Anyone can put their name on a truck and call themselves a tree care, lawn services, or gardening service company. Some companies hire immigrant workers and pay illegally low wages; others may pay workers under the table and not cover workers for injuries occurring on the job. Of course, there are those who don’t pay taxes or are otherwise on outs with one or more federal agency.
There are many ways to determine whether a company has a good reputation within the tree care or gardening service industry. Governing and trade agencies including Tree Care Industry Association [formerly the National Arborist Association] (www.tcia.org ) which hold members to set standards.
They offer accreditation, safety certification, consumer education, political and regulatory standards support and other information. They can also refer you to members in your zip code or regional area. Their website presents a host of articles and other information valuable to many, including how to verify if a company is a member. Believe it or not, some companies claim to be members and display the logo on their correspondence and equipment—but are not (nor have ever been) members in good standing.
The Southern Nursery Association in Georgia (www.sna.org ), and Water Garden Trade Associations (www.giyp.com ) are only two of dozens of gardening service trade association websites for businesses in the gardening industries. Associations in other states have their own websites.
City Gardening Magazine online provides lists of arboretums, botanical gardens, and city garden vendors, city parks, and other informative programs. The Plant Find Virtual Trade Show (http://vts.plantfind.com/shows/sponsors.asp ) provides a page full of descriptions and links for various gardening service associations and publications.
Most universities and rural communities have a branch of Cooperative Extension, but the federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) site can be found at www.csrees.usda.gov . The home page is full of interesting links, including local sites for all states in the country, state and national partners, and jobs and employment opportunities to name just a few. There is also a very comprehensive About Us link that bears attention by all prospective gardeners and prospective seekers of a gardening service or two.
One gardening service offered has become well known for includes soil sampling—many new homeowners (or people who are trying to reseed) send samples to Cooperative Extensions in their area. The agency then assists by providing information about the type of soil, how to enhance the soil, and what best to grow in the soil.
Others use another gardening service—they send samples of insects to and ask how to identify or control them. More so in the past, Cooperative Extension branches were one of the more rural agencies that were most probably created for farming communities. When all else fails, consider contacting your local Cooperative Extension branch.