How to make sure you don’t get too much service when hiring a lawn care company

Not everyone has a green thumb, and if you’d rather your lawn not have weeds or bare spots, a locally-based consumers’ group has tips for hiring a lawn care service.

Be sure to ask questions when looking at lawn care businesses

“A lot of lawn care services, they just have a program that they use. If your lawn doesn’t need to be sprayed for weeds or pests, well, they’re going to do it anyway,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org.

The company might also, for example, require a certain number of treatments for various issues over the course of the contract. However, you might save money having the company take an integrated approach to treating your lawn, as opposed to them sticking to a schedule that might be applied to everyone.

“Ask them why. Do I really need this? Do I need that treatment? In general, lawn care services got more receptive about that,” Brasler said.

If, for example you don’t want herbicides or pesticides used, then say so.

“Actually in Montgomery County, they’re not allowed to treat lawns with certain chemicals anymore. They have to take a more natural approach,” Brasler said.

Before signing a contract, get guarantees and expectations in writing.

“Do you want a golf course out there? Or, are you willing to live with a couple of weeds and just you want to get rid of some brown spots or bare spots?,” Brasler said.

Among all the services Checkbook.org reviews, lawn care is among the lowest-rated, leaving many customers unsatisfied.

Before you hire someone, check what the guarantee is. Many services will refund payments if you’re not happy. But the best guarantees will say, essentially, that after a year, if you’re not satisfied with what they’ve done, they’ll continue treatment for free or refund all your money because you’re not happy.

Through a special arrangement with the nonprofit Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP readers can have a look at Checkbook ratings and price comparisons for 144 area lawn care services for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has for more than 40 years been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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