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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawn Care Company in Los Angeles

Investing in a professional lawn care program for your Los Angeles lawn can see you recoup as much as 267 percent of your investment if you decide to resell your home. In addition to increased property value, professional lawn care also saves you time and money, gives your home curb appeal, purifies the air, and protects the environment.

To make sure that you hire a lawn care company that is not only properly qualified and experienced but also takes your unique landscaping needs into account and provides their services in line with the Los Angeles Landscape Ordinance, always ask the following questions:

How Long Have You Been in the Lawn Care Business in Los Angeles?

When searching for professional lawn care services in Los Angeles, it is always a good idea to find out how long your preferred lawn care companies have been in business. Matters involving shoddy service delivery and nonperformance of agreed-on services are one of the most common types of complaints made by homeowners in the Los Angeles area and ranked fifth on the list of top consumer complaints made in 2020. The chances of ending up with unsatisfactory services or even outright scams are usually higher when you deal with a relatively unknown and inexperienced lawn care company.

To this end, you should always consider hiring lawn care companies that have operated locally for at least two years and have also maintained a stellar reputation during this time. In many cases, these companies are staffed by landscapers that are well-versed in the city's landscaping regulations and also familiar with grasses and plants that can thrive in the city's climate, as well as the best ways to care for these plants. Common examples of these native LA grasses and plants that are popular among homeowners in the city include:

  • California Sagebrush
  • Golden Yarrow
  • California Aster
  • Monkey Flower
  • Bush Poppy
  • Lemonade Berry
  • Native California Bent Grass
  • Buffalo Grass
  • Big Berry Manzanita
  • Pozo Surf
  • Sand Dune Sedge
  • St. Augustine Grass
  • Zoysia Grass
  • California Morning Glory
  • Beach Evening Primrose

It is important to note that you should always do your due diligence on any lawn care company that you plan to hire, regardless of how long they may have been in business. Request references of past clients that can vouch for their services, check these references, and look up reviews and testimonials on the company online via websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review.

Do You Hold Any Professional Qualifications Relevant to Lawn Care?

In addition to looking out for the business longevity of your preferred lawn care company, another crucial area to consider when searching for lawn care services in Los Angeles is whether your landscapers hold any relevant professional qualifications. These typically include state-mandated licenses as well as voluntarily-obtained certifications in niche areas of lawn care to demonstrate their competence and experience.

Landscapers in Los Angeles that provide routine lawn care services like shrub trimming, weeding, and mowing do not typically require occupational licenses to ply their trade. However, if these individuals wish to provide any type of landscaping service worth $500 or more, cost of labor and materials inclusive, then they must obtain an appropriate state-issued license from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Failure to do this is considered a misdemeanor offense, and is punishable by jail time of up to six months, fines of up to $15,000, or a combination of jail time and fines.

The CSLB typically issues licenses to applicants that are at least 18 years old and meet certain eligibility requirements, which include:

  • Completing and submitting an Application for Original Contractor License form
  • Paying a nonrefundable application fee
  • Providing acceptable documentation to verify that they have attained the board's mandatory minimum work experience requirements for new licensees
  • Passing a board-administered licensing examination
  • Submitting proof of adequate insurance and bond coverage

Inquiries concerning the CSLB's licensing requirements for Los Angeles landscapers and lawn care professionals can be directed to the board at (800) 321-2752.

Note that landscapers who apply pesticides as part of their services must complete a separate licensing and certification process, which is handled by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). This process typically includes:

  • Passing a certification examination with a score of at least 70 percent
  • Paying all stipulated fees
  • Registering with the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner's Office

You can contact the DPR's Licensing and Certification Office at (916) 445-4038 to get more information on its licensing and certification process for landscapers that apply pesticides as part of their services.

After obtaining mandatory licenses and certifications where required, many lawn care professionals in Los Angeles also obtain voluntary certifications in areas like organic farming, arboriculture, and landscape irrigation. These voluntary certifications are usually obtained from well-known and reputable organizations and trade associations like:

  • The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA)
  • The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP)
  • The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
  • The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS)
  • The Irrigation Association (IA)

Hiring a landscaper that has been properly licensed, certified, and holds additional certifications in relevant areas of lawn care goes a long way in assuring you that your desired lawn care program will be implemented by a skilled and competent professional. However, you should always verify these licenses and certifications before signing any contractors with the landscaper.

