Whether you have two brown thumbs, or you just don’t have the time or inclination to do all the landscaping, planting and gardening that your property requires, hiring a gardener can relieve you of this burden. When you’re getting ready to hire a gardener, there are many factors to take into consideration. Spending a little time before interviewing candidates will help ensure that your needs and expectations are met or even exceeded.
Assessing Your Needs
Some landscaping tasks are best left to professionals who know the requirements of different plant types. Make a checklist of what you want to have done on a routine basis and what needs to be done less frequently or even just seasonally. While the lawn might need mowing weekly, the beds may need weeded monthly and mulched just in the spring and before winter. Ask prospective gardeners about their level of experience in each type of task that you want to have performed. Decide if you need one or several gardeners or if you want your gardener to have specialized expertise such as caring for your prized roses or the plants around your water fixture.
Interviewing Candidates and Obtaining References
Take the time to interview a few potential candidates, making sure to determine what services each gardener offers. Ask to see photos or a website with some of their previous work, including a listing of plants the gardener has worked with. Ask for a list of past customers and their contact information.
Evaluating Qualifications and Insurance
Make sure the gardener carries worker’s compensation insurance in case of accidents while on your property. If the gardener is a specialist, check that he or she has a valid pest control maintenance license, a landscaping contracting license, specialty registrations with botanical organizations and permission from your homeowner’s association. If a gardener is a licensed landscaping contractor, his or her license number will be displayed on his or her business card and on service vehicle. Determine whether the gardener has received awards and qualifications to demonstrate competency in horticulture (LANTRA awards, City & Guilds or NTCP, RHS or the Institute of Gardening). Establish a work contract with the gardener. It should include the services which are to be performed, frequency of work, method of payment, guarantees for service and other related clauses. Consider running a background check to be sure that the gardener you are hiring does not have a criminal record, active warrants, or unresolved complaints from past customers.
Finding Your Gardener or Gardening Team
Larger gardening projects, like taking care for gardens of entire home communities will require teams and for these types of projects it’s much more important to know how to pick the right individuals to do the job. Word of mouth is key in finding a quality gardener. Take a walk through your neighborhood. If you see a beautifully cared for yard, ask who the gardener is. Also ask around to family, coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with beautiful gardens. Contact your local garden care or botanical center or even the park naturalist for your city. This is great if you need a gardener with specific knowledge your lawn area needs or you need a team with good records of customer service. Searching online through websites such as Gardener for Hire, Service Magic, Service team, or gardeners plus your city name will help you find local gardening experts. If you need a specific service, Google the work that needs to be done and finding the appropriate professional group in your area. For example, if you need rose bush care, search for that plus your city name.
Going with Your Gut
Hire someone you trust, who you consider hard-working, and with whom you can communicate well. This might not be the lowest priced person, but like with many other services, you get what you pay for when you hire a gardener. Your gardener will be at you house even when you are not around, so he or she has to be trustworthy, comfortable around your pets, and responsible to secure the house when he or she leaves. Be sure to hire someone who is able to speak up when a garden plan you have is not workable, not someone who blindly follows your rules. It is better to follow the expertise of a skilled and experienced gardener rather than your heart’s desire for a plant or a landscaping plan that just isn’t feasible.
Alissa Young is in charge of a large number of gardens over at Meadowbrook Pointe and has a lot of experience picking the right gardeners to do the job. Visit our site’s gallery to see some of the work made by gardeners that we picked for our community.