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Why Trust Diamond Certified Landscape Contractors Rated Highest in Quality?

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a landscape contractor in Napa County 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 satisfactiona 90+ on a 100 scaleas 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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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Napa County – Landscape – Contractor CATEGORY

Alain Joske is a 31-year veteran of the landscaping industry and owner of Inscapes, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 207-6472 or by email.

Alain Joske

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Alain Joske: Second Nature

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — Like many professionals who follow in a parent’s footsteps, Alain Joske found success by taking up the trade of his father. “My father was a landscape architect, so I’ve pretty much been involved in it all my life, to the point where it basically became second nature.” While he briefly considered an alternate career path in college, Alain’s inherited love of the outdoors won out in the end. “I was a computer science major, but I was still doing landscaping on the side,” he remembers. “One beautiful spring day, I was sitting inside writing code when I looked out the window and thought, ‘I’d rather be working outside right now.’ It was then I realized that I wanted to continue doing landscaping as a full-time career.”

Today, as owner of Inscapes, Alain says he enjoys taking on projects that spark his creative ingenuity. “I really enjoy the creative aspects of this business, especially when it comes to complex projects like water features and parkscapes. When I’m able to get a little artistic with a project, that’s when things get fun.”

A lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Alain resides in Rohnert Park with his wife, Gina, and their daughters, Taylor and Ryley. In addition to the versatile horticultural possibilities afforded by the temperate Bay Area climate, he says he appreciates the region’s topographical diversity. “What I like most about the Bay Area is there are so many different things to do in a small area. There are lots of great places to go hiking, the ocean is an hour away and the snow is just a few hours in the opposite direction. It’s just a beautiful area and I’m happy to be here.”

Outside of work, Alain enjoys a variety of pastimes, including playing softball and boating. “My family did a lot of boating when I was a kid, so, like landscaping, it’s kind of second nature to me. I have a ski boat and enjoy taking the family out for a day on Lake Mendocino.” Alain says he also likes attending social gatherings and live music events.

In his life and career, Alain espouses the significance of personal integrity. “My father always told me that personal integrity is of the utmost importance, which is something that has always stuck with me,” he says. “Having strong ethics, performing quality work, treating customers fairly and honestly—these are all big things for me, which I think is a direct reflection of the value I place on integrity.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Alain says he’d take a family vacation. “It wouldn’t really matter where—as long as I have my family around me, it’s all good.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first concert?
A: When I was 15, I saw Aerosmith and Journey perform at “Day on the Green” at the Oakland Coliseum.

Q: Do you have a favorite band or musician?
A: As a lover of rhythm and blues, bluegrass, and country music, some of my favorites are Lyle Lovett, John Prine and Merle Haggard.

Q: What’s your favorite Bay Area brewery?
A: The Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa.

Q: Pancakes or waffles?
A: Pancakes.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: My smile.

Q: Fiction or nonfiction books?
A: Nonfiction, primarily historical or financial planning books.

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The Key to Effective Landscape Watering

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ROHNERT PARK — When it comes to landscape irrigation, a common misconception is that plants need to be watered on a daily basis. In reality, by adopting strategic water-wise methods, you can easily reduce the frequency of your landscape watering… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Water Management for your Garden

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Complete Video Transcription:

ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: In order to maintain a healthy landscape, it’s important to regulate the amount of water your plants receive, Today,… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

INDUSTRY INFORMATION - Napa County – Landscape – Contractor
  • Dr. Earth

  • Lilly Miller

  • Rincon-Vitova Insectaries

  • Belgard

  • CalStone

  • Pacific Nurseries of California

  • Weathermatic

  • Basalite

  • Rain Bird

  • Keystone

American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) (http://www.anla.org/)
Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) (http://www.apld.org)
American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) (www.asla.org)
California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) (http://www.clca.org/)
CLCA Bay Area Chapter (CLCASFBA) (www.clcasfba.org)

Contractors State License Board (CSLB) (www.cslb.ca.gov)
California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) (www.dca.ca.gov)
Ecological Landscaping Association (ELA) (http://www.ecolandscping.org/)
Irrigation Association (IA) (www.irrigation.org)
International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) (http://www.landscape-ecology.org/)
Landscape Design Association (LDA) (www.ldaonline.org)
Nursery & Landscape Association Executives of North America (NLAE) (http://www.nlae.org/)
The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) (www.landcarenetwork.org)
Western Nursery and Landscape Association (WNLA) (www.wnla.org)

Know What You Want
Clarifying Your Needs Before Hiring a Napa 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 renovation.

