Questions You Need To Ask Your Lawn Maintenance Company

Asking the right questions is essential when working with a lawn maintenance company. Doing so helps you avoid scams, keep your yard healthy, and stay happy with the service you receive. Knowing what to ask can be tricky, though. You need to ask about licenses, insurance, references, and the company's history to ensure you are doing business with legitimate people. You always want to weed out the scammers in favor of more seasoned professionals.

It's also important to ask questions to set realistic expectations about the level of service you will receive. You need to know exactly what kind of work will be done and what it will cost. This helps prevent any letdowns or misunderstandings later on. Plus, understanding the different services the company offers, like pest control and weed removal, lets you customize your lawn care plan to keep your yard looking its best. Keeping the lines of communication open through questions helps build a good relationship with your service provider. This leads to a healthy lawn and quality service, so don't be afraid to ask away!

How long have you been in business?

You might prefer to work with someone with plenty of experience. You might also feel fine giving a neighborhood kid their first client. There isn't a right or wrong answer here. It all depends on your budget and the complexity of care your lawn needs. Being a new business doesn't necessarily indicate worse skills, but it might mean that the workers don't have the mastery of everything you need to be done around the yard. For example, if you have a smaller budget and only need your lawn mowed, a small company with less experience can be the best choice for you. You will get the service you need without breaking the bank. 

However, if you have large topiaries in your yard that need trimming, a koi pond to be maintained, and need your entire lawn aerated and reseeded, you might feel more comfortable choosing a larger company with more years of experience. The price tag will be a bit higher because the services are more advanced, but you can rest easy knowing the workers have plenty of experience in these tasks.

Are you licensed and insured for lawn maintenance services?

While the neighborhood guy mowing lawns for cash likely doesn't have a license and insurance, some states require registered outdoor maintenance companies to have both. This is especially true if the company does more specialized work, like installing topiaries or performing any pest control with restricted chemicals. Having a license means the workers at the business meet certain standards set by the state, have the right knowledge and skills, and are following all the local rules. 

It is also important for businesses to have insurance because accidents happen. If anything goes wrong during lawn maintenance — like a broken window from a flying pebble or a chemical burn from pesticides — the business' insurance should cover it. However, if the business doesn't have insurance or you are found liable, all responsibility could be thrown back onto your homeowner's policy instead. So, if licensing and insurance apply in your state, knowing your lawn maintenance company has both can save you plenty of headaches.

Can you provide any references?

Asking for references is great because it helps you know if the company has a good history and reputation. References can give you a lot of useful information about the quality of its work and how reliable the workers are. You can usually find them on the company's website or via places like Google reviews, Angie's List, Yelp, etc.

But if you can't find any references online, it's a good idea to ask the company directly if they have any that they can give you. They might be able to provide you with contact info of happy customers who can tell you about their experience. It's also a good idea to talk to your neighbors who have used the company. Sometimes lawn guys will put ad signs in current customers' yards. The more signs you see around the neighborhood, the better chance the company is a good one. If the company doesn't have any references or reviews to show you, it is kind of a red flag.

Do you provide organic or environmentally friendly lawn care options?

If you care about having organic or eco-friendly grass care, you should have an honest conversation with your lawn maintenance company. You need to make sure that this team is well-versed in these practices and will do them correctly. For example, a company that has never worked with organic lawns before might not know how to test the soil to discover its pH level and nutrient content. The team might use pesticides with chemicals you would rather not be around. It also might not mow high, leaving your grass too short for proper root growth to occur. In order to make sure they are well-versed in it, ask them to walk you through their week-to-week procedure for organic lawn care.

However, if you feel iffy with their answers, it might be best to avoid a company that doesn't practice environmentally friendly care for all its clients. While some contractors might be willing to work with you to mow high and avoid pesticides, there is always the possibility that a certain lawn crew might not get the memo, ruining all your progress. There is also likely to be an extra charge for these services since they are outside its typical scope, so it is easier to seek out a specialized company.

Are your services available on a one-time, monthly, or yearly contract basis?

Different companies require different levels of commitment in order to sign you up as a client, so it's important to ask what the contract options are. Can you call them whenever you need them, or do you have to commit to a monthly package? And does this package require you to commit for an entire year? This is an important question to ask because not everyone has the same landscaping needs. If you are trying to save money and want to take care of things yourself sometimes, you will want to hire someone who accepts irregular one-time service requests.

On the other hand, if you want a full-service team that comes every Tuesday, you might find it frustrating to work with a company that doesn't do contracts and operates on a one-off scheduling model. The constant admin of needing to follow up and choose a time won't be a good fit, although it would work perfectly for someone who just needs help sometimes. By discovering the level of commitment the company expects, you can decide whether working with them is a good fit for you.

Can you handle pest and weed control as part of your services?

You need to know if the company just mows and goes, or is responsible for total lawn care. Some lawn companies offer a full range of services, like mowing, edging, fertilizing, controlling weeds and pests, aerating, and more. They take care of everything — even things like the timing of your automatic sprinkler system — to make sure your lawn and flowerbeds look great and are healthy. Other companies just do a quick mow and edge and jet off to their next clients.

If you are currently experiencing the latter and would like to add more services, speak to your lawn company about what options are available. They may have a larger skillset that is available to you for a small increase in costs. Proper yard care takes a lot of planning, so knowing what exactly your current team is capable of will make the entire process much easier.

How do you prefer to be paid?

Misunderstandings around money can make things very awkward quite fast. Different lawn companies have different preferences when it comes to payment. You want to make sure their method of choice matches up with what you can do. Some companies like cash, especially for smaller one-off jobs. Cash works well for gig economy-type jobs, but you won't get a receipt, which could make things difficult in case of a dispute. If you need to leave payment out for your service provider while running errands, a lot of companies still accept checks. It's a safer and more trackable way to pay, especially if you're getting ongoing services.

