I want my yard to look great, so how do I find a reliable gardener?
— Yard Envy Eric, Goleta
You go to your neighbor’s house for a BBQ and notice the immaculate garden. The grass is neat, the roses are stunning, and the hedges are impeccably sharp. “Who is your gardener?” you ask, and then get a Spanish name with phone number written down on a napkin. Now what?
Independent gardeners are usually found through word-of-mouth, and the work is typically negotiated through a casual spoken contract. You call the guy up, he shows up at your door, and you show him your property. The contract can be negotiated weekly, biweekly, or monthly for a flat fee. Usually the gardener shows up, does the work, and leaves the bill under the door mat.
The price depends on the nature of the work, but “un buen jardinero cuesta” approximately $30 to $40 an hour. Overall maintenance can range from $150 per month for a small lawn and hedge trim, weed removal and watering, up to $3,000 or more for bigger properties.
If you want a garden make over, a good gardener can help you select what kind of plants, size, and price works best for you. He will offer a packaged price including materials/labor and usually hire an assistant gardener or team depending on the job. Remember that these guys have all the equipment, the expertise, and work fast in the hot blazing sun. They work hard, and make your garden look “chingón” (hard to translate, but it’s a good thing).
Gustavo Uribe is a fifth generation agricultural specialist who has worked as a professional gardener in Santa Barbara for more than 30 years. Send your gardener questions to Gustavo@independent.com.