Being honest with yourself about your budget for any outdoor project will also be very helpful in starting a defined search for a Napa 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, consider the questions below. If you answer them honestly for yourself, you will be well on your way to beginning the real process of hiring a good landscape contractor in Napa County, including from any of the cities of Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga and Yountville.

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified landscaping company in Napa County 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 landscaping style I am looking for (English garden, new age tranquility, 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 landscaping materials do I like best (granite, stone, wood, natural landscaping materials, 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
Interview Questions to Ask Landscapers in Napa County

Once you have completed enough phone interviews to feel assured in narrowing down your choices for a reliable Napa County landscape contractor, you are now ready to invite some landscapers to visit your home, whether that’s in the larger cities of Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga and Yountville or in one of the smaller cities, such as Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford.

Consider the following questions as a guide to helping you hire the right landscape contractor for you once you have visited some select firms.

  • Do you specialize in the sort of landscaping design and/or installation I am looking for?
  • Can you help me identify plants that work well in our Napa County climate?
  • How long do you think it will take to complete my proposed project?
  • Is it your policy to provide a written contract for all new landscaping?
  • Do you provide landscaping maintenance? Are there any discounts for customers who have you design and/or do the initial installation?
  • If permits have to be obtained for my proposed project, who is responsible for securing those, are you or am I?
  • Will I be assigned one designer and/or contractor to work with throughout my project, or does your company float designers and/or contractors?
  • 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?
  • Can I see certified proof of your contractor’s license, liability insurance and workmen’s compensation?
  • Do you hold any other professional credentials or belong to any associations?
  • May I review your portfolio?
  • How quickly after we solidify my landscaping plan can I expect a contract?
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  • What To Ask References
    Questions for Previous Clients of Napa County Landscape Contractors

    It is difficult to be sure that the Napa County landscape contractor you end up selecting 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 Napa 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 in your area, especially if you live in the smaller cities of Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford, you’ll have to do your own research. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your contractor.

    Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by local landscaping firms 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 landscapers are often cherry-picked instead of randomly selected. That means that the landscaping services will likely give you names of customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the landscaping service’s 10 most recent customers with projects comparable 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 landscapers' references that you call.

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

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

    Napa County landscaping contractors stand as one of the most complicated pieces of the home improvement industry puzzle.

    But whether you live in the larger cities of Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga and Yountville or the smaller cities of Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford, all types of landscaping services can be found to help with your project. You just have to 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 spendy.

    According to commercial data, the average cost to install landscaping for residential properties is $4,000. Your project may fall well under or well over that 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 acquiring value for the money you spend on your outdoor oasis. So before deciding on the best landscaping contractor in Napa County for you, it’s important to consider the following questions.

    • 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?
    • Do I have an idea of the landscape design I am looking to implement, or do I need help with that initial step?
    • What is my budget for this project?
    • Did one of the Napa County landscapers or landscape services stand out from the rest in terms of services, pricing and willingness to work with me?
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  • How To Work With
    The Step by Step Process of Working with Landscaping Services in Napa County

    Now that you’ve hired a Napa County landscape contractor, you will want to be prepared for the process of working with them for the best results. Although each contractor works in their own way, the following steps are a generalized plan for the process of working with your landscape contractor.

    Initial consultation: 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.

    Questionnaire period: 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.

    In-depth site investigation: 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.

    Concept sketching and plan expansion: Once there is an agreed-upon base plan, your landscape service representative 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.

    Ground-breaking: The start date for the landscape project, usually beginning with the removal and rearrangement any existing landscaping, plants or materials.

    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.

    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.

    Final on-site interview: Your landscaping 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. 

    Benefits to Working with Napa County Landscape Contractors
    You may wonder if it is worth all the worry to look for and hire a Napa County landscape contractor, especially if you live in a smaller city like Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford. Do-it-yourself landscaping can seem like an attractive way to save money.

