Who are you hiring? Skilled or unskilled?
There is a constant fight/ debate/ argument in our industry that we struggle with... what is the difference between a landscaper and a landscape contractor? As you can imagine there are many different opinions on the title but to break it down, it is simply a difference in education, experience,knowledge, and more often than not, insurance.
A landscaper is, essentially, someone that gardens. They are someone that can mow grass, sure! Someone that can weed the beds, turn over mulch, and even install new mulch, absolutely! But they are not a landscape contractor. They do not have the extensive education and expertise of the landscape contractor. They do not have the certifications to complete more involved and regulated projects on your property. They are probably not insured either.
Many people will ask their landscaper to perform more in depth projects and for fear of losing the client if they can not perform, they will tell them yes, do some research, and complete the job the best they can. When we go to a client's property for an estimate many times they will volunteer that their landscaper installed their drainage (for example)... no worries, we know. We knew the second we got out of the truck. Your landscaper is not a landscape contractor and that is okay... or is it?!
The landscape contractor takes it up a notch. They typically have some schooling under the belt and most definitely have certifications to cover the tasks they are performing. They are going above and beyond the call to mulch! Do they mulch, yes. They know the benefits of passive income. They know that while there are more extensive projects they are completing, they also need to have the constant cash flow. Mowing, and weeding, mulching and bush trimming, are those constant tasks that need to be completed every week or every month and provide a steady cash flow while, other, more in depth projects are being organized and completed.
In the state of Maryland a landscape contractor needs to have their MHIC license in order to legally install patio pavers, walk ways, and landscape walls. Did you know that?! In the state of Maryland a landscape contractor needs to have their yellow card from State Highway Association to perform Storm Water Management work. They also need to take the State of Maryland Erosion & Sediment Control course on line to even complete the drainage projects in your yard. Harford County also has a course that they expect you to take to receive education from them. Nutrient and pest management? We don't have the time to discuss those certifications!
I am not putting anyone down here, or attacking you for choosing the landscaper over the landscape contractor. I just want you to have the information to recognize and know the difference. Know your list of projects, do research, ask for proof of license and insurance, and most importantly know your budget. If it is important to you to use a landscape contractor but the budget is not quite there, talk to them, be honest with what your budget is and what you are hoping to accomplish with it; more often than not they can work with you, even if it is just completing one thing at a time instead of all at once.