Get it in writing when hiring a landscaper

Things you need to know before signing a landscape contract

Credit: Flickr / Uriah Welcome

Make sure your landscape contract includes these important points

While most jobs go smoothly, occasionally instances arise when having a contract in place with your landscape professional could save you a lot of stress, time and money.

Contracts, by law, are agreements that state clearly who agrees to do what, including how and when the job will get done. At minimum, contracts are legally binding documents which provide a concise and clear explanation of the conditions of the work and the payment. While there are many types available, such as the complex Canadian Construction Documents Committee contracts (CCDC), in most circumstances a brief letter of agreement will suffice.

To be binding, the agreement must meet a few basic conditions and clearly state the following:

• The parties to the agreement.
• The name and permanent address of you, the client (if you and your partner are engaging the contractor together, be sure to include both names). If the work to be done is at a different location, include this address.
• The contractor’s company (or name) and address.
• What is being offered and accepted by the parties (all work must be legal in order for the contract to be valid).
• The price for the work that is being offered.
• A timeline for when the work will be completed.
• The parties must be of legal age and sound mind, and attest to that fact.
• The signature of each party involved, and the date.

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To reduce the kind of problems that can arise from differences of interpretation, ensure the agreement is simple, clear and concise. In one or two pages, your contract should clearly state what is being agreed upon. Avoid signing contracts where language is vague, such as “supply and build a retaining wall’. This wording makes it possible for you and your landscape contractor to have a very different understanding of what this wall will look like. However, if the contract states “supply and build a 0.85 m high basalt dry stack retaining wall running approximately 4 m, as depicted in the drawing attached”, there is much less room for inference, and disagreement. Make sure your contractor states, within the contract, all the work his or her company is providing for the job, including materials and labour, so you know what to expect.

In addition you have the right to expect that any company offering to do work, and its workers, have the skills to provide the quality of work expected of the trade. Do not agree to do something that will not meet the expected standards of the trade (for more on the BC Landscape Standard, go to As the work progresses, you can always request and agree to make changes to the contract, but as with the original letter of agreement, it is best to get these changes noted in writing. The original contract should explain the conditions under which changes are permitted to be made, and this explanation should be fair and reasonable for both you the homeowner, and for the company that is accomplishing the work.

Contracts do not have to be complicated to provide protection for you and for the landscape contractor. Letters of agreement are useful tools for communicating what work will be done, for what price and by when. Just by checking that your contract meets these simple guidelines, you can protect yourself from unwanted and uncomfortable “that isn’t what I meant” conversations that might impair the working relationship between you and your landscape professional.

BCLNA does not intend this to be a substitute for proper legal advice, and strongly recommends questions be directed to appropriate legal council. BCLNA cannot be held liable for any issues that may arise between client and contractor as a result of this information.