To this end, you can utilize the CSLB's Check a License to verify that your intended landscaper has been aptly licensed and authorized to provide services worth $500 or more. Likewise, you can confirm that the landscaper has been licensed and certified to apply pesticides, where necessary, through the DPR's List of Licensees. Finally, always request proof for any voluntary certifications that your landscaper claims to have and authenticate this proof with the appropriate certifying organization.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Lawn Care Companies in the City?

Another step to take towards ensuring that you receive satisfactory lawn care services in Los Angeles is finding out how much your preferred lawn care companies charge for their services and agreeing on these prices. Lawn care companies in the city typically calculate their rates using one or more of the following pricing models:

  • Hourly Rates: this is a pretty straightforward pricing model that involves the lawn care company charging for every hour that is spent working on the client's lawn. The lawn care company's rates are usually agreed-on before the work commences, are typically determined by the nature and complexity of the services that are to be provided, and can range from $25 - $75 per hour, or more
  • Square Footage Rates: under this pricing model, the lawn care company calculates their charges based on every square foot of the client's lawn that they work on. These rates typically range from $4.50 - $12.50 per square foot
  • Flat Rates: with this pricing model, the lawn care company charges the client a fixed fee, which may either be for a specific service or cover a range of agreed-on services. Flat fee rates are typically determined by the nature and scope of the service in question, and they can fall anywhere from $50 - $1,000 per service

Note that the actual amount of money you will be required to pay your landscaper for their services will largely be influenced by factors like:

  • The specific types and scope of services you require
  • The size of your lawn
  • Your location within the city
  • The presence of fences, rocks, trees, steep hills, and other obstacles
  • The types of tools and equipment needed for the job
  • The amount of labor required to satisfactorily provide the required services
  • The landscaper's local reputation
  • The frequency of the required services

Nevertheless, you should always consider getting and comparing rates and cost estimates for your required lawn care and maintenance services from up to three different lawn care companies in the city before deciding on one best suited for the job. Some key advantages of doing this include:

  • It helps you get a fair idea of the current market prices for your required service
  • It is an effective method for spotting outrageous prices and rates
  • It helps protect you from dishonest lawn care companies

Lawn care contractors in Los Angeles earn an average wage of $39,290 every year. The list below compares the average wages earned by these contractors per hour against the average hourly wages of lawn care contractors in other parts of California and also in other locations across the United States:

Los Angeles Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
San Francisco Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
San Diego Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
San Jose Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Long Beach Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Phoenix Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Chicago Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Houston Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
New York City Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Philadelphia Lawn Care Contractors Average Hourly Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Included in Your Lawn Care Program?

You should always find out the scope of services that your intended lawn care company will include in your lawn care program before finalizing hiring agreements with them. Professional lawn care companies in the Los Angeles area typically offer a variety of lawn care services to interested clients, such as:

  • Lawn mowing
  • Tree trimming
  • Tree pruning
  • Weed control
  • Lawn fertilization
  • Shrub and tree planting
  • Shrub and hedge trimming
  • Lawn aeration
  • Lawn seeding
  • Flower services
  • Pest control
  • Leaf blowing
  • Mulching
  • Landscape design
  • Garden cleanup and debris removal
  • Irrigation system installation
  • Irrigation system maintenance and repair
  • Retaining wall installation

These services are typically offered through two main types of lawn care programs, which are:

  • The Basic Lawn Care Service Package: this package generally involves services that are focused on improving the look and aesthetic appeal of your lawn without paying much attention to its overall health. Examples of services typically included in these types of programs are leaf blowing, lawn mowing, shrub, hedge, and tree trimming, and garden cleanup
  • The Full-Service Lawn Maintenance Package: this package generally involves services that are tailored to improve your lawn's aesthetic appeal as well as its overall health. As such, full-service lawn maintenance programs typically include services that are readily available in basic lawn care packages plus additional services like tree pruning, lawn aeration and fertilization, weed control, lawn disease remediation, and mulching

It should be noted that some dishonest lawn care companies often try to lure unsuspecting clients in by pitching them relatively inexpensive lawn care service packages that inevitably end up being inadequate for the client's long-term lawn care goals. Thus, to avoid misunderstandings with your lawn care company down the line, let them know your desired results for your lawn care work, and confirm that the nature and scope of services that will be included in your lawn care program can get these results. Also, make sure that the scope and cost of these services and any guarantees or promises made by the lawn care company are included in your service contract, especially if you plan to sign up for recurring services.

