Landscaping on any budget


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Whether it's cleaning up the yard and adding some pretty flowers or going all out with a total redesign, a well-cared for lawn can add up to 14 percent of your home's value. Your landscaping project doesn't have to be big or cost an arm and a leg to add value.

Angie's List asked highly rated landscapers about projects for every budget.

What can you get for $50? At this price range you might be looking at more DIY-type projects, such as buying and spreading your own bags of mulch. But there are a few tasks you can hire a pro to tackle.

  • A flat of seasonal spring flowers, such as begonias, planted and mulched by a highly rated landscaper.
  • Programming a sprinkler's timer and an operational once-over.
  • One application of fly repellent for an average-sized lawn.

What can you get for $500?

  • A 3-D rendition of a new landscape design.
  • Several applications of a fertilization and weed control program.
  • Lawn mowed and trimmed and edged weekly for four months, for the average half-acre lot.

What can you get for $5,000?

  • A wide variety of finished projects such as patios and retaining walls.
  • Revamping a home's front foundation landscape. This involves removing most, if not all, of the debris and plants already in the beds.
  • Complete irrigation system in both the front and back yards.

Before you dig too deeply into hiring a landscaping contractor, take time to do two things:

  • Be clear about what you want to achieve. If you only want yard work, check out companies that specialize in residential lawn services. If you want design or installation services, you'll need a full service landscaper.
  • Gather your ideas. Offer as much detail about your preferences as possible. For inspiration, print, copy or tear out images from landscaping websites, magazines and books.

  • When shopping around to get the most landscaping bang for your buck, always verify a company's insurance and applicable licensing information. What they're selling may sound like a bargain, but you might end up with a raw deal if they're not following the rules.

    Here are 5 questions to ask prospective landscapers.

  • Can I see your plan? A drawing is the best way to be sure you can envision what a landscaper proposes. Ask each bidder to provide a design sketch. They may charge a fee if you want to keep it, but they should at least be able to let you see it. In addition, ask for photos of projects they've done that are similar to what you want.
  • What's your process? Ask about basic work practices and what materials and equipment would be used. For example, would they dig your patio out by hand or use machinery?
  • What's your experience? Does the contractor have the experience, manpower and skill to handle your project? How long has the company been in business? Find out what kind of training the contractor and his or her staff have undergone. Do they belong to local, state or national landscaping associations?
  • What's your guarantee? Reputable landscaping contractors should be willing to guarantee their work for at least two years, preferably five. Ask about separate warranties for plants.
  • How well do you communicate? Ask each bidder for the best way to communicate so you're likely to get a timely response.