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Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Landscape Contractors Rated Highest in Quality?

OAKLAND — You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a landscape contractor that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified landscaper. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated landscaping contractor and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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Roger Van Alst is president of Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (877) 312-4128 or by email.

Roger Van Alst

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Roger Van Alst: Paving a Road to Success

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — After graduating from Stetson University with a marketing and business degree, Roger Van Alst began a career that would take him around the world and back again. “After a long time managing home improvement companies in both the United States and Australia, I decided it was time to have my own business and acquired Black Diamond Paver Stones & Landscape in 2004,” he says. “When I was devising my business model, I pulled together the best techniques and ideas I’d encountered from my past experience while disposing of those I didn’t care for. A decade later, Black Diamond has grown from a small mom-and-pop operation to a multimillion-dollar company.”

When asked what drew him to hardscapes over other aspects of home improvement, Roger says it was the unique opportunity to improve people’s lives by enhancing their outdoor environments. “In California, we’re able to use our outdoor living spaces nine months out of the year, so they’re basically an extension of the home. I find that transforming customers’ outdoor environments often enriches their lifestyles, so the impact of our work really goes beyond the physical product.”

Originally from New Jersey, Roger settled in the Bay Area in 2000 following a five-year stint living in Australia. Today, as a resident of San Jose (where he lives with his wife, Tiffany, and son, Samuel), Roger says he appreciates the diversity of the local landscape. “I love being in a location that’s close to the mountains, ocean and city. It’s pretty marvelous that you can be waterskiing one afternoon and snow skiing the next. San Jose is also a neat place to be in business because of all the industry and technology.”

Outside of work, Roger engages in a variety of active pastimes, including skiing and boating. “During the winter, I moonlight as a ski instructor at Squaw Valley, which is something I’ve been doing since high school,” he says. “My family and I also like to go boating and waterskiing at the California Delta.” In addition to these outdoor pursuits, Roger likes collecting antique model trains and vintage cars.

In regard to his professional career, Roger espouses the centrality of customer satisfaction. “One of our mottos is, ‘Never leave a customer behind,’” he explains. “To us, customer satisfaction is no joke, and it’s never OK for a customer to be disappointed with our work, regardless of the circumstances. We’ll spend as much time, money and energy as necessary to make sure the client is happy by the project’s end.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Roger says he’d hit the slopes. “In addition to doing more skiing, I would do instructing on a full-time basis. I’d also like to start mentoring young entrepreneurs to help them succeed in their business endeavors.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person?
A: A cat person.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Almaden Sushi in Almaden.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: Action/adventure.

Q: Who’s your favorite actor?
A: Bruce Willis. My favorite film of his is “The Fifth Element.”

Q: Pancakes or waffles?
A: Pancakes.

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Tips for Installing Outdoor Porcelain Tile


SAN JOSE — Porcelain tile has long been used for home interior design, but it has only recently been applied to the outdoors. Outdoor porcelain tile differs from its indoor counterparts with attributes like increased thickness (2 centimeters) and nonslip… Read more

Considerations for an Outdoor Kitchen Island


SAN JOSE — An outdoor kitchen island can greatly enhance the function and enjoyment of your backyard. If you’re thinking about installing an outdoor island, here are some considerations you should take into account: Shape An outdoor kitchen island can… Read more

3 Material Choices for a New Driveway


SAN JOSE — When planning to replace your driveway, the first thing you’ll need to decide is what type of hardscape material you want to use. Essentially, you have three choices: asphalt, concrete or paving stones. Let’s look at each option in… Read more

The Benefits of Polymeric Jointing Sand


SAN JOSE — When installing a paving stone fixture, one option to consider is the application of polymeric jointing sand. Unlike regular jointing sand, this product is instilled with a glue-like substance that goes in dry but is activated by moisture,… Read more

How to Minimize Landscape Water Consumption


SAN JOSE — Most people don’t realize that the average residential lawn consumes more water than the combined usage of the entire household. That’s why many Californians have decided to remove their thirsty lawns altogether and replace them with more water-wise options.… Read more

