Ask questions to see which is right for you.
Some communities in New York are served by dozens of lawn care companies. How can you tell which one is right for you?
Here are some questions suggested by several reputable lawn care professionals.
Do they guarantee their service? Many companies guarantee your satisfaction. Ask about the specifics. If they damage your lawn, will they fix it or simply refund your money? Is the guarantee in effect only if you subscribe to their entire service?
How good is their work? If it's good, they will have satisfied customers. Ask for referrals. Find out how long the company has been in business and how many repeat customers they have. (A 20- to 30-percent annual turnover is normal.) How quickly do they respond to complaints? Will you have to pay for follow-up visits? Most companies do not charge for callbacks.
What is their minimum charge? Do they provide a written contract specifying what services they include? New York law requires lawn care companies to provide customers with written advance notice of automatic renewal for services past the first year. Written contracts will also specify the services to be included in the program.
Are they flexible? Will they make adjustments to their routine application schedule? For example, will they skip the early spring fertilization and provide a late fall fertilization instead? If you are willing to tolerate a few weeds, will they skip the pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide and come back later to make a post-emergent treatment if needed?
How do they train their employees? Training time varies from none to several days. All applicators should have a basic ability to identify grasses, weeds, insects, and diseases. They should also know what they are applying, why they are applying it, and the proper way to apply it.
Are the applicators experienced? In the lawn care business, much is learned through experience. Experienced employees are more likely to be able to diagnose problems and take care of them. A company's ability to retain experienced employees provides clues to its professionalism.
Are the applicators certified? State law does not mandate that all lawn care applicators be certified, but many companies are making that their goal. Certification guarantees that the applicators have received some training in safe pesticide handling and have passed a required test.
Does the company have liability insurance? Protect your personal property by requiring proof of liability coverage from the company.