Chances are that when you start the selection process for a landscape contractor you experience feelings of anxiety and panic. Choosing the right contractor can be a very difficult task, but finding the right one can save you money by avoiding costly mistakes and big headaches. There are several resources available to find a good contractor and trade associations are one of those.
What is a Landscape Trade Association? Landscape Trade Associations provide education, training and lobbying for its group of members. They are also designed to help assist homeowners determine who is a recognized company in the landscape industry. They offer recommendations and suggest reputable contractors to help build your dream. Contractors who join these associations are screened and processed by the Landscape Trade Association. Each association determines their own set of guidelines for membership. Once accepted into the Landscape Association, professional recognition is awarded to the contractor and they must abide by all rules and regulations set by the board of governors.
Some associations stringent processes may include:
- Submitting multiple referrals, substantiated by names, numbers, and addresses
- Written referrals from customers
- The company has to be a registered business for a required length of time
- Sponsorships from current members
- Proof of insurance
- Accreditation or certification from recognized industry institutions
- Some associations require mandatory annual educational training courses to earn credits to keep their members abreast of current issues and products
- Some associations also have annual contests to reward members that excel in their industry and advertise these selected award winners on their websites
- Members are required to sign an agreement that they will abide by all of the association’s guide lines or rules
The most important reason to use a contractor who is a member of an association I think is the follow-up processes that may exist for complaints. Some associations have complaint processes that allow the consumer to feel very secure with their decisions. Our industry attracts many business people from all walks of life. Fortunately for consumers, these associations can help determine who may be a better fit to implement your project goals.
Landscape Trade Associations will also have helpful information on proper installation methods, required maintenance, product information, and pricing levels. They have lots of information to help consumers make informed and educated decisions about who their contractor should be. If you want to try and avoid project problems you may want to start with contacting your local Landscape Trade Association.
Here are some common and well recognized professional Landscape Associations:
Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD)
- Promotes the recognition of landscape designers as qualified and dedicated professionals while encouraging continued education
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
- Helps members increase their professionalism and operate their businesses more effectively and efficiently while providing continued education
Landscape Ontario (LO)
- Offers professional development opportunities, industry trade shows and conferences, consumer events and cost saving benefits
Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA)
- Promotes, improves and advances the profession of landscape architecture and maintains the standards of professional practice and conduct consistent with the need to serve and to protect the public interest
Like any large home project, I recommend that you do your homework beforehand. Larger projects, if at all possible, should be designed by Landscape Architect and installed by a professional contractor.