The Benefits of Paver Sealing


SAN JOSE — Whether you have an older paving installation or are putting in a new one, it’s worthwhile to consider the benefits of having it professionally sealed. Since paving stones naturally fade over time, applying a sealer helps preserve their original… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Considerations for an Outdoor Kitchen Island

Complete Video Transcription:

SAN JOSE — Roger Van Alst: When you're looking at building an outdoor island, there are certain considerations that you definitely want to take into… Read more

Rich Kerri is a 33-year veteran of the landscaping industry and owner of Kerri Landscape Services, a Diamond Certified company since 2009. He can be reached at (925) 567-3965 or by email.

Rich Kerri

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Rich Kerri: Alfresco Architect

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

LIVERMORE — Rich Kerri originally wanted to design buildings for a living, but he eventually found he was better suited for designing landscapes. “All through junior high and high school, I planned on becoming an architect,” he recounts. “I even took drawing classes to get ahead of the game. At one point, I started doing landscaping work as a summer job. I found that I enjoyed working outdoors and seeing the results of my work firsthand. Over time, I realized it might be a better option for me to learn about horticulture and landscape design than go through all the math courses required to be an architect. Ultimately, I decided to go that route, and it has worked out great!”

Today, as owner of Kerri Landscape Services, Rich says his favorite part of his job is watching projects go from conception to completion. “I really like seeing an idea come to life. It usually starts as a pencil drawing and then gradually becomes something real and tangible, so it’s always fulfilling to see the finished product.”

A resident of Livermore (where he lives with his wife and business partner, Debbie) Rich expresses his appreciation for the Bay Area’s temperate weather and diverse topography. “Besides working outdoors, I do a lot of outdoor activities in my free time. Living in the Bay Area, the great weather and diverse landscape afford me the opportunity to pursue a lot of different things, which makes life a lot more fun.”

When he’s not hard at work, Rich says he’s usually hard at play. “I work long days so I can take big days off. I really like motorsports, whether it’s boating in the delta or riding ATVs in the desert. Basically, if it has a motor, I’ll play with it.” Besides going big with his hobbies, Rich also likes to go big with traveling. “My wife and I make it a point to travel regularly. We went to Germany last year and just recently got back from a safari in Africa.” In addition to sports and travel, Rich enjoys spending time with his two grown children, Katie and Clay, both of whom live in San Francisco.

In regard to his professional career, Rich espouses the importance of keeping customers satisfied. “Our company byline is, ‘The ultimate in customer satisfaction,’ and we make sure our work and service reflect that,” he explains. “We always try to give homeowners the best value for their money. Even if we have to cut into our margin, we’d rather lose money than leave a client feeling short-changed.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Rich says he’d get started on his to-do list. “I’m not the kind of guy who can just sit around, so I’d need to find something to keep myself occupied. To start, I’d probably finish some projects around my house and do some maintenance on my vehicles. Between my property and my toys, I have quite a few things to keep me busy.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1965 Ford pickup.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of food?
A: Mexican.

Q: What’s your favorite Bay Area brewery?
A: Altamont Beer Works in Livermore.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Action movies and Westerns.

Q: Who’s your favorite Western movie actor?
A: John Wayne.

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The Benefits of Bark Mulch


LIVERMORE — If you’re looking for an economical way to improve the look and performance of your garden or landscape, consider adding a new layer of bark mulch. Bark mulch offers several functional benefits, including: Water retention Mulch decreases evaporation, which… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Benefits of Bark Mulch

Complete Video Transcription:

LIVERMORE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re looking for an economical way to improve your garden’s looks and performance, consider the benefits of bark mulch. Today we’re… Read more




