Two landscape contracts for the same property can be quite different. But how is this possible? It is the same property and the same services, right? No, not always. Often differently priced contracts offer very different services and terms. A smaller, less expensive contract might look like the better choice initially, but this isn’t always the case.
It’s important to look closely and do some extra research, but comparing the differences between landscape contracts is necessary and worth your attention if you want to make the most of your landscape budget.
Why Are Contracts Priced Differently?
Different landscapers have different philosophies when it comes to how they operate their business and maintain a property. Finding the right contract means asking questions like:
- How long have they been in business?
- What’s their level of experience with properties like yours?
- What is included in the contract?
- Is the pricing fair for the services offered?
- Is the contract comprehensive – will it meet all your landscaping needs in the short and long term?
Your landscape contractor should be cutting many things – your lawn, trees, and bushes – but they shouldn’t be cutting corners. Be cautious of low bids that are made to win the contract. Instead, look for a contract that is detail-specific and offers transparency. Be sure to understand:
- Their process (including site visits, storm and weather responsiveness, goal setting and assessments)
- Information about staff including whether they’re full or part-time, length of tenure, training, and credentials
- Type and level of insurance coverage
- Technology used like real-time staff reporting, storm tracking and automated irrigation systems expertise
- Materials used and their associated costs (are these included or added expenses)
- Preferred brands for landscaping products including top soil, mulch, etc.
- Expected communication methods – is it best to email, text, or call if you have questions or a problem that crops up (like a fallen tree). Whom should you contact and who will contact you and under what circumstances?
Asking the right questions before you sign the contract is important.
Seasonal Preparedness and Contingency Plans
Different seasons call for different types of services. In Ontario, each season comes with its own distinct landscaping requirements. It’s important to ask if:
- The contract covers services for the year, or season-to-season?
- There is a plan in place if the season starts late and ends early or starts early and ends late?
- There is a contingency plan for uncooperative weather?
- There is a plan for emergency situations like an ice-storm or tornado?
It’s important that the specifics of these contingency scenarios are clear and written into your contract.
Define Your Scope, Needs, and Expectations
Your professional landscape company should customize your contract according to your property’s unique needs and priorities, but they’ll have to know what these are first! It’s important to take the time to sit down with the company to discuss everything that you need, as well as the required frequency of attention. Consider weekly, monthly, and seasonal tasks, as well as incidental expenses (repairs to sprinklers, fixing storm damage, replacing turf in case of drought, etc.).
Once you’ve communicated your needs, ask for a full proposal and presentation. The proposal and presentation will help you differentiate the strongest, most experienced companies from the others. Most importantly, do your research, gather competing quotes, and beware of an initial bid that seems much lower than the competition.
Written by David Lammers
David Lammers is the president of Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. David may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-996-1099.