There comes a point in life when you can’t (or don't want to) undertake the mowing of your own lawn perhaps for health reasons, lack of time or equipment, whilst away on business or holiday.
Maybe you have tried to get that perfect lawn but somehow have never quite managed to archive this or perhaps you just need a helping hand to rectify a particular problem?
Looking after your lawn is hard work particularly if you want to develop and sustain a quality lawn and I am sure most home owners can think of any number of excuses not to mow the lawn!
I have clients that use to slave away mowing their lawn for three hours every Saturday, stay at homes mums (and dads) that just haven’t the time or energy, professional couples with hectic lifestyles to those clients who are no longer able to physically manage the work. For some of our elderly clients we are often viewed as the forth emergency service, they know we will be there every week and quite often we are their only visitors.
You may be surprised to know that help is at hand and probably more affordable than you think. Wherever you live there will be a local gardener to grass mowing companies be it a one man / lady to a national company ready to serve you. Not to mention the odd job man who is looking to earn some extra cash.
So if you are ready to relinquish the chore of mowing your lawn and are thinking of engaging the services of a specialist lawn cutting service provider I would suggest that the key points to look for are:
Formal qualifications / training – Whilst anyone can cut a lawn, mowing a lawn correctly is an art and requires practice and training.
Only personnel with the appropriate skills, abilities and competencies should be allowed to operate the machinery and that their technical competence is maintained through mandatory training programmes.
Furthermore, if the operator is to undertake other services such as applying chemical treatments they must have the relevant qualifications. It is a legal requirement for operators who are spraying with professional pesticides to hold an NPTC pesticides certificate of competence, otherwise known as a spraying certificate or a pesticide license. (PA1 / PA6).
Number of staff – The advantage of engaging a company over a one man band would be availability of resources to cover sickness and holidays. A two man team shouldn’t be more expensive than a sole operator as in theory they can work quicker and more efficiently. Lawn mowing and other associated gardening activities should be classed as high risk and depending upon the work involved it may not be prudent to have a lone worker.
Insurance – whilst it is not a current legal requirement for a company to have Public Liability insurance you should seriously question if an operator doesn’t have this. Incidences can happen and whilst most policies it would probably be cheaper for the company to pay for the odd window to be re-glazed due to the excess on their insurance policy just think if the incidence was more serious?
Waste Disposal –How will the operator dispose of the grass cuttings - If you require the operator to take the cuttings away this will reflect in the price – trade waste disposal isn’t cheap. If the green waste is taken away is the operator registered with the Environment Agency (in England)?. A business has a duty to ensure that any waste produce is handled in accordance with the law and safely disposed of. This is also for your protection as if your green waste is illegally disposed of, you could also be held responsible. Don’t be afraid to question how and where the waste will be disposed off. The operator can’t pass your green waste away as his own and sneak in to the local council tip and dispose of for free – There is a big crackdown on these types of operators and they will get caught!
References – Remember you are inviting a stranger onto your property, You may even give him a key to your side gate or garage to gain access. If the operator can’t give any references you must question why. Asking for references and addresses of their current clients will enable you to see the type of work he / she does so that you can determine if the style of mowing or edging is right for you. If you do decide to talk with the operators other clients, it will give you an idea of other people's impression of his or her reliability as well as workmanship based on their opinion.
Equipment used – The business of grass cutting is heavily dependant of using high quality professional equipment, the lawn mowers are the life and blood of the operation and may cut up to 30 lawns a day, five days a week for 30 plus weeks per year. A good operator will have a number of mowers in order to undertake any number of jobs from mowing formal lawns to rough cutting verges / banks to orchards. Back up mowers to cover machinery failures. You must ask the operator what equipment he has. If you want the classic striped lawn the operator must have a roller mower. Other questions to ask regarding equipment and services would be how the operator would ‘”edge up” This can be done by the strimmer, edging or hand shears. Does the operator have additional equipment for other services such as scarifying and aeration or would these be hired in as required?.
Risk Assessments and Health and Safety – A good operator will write a formal risk assessment for each property. This will address any potential hazards, assessing risks and implementing preventative and protective measures. Similarly do they have a clearly defined H & S and conforms to the Health and Safety at work act.
Environmental policy – Okay by the very nature of the business of mowing lawns - using petrol mowers and driving to and from jobs we do create a carbon footprint however a company should have a policy outlining their aims to safeguard, protect and enhance the environment by minimise any adverse effects of their operations by implementing procedures to prevent pollution to land, air and water, and reduce waste and consumption of natural resources wherever possible.
Length of time in business – Whilst this isn’t always a reliable gauge of how good the operator is it can be useful to gain a better understanding of the company and their values.. Whilst some clients may assign value to the length of time a company has been in business remember that recently we have seen a number of well-established banks and other organisations folding so length of time in business could now be questionable.?
Business address – Whilst it is not always necessary for a company to have formal business premises an operator should be able to provide you with a contact address and land line phone number.
Terms and conditions – A detailed terms and conditions will outline any number of key points but ultimately this will also offer you clarity of the service being offered, cancellation options and responsibilities of both parties.
Method of payment – A good operator will offer a number of methods for payment. Do be wary of anyone asking for cash only and do not pay anyone in advance of the work being performed unless there are special circumstances / requirements.
The above list isn’t exhaustive, you may well have a preference to engaging a company that is a member of such organisations as the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), Landscape Juice, APL, BALI or even Check-a-Trade. If the company is limited or sole trader, VAT registered or not.. These are personal preferences and may not necessary translate as if one company is better than the other,
Once you have selected the company or individual that best suits your requirements it would just be a matter of what the cost is and hopefully when can we start!
If you require a one off service or upon request this will cost more and may be charged out at an hourly rate rather than a fixed price per cut.
If you already utilise the services of a lawn care company, consider switching this over to your lawn cutting operator, besides that there could be cost savings the biggest advantage is that the grass cutter will be better able to offer the extract treatment you need and at the right time.
The actual cost for each lawn will be based upon how large the area is. The service provider should undertake a formal quotation to correctly assess your lawn, this could encompass measuring the lawn areas, identifying the grass species, lawn weeds, taking of a soil sample, assessing risks, access method, waste disposal and noting a number of other factors. Once the regularity of service has been established a fixed price per cut based upon the number of visits can then be given. Whilst there will be some regional differences, I would suggest a minimum charge of around £15 for regular mowing is not unreasonable for the smallest of lawns.
For the moment forget cost but think about the saving and extra time it will give you, not to mention that beautiful well cared for lawn.
Engaging the right lawn cutting company is more than just looking after your lawn. My client who spent three hours every Saturday gained 90 hours a year – time now spent with his young family on fun trips out which surely must be priceless.. Mrs H will know that we will call her if we have any concerns with her elderly mother and Mr and Mrs K can spend all summer in their villa in Europe knowing that their grounds are maintained in their absence and will be contacted if there are any concerns.
There are many businesses on Landscape Juice that would be more than happy to offer their services to you or alternatively please don’t hesitate to contact me, our teams service most of the South of England and up to the Midlands.
Please check out my profile page for more details at https://landscapejuice.ning.com/profile/BGSLTD
The following blog may also be of interest: http://www.landscapejuicenetwork.com/profiles/blogs/a-good-lawn-starts-with-a-good