  • Dr. Earth

  • Lilly Miller

  • Rincon-Vitova Insectaries

  • Belgard

  • CalStone

  • Pacific Nurseries of California

  • Weathermatic

  • Basalite

  • Rain Bird

  • Keystone

Kichler Landscape Lighting
Intermatic Landscape Lighting
Hampton Bay Landscape Lighting
Hadco Lighting
McNear Brick & Block
Baselite Outdoor Lighting
Calstone Landscape Paving
FX Luminaire Lighting
Rain Bird Irrigation
Unique Outdoor Lighting
Hunter Irrigation
Toro Landscape Equipment
Monrovia Plants
Irritrol Irrigation Systems
Kim Lighting
Dixon Landscape Materials
Keystone Retaining Walls
Jain Irrigation Systems
Orbit Irrigation Systems
Netafim Drip Irrigation

landscape design
new landscape installation
landscape lighting installation
landscape supplies
backyard landscaping services
front yard landscaping installation
garden landscaping
landscaping rock installation
landscape maintenance
pool area landscaping
commercial landscaping services
residential landscaping installations
patio landscaping
hillside landscaping plans
small landscape gardens
privacy landscaping design
xeriscape design & installation
water-efficient landscaping
hardscaping / hardscape design
flower garden design & installation
landscape management
garden plant selection & installation
landscape edging design

Castro Valley
Komandorski Village
Mount Eden
Russell City
San Leandro
San Lorenzo
Union City


Know What You Want
Clarifying Your Needs: What to Ask Yourself Before Hiring an Alameda County Landscape Contractor

The first step towards creating a professional landscape in your outdoor space is to clearly understand exactly why you are seeking professional help with your yard. You have to know why you want to change the look of your landscape before a professional landscaper can begin the process of transformation.

Being honest with yourself about the state of your budget for any outdoor project will also be very helpful in starting a defined search for an Alameda County landscape contractor. As with any home-improvement project, a budget must be tentative and allow for setbacks or complications, but you must have a number in mind before you begin.

To truly be ready to answer the question of “how much,” you will need to clarify what exactly needs to happen with your space, how much of your landscape you are going to tackle and the basic idea of what you want the transformation to look like. You don’t have to come up with a design (that is why you are hiring a professional), but you do need to have some small idea as to what you are looking for so that you know how to plan, especially when it comes to creating a budget.

In order to help you create a tentative plan and budget, take a look at the questions below. Answer them honestly for yourself, and you will be well on your way to beginning the real process of hiring a good landscape contractor in Alameda County, including those that serve the cities of Oakland, Hayward, San Leandro, Union City and Newark and beyond.

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified landscaping company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  • Am I looking for a landscape contractor to increase the value of my property?
  • Do I want to increase my enjoyment with my outdoor space?
  • Do I have water and/or energy concerns that are prompting my need for a landscape contractor?
  • Am I attempting to create a safe environment for children and/or pets with a new landscape?
  • What outdoor activities does my current landscape allow for? What would I like a professional landscape to support?
  • Do I have any idea what style I am looking for (English garden, new age tranquility garden, etc.) or do I need professional help with that step as well?
  • What features am I interested in (water fountains, rock gardens, waterfalls, built-in barbecuing space, etc.)?
  • What materials do I like best (granite, stone, wood, etc.)?
  • How big of an area (in square feet) am I looking to revamp?
  • What is the current state of my outdoor space (rough dirt and rock, basic grass, terraced, etc.)?
  • How much am I willing and/or able to spend on this landscaping project?
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What To Ask In Person
Questions to Ask Local Landscaping Contractors in Person

Once you have completed enough phone interviews to feel confident in narrowing down your choices for a good Alameda County landscaping company, you are now ready to invite some local landscapers to visit your home or business to answer some questions and provide an in-person estimate.

Use the following questions to help you hire the right landscape contractor for you once you have visited some select firms.