Listed below are cost estimates for lawn care services that are typically included in lawn care programs offered in Los Angeles:

Lawn mowing & maintenance
$35 - $65 per visit
Lawn fertilization
$80 - $150 per application
$50 - $150
Lawn aeration
$50 - $250
Lawn seeding
$350 – $1,000
$0.10 - $0.30 per square foot
Leaf removal
$55 - $300
Sod installation
$0.90 - $1.75 per square foot
$50 - $100 per hour
Sprinkler system installation
$2,000 - $4,250
Hedge/Shrub trimming
$50 - $85 per hour
Tree trimming/pruning
$300 - $750
Garden cleanup and debris removal
$150 - $400
Landscape design
$90 - $110 per hour
Landscape installation
$40 - $60 per hour (labor only)
Retaining wall installation
$1,000 - $4,000

Do You Provide Organic Lawn Care Services?

If you have small children or pets that play in your lawn frequently or if you have environmental concerns, then hiring a lawn care company that provides organic lawn care services may be the right choice for you. Organic lawn care is the practice of maintaining a lawn without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or any other synthetic chemicals and substances. Instead, the landscaper makes use of naturally occurring materials and animal or plant-derived carbon-based substances like compost and leaf mulch, potash, bone char, seaweed, worm castings, and manure, to keep the lawn healthy.

With organic lawn care, you not only reduce the number of chemicals released into the atmosphere but also limit the exposure of your children and pets to potentially harmful lawn care chemicals and create a chemical-free outdoor environment for them. It should be noted that organic lawn care services typically require more labor to implement than traditional or conventional lawn care services, which in turn generally makes them more expensive. Nevertheless, these additional costs are offset by several benefits, which include:

  • Healthier lawns
  • Safer outdoor spaces for children and pets
  • Better root growth
  • Zero risk of over-application
  • Revitalized lawn ecosystem
  • Reduced soil and water pollution
  • Reduced soil vulnerability to diseases and pests
  • Improved grass quality

Do You Offer a Warranty for Plants Installed?

Another important criterion to consider when searching for good lawn care companies in Los Angeles is whether or not you will be offered a warranty for services rendered, especially if these services will include planting plants, flowers, seeds, or sod on your lawn. These warranties are assurances that these plants, flowers, and seeds will grow and flourish as intended once they have been planted on your lawn. As such, consider it a red flag if a lawn care company does not, or seems hesitant to offer warranties for plants installed or any other services they provide.

Bear in mind that plant warranties typically have terms, conditions, and areas of coverage, which are primarily determined by the lawn care company or landscaper that offers them. Nonetheless, the plant warranties that many professional lawn care companies in Los Angeles offer are usually valid for up to one year and typically include certain conditions that the lawn owner must adhere to during this period, such as:

  • Strict watering schedules for all installed plants, flowers, and seeds
  • Types of fertilizers to be used
  • Mowing schedules, techniques, and acceptable mowing heights

Likewise, these warranties do not provide coverage for issues that arise due to:

  • Failure of the lawn owner to provide adequate plant care and maintenance for the installed plants and flowers
  • Damages to the installed plants and flowers that are caused by acts of vandalism or natural disasters
  • Damages caused by children, pets, or other animals

As such, it is always in your best interest to find out the particular terms and conditions of any plant warranties that your preferred lawn care business provides to avoid taking any actions that can end up voiding them.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Lawn Care Companies in the City?

Landscapers are routinely exposed to several work-related hazards, like cuts, hand injuries, amputations from tools and equipment, and chemical exposure. As such, when making hiring arrangements with lawn care companies in Los Angeles, it is important to confirm that the landscapers that will be assigned to work on your lawn are properly insured. By making sure that only properly insured landscapers work on your lawn, you insulate yourself from financial and legal liabilities if these individuals sustain any injuries on the job. Working with properly insured landscapers also ensures that you do not incur additional costs if these landscapers damage your property while providing their services.