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

    Professional landscapers in Napa 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 well-informed Napa County landscape contractor can save you a lot more time, money and headache in the long run.

    Understanding the Value of Bonds: Working with Napa Landscape Contractors
    Licensed bonds are mandated for Napa 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.

    Another reason to look for a Napa County landscape contractor with more experience, whether you live in the larger cities of Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga and Yountville or the smaller cities of Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford, 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 Napa County landscape contractor should be able to provide you with names of these type of companies.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    Being a Good Customer When Dealing with Napa County Landscape Contractors

    It's the landscape contractor’s responsibility to put in quality landscapes using the best possible installation techniques. However, remember that you play a major role in the success of your landscape contractor, too.

    Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Napa County landscape contractor:

    • Be clear with the contractor. Let them know what you want, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way in maintaining a good working relationship.
    • Before you hire a landscape contractor in Napa 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 honest about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your landscaping service 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.
    • Make payments for the landscaping work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Landscape contractors in Napa 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 New Landscaping Before Making a Final Payment

You’ll want to be careful about how and when you make payments to your Napa 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 Napa 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 requested, 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. Some landscapers do require downpayments for projects that will require expensive materials or special orders.

If you have demanded 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 portion until the landscaping project meets your expectations and the specifications outlined in your contract. Even small things, such as cleaning up any remaining trash in your yard should be the responsibility of your landscape contractor, and to protect yourself, it is always best to withhold final payments until you are completely satisfied.

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Written Warranties
Characteristics of Written Contracts from Napa Landscaping Services

California law states that home improvement jobs over $500 must be agreed-upon in writing. It is still in your best interest, even if your landscaping work is under that amount, that you request a written contract.

A contract should always include the following:

  • Name, address, contractor’s state license number and telephone number of the landscape contractor
  • Registration number of any landscaping company 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 work and equipment
  • Approximate start and end date
  • A statement holding the 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 landscaping contractor will uphold his/her bond, if one exists

After signing the contract, changes that you and/or the 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 carefully chosen a licensed Napa County landscape contractor, including those in the smaller cities of Angwin, Deer Park, Oakville, Pope Valley and Rutherford, the job should progress without any major problems.

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Top 10 Requests
Popular Landscaping Services in Napa County and the Bay Area

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

However, the following elements of landscaping installations are some of the most commonly requested features for outdoor installation. Talk with your Napa County landscape contractor, including those in Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga and Yountville, to see what they are willing and/or able to do in your outdoor space.

Flower gardens and/or Plant Garden
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 know-how 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 a vital 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.

Patios
Your Napa 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.

Fountains and Water Features
Water features are a fanciful 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 Napa 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, and the temperate climate of Northern California allows for fish ponds. Koi ponds are popular for those homeowners who are willing to keep up the effort it takes to maintain them. Discuss maintenance with your Napa County landscape contractor, as it can be wide-ranging.

Natural Streams and 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.

Terracing
Helpful with erosion control and drainage issues, terracing can be a lovely way to address difficulties with your outdoor space. Your Napa 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 Used By Napa Landscaping Services

Landscape contracting services have a specific language and terms that may sometimes feel like a code that needs cracking.

The following list of terms and definitions should help you when hiring and working with your Napa 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 foundation for further development.

building codes
Regulations that stipulate 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.

contour
The form of the land. Contour lines are map lines which are used to show and measure slope and drainage.

conservation
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.

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

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

easement
The legal grant to use an area of designated property.

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

hardscape
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.

landscape
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.

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

zoning
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
Frequently Asked Landscaping Questions

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified landscape contractor?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a landscape contractor with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only 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 landscape contractor.

Q: What services can a 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. They will start by crafting a plan that fits your specific needs and vision. Your landscape 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: 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 your family, friends, neighbors or co-workers about landscapers they have hired and what they would recommend you look for in a good landscaping company. It is essential to hire a landscaper who is familiar with the type of project you are looking to complete, the climate in which you live, and the plants and hardscaping that will best fit in your space. Pay attention to the services and experience of every landscaping 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 contractor 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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