  1. Do you specialize in the sort of landscaping design and/or installation I am looking for?
  2. Can you help me identify plants that work well in our Alameda County climate?
  3. How long do you think it will take to complete my proposed project?
  4. Is it your policy to provide a written contract for all new landscaping?
  5. Do you provide landscaping maintenance? Are there any discounts for customers who have you design and/or do the initial installation?
  6. If permits have to be obtained for my proposed project, who is responsible for securing those, are you or am I?
  7. Will I be assigned one designer and/or contractor to work with throughout my project, or does your company float designers and/or contractors?
  8. Can you provide me with ten new addresses and contacts for landscaping installations you have done recently and (if you provide maintenance) five new addresses for landscaping maintenance that you are working on currently?
  9. Can I see certified proof of your contractor’s license, liability insurance and workmen’s compensation?
  10. Do you hold any other professional credentials or belong to any associations?
  11. May I review your portfolio?
  12. How quickly after we solidify my landscaping plan can I expect a contract?
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  • What To Ask References
    Questions to Ask References of Alameda County Landscape Contractors

    It is difficult to be sure that the Alameda County landscape company you choose is the best fit for you. But with Diamond Certified on your side, you can have confidence in your choice.

    It’s best to choose a Diamond Certified landscape contractor because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a landscape contractor in Alameda County, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies.

    And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified landscape contractor that serves your area, you’ll have to do some research on your own. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your contractor.

    Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by the landscaping firm are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers. So the contractors will likely give you a few customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the company’s 10 most recent customers with projects similar to yours. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied.

    Use the following questions to learn all you can from the references you receive from your Alameda County landscaping contractor.

    1. Did this landscaping contractor provide open and timely communication throughout your project?
    2. Did this landscape contractor ensure that he/she left your outdoor space safe for your family and pets during the project’s completion?
    3. Did this Alameda landscaping contractor clean up the worksite each day?
    4. Did this landscape contractor keep ahead of delays as much as possible and give good warning if a delay was unavoidable?
    5. Was the project completed within the time frame and your agreed-upon budget?
    6. Did this contractor keep current with all building codes and permits?
    7. If this contractor is providing landscaping maintenance, are you happy with their response time and maintenance service?
    8. Were you satisfied with their service? Would you/have you recommended this contractor?
    9. Would you hire this local landscaping contractor again?
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  • Review Your Options
    Hiring a Good Landscape Contractor in Alameda County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    Alameda County Landscaping contractors stand as one of the most complicated pieces of the home improvement industry puzzle. Some contractors work on relatively small tasks like mulch delivery and installation, seasonal planting, sprinkler systems, etc. Larger landscaping firms help clients draft a plan for their outdoor space that will have the neighbors heads turning and fingers dialing a landscape professional of their own.

    Whether you live in the larger cities of Fremont, Berkeley, Alameda, Pleasanton and Dublin or the smaller cities of Albany, Castro Valley, Emeryville, Mount Eden, Piedmont and Sunol, both types of landscaping companies can be found. You should understand your needs before making a final decision on who to hire.

    Once you’ve decided on the kind of landscaping project you have on your hands and the type of company you want to hire, you’ll need to be aware that landscaping can get expensive. According to commercial data, the average cost to install landscaping for residential properties is $4,000.

    Your project may fall under or over the national average, but there are ways to get good value for whatever monetary amount you decide to spend.

    Of course, your choice of a landscaping contractor is one of the biggest factors in gaining value for the money you spend on your outdoor oasis. So before deciding on the best landscaping contractor in Alameda County for you, it’s important to consider the following questions.

    1. Have I carefully assessed my needs, measured my property and done appropriate prior research to understand the type of landscaping firm I need to hire?
    2. Do I have an idea of the design I am looking to implement, or do I need help with that initial step?
    3. What is my budget for this project?
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  • How To Work With
    Step by Step: What to Expect When Working with Landscaping Companies

    Now that you’ve hired an Alameda County landscape company, you will want to be prepared for the process of working with them for the best results.

    Although each landscaping contractor works in their own way, the following steps are a generalized plan for the process of working with your landscape contractor.

