.
  • Consider landscaping a la carte, that is, purchasing services for what you know you cannot do yourself, but contributing your own work and occasionally purchasing your own materials if it makes sense. As an example, when we were landscaping our front and backyards at our newly built home, we found a company that was willing to sell topsoil for much less than our landscaper was estimating. We bought the soil from them but had our landscaper do the grading. In addition, we installed our own sod, which we purchased in bulk. It was a ton of work, but we actually saved money over using seed and had an instantly beautiful lawn.

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