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Why Trust Diamond Certified Landscape Contractors Rated Highest in Quality?

Photo: Healy Landscape Construction, Inc. (2012)

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

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

Stephen Wood is Responsible Managing Officer of EW Landscape, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (650) 720-5995 or by email.

Stephen Wood

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Stephen Wood: Open Range

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

MENLO PARK — Following college graduation, Stephen Wood had found himself in an occupational cul de sac, working as the assistant manager of a coffee shop. Thanks to a long-time acquaintance, however, he was given an opportunity that opened the door to a lifelong career. “In high school, I dated a young lady and got to be pretty good friends with her father, who was one of the first commercial landscape contractors in the Bay Area,” he recalls. “He and I had stayed in touch over the years, and one day he made me an offer to come work for him, which was by far a better opportunity than anything else I had going.”

Stephen spent the next twelve years gaining experience as a landscaping professional, before striking out on his own in 1989. Today, as owner of EW Landscape, he says his favorite part of his job is devising ways to make his customers’ landscapes more water-wise. “From the mechanics of moving water to modern innovations in devices and techniques, I find irrigation fascinating. Plus, as we head into the fourth year of the current drought in California, it’s become a major environmental concern, so I get a lot of satisfaction from improving irrigation efficiency on my customers’ properties.”

A resident of Menlo Park (where he lives with his wife, Lois), Stephen considers the Bay Area an ideal place to be in the landscaping business. “In the Bay Area, you might say landscaping is a ‘24/7’ job, because you can plant nearly any time of the year,” he says. “For us, business is ongoing, whereas, in other parts of the country, landscapers are out of work three or four months out of the year due to winter conditions.”

Outside of work, Steve likes to spend the bulk of his time outdoors, exploring the natural beauty of Northern California. “I really enjoy the outdoors, and California is one of those places where you can access a lot of amazing areas within a relatively short distance,” he says. “I’m into hiking and camping, as well as water rafting and ocean kayaking. One thing that’s still on my bucket list is to go rafting through the Grand Canyon.” Stephen also likes to spend time with his grown son, Tyler, who works in the tech industry.

In regard to his professional career, Stephen believes it’s important to go above and beyond to ensure accuracy. “When it comes to estimates, I’ve seen what a lot of my competitors do, which consists largely of guesswork. In contrast, my estimates are usually six to seven pages long, detailing each and every line item for each category of work we’re doing. In addition to ensuring accurate pricing, I think this adds to our customers’ confidence in us.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Stephen says he’d migrate to a new setting. “There are places outside of California where it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg just to make the bills, which would be nice for a change. I’d love to live somewhere like New Mexico or Montana, and do what I’ve dreamed about since I was five years old: be a cowboy.”

Ask Me Anything!

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

Q: What is your favorite season of the year and why?
A: Fall, for the colors.

Q: If you could travel to any country in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I’d like to go back to England. My family lived in London for about a year when I was young, and the English struck me as a people with a very rich, detailed history.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: A rope.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving—none of the gift giving, but all of the family.

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Repurposing Wine Bottles for Landscape Irrigation


MENLO PARK — After enjoying a bottle of wine, you probably discard the empty bottle into the recycling bin. However, did you know that empty bottle can be used to irrigate a plant on your landscape? Here’s how it works: Fill the… Read more

How to Raise a Water-Wise Lawn


MENLO PARK  — As California heads into its fourth year of drought, many residents are employing alternative landscaping methods in an effort to minimize water usage. While most would assume this includes giving up one’s front or backyard lawn, this isn’t… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Repurposing Wine Bottles for Landscape Irrigation

Complete Video Transcription:

MENLO PARK — Host, Saran Rutan: If you’re a gardening enthusiast who also enjoys wine, you’ll be interested to learn about an innovative, water-saving use for your old… Read more