Note that, per state requirements, Los Angeles landscapers that hold CSLB-issued licenses must maintain surety bonds of $15,000 throughout the validity period of these licenses and also carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Likewise, landscapers that hold DPR-issued certifications and licenses must comply with certain financial responsibility options that include carrying liability insurance of at least $5,000 per person or $10,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $5,000 for property damage.

To this end, always ask your lawn care company for proof of insurance and bonding before they commence any work on your property, and validate this proof with the appropriate insurance or bond provider. You should also ensure that the landscapers have valid general liability insurance plans that can adequately cover any third-party injuries or property damage that may occur during the project.

You can get more information on the insurance, bond, and other applicable financial obligations that landscapers in Los Angeles have to comply with by contacting the state's Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) at (800) 321-2752 and (916) 445-4038 respectively.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Lawn Care Service in Los Angeles

You can file complaints concerning bad lawn care services in Los Angeles with the LA City Attorney's Office and also the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA).

Even though many lawn care companies provide their services competently and legitimately, there is always the risk of running into an unscrupulous landscaper or lawn care contractor when searching for lawn care services in Los Angeles. These con artists typically try to fraudulently obtain money from unsuspecting home and property owners through several schemes, like:

  • Luring clients in with reasonably priced lawn care packages and then increasing their rates and prices after stating the lawn care program
  • Claiming that only organic lawn care products will be used and charging extra for this, then doing the opposite and using non-organic products for the job
  • Performing subpar work despite demanding premium rates for their services
  • Adding pointless and unnecessary extra services and other hidden charges in their contracts and convincing the client to sign these contracts without properly reviewing them

According to the DCBA, complaints involving contractors and home improvement services regularly rank among the top ten complaints made by homeowners in the Los Angeles area every year. Taking the following precautions can help ensure that you receive satisfactory lawn care services and also protect you from the actions of dishonest landscapers and lawn care companies in the city:

  • Be suspicious of any landscaper that shows up at your home offering free or discounted lawn care and maintenance services
  • Consider getting referrals to reputable landscapers and lawn care companies in the city from friends and family. You can also use reputable platforms like the CSLB's Find My Licensed Contractor search portal or the Better Business Bureau website to get recommendations to landscapers in the city
  • Always get and compare prices and cost estimates from at least three different lawn care companies in the city before making your final hiring choice
  • Make sure that you do your due diligence on any landscaper or lawn care company that you intend to hire. Look them up on the CSLB's Most Wanted list as well as on other third-party review websites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review
  • Consider it a red flag if a lawn care company insists that they do not need to inspect your lawn before offering final quotes for their services
  • Make sure that any landscaper you hire holds proper qualifications. If your required services will cost you $500 or more, make sure that the landscaper holds a valid state-issued license. Likewise, if the application of pesticides will be involved in these services, ensure that the landscaper has been properly licensed and certified to do this by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation
  • Make sure that your landscapers are properly insured and bonded
  • Always ask for and check references
  • Insist on a written contract for your lawn care services and review this contract properly before signing it. Make sure that it describes the nature and scope of services to be provided, the frequency of these services, their costs, a payment schedule, and the types of products to be used
  • Do not hire landscapers that request full payment for their services upfront
  • Limit advance payments to 10 percent of the total cost of your required services or $1,000, whichever is less. Make sure that subsequent payments do not get ahead of the work being done
  • Keep copies of all contracts, warranties, and other important documents related to your lawn care program

You can report matters concerning unsatisfactory lawn care services and fraudulent landscapers to the LA City Attorney's Office via its online consumer complaint portal or by calling (213) 978-8070 and (877) 522-2737. Complaints concerning these types of matters can also be reported to the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) online or by calling (213) 974-1452 and (800) 593-8222.

Matters that specifically involve pesticide applications can be also reported to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) at (916) 324-4100. Lastly, matters involving suspected unlicensed landscaping activities and state-licensed landscapers can be reported to the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) by filing a construction complaint with this agency.