    1. Initial consultation interview: This will happen at your outdoor site. The contractor should ask to hear your version of the transformation that will take place, review the property, discuss initial design plans and discuss your options according to your budget and needs. From this interview, a tentative design and contract can be built.
    2. Questionnaire or review interview: Synthesis of every wish and option talked about during the first consultation. This can also include an actual questionnaire complete with pictures of other designs to review and give comments on. Your color palette for the project should be finalized at this step.
    3. In-depth site analysis: The contractor should take photos, completely measure the space, analyze your soil, look into any building codes or permits needed, note weather patterns and drainage issues as well as slate any existing plant material for relocation or removal.
    4. Concept sketching and plan development: Once there is an agreed-upon base plan, your contractor should offer other ideas and options for your space. After these have been discussed, the final design can be approved. Final design needs to include everything from site elements to material specifications, irrigation system determination to plant installation.
    5. Ground-breaking: The start date for the project, usually beginning with the removal and rearrangement any existing landscape.
    6. Site observation: Your contractor should visit your project periodically to monitor installation and answer any questions or concerns that may have arisen. This is the time to bring up any changes to the design that you are considering.
    7. Plant installation: This is one of the final steps to completing your landscaping project and your contractor needs to ensure that you are an integral part of the process. You need to understand the plants that are going to be part of your outdoor life for years to come.
    8. Final on-site interview: Your contractor should take a walk-through your project with you upon completion to review any last instructions and to answer any last questions you might have. This is the time to make sure your satisfaction is met in regards to any contractual elements.

    Remember that your Alameda County landscape contractor may work a little differently through these steps, but the process should look similar and the main details should still be included, even if they happen at differing times.

    Benefits of Working with Alameda County Landscape Contractors
    You may wonder if it is worth all the trouble to look for and hire an Alameda County landscape contractor. Do-it-yourself landscaping can seem like an attractive way to save money.

    But consider these factors: do you have the knowledge of what plants work for your yard, your climate, your commitment to outdoor life? Do you understand how to irrigate so that you are not wasting money on plants that won’t survive? Do you have the expertise to install any high-end features you may be considering such as an outdoor kitchen or waterfall?

    Professional landscapers in Alameda County can provide you with all the knowledge, expertise and experience it will take to turn your bland yard into an outdoor oasis. Benefits of working with a trustworthy landscape contractor include:

    • Increase your property value (in some cases, by as much as 15 percent)
    • Enhance your outdoor space with their specialized knowledge of the land and climate
    • Bring focus to your vision for transforming your outdoor space and a design that incorporates energy (and therefore money) saving tips
    • Installation of irrigation, sprinkler, lighting systems, etc. that take special know-how and improve your project to a new level

    Doing landscaping projects by yourself may seem to save you costs up front, but hiring a knowledgeable Alameda County landscape contractor can save you a lot more time, money and headache in the long run.

    Understanding Bonds: Working with Your Alameda County Landscape Contractor
    Licensed bonds are mandated for Alameda County landscape contractors, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your job will be completed in the way or in the timeframe that you were hoping for.

    Payment and performance bonds are the next best thing to helping you make sure you get the work you pay for. Although nothing can really ensure that your project will be completed, these bonds give a financial guarantee against mechanics’ liens; these can be filed against you if your landscape contractor does not pay subcontractors or suppliers that they use. Payment and performance bonds also provide a certain amount of money to finish a project if your contractor will not do it.

    Remember that this bond should include the total estimated cost, to fully cover any expenses you may be left with. You should know that these bonds can cost one to five percent over the total price, but you have to weigh how much it will gain you in the end if something goes wrong.

    Another reason to look for an Alameda County landscape contractor with more experience, whether you live in the larger cities of Fremont, Berkeley, Alameda, Pleasanton and Dublin or the smaller cities of Ashland, Cherryland, Livermore, Russell City and San Lorenzo, is because contractors who are new to the landscaping world may not be able to obtain these payment and performance bonds.

    There is one other option to give your project a sense of security, especially if your contractor is unable to obtain a bond. Joint control companies specialize in construction, both building and landscaping. These companies receive your payment and then distribute it to your contractor and its suppliers, subcontractors, etc.

