• With all the recent rain, it may be time to consider hiring a lawn service. Think about what you want: Are you looking for someone to mow only? Does your lawn need aeration or seeding? Are you in need of landscaping, fertilization or tree care? What about pest control?
• Ask for a lawn inspection and a free estimate for service. Companies that quote a price without seeing your lawn can’t be sure what your property might need.
• Be cautious when considering services with a negative option. This contract clause has led to many BBB complaints in the past. A negative option means the service automatically continues until you cancel it. Other options include a yearly contract or an agreement giving you the right to discontinue at any time. What happens if you need service between contracts? Will there be a charge?
• Consider annual costs versus cost per application: Many companies allow you to pay after each treatment and may offer a discount if you pay the annual cost up front.
• Get a written agreement spelling out costs and services before you pay. Document the duration and expected results of the lawn care service.
• Ask about guarantees and refund policies. Some services may offer a guarantee of performance. Others may offer refunds if they fail to meet your expectations.
• Look for professional membership in one or more lawn care associations and active participation in the local community. Most associations have a code of ethics and keep members informed on the latest developments in methodology, safety and regulation.
• Remember, just because someone leaves a flier on your door does not mean they are reliable or even legitimate. Check out businesses at www.bbb.org and the state’s Department of Labor & Industries. Ask neighbors or friends for a recommendation. You can also make sure a company is properly licensed to apply lawn chemicals with the state’s Department of Agriculture.
Holly Doering, BBB editor