How to Hire a Professional

By Melinda Myers

Planning, planting and maintaining your landscape can be a fun activity that’s great for the body, mind and spirit. But some landscaping tasks are better left for the professional. Consider hiring a professional when your time is limited or the job requires specialized equipment or training to do the job safely, efficiently and properly. A professional can do even those tasks that you find tedious, so you can focus your time and energy on the gardening jobs you and your family enjoy.

Even professionals call on colleagues for help. I recently had the walk and steps at the front entrance of my home paved. Yes, I could have laid the pavers, but the expertise and experience of the professionals I hired assured a job well done. They installed the pavers on a solid foundation for long lasting sound results. They worked efficiently and completed the job in the allotted time. Had I tried to do the job myself, there would still be a pile of pavers in my backyard waiting to be installed.

So where do you start? A call to a friend or family member or a scan of the yellow pages is where many start. Consider starting with green industry professional groups. Many, like the Wisconsin Green Industry Federation, have websites that list members for hire. Google the work that needs to be done and you will find your way to the appropriate professional group in your area.

Professionals that spend the time and money to be involved with their professional organizations are usually up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques. Ask the company about the training and certifications of their employees. PLANET, Certified Landscape Technicians and Landscape Professionals, have undergone extensive testing to certify their expertise. Certified arborists have to complete a written test to be a part of the International Society of Arboriculture Certification Program. All must participate in continuing education to keep their certification current.

Then ask for references. Companies with satisfied customers will have portfolios of completed jobs, testimonials from clients, and some may have clients willing to speak to prospective clients. Make sure the company is insured. Once you check their credentials, make sure your landscape goals and their mission match. By then, you have found yourself a professional!

Melinda Myers Hosts New DVD on Great Courses Series

The Great Courses has released a brand new How to Grow Anything:  Make Your Trees and Shrubs Thrive DVD set hosted by WGIF Hall of Famer, horticulture expert, and TV/radio personality Melinda Myers.  The course, made up of twelve 30-minute lectures, is designed to give gardeners all the tools they'll need to make trees and shrubs flourish and ultimately transform their landscapes.

According to Myers, it's easy to think of trees and shrubs as an enormous commitment and investment--one that doesn't reap immediate rewards in the same way as container gardening.  But the truth is that there are hundreds of wonderful trees and shrubs out there for people to choose from, and growing them can be a lot easier and  more rewarding than people think.  Trees and shrubs, regardless of the specific constraints of a landscape, can provide colorful bursts of flowers, fresh fruit and wholesome nuts, height and depth to a garden design, and refreshing shade on hot summer days.  And planting them can allow gardeners, including customers of WGIF members, to reap the many benefits they offer including:

  • a clear--and natural--framework for outdoor spaces
  • an eye-catching barrier (and getaway) from loud noises and unsightly views
  • creative ways to conserve energy and reduce pollution in and around a home
  • green spaces that can help raise a home's curb appeal (and value)

How to Grow Anything:  Make Your Trees and Shrubs Thrive teaches everything people need to know to make trees and shrubs an integral and manageable investment in their outdoor spaces.  Featuring a variety of different landscapes, climates, and seasons, the course reveals effective--and practical--gardening techniques and strategies for designing, shopping, planting, and caring for trees and shrubs just like the experts.

"I hope this course helps people feel more comfortable adding trees and shrubs to their landscapes, including those WGIF members have designed, installed, and managed," said Myers.  "With proper selection, planting, and care, people can increase beauty and success, while decreasing their workload and that's something we're all looking for."

The How to Grow Anything:  Make Your Trees and Shrubs Thrive DVD set is available now and can be ordered online through The Great Courses web site,  .  Myers is also the host of two other DVD sets in The Great Courses "How to Grow Anything" series - Container Gardening Tips & Techniques and Your Best Garden & Landscape in Six Lessons.  For more information, go to Melinda Myers' website at  .

The Many Benefits of Hiring a Professional Landscaper

Copyright 2016 Sonoma Index-Tribune

The flowers are blooming, and the grass has begun to grow anew, making spring a great time for homeowners to once again turn their attention to landscaping.  Those who aren't looking forward to dusting off their lawnmowers and rethreading their string trimmers may want to hire professional landscapers to tend to their lawns and gardens.

A recent joint study by the National Gardening Association, Residential Lawn and Landscape Services and the Value of Landscaping found that homeowners spend roughly $45 billion per year on professional lawn and landscape services, as nearly 30 percent of all households across the United States use at least one type of lawn or landscape service.  The rising use of lawn care services is indicative of homeowners' appreciation of the convenience and craftsmanship professional services can provide.  While the impact professional landscapers can have on a property's aesthetic appeal is considerable, homeowners also benefit from working with professional landscapers in various other ways.

-- Time savings:  One of the biggest benefits of leaving lawn care to the professionals is the amount of time it will save for the average homeowner.  Lawns generally need to be mowed once per week during the spring and summer seasons and, depending on the size of the property, that can take an hour or more.  Add the time it takes to clean up clippings, mulch landscaping beds and edge the property, and homeowners can expect to devote a significant chunk of their weekends to caring for their lawns.  Lawn services employ a few workers who make fast work of the job, leaving homeowners time to enjoy their weekends however they see fit.

-- Reduced risk for injury:  Maintaining a landscape is hard work, and those unaccustomed to this type of activity may find themselves winded or at risk of injury.  Imporper use of lawn equipment also is a safety hazard.  Leaving the work to professionals can help homeowners avoid strained backs, lacerations, pulled muscles, sunburns, and any other dangers that can result when tackling landscaping projects.

-- Financial savings:  On the surface, hiring a landscaping service may seem like a costly venture.  However, after crunching some numbers, many homeowners realize that doing the work themselves may cost more in the long run than hiring a professional landscaping service.  Homeowners who decide to go it alone must purchase expensive equipment, and those lawn tools will require routine maintenance, which costs additional money.  Inexperienced homeowners may incur extra fees to "fix" mistakes that occur during the learning process.  Each year, new seed, fertilizer, mulch, pesticides, and other supplies also must be purchased.  But professional lawn care services typically charge a set fee per month, and that fee covers the maintenance of both your property and the equipment needed to keep that property looking great.

-- Know-how:  Many professional landscapers know how to address lawn care issues that may arise throughout the year.  They will know how to deal with dry patches of lawn or poorly draining areas, and they also can make recommendations on plants that will thrive under certain conditions.

-- One-stop shopping:  Certain landscaping services provide many different options for prospective customers.  Basic lawn cuts may be one package, but there also may be services for seasonal seeding, weeding, leaf clean-up, and winterizing.

-- Consistent maintenance:  Homeowners who frequently travel or spend much of their summers away from home often find that lawn care companies are a wise investment.  Established weekly schedules ensure the landscape always will look its best whether homeowners are home or out of town.

Spring is a great time for homeowners to decide if hiring professional landscaping services is in their best interests.  The time and money saved, as well as impact professional landscapers can have on a property, makes landscaping services a great investment for many homeowners. 


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