ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Springtime means summer is not far behind when we spend more time outside with many of us enjoying the backyard. Lawn care businesses can help get your yard, and landscaping, camera-ready.

The Better Business Bureau has some advice you should follow before hiring a company. Sarah Wetzel with the BBBB says that you should ask at least three companies for bids. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.

More advice to hire a lawncare company from the BBB:

  • Remember the rule of thirds. If you’re getting a new patio, deck or major landscaping, consider paying a third of the contract amount to secure the contract, a third when the work is half done and the final third only after the job is completed and you are satisfied with the work.
  • Ask for a lawn inspection and free estimate. Lawn care companies quoting a price without seeing your lawn cannot be sure of what you need. A landscaper will need to measure the area where the patio or deck will go and consider access to the yard. Quality companies will offer an estimate after they see the condition of your property.
  • Ask about the company’s insurance. Does it carry workers’ compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.
  • Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed. The contractor should be aware of any permits or inspections that may be required. If digging is required, make sure someone notifies utility authorities by calling “811” at least 2-3 days in advance so utility workers can mark underground utility lines.
  • Find out what to do if you are dissatisfied with the service or product. Some providers will replace plants that die within a certain period. Ask how quickly the company will return to correct problems. Know who to call for customer service issues.
  • Ask for a contract. Get any verbal promises in writing. The contract should describe in detail the services and products provided, the billing rate and payment schedule. Make sure the contract includes the start date and expected completion date.
  • Are you all right with chemical treatments for lawn and landscaping maintenance? If you have young children or pets, you might want to choose a green, pet-friendly lawn care service.