  • Dr. Earth

  • Lilly Miller

  • Rincon-Vitova Insectaries

  • Belgard

  • CalStone

  • Pacific Nurseries of California

  • Weathermatic

  • Basalite

  • Rain Bird

  • Keystone

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

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

Broadmoor Village
Daly City
East Palo Alto
El Granada
Emerald Hills
Foster City
Half Moon Bay
La Honda
Loma Mar
Menlo Park
Moss Beach
Palomar Park
Portola Valley
Princeton by the Sea
Redwood City
San Bruno
San Carlos
San Gregorio
San Mateo
Sharp Park
South SF
West Menlo Park


Know What You Want
What to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a San Mateo County Landscape Contractor

Creating a professional landscape in your outdoor space takes clearly understand 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.

Complete personal honesty about the state of your budget for any outdoor project will also be very helpful in starting a defined search for a San Mateo 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.

To develop a tentative plan and budget, take a look at 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 San Mateo County, including from any of the cities of Daly City, Redwood City, San Bruno, East Palo Alto and Foster City.

  • Do I want a Diamond Certified 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 of my outdoor space? How?
  • 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, 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 relandscape?
  • 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
In-Person Questions for San Mateo County Landscape Contractors

After you conduct as many phone interviews as needed to feel confident in narrowing down your choices for a suitable San Mateo County landscape contractor, you are now ready to invite some of the stand-out landscape contractors to visit your home or business, whether that’s in the larger cities including Daly City, Redwood City, San Bruno, East Palo Alto and Foster City or smaller cities such as Belmont, Loma Mar, Palomar Park, San Gregorio and Sharp Park.

Use the following questions to help you hire the right landscape contractor:

  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 San Mateo 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 services?
  6. Are there any maintenance discounts for customers who have you design and/or do the initial installation?
  7. If permits have to be obtained for my proposed project, who is responsible for securing those, are you or am I?
  8. Will I be assigned one designer and/or contractor to work with throughout my project, or does your company float designers and/or contractors?
  9. 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?
  10. Can I see certified proof of your contractor’s license, liability insurance and workmen’s compensation?
  11. Do you hold any other professional credentials or belong to any associations?
  12. May I review your portfolio?
  13. How quickly after we solidify my landscaping plan can I expect a contract?
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  • What To Ask References
    Questions for References of San Mateo County Landscape Contractors

    Knowing the San Mateo County landscape contractor you end up choosing is the best fit for you can be difficult. But with Diamond Certified on your side, you can have confidence in your choice.

    That’s why choosing a Diamond Certified landscape contractor is best-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 San Mateo 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.

    Trouble locating a Diamond Certified landscape contractor in your area, especially if you live in the smaller cities of Atherton, Colma, Millbrae, Portola Valley and Woodside? 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.

    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 you’re your San Mateo County landscape contractor references.

    1. Did this contractor provide open and timely communication throughout your project?
    2. Did this contractor ensure that he/she left your outdoor space safe for your family and pets during the project’s completion?
    3. Did this San Mateo landscaping contractor clean up the worksite each day?
    4. Did this landscape company keep ahead of delays as much as possible and give good warning if a delay was unavoidable?
    5. Was the landscaping project completed within the time frame and your agreed-upon budget?
    6. Did this landscaping 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?
    9. Would you/have you recommended this contractor?
    10. Would you hire this contractor again?
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  • Review Your Options
    Hiring a Good Landscape Contractor in San Mateo County

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

    Contractors can focus on a variety of jobs from relatively small tasks like mulch delivery and installation, seasonal planting, sprinkler systems, etc. to larger scale projects like helping 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 San Mateo, South San Francisco, Pacifica, Menlo Park and Burglingame or the smaller cities of Atherton, Colma, Millbrae, Portola Valley and Woodside, both types of companies can be found and you have to understand your needs before making a final decision on who to hire.

    After you pinpoint 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 well under or well over the national average, but there are ways to get good value for whatever monetary amount you decide to spend.

    Your selection 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 San Mateo 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 landscaping project?
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  • How To Work With
    Working with Your San Mateo County Landscape Contractor's Process

    Congratulations! You’ve hired a San Mateo County landscape contractor and you want to be prepared for the process of working with them for the best results.