    A joint control company should take a look at the final project before paying out your money and also provide a warranty against any mechanics’ liens. Your Alameda County landscape contractor should be able to provide you with names of these type of companies.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Customer When Dealing with Landscaping Companies?

    It’s the landscape contractor’s responsibility to put in quality landscapes using the best possible installation techniques. But you play a big part in the success of your landscape contractor, too.

    Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring an Alameda County landscape contractor.

    • Be clear and upfront with the landscape contractor. Let them know what you want, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways your landscaping company can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way in earning and maintaining trust.
    • Before you hire a landscape contractor in Alameda County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the firm’s representative your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local landscape contractors occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your landscaping contractor if you should call to check on the progress or if he/she will call you with updates.
    • Be sure your service representative has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re working on your yard. The work will move along more smoothly if your contractor can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or work authorizations.
    • When your contractor contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the landscaping project on schedule.
    • Pay for the landscaping work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Landscape contractors in Alameda County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Check the Landscaping Services Before Settling Your Invoice

You’ll want to be careful about how and when you make payments to your Alameda County landscape contractor. If it is your first time working with the company, you want to make sure that the job will get done before you put money into it. Be especially guarded against contractors who ask for any amount before starting your project.

Most Alameda County contractors do not require a down payment, although they may request their payment in installments over the length of the project. If a down payment is expected, remember that the legal limit for home improvement projects is only 10 percent of the total estimated cost of the job or $1,000, whichever comes out to less.

If you have requested a payment and performance bond or are using a joint control company, this down payment cap does not count. You’ll need to make sure that any down payment or payment schedule is written in your contract and always make payments by money order or check, never cash.

Finally, do not pay your last installment until the landscaping project meets your expectations and the specifications outlined in your contract. Even small things, such as cleaning up any remaining trash or yard construction debris in your yard should be the responsibility of your landscaping contractor, and to protect yourself, it is always best to withhold final payments until you are completely satisfied.

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Written Warranties
Request Written Contracts from Alameda County Landscape Contractors

California law states that home improvement projects over $500 must be agreed upon in writing. It is in your best interest, even if your landscaping project is under that amount, that you request a written contract from the landscaping company you are about to hire.

Valid landscaping services contracts should always include the following:

  • The legal name, address, contractor’s state license number and telephone number of the landscaping contractor
  • Registration number of any employee involved on the project
  • A detailed description of the work to be completed and materials list (including quantity and type of plants and irrigation equipment)
  • Any warrantees or guarantees (including verbal contracts) on landscaping work, equipment and materials
  • Approximate start and end date
  • A statement holding the landscape contractor to clean up and removal of all job-related detritus after the completion of the project
  • A statement explaining any building permits needed or codes to be followed and the ways to protect yourself and your property
  • A statement that the contractor will uphold his/her bond, if one exists

After signing the contract, changes that you and/or your landscape contractor make in the work or materials to be use must be added in writing. The change order must also include any increases or reductions in the total job price.

If you have carefully planned the job and selected a licensed Alameda County landscape contractor, the job should progress without any major problems.

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Top 10 Requests
Common Requests Made of Landscaping Companies in Alameda County

Landscaping ideas can be as varied as the number of people who own homes and want to beautify their outdoor spaces. It is difficult to narrow down what clients of Alameda County landscape contractors generally want when they hire a landscaping firm to help with their outdoor transformation.

However, the following 10 elements of landscaping design are some of the most commonly requested features for outdoor installation. Talk with your Alameda County landscape contractor, including those in Fremont, Berkeley, Alameda, Pleasanton and Dublin, to see what they are willing and/or able to accomplish in your outdoor space.

Flower gardens and/or plant gardens
Most commonly thought of as landscaping, flowers and plants are just one of the many ways landscape contractors improve the beauty and value of your home. Their expertise can help you choose the right flowers and plants to flourish in your yard.

Outdoor lighting
Not often associated with the landscape, outdoor lighting is actually an integral part of providing beauty and safety to your outdoor space. Landscape contractors will either be trained to do this part themselves or hire a subcontractor who specializes in lighting to accomplish your design.

