Part One – How to choose a landscaping company in Atlanta

If you’re looking to choose a landscaping company to turn your yard into your own personal Garden of Eden, then you’ll enjoy today’s article! We interviewed Brooks Hutcheson of Hutcheson Horticultural in Woodstock, GA for this two-part article. He’s going to share lots of great tips to help you find the ideal landscaping company.


In Part One of this article, we’ll talk about what a horticulturist is and why you want one to work on your lawn. We’ll also talk about some of the things you should look at before hiring a landscaping company.

Brooks explained that Hutcheson Horticultural is a family business. “My dad is a horticulturist that started a landscaping business,” he said. “It gives us an edge. How many landscaping companies do you know that have a university-trained horticulturist on staff? I grew up helping my dad with the business. When I got out of college, Dad offered me a job. Today I am the client relationship manager. One day I’ll run the company. I love this business – and I’m in it to win it!”

What is a horticulturist and why should you want one working on your yard?

That may be a new word for some of us. Basically, horticulture is the science of growing plants. It also includes the study of plants and landscape/garden design and maintenance.

In other words, not all landscapers are horticulturists. It requires getting a bachelor’s degree, having several years of work experience, and successfully passing a state licensing exam.

How does having a horticulturist on a landscaping team make a difference? Brooks told us, “We’re horticulturally sound. What does that mean? It means that some landscapers plan things on how they will look in your yard. It sounds good in theory. However, it often causes problems.”

On the other hand, when a landscaper designs things that are horticulturally sound they take the following questions into account:

  • What’s the pH of your soil like? Do you have chronic lawn issues? Have your soil tested. A horticulturist will pinpoint your soil’s pH level and identify any missing nutrients. They’ll also prescribe the best course of treatment, for example spreading limestone if the soil is acidic or sulfur if it’s overly alkaline.
  • Is your soil too compacted?
  • Do you have drainage issues?
  • Is there the right amount of sun or too much sun?
  • Is there too much shade? Shade-loving plants seek the shelter provided by nearby trees. In turn, these plants protect the forest floor from erosion with their thick tangle of shallow roots.
  • Will the chosen plants actually be able to grow and thrive in your yard?
  • Will the different plants be able the thrive side-by-side?
  • Do you have a vegetable garden? Which vegetables thrive when planted next to each other? Which vegetables suffer when you plant them too close to each other?
  • How close should your vegetable garden be to your flower garden? For example, did you know that beans and potatoes do poorly when planted too close to sunflowers?
  • How much mulch should you put around the trees? Here’s a tip: Sometimes people pile the mulch so thick around the tree they create mulch volcanoes that will slowly kill the tree.
  • When is it the right time and wrong time to prune your trees and bushes?

If you’re going to spend money on sod, shrubs, plants, bushes, and trees, you might as well hire a landscaper that’s a horticulturist to make sure that your lawn and garden are designed to thrive.

What are some things a person should look for before hiring a landscaping company?

“Look for someone that loves what they do!” Brooks said. “If they love landscaping like we do, it’ll come across when they work on your backyard. When we bid a job, we treat the project like it’s our own landscaping project. In other words, we never cheat customers by cutting corners. We always look for ways to give more than we were asked to do.”

How do you find someone that loves their job to work on your yard? “Ask for referrals from friends, family, and colleagues,” Brooks suggested. “Landscaping is one of those services where you want a reference from someone that you know and trust. In fact, word of mouth is the biggest way we’ve grown our business. You want to ask them not only about the work [the company] did for them… But how much did [the landscaper] care about them?”

“This goes back to giving more than you are under contract to do,” Brooks added. “For example, we have a big HOA contract here in Kennesaw. We are under contract to do 3,000 bales of pine straw two times a year. We also regularly mow many acres of land for them. Now here’s the point: we look for ways to provide value above and beyond what our contract requires. Recently our workers finished earlier than expected. Looking to take advantage of the extra time they had, they cleared out all of the underbrush in the wild space on the client’s property. That’s what you want – someone that goes above and beyond what is expected of them. Someone that cares about the project like it’s their own home.”

How about on-line reviews? Brook told us, “The best place for honest on-line reviews is Google, Angieslist and Home Advisor. In fact, Home Advisor has bulletproof reviews, in my opinion, because they qualify the contractors beforehand. However, I still believe in the importance of talking to referrals face-to-face or on the phone so they can share their story of how much the landscaper cared about them.”


And that concludes Part 1 of our series on what to look for in an Atlanta landscaping company! In Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss the common ways landscapers may cut corners on your project. We look forward to seeing what Brooks of Hutcheson Horticultural has to say on this!

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