How to Select a Landscaper

Posted Feb 1st, 2008 in From Vito's Desk

Gardening in the Garden City, a feature of the Senior's Review: Managing Your Gardens February/March 2008 issue - written by Vito M. Pirri. 

You will want to select a quality landscaper or gardener who is a caring individual, treating your homestead as if it were his or her own home. Ask yourself some important questions: is he or she dependable and punctual; how is their horticultural knowledge, knowing what and where to plant, sun or shade, and how to care and maintain your gardens? Adding curb appeal to your home is a large financial investment.

Remember when choosing your helper, it is essential knowing when to prune and how much to prune. You can always judge an experienced landscaper by watching he or she prune. Pruning is an art!

How to fertilize, what to fertilize, and when to fertilize is very important. There are many different fertilizer compositions, so you must be careful as what to purchase.

What chemicals or green products can you use for different challenges, such as unwanted pests, fungus, and unwanted animals that dig up your spring bulbs? There are many “Green Methods” for getting rid of unwanted weeds growing through patio slabs, or interlocking brick walkways and driveways. Would you know what to buy? A quality gardener should be well versed in what products to use.

Information is crucial in establishing a beautiful plush garden. Your choice for a gardener/landscaper should have all of the skills I have mentioned in this article. 

For soil preparation, dig all existing soil about one foot down, weed and screen the garden bed well, and then add triple or quad mix soil and manure. Your gardener should instruct you how to water effectively.

A rain barrel, with a tap and hose is recommended for container gardeners. Your gardener should propose to you using organic compost. You may want to ask - what adding worms will do for your compost?

When planting, your gardener should enlighten you that you should not only prepare your soil well, but you should also dig any holes deep and wide enough for any new plants. Your landscaper should inform you to loosen the new plants roots, before you plant. Add soil, manure and compost to all new gardens. I recommend that you fill your dug hole with water, before you insert and backfill you plant.                                                                                          

Ask your gardener what their specialties are, and if they have quality garden and lawn equipment?

A good gardener should always bag up your debris and grass cutting and carry them out to the end of your driveway for disposal pick up.   

Always keep in mind this is your home and you will always want to have the best curb appeal at all times. Would your gardener take your disposal to the city dump if asked?

There are a number of questions that a quality gardener should ask you, to understand your likes and dislikes.

Do you require a low maintenance garden”? Do you like perennial hostas for planting in shaded areas? Would you like a rose garden? Would you like to mix both annuals and perennials in your garden? Would you like a bird or butterfly friendly garden? What kind of border would you desire around your garden beds? Are you interested in a well edged and cut garden bed? Do you want to have your garden beds mounded professionally, adding prepared soil and mulch? Would you like to have landscape fabric installed? What color of mulch do you prefer?

Become an educated consumer, by reading books on gardening, or even sourcing the internet for plants and trees that can be planted in your climate zone. A good gardener will have the answers and suggestions for you, making your gardens and outdoor living space most enjoyable.

March is the best time to decide on your homes curb appeal.  Beautiful curb appeal can also help to raise your homes real estate value. Spring is the best time to contact a gardener / landscaper. If you don’t have the time to garden, or are unable to do the strenuous work required for your gardens to be their most desirable, call a gardener to maintain your home’s curb appeal.

Expect your gardener to be well versed in numerous sub-trades that you may require. Your gardener should be able to recommend, people for some of the following trades: installing sprinkler systems, fencing, garden fountains,  stonework, walkways, interlocking brick, patios, decks and driveways, and painters to name a few. However, this is not your gardener’s expertise but he/she can give their clients added value by recommending other trades.

Late March is a good time to start your springs yard cleanup, to start empting your sheds of patio furniture and garden supplies. Make sure that all your electric and gas tools have been maintained so they are ready when you are.

Now would be a great time to clean and seal your pressure treated deck. This is one of the many things your gardener should be able to help you with.

Late March and early April is the time of year to have your lawn aerated. By doing this you are giving your lawns roots a chance to breathe well and grow into a plush lawn. I recommend that you have your lawn fertilized. If crabgrass was evident last summer, now is the time for crabgrass prevention. No other time of the year will be effective in getting rid of Crabgrass. I would recommend you use Ultra Lawn Fertilizer and Crabgrass Preventer 27-7-7.  

This long lasting high nitrogen crabgrass control creates an herbicide barrier to kill emerging crabgrass seedlings while feeding the lawn. Re-seeding is not recommended for 60 days after you apply this formula. There is no need to apply another spring fertilizer, as any other formula that would have been used, would be adequate if crabgrass wasn’t the issue.

After your crabgrass preventer fertilizer has been on for 60 days, you can now apply every 6 to 8 weeks to mid summer, Ultra Turf Fertilizer 27-7-7 or if weeds are evident, 27-7-7 Plus Weed & Feed.