Who should I hire?
We wish one of the answers could be "Hire Us!" already, but becoming a legitimate business takes time and money. We will be fully licensed, bonded and insured before 2015 is over. That is a goal we've set for ourselves.
In the meantime, be careful who you hire. Not everybody who will offer to help you is actually a legal business. It's a nationwide problem, but especially in the Southwest, there are a lot of 'fly by night' and 'shadetree' landscapers and gardeners out there. We could probably get away with it too, but we refuse to be part of the problem and it certainly isn't worth it if you get caught.
When considering hiring someone, ask to see their business license and write the number down. Then, look it up on your state's Secretary of State's website. Nevada's is here for example: https://www.nvsilverflume.gov/businessSearch
If you don't see the business in their list, don't hire them. If they are reluctant to show your their license or say they don't have it on them, don't hire them. They are required by law to carry a copy of it all the time and besides, they ought to be proud to be a legit business anyway if they really are one.
Also ask for references of previous customers. A person trying to drum up business ought to know enough to carry such things and some sort of 'brag book' with pictures of previous projects to impress you with. Ask for a phone number or email address of at least two of their references so that you can talk to them yourself. If they won't do that, suspect that these 'references' are not legit either. If they are just getting started, you might be their first customer. If that's the case, hire them for a small project that won't cost a lot and see how they do before hiring them to do your whole place, especially if they want you to sign up for a regular maintenance contract or something.
Taking these steps can save you a lot of headaches later on. Most of the time, gardening and landscaping projects go off without any major hitches (it's rare that they turn out perfectly like you expect, but after all, we are working with living things like plants, soil microbes etc. and difficult to predict weather here), but just in case the project is a total failure, it's important that you are dealing with a real company so that you can take legal action if needed. Of course, a landscaper or gardener with any professional pride will do what they can to make it right without a lawsuit, but you know how it is these days with some people. When a lot of money is involved, you can't be too careful.