Hiring Professional Services for Your Landscape Project
Your landscape is an investment in your home, something you plan to enjoy for years to come. You want the right person to help you design, install, and maintain your investment.
As in any profession, not all landscape service providers are equal. Take the time to find the right person or company for your project. The landscape professionals you select to assist you should be trusted partners who provide expert advice, guidance, and services to help bring your outdoor living space to life.
Tips for Selecting Professional Services
Look for professionals and companies who are members of national or state associations. Association members demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and staying current with the industry.
Meet with landscape professionals face to face, preferably at your home so you can walk them through the project site.
Ask about their education, training, and professional certifications. Certifications can typically be verified on the certifying organization’s website, where you can learn more about what the certification means.
Make sure they are in compliance with local and state licensing regulations and have proof of insurance.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors website explains the importance of hiring a state licensed contractor, allows you to quickly and easily confirm a license, and enables you to see if the contractor has complaints lodged against him or her.
The Arizona State Board of Technical Registration website enables you to search the status of a landscape architect’s license and for disciplinary actions against them.
Request references. Have questions prepared to ask when you call, and don’t hesitate to call back if you think of additional questions later.
Keep interviewing until you find the landscape professional or company that you are excited and comfortable to work with. You’ll be happiest with the one that is the right fit for you and your project.
Questions to ask
- What jobs have you done recently? Do you have photos you can share? Can I visit them?
- Can you supply a list of references?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
- What professional training and certifications do you have?
- What kind of training do your employees have? Do they receive regular safety training?
- Who will be supervising the work?
- Will you provide a written cost estimate?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you guarantee your work?
Ask for an anticipated completion date. If it is important for you to have a job completed by a certain date, ask if the landscape professional will guarantee that completion date. Consider arranging for the final payment when the job is complete.
Ask for a written estimate that specifically identifies costs for all materials and labor.
Remember, less is not necessarily best.
Know Your Pro: Training, Certifications, and Titles
The following are some of the training, certifications, and titles that you will commonly encounter along with links to more information.
An ACLP certified landscaper has attended courses and passed an examination sponsored by the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association.
An ACNP certified nursery professional has attended courses and passed an examination sponsored by the Arizona Nursery Association.
A certified arborist is a tree specialist who has been tested and certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
A certified tree worker is trained to prune and care for trees. Certification comes from the International Society of Arboriculture.
The Desert Botanical Garden’s Desert Landscape School offers six different certificate programs. Students must complete workshops and pass examinations covering the workshop material.
A horticulturist has had formal training, such as a two-year, four-year or advanced degree in horticulture.
The Irrigation Association provides instruction, testing and certification as an irrigation designer, contractor, or auditor.
A landscape architect usually holds a college degree, has served as an apprentice to a licensed landscape architect and has passed a national exam. Landscape architects are licensed by the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration.
This term is sometimes used by landscape professionals who offer landscape advice. A degree, license or certification is not required.
Landscape contractors install some or all components of the landscape. Some offer design services. Some install irrigation systems. Some landscape contractors also provide landscape maintenance services. They are tested and certified by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, which requires them to be bonded.
As their title indicates, landscape designers offer landscape design services. Although a degree, license or certification is not required, landscape professionals who use this title often possess knowledge, education, training and/or experience in landscape design. A person who is currently serving an apprenticeship under a licensed landscape architect may use this title.
A landscaper offers a variety of landscape services, typically in the areas of installation and maintenance. Licensing and certification are not required.
Master Gardeners are volunteers who have received specialized training in horticulture from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
A person who holds a Smartscape certificate has completed a series of workshops which focus on landscaping practices that are appropriate for the Sonoran Desert. The Smartscape program is sponsored by AMWUA, ADWR, Tucson Water, and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.