So you want to hire a gardener to perform basic landscaping maintenance on your yard? You might be thinking you’ll just hire the person who quotes you the lowest hourly rate and be done with it. Unfortunately for you, that could wind up being a huge mistake. There are several reasons you should always check to be sure your gardener is licensed, bonded, and insured.

For one thing, the state of California requires all employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance on anyone doing work for them – even if it is a one-time job. In January 2003 the state also adopted a law requiring doctors to report any injury, no matter how large or small, to the insurance company covering any particular worker. It would be instantly discovered if you were not covering your worker with insurance. Then, you are not only liable for their injuries and medical bills, but you may also be slapped with fines for violating California’s Labor Law. In a rare case you could even be prosecuted for insurance fraud.

It’s easy to imagine the snowball effect that could result from one injury, whether it’s a misadventure with the lawnmower, a fall, a strained back, or an accidental electrocution while plugging in a weed whacker. It might sound far-fetched, but people injure themselves all the time, in some pretty crazy ways, while doing yard work!

On the other hand, when you hire a licensed landscaping company to provide those services, the responsibility for insurance coverage shifts to them. A licensed landscaper will also be familiar with California’s many legal codes in regard to landscaping, such as the requirement for a license to trim a tree taller than 15 feet. It’s better to trust an expert than to expose yourself to financial liabilities and possible criminal charges over codes you didn’t even know existed.

In addition to checking for your gardener’s license, do ask for references from other customers. This helps to ensure you will receive quality work, and could help to avoid personal issues as well.

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