Curb Appeal - My Front Yard (Part III)

Today we are switching gears.  With a wonderful design plan from Randy McDaniel, it's now time to begin implementing the plan.  Also, to make things more interesting, I'm including images from the portfolio of the company we ultimately selected for our project.  Their work is wonderful!  If you need to catch up on this project, start here Curb Appeal (Part I) and Curb Appeal (Part II).  

Like any big project, it's important to get a few estimates to compare pricing.  This will allow you to compare apples to apples since all the companies will base their estimate on the same specifics.  Also, it gives you an opportunity to talk about the plan in more detail with each company and get more familiar with what has been specified in the plan.

You'd be surprised the questions each company asked me during this process. For example, one asked if we wanted additional lighting in the trees for the kids to be able to play later in the evenings outside.  Another mentioned including a buff color to the concrete for our parking pad to ensure it had a similar aged look to our current driveway.  So, this stage of the process really helped to solidify specifics we wanted from the installation.  

Since pricing on this type of project will vary dramatically based on your geographical area, I thought it would be more helpful to give you my thoughts on how to select a landscape company for a project.   These are the things we considered when selecting our installation company.  This list is not in any particular order.  For our project, all these items were extremely important to us.  So, I've not ranked them.  
It Never Hurts to Ask
First, how do you decide on the companies who will be giving you estimates?  Start by asking your landscape designer who they recommend.  They will give you names of people they know and trust to implement their plans in a great way.  But, don't stop there - ask friends who have completed a significant project for the name of their landscape company.  If they were pleased, it's likely you will be too.

While I did not do this, I've had friends tell me they put a note in the mailbox of homes with landscapes they love to request the name of the company.  The key here is to ask around - whatever you do, don't go straight to the yellow pages! 

A Peek Into Their Past
First, the easiest part of the process - do your homework.  Start by checking the company's background.  How long have they been in business, and do they have all the certifications, insurance etc.?  Also, ask them about their knowledge of permits required in your area.  If they look clueless, you need to move on!

This is a first step in the process.  Most of this information you can determine by simply going to their websites.  But it is a first step that must be considered.

Tell Me What You Know
It is extremely important for the company to demonstrate their knowledge of both plant material and hardscape installation during the interview process.

Any landscape company worth their salt will make suggestions and comments that will clue you in to their working knowledge of plant materials and hardscape.  For example, if your plan has a shady area where grass is being recommended, they may suggest a couple of different sods that do well in shaded areas where grass is generally difficult to grow.  The company we ultimately selected for our project pointed out a couple of different boxwoods as alternatives which they have had success with in our area.  They were also a bit cheaper than the ones originally sourced in the design plan.  

Eager To Please
Client Responsiveness - I can not stress the importance of this requirement.  One very quick and easy way to determine this is to see how quickly the company returns a detailed estimate to you for consideration.  The company we selected for our project was the first to return their estimate, and it was the most detailed estimate we received during the process.  Each time I contacted them, I got a response within hours not days of my email.

Proof is in the Pudding
Always. Always request to see samples of their work.  The best way to tell if they are going to be able to do your project is to see if they've done something similar for someone else.   Since our project included retaining walls, steps and landings, I was very interested in seeing some examples of the ability to complete this.  I did lots of drive-bys.

Personalities Jive
(a very technical term)
Not only does your contact person need to jive with your personality, they also need to jive with your landscape designer who will play a major role in the process (have to say, I never thought I'd use the jive in a blog post. Ever.)

One way to really evaluate whether the company is adding to the process is to ask them questions about what other landscape companies have mentioned to you.  Are they focusing on what they recommend or basically spending time critiquing what others who are bidding against them have said.  This is very telling about their personality! 

In the end, we selected Green Landscaping, Inc. and they have been the perfect fit for us.   This wonderful company got it's start installing landscapes for new construction.  From this work, they began to received referrals from happy homeowners and branched out into projects like ours.  

Our contact person, Paul Lell is one of the most responsive people I've ever met in business.  And remember, I was a lawyer for almost ten years before doing this.  He usually responds to any email or text within 20 minutes and never longer than a couple of hours.  If he doesn't know the answer, he says "I don't know, but will find out for you."  Then consistently follows up.  I really cannot say enough about his energy and eagerness to get the job done.  

If you are in the Birmingham area and need a fantastic landscape company, you are in luck.
Next week I'm going to show you some amazing images of the progress.  We are almost finished and the before and afters are like night and day.  M.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Mandi! I so wish we could do some landscaping right now. Our house could use some curb appeal. When we do get around to it, I'll definitely keep these in mind. Can't wait to see your new landscaping!


Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.