    Although each local landscape company has their own process, the following steps are a generalized plan for working with your landscape contractor.

    1. Initial consultation interview: The contractor should meet you at the site 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: The contractor should have developed a synthesis of every wish and option talked about during the first consultation. They may need some follow up clarification and 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 come back to your home to 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. 

    Your San Mateo 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 San Mateo County Landscape Contractors Bring to your Project
    Is it worth all the trouble to look for and hire a San Mateo County landscape contractor?

    Do-it-yourself landscaping may 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?

    Landscape contractors in San Mateo 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 the work yourself may seem to save you costs up front, but hiring a knowledgeable San Mateo County landscape contractor can save you a lot more time, money and headache in the long run.

    Understanding Bonds
    San Mateo County landscape contractors are required to have licensed bonds, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your job will be completed in the way or in the timeframe that you were hoping for.

    The next best thing to helping you get the work you pay for is the payment and performance bond. 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.

    Looking for a San Mateo County landscape contractor with more experience is a good idea, whether you live in the larger cities of San Mateo, South San Francisco, Pacifica, Menlo Park and Burglingame or the smaller cities of Belmont, Loma Mar, Palomar Park, San Gregorio and Sharp Park, is because contractors who are new to the landscaping world may not be able to obtain these payment and performance bonds.

    Joint control companies are another way to lend security to your project. They 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 San Mateo County landscape contractor should be able to provide you with names companies like these.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    Landscape Contractors Appreciate Good Customers

    Landscape contractors are responsible for putting 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 a San Mateo County landscape contractor.

    • Let your contractor 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 fostering a good working relationship.
    • Before you hire a landscape contractor in San Mateo 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 if you should call to check on the progress or if your landscape contractor will call you with regular updates on the work.
    • Provide 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.

    San Mateo County landscape contractors 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
Making Payments and Your San Mateo County Landscape Contractor

If this is your first time working with the landscaping 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 San Mateo County contractors do not require a down payment, except in the cases of special order products, although some may request payments 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.

Requesting a payment and performance bond or are using a joint control company negates this down payment cap. 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.

Lastly, don’t pay your last installment until the 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 contractor, and to protect yourself, it is always best to withhold final payments until you are completely satisfied.

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Written Warranties
Asking for Written Contracts, Including Landscaping Warranties

The laws of California state that home improvement projects over $500 must be agreed-upon in writing. It is still in your best interest, even if your landscaping project is under that amount, that you request a written contract.

Contracts should always include the following:

  • Name, address, contractor’s state license number and telephone number of the landscape company
  • 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 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 contractor will uphold his/her bond, if one exists

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

Carefully planning the job and selecting a licensed San Mateo County landscape contractor should help the job progress without any major problems.

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Top 10 Requests
Common San Mateo Landscaping Requests

It is hard to narrow down what clients of San Mateo County landscape contractors generally want when they hire a landscaping firm to help with their outdoor transformation.

However, the following landscaping services are some of the most commonly requested of landscape contractors in San Mateo County.

Talk with your San Mateo County landscape contractor, including those in San Mateo, South San Francisco, Pacifica, Menlo Park and Burglingame, to see what they are willing and/or able to accomplish in your outdoor space.

Flower and/or plant garden
This “softscaping” is 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
This feature 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 San Mateo 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 San Mateo County landscape contractor to find one that fits your style and budget.

Outdoor kitchens and fire pits
This feature 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 San Mateo County landscape contractor, as it can be extensive.

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
This feature 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 San Mateo 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 Clients of Landscaping Companies in San Mateo County

San Mateo 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 San Mateo County landscape contractor.

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.

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ to Discuss with San Mateo County Landscaping Companies

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified landscape contractor?

A: Going with a Diamond Certified landscape contractor offers you 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 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 a local landscape contractor in San Mateo County?
A: No time is 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: Looking for 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: They 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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