In today's digital world, some companies are all about online payments, like Venmo or PayPal. These payments are quick and convenient and offer protection for both the buyer and seller. When dealing with larger companies or franchises, you might even find that they accept credit or debit cards. Sometimes, companies ask you to log in to a customer portal on its website instead of giving payment directly to the people who show up on the mowing day. Just make sure to choose a provider with a payment method that works for you.

What types of grass and plants are you experienced in maintaining?

You want to make sure your lawn company knows how to handle the type of grass you have. There are many different types of grass. For example, take residents of the southern United States. They tend to use Bermuda grass because it does well in hot weather and doesn't need too much water to thrive. On the other hand, Zoysia grass still thrives in the shade and doesn't mind if things get a little chilly outside. Both of these grasses grow from seed, while St. Augustine which is most popular in Texas, needs to be laid as sod to survive. Each requires a slightly different type of care, so you want to make sure the lawn company is familiar with the one you have on your particular property. When you add in things like topiaries, flowers, and water features, you need a lawn company with plenty of experience.

You don't want to ruin the shape of your topiaries because someone doesn't know how to trim them or reseed your lawn with the wrong type of grass. Even if you have been working with one company for a while, always ask questions about the specifics of their prior experience before you add any new services to your account.

How do you communicate with clients?

It is important to know how to best communicate with your lawn care company. For example, if you need to reschedule a service, pay your bill, check in on a missed appointment, etc., who do you contact? Do you text the person who comes and mows the lawn? Should you call the office instead? What if it is after hours?

The answer to these questions typically depends on the size of the business. Small businesses might like to chat on the phone or meet you in person for a more personal touch if there are any issues. Yet bigger companies might allow for many different contact methods at once. They might even have a whole team in the office just for handling questions and appointments. Knowing how your company likes to communicate helps you know what to expect. You can then share your needs, get updates, and easily sort out any problems.

What do I do if I have a complaint?

It's really important to know how your lawn maintenance company handles complaints. You should ask about this ahead of time. This way, you don't have to figure out who to talk to when something unsavory happens — you will know exactly who to call. For example, you might come home to see that it doesn't look like anyone mowed at all, but the check is missing from the back porch. Or maybe a few of your plant pots are broken, or the edges of your lawn look terrible and patchy.

By asking how management deals with complaints, you also get an idea of how committed it is to fixing problems and making sure you're happy. For example, if the company has a 100% money-back guarantee policy, you know that it stands by its services. Or if it claims the crew will come back immediately to fix the botched job, you know you won't have anything to worry about if a mistake happens. However, if the company doesn't give you a satisfactory answer or claims it never runs into such problems, that can give you an inkling that it waves off most complaints. 

In addition to sussing out how serious the company is about righting mistakes, this proactive conversation is also great for setting expectations around the quality of work you want to be completed — whether it's about the quality of the lawn care, the health of your plants, or anything else that might come up.

What's your policy on rescheduling or canceling appointments due to weather conditions?

You need to know what your lawn guys do when the weather gets bad. This knowledge of weather-related scheduling is important because it helps you discover how convenient and cost-effective a company is. Does it still send out work crews when it is just a little rainy outside, or does it change plans and not come by? And if there is a big storm coming that might force a cancellation, what are your rescheduling options? How quickly can management fit in a new appointment? Do they give you a refund for the missed service, or maybe a credit for a future appointment?

Different companies have different policies around the weather, so it's worth finding out as soon as you can. You should also find out about what happens around clean up after particularly bad weather. Is the lawn service able to clean up debris from your yard after the storm, or do you need to do this before they come to mow again?

Can you provide a written estimate or contract outlining the scope of services, costs, and terms?

Some lawn maintenance providers do things pretty casually. They might just make verbal agreements about the work to be done and shake hands to make a deal. These companies (or sole proprietors) take payments usually made in cash and have no written paperwork. On the other hand are the larger, incorporated companies. They usually offer written estimates and contracts that include all the details. This will be all the services provided, how much each costs, payment terms, and any special conditions or guarantees. Having everything in writing gives you transparency, legal protection, and a clear understanding of what you're agreeing to.

Writing things down, even if it is just in a text message or email to your provider, is good for both sides. It gives you something to refer back to in case something goes wrong, making sure you get the services you expect. Written agreements also clarify everyone's responsibilities and expectations. By asking about how a company does its estimates and contracts, you can pick one that fits with what you prefer — whether you like things to be formal or more relaxed.

How do you handle unexpected issues like drought or lawn disease?

It's good to know what your lawn company will do if your grass, flowers, or topiaries die because of drought or lawn disease. If you know how the team will react beforehand, you can evaluate its knowledge of the problem and the possible solutions it will pursue. You don't want to be caught out working with a team that will let your lawn die from ignorance or inexperience. 

For example, to prevent fungus growth, do they jump into action and take care of suspiciously damp spots in your lawn before the disease is able to take hold? Once the fungus does settle in, do they treat it naturally with neem oil and baking soda solutions, or do they use professional-grade fungicides? Hearing their plan will help you determine how knowledgeable they are in lawn health, and give you an idea of how prepared they are for when things begin to go south. It's also good to know what systems they have in place when a drought is forecasted. Do they help keep your lawn alive during this time by installing an irrigation system, mowing high, using mulch as a water retainer, and monitoring for stress? Or do they take a break in services and come back once the watering bans have been lifted? 

Most lawn care companies should know how to mow and edge, but the best ones will be able to fight off fungal lawn diseases and bring your grass back from the brink of drying out completely.