While some of my readers are a do-it-yourself type person, some like to sit back and leave the chore of lawn care, landscape maintenance or gardening to a professional. This month, I’d like to talk about what to look for when hiring a true green industry professional.

First and foremost, hire a lawn care or landscape provider that is properly insured. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 200,000 people are injured each year because of lawn mowers. Operating a lawn mower or lawn tractor on your property, can be very dangerous. Mower blades can spin as fast as 16,000 feet per min! Hitting a rock with a spinning blade can easily break out a window or even worse, hit someone in the eye and cause permanent loss of sight. I know of several individuals that have had lawn mowers flip over on themselves which has caused several years of rehabilitation from their injuries, or even death. Please, always ask for a copy of your provider’s certificate of insurance and make sure they are also covered under workers compensation. This will help alleviate any claims against you or possibly a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Secondly, consider hiring a professional that has a website. Do your research and see how long the company has been in business. Companies that have been in business for 5 plus years are probably doing something right, otherwise they would have folded or went out of business by then. Is your provider reachable? Can you call their phone number and get a response immediately? I am amazed at how it sometimes takes days for a company to return a phone call. Use a provider that is reachable, reliable and ready.

Third, ask your provider if they have any accreditations or awards. Many established businesses are members of civic organizations like a Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, etc. This should tell you, the consumer, if the company is truly invested in his or her business and community and is a wise choice or not. For accreditations, the National Associations of Landscape Professionals is the voice in the green industry for all lawn care or landscape professionals. A simple search on their website can tell you if your provider is involved and is a member. This association also provides the opportunity to apply for safety awards, which make the company nationally accredited.

Lastly, does your service provider have the proper licenses? To apply fertilizer and weed killer, ALL lawn care companies MUST be licensed by the Department of Agriculture. The applicator undergoes a 2-day class and must pass a written exam to become licensed. Herbicides and pesticides must be applied properly to be safe.