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Finding your perfect gardener

We all love our gardens but not everyone has the time to take care of them. If you’d rather leave the gardening to the professionals, here’s some advice on how to hire the best from Adrian Noble at 1st Garden Maintenance in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

Finding the right gardener

Whether your garden needs a spot of weeding or a complete overhaul, finding the right gardener can help refresh your green space. Which? Trusted Traders endorses reputable and reliable gardeners all around the UK, who can work their magic in your garden.

The first thing to consider is what sort of work you want to do. Gardeners offer a huge variety of services, depending on their level of experience and training. Some will specialise in landscaping, tree surgery or long-term planning and others focus on general maintenance of existing garden designs. You can check the business description, photographs and customer reviews on Which? Trusted Traders to find an individual or business that carries out the kind of gardening and landscaping work you need.

Qualifications

You may want to consider whether your gardener has a professional qualification. There are many different schemes available, such as NVQ, HND, NPTC and RHS. A gardener with one or more of these qualifications is more likely to be professional in their approach to gardening as a career.

But there is more to gardening than pieces of paper. Your gardener needs to be sufficiently fit to carry out what can be hard physical work, they should be careful when using tools and above all, they should be reliable.

Always ask for references. Any professional gardener will be able to provide you with the phone number of a previous client or written testimonials.

Legal requirements

Gardeners should bring their own tools. If they use your tools and work regularly for you at a set time, that can become an employer/employee relationship, rather than them providing you with a service. This means you would become liable for any injuries they receive while using your tools.

Check whether your gardener has a public liability insurance certificate, which would cover any damage they caused to your property. Safe contractor or CHAS accreditation and evidence of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check are other good signs of a professional business.

Getting quotes for gardening work

It’s a good idea to get three quotes from gardening and landscaping contractors. 

A gardener will usually quote for very small and simple jobs, such as hedge trimming and lawn mowing, on the telephone. You’ll need to tell them about the size of the area and the nature of the work – is the hedge or lawn overgrown, for example? Remember to mention any parking or access restrictions too.

For most jobs, a good gardener will visit your property. No garden is exactly like another and a quick survey will help the gardener arrive at an accurate quote. Ask for the quote in writing and make sure it lists all components of the work in sufficient detail.

You need to agree exactly what you want your gardener to do. If it is a regular job, you should establish what day(s) they will be there and for how long. You also need to agree how you will pay for goods they may need for the garden – plants, seeds, compost for example. Will these be covered by a single fee or will they be itemised separately?

Also, you should establish how your gardener prefers to be paid. Some ask to be paid in cash, others will accept cheques or bank transfers.

How much should you pay for gardening maintenance?

Basic garden maintenance is often charged by the hour. Some gardeners will visit fortnightly or monthly. This can be a cost effective way of keeping a garden under control if you need a green-fingered helping hand.

“Gardeners who charge as little as £10 per hour are usually either cowboys or new to the industry. For a reliable and qualified gardener, you should expect to pay around £25 per man hour.”

Gardeners who are undertaking a larger job will issue a fixed price quote. Sometimes, quotes will only be valid for a limited period. Check this with your prospective gardener when the quote is issued. You may reasonably be expected to sign a contract for larger jobs. Ask to see terms and conditions before signing.

Waste disposal

Disposal of garden waste can add unexpected cost to a gardening job. Never assume that gardeners will dispose of green waste or other rubbish – ask them when you seek quotes for the job. It can be much cheaper to use your council’s green waste collection service.

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