My father came out to visit a few days ago, and he was struck by how bleak Norfolk can look in December. In a couple of months, many of the bare trees will look stately – almost elegant. But now, many trees that looked wonderful in the fall don’t look so good. Despite the fact that it’s almost winter, trees are giving up their leaves reluctantly, ensuring that walkways and parking lots stay difficult to keep neat and tidy.
I realized that Norfolk doesn’t look bleak or grey so much as it looks a little unkempt this time of year. When people aren’t heading out for some last-minute Christmas shopping or a holiday get-together, they’re staying indoors. People aren’t taking the time to keep things neat, to smartly pick up little pieces of trash and debris. Brown leaves are blowing about. Lawns are filled with ugly thatch and the occasional brown spots where leaves were allowed to press down on the grass for too long.
I can understand why people don’t want to do a lot of yard work this time of year. I don’t either. While I look for excuses to stay outdoors in the spring or summer, now I’m looking for reasons to stay in. They’re easy to find: It’s cold. It’s dark. I’m busy. It’s football season, and I’d rather watch a game than collect the leaves that have gathered under my shrubs. But I do want a neat yard. I decided it was time to find a landscaping and lawn care company to help out this winter.
I knew that a couple of my neighbors used landscaping companies. Both of their yards looked good – even now, when everyone else’s was looking a little haggard. Two different landscapers were performing the work, and my neighbors were kind enough to provide recommendations and contact information for both.
Before calling either company, I looked them up online to see what else I could find. Mostly I wanted to make sure that the online reviews didn’t provide any red flags. Thankfully, they didn’t, but it always pays to look. I also noticed another landscaper that got promising reviews – another prospect for me to check out.
Now it was time for a quick phone call to each landscaper. My mission was simple: I wanted to make sure that these were well-established companies. I wanted to get a sense of the professionalism of the company – one I would get just from talking to whomever picked up the phone. And I wanted to get a bi-weekly rate. I figured the rates would be about the same, and anything too low or too high would be a red flag. As it turned out, there weren’t any red flags to be seen – but only one of Norfolk’s landscaping companies would get my business.
What finally won out was the rapport I had with the owner of one of the companies. I got the feeling that he was someone I could trust to get the job done right. I thought that – if his landscaping crews did well enough – I’d keep using them even after the grey of winter gives way to the green of spring. I don’t mind yard work in the springtime, but I think I’ll find plenty of other excuses to stay outside.