With longer days and warmer weather on the way, spring is in the air providing the perfect time of the year to get your garden into shape for the summer.
Whilst people are keen to have a lovely looking garden that they can use to relax and entertain in what they don’t always have is the time to make it look good. That is where the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) and TrustMark can help.
Creating a garden is a financial investment and using a professional to build your dream garden will ultimately be money well spent. The APL have put together a list of what you should consider when looking for a landscaper to carry out work in your garden. Consumers can avoid the lottery of picking a landscaper for your garden out of the hat and ensure they employ a professional by following the APL and TrustMark top ten tips when making a choice:
1. Ask around and get recommendations from friends, neighbours, colleagues or family. This is often the easiest and safest way to find a good landscaper.
2. Always get written quotes – and if you cannot find a recommended landscaper then it would be advisable to get two or more quotes.
3. When comparing the written quotes, make sure that you are comparing like for like and ask for a break down to ensure that everything you want is covered.
4. Always use a written contract for your project as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong and always agree in writing any changes to the original cost that occurs during the work.
5. Ask the landscaper for an example of a recent local job and go and have a look at it before making a decision. Don’t just look at the quality of the work, have a chat with the homeowners and see whether the job was done within budget.
6. Make sure the landscaper has adequate public liability insurance to protect your property in case of damage (all APL members must have this as a condition of membership).
7. Check out who will actually be doing the work, does the landscaper sub contract?
8. Before the work starts, make sure you have read and understood their terms and conditions and ensure that the job has a time schedule so that you know when it will start and when you can expect it to be finished.
9. Make sure that the landscaper is either working to an agreed design or that you have supplied him with sufficient images of what you want, so that you know what the end result will look like.
10. Consider using an APL member or TrustMark registered landscaper. Registered members of the APL comply with the government endorsed TrustMark scheme and must meet eleven strict quality standards before membership is granted, details can be found at http://www.landscaper.org.uk, which has a search facility to find a landscaper in your area.
The TrustMark scheme operates to Government endorsed standards and will signpost you to find your nearest APL member. APL is the only landscaping association that is an ‘approved scheme operator’ for TrustMark (http://www.trustmark.org.uk) for the garden landscaping and fencing sector.
TrustMark is the only scheme supported by Government, industry and consumer protection groups. It sets standards which firms must meet in order to display the TrustMark logo – the sign of a firm that homeowners can trust and differentiates reputable quality firms from potential rogue traders.
Stuart Carter, Head of Marketing at TrustMark, said: “TrustMark was set up over seven years ago to signpost consumers to good quality and trustworthy firms and to help homeowners select a local tradesman with confidence. With more than 23,000 licensed trades searchable on our database by postcode, we are able to help people find a good quality firm enabling them to get the best job done at a fair price. We want to give people a better-informed choice of tradesman, and if things don’t go quite right, to provide a clear and easy to use complaints procedure to resolve any problems.”
For further information about TrustMark and to find local registered APL landscape firms go to http://www.trustmark.org.uk or www.landscaper.org.uk