Stone walkways
The more natural choice for walkways in your outdoor space, stone can enhance the look of your yard without adding a lot of man-made material. Stone walkways also help showcase any spaces that have been landscaped without a lot of traffic to ruin planted areas.

Your Alameda County landscape contractor can help you decide on the material best suited to your outdoor space for installing a patio. Adding a patio can enhance not only the beauty of your yard, but also the usability.

Water features are a fantastic way to bring interest and depth to your landscape. Fountains help contain the water to a smaller, more manageable space and you can work with your Alameda County landscape contractor to find one that fits your style and budget.

Outdoor kitchens and fire pits
Like adding another room to your house, the outdoor kitchen and fire pit truly adds measureable value to your property. While this can be a costly element to landscaping, your contractor can work with you to find an outdoor kitchen and/or fire pit that scales to meet your needs.

Koi ponds
Fish add an instant sense of true nature to your outdoor space not accomplished by any other feature. Koi ponds are popular for those homeowners who are willing to keep up the effort it takes to maintain them. Discuss maintenance with your Alameda County landscape contractor, as it can be extensive.

Natural streams and custom waterfalls
Another water feature with a little more natural credibility than a fountain, the stream and/or waterfall can immediately transform an outdoor space into a magical oasis. This feature also changes the types of plants that can be introduced into your yard, as it adds natural irrigation and watering capabilities.

Brick paver walkways
Similar to a stone walkway, the brick paver walkway enables you to direct outdoor traffic in your landscaped space and keep trampling to a minimum. Brick pavers are much more uniform and suited to a design that incorporates more rigid lines between naturally occurring landscapes and man-made features.

Helpful with erosion control and drainage issues, terracing can be a lovely way to address difficulties with your outdoor space. Your Alameda County landscape contractor can provide many options for accomplishing this look while incorporating your other design wants and needs.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Terms for Landscaping Companies

Landscape contracting and the landscaping business in general have a specific language that may sometimes feel like a code that needs cracking. The following list of terms and definitions should help you navigate your way when hiring and working with your Alameda County landscape contractor.

air rights
A type of easement which allows a contractor to build over a street or structure.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
A professional society that represents landscape architects betters their practice and understanding through education, research, state registration, etc.

base plan
A plan showing site boundaries and features, used as a basis for further development.

building codes
Regulations that specify the type of methods and materials allowed on a project.

building permit
An authorization dispensed by a government agency which permits construction of a project according to agreed-upon specifications.

built environment
A man-made creation or alterations to an outdoor space, including its natural resources.

Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD)
A digital design program that produces precise plans for landscaping projects.

Also known as: CAD, computer aided design
The form of the land. Contour lines are map lines which are used to show and measure slope and drainage.

The safeguard, improvement and use of natural resources according to principles that will guarantee economic or social benefits for our environment now and in the future.

conservation plan
A plan for protecting natural or manufactured resources. Used as a tool in making decisions regarding soil, water, vegetation, manufactured objects and other resources.

The creative illustration, planning and specification of outdoor space for utility, value and beauty.

Where water escapes from a land surface or subsurface, through sewers or natural means.

The legal grant to use an area of designated property.

How the land slopes. Grading is the process of changing the degree of the slope in order to promote drainage and landscape design.

Things that are added to a landscape, such as paving stones, gravel, walkways, irrigation systems, roads, retaining walls, sculpture, street amenities, fountains, etc.

International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)
A multinational organization of landscapers whose purpose is the advancement of landscape design.

