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Selection of Professional Landscape Contractors

When looking for a professional landscape contractor it’s important to select the right company for the job.  You have worked hard to have a nice home and you want to make sure the professional you choose will take the same amount of pride in their work as you do in your home.  There are some things you should be asking for when deciding on a company.

  1. Proof of worker’s compensation insurance – Landscape contractors are required by law to pay WSIB premiums on behalf of their employees in the event of a workplace injury.  Hiring companies that are not in compliance makes the project owner – YOU – liable in case of workplace injuries.  Ask to see a Certificate of Clearance, or visit WSIB website at

  2. Proof of liability insurance – All contractors should carry liability insurance to protect themselves and their client from the expense of any unforeseen workplace incident that might cause damage to your own or neighbouring properties.  Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance: it should state the name and address of the contractor, the fact the company carries a minimum of $1 Million commercial general liability ($2 Million is preferred for commercial properties), including coverage for bodily injury and property damage, and the effective and expiry date of the policy, as well as the date of issue of the certificate.

  3. Supplier References – by ensuring that the contractor regularly pays material suppliers in accordance with standard trade terms, you can protect yourself from creditors liabilities.  Depending on the size of the project, it is  advisable to obtain up to three supplier references.  If possible, obtain references from suppliers of materials designated for your project, such as interlocking stone, nursery stock, timber, etc.

  4. Contract – A written and signed contract protects the interests of both homeowners and contractors.  Contractors should clearly stipulate details such as payment schedules, start dates, and the complete scope of the project. Areas of responsibility, such as the provision for underground service locates, permits, etc. should also be stipulated.  A good contract will also define procedures for the approval of change orders and costs for extras.

  5. Warranty – The terms and conditions of the contractor warranty should be clearly spelled out in writing and should specify if the workmanship is warranted and for how long and the length of the guarantee on materials.  It is important to specify responsibilities for ongoing maintenance, such as watering, that may affect the warranty.  This is especially important for plant guarantees.

  6. Client references – Whether the contractor you are considering is capable of handling your project can best be determined by asking for references from up to three recent clients.  Answers to the following questions will help you rate the value of the references:

-Was the Work Competed on time?

-Was there sufficient supervisory staff on site?

-Did the contractor return phone calls promptly?

-Was the Quality of workmanship acceptable?

-Did staff conduct themselves in a professional manner?

-Was the site kept tidy throughout the constructions process?

-Were extras dealt with according to the terms of the contract?

  1. Human resources – The number of employees, including supervisors, should be adequate for the size of the project.  It is important to remember that a small company with one crew may well be sufficient for smaller projects, providing they have adequately scheduled their projects for the season.  A company’s ability to schedule projects can also be determined through client references.

  2. Employee experience, education and certification – Determine the level of training and experience of key and supervisory personnel. Post secondary degrees, apprenticeship program participation or certification through the Landscape Industry Certified program are all indicators of skilled, committed employees.  More information on green industry certification programs is available at

  3. Equipment resources – Contractors should have adequate equipment resources to complete jobs efficiently.  It is important to remember that it may be more cost-effective for certain or specialized pieces of equipment to be rented on an as-needed basis.

  4. Scope of expertise (including sub-contractors) – Determine which specific disciplines are required for your project.  The company should be skilled in all aspects or use reputable sub-contractors.  These include disciplines such as: paving stone, natural stone work, carpentry, water features, lighting, irrigation, earth-work (grading, etc.), soft landscaping (tree and shrub installation), demolition & site clean-up.

  5. Years in business – How many years has the company been in business under its current name?

  6. Company Profile – Does the company project a professional image?  Are its representatives in uniform?  Are its trucks and equipment clean and well cared for?

  7. Association membership – An accreditation procedure is part of Landscape Ontario’s membership application process.  Members of Landscape Ontario are required to follow a Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct.  Association membership indicates a company’s commitment to professionalism.

Asking the right questions can lead to the right answers that will get you the professional team to make your property the best it can be.  When looking for a reputable landscape company, knowing the right questions to ask can make the process run smoothly.This insures that the job is done properly, professionally, promptly and safely.

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