The amount of land that can be seen at a glance.

landscape architect
A professional who designs outdoor spaces from whole ecosystems to residential sites

Also known as: designer, planner, consultant

landscape architecture
The science and art of design of the land involving natural and built elements and concern for resource conservation to improve outdoor spaces. Effective landscape architecture makes the most of the land, adds value to a project and minimizes costs, all while minimizing negative effects to nature.

landscape contractor
A trained installer of landscapes who implements the plans of landscape architects.

manipulation of space
The organization of land for aesthetic or functional design. Refers to the building of small backyard patios to huge urban plazas.

master plan
An initial plan showing proposed development. Master plans show phases of work needing to be completed and are therefore subject to changes over time.

natural resources
Elements naturally occurring in an area that can be used to fulfill human needs, including air, soil, water, native vegetation, etc.

site plan
A drawing including dimensions that indicates the form and physical objects existing in an outdoor space and those still to be built.

The naturally occurring elements landscape architects work with, such as plant materials.

Legal land-use control and building regulations usually implemented by a municipality, involving the designation of land areas for specific purposes.

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Alameda County Landscape Companies

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified landscape contractor in Alameda County?A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a landscape contractor in Alameda County with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only Alameda landscape contractors rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified landscaping company.

Q: What services can an Alameda County landscape contractor provide?
A: A good landscape contractor will be able to hear your vision and provide insight on what can work with your space and the local climate. They will start by crafting a plan that fits your specific needs and vision. Your contractor will manage the people, materials and equipment needed to produce the transformation to your outdoor space. They are also in charge of any building permits and your safety during the project’s completion. A really good landscape contractor will give you a final product that maintains itself as much as possible and performs as good as it looks.

Q: When should we hire an Alameda County landscape contractor?
A: There is not a point too soon at which you should look for a licensed contractor. As soon as you are dedicated to landscaping your space, which means you need to know what you don’t like about your current yard and what you would want installed to make it more enjoyable, then you are ready to begin your search. Hiring a licensed contractor early in the process can help you keep from making costly mistakes and heightens the chances that you will be pleased with the final outcome.

Q: How can I make sure I am hiring the best possible landscape contractor?
A: Seeking out a Diamond Certified landscape contractor is always the best place to begin. Beyond that you should ask around to see if any family, friends, neighbors or co-workers have hired contractors that they would recommend. It is essential to hire a contractor who is familiar with the type of project you are looking to complete. Pay attention to the services and experience of every company you interview.

Q: What is the best indicator that I have hired the right landscape contractor?
A: Research indicates that the number one way people can tell they will be satisfied with the final results of their landscaping project is whether or not they were able to communicate effectively with the landscape contractor from the beginning of their professional relationship. Your contractor should make you feel comfortable to bring up any questions or concerns that arise along the way. In addition, you should be confident that your landscape contractor understands from the outset what you believe your transformation should look like. Ask many clarifying questions as you work on a plan together to make sure that you are on the same wavelength as your contractor.

Q: Why should I look for a licensed landscape contractor?
A: Licensed contractors are bonded against negligent work and any breaches of contract. In addition, licensed contractors in the state of California are required to serve in the field for at least four years before applying for a license. Hiring a licensed contractor ensures that the company working on your outdoor space has professional experience and has passed an exam that tests their knowledge of the field extensively.

Q: How much expense will hiring a landscape contractor add to my project?
A: You will pay for the expertise of a landscape contractor, but hiring the right one can in fact save you a lot of money. The expertise you pay for will let you know exactly what features your outdoor space is suited for and what can be installed with ease and less expense. You won’t waste nearly as much money and they can also help you seriously reduce maintenance costs following the installation of a well-planned landscape. In addition, because of the man and machine power at their disposal, they can complete projects in much less time than it would take you to do the same thing.

Q: How do landscape contractors charge?
A: Landscape contractors can charge based on time it takes to complete a project, an agreed-upon project fee, a percentage of the cost of the total work done or by the square foot area of the project. You should be clear on how a contractor charges before you enter into a professional relationship with them, ask for a detailed estimate and always work under a specified contract.

Q: What is my role in the process of landscaping my space?
A: You will need to clearly share your design wants, decide on a workable budget and provide insight into how the design will affect the livability and enjoyment of your space. A trustworthy landscaping contractor from Alameda County will continue to communicate with you throughout the process and be available to lend advice and design suggestions. You need to feel like a partner in the process and informed along the way.

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