All Posts by Amy Cuneo

8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper

Is your Landscaper properly qualified, licensed, experienced and insured? Here’s everything you need to know before hiring them.

You’ve been dreaming of making over your outdoor area for years and you’re finally ready to put your big plans into action. Searching online for a Landscaper near you or asking for a recommendation on Facebook is a great start, but you shouldn’t hire the first person that pops up on your screen. 

Before engaging any landscape contractor, you need to make sure they’re fit for the job and you’ll be covered if anything goes wrong. Here are eight important questions to ask before you commit to working with them.

1. Are you qualified?

Landscapers must complete one of the following qualifications to obtain a licence to perform landscaping in NSW:

  • AHC30916/ AHC30910 Certificate III in Landscape Construction, or
  • RTF30403 Certificate III in Horticulture (Landscape), or
  • RUH30498 Certificate III in Horticulture (Landscape) TAFE course #0672, or
  • Certificate III in Landscaping TAFE course #1581

FC Hortcare Landscaping owner Steve Cuneo holds a Cert III in Landscape Construction and a Cert III in Retail Nursery. All of the FC Hortcare Pty Ltd team are appropriately qualified or are apprentices who are obtaining their qualifications on the job.

2. Are you licensed?

Residential Landscapers are required to be licensed for Structural Landscaping or Building by NSW Fair Trading. You can ask your Landscaper for their Contractor Licence Number or search for the name of their company on the Service NSW Public Register.

On the Public Register, you’ll find the landscaping company’s licence number, whether their licence is current, their history of insured work and whether they’ve ever been issued any public warnings or made any insurance claims. FC Hortcare Landscaping Pty Ltd’s Public Register profile shows that licence number 306409C is current and the company has a squeaky clean track record. 

3. Are you fully insured?

We can’t stress the importance of this question enough. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your landscaping project, your Landscaper should have the appropriate insurance cover to protect and compensate you. But most of the covers aren’t compulsory, so make sure to ask!

Here are five types of insurance your Landscaper should have:

  • Public liability insurance: If your property is damaged or someone is injured as a result of the work, your Landscaper will be covered by this insurance. You could be liable for damages if your Landscaper doesn’t have it because you own the property.
  • Professional indemnity insurance: This insurance covers your Landscape Designer if they’re negligent or make a mistake that is costly for you.
  • Contract works insurance: If there is loss or damage to materials or the work due to theft, fire, floods, storms or other circumstances, contract works insurance will cover you.
  • Home building compensation cover (HBC): HBC is compulsory for any residential projects over $20,000 (including GST). It will protect you if your Landscaper is unable to finish the work or fix defects because they’ve become insolvent, had their licence suspended, disappeared or died.

    There is a stringent application process to gain approval for this insurance – the business must have sound financials to obtain it. Many smaller landscaping businesses don’t have HBC, so ask to see the insurance certificate before you sign the contract.
  • Workers compensation insurance: All your Landscaper’s employees should be covered for workers compensation or you could be liable if one of them is injured. It’s important to ensure that you’re engaging a reputable company with sound OH&S and HR practices. 

FC Hortcare Landscaping holds all these types of insurance, including HBC for large projects.

4. How much experience do you have?

Even if your Landscaper ticks all the boxes in terms of qualifications, licensing and insurance, they might be new to the game. A highly experienced landscaping company is much more likely to produce top-quality work and avoid costly mistakes and delays.

The FC Hortcare Landscaping team has over 70 years of combined landscaping experience and over 100 years of combined landscaping and nursery experience. That’s right – we also own Plant Trade Nursery in Anna Bay and we can provide expert plant advice along with some of the best plants available!

5. How much will it cost?

Just say no to an informal verbal quote! Make sure your Landscaper sends you a detailed written quote to ensure you have a record of it and understand the breakdown of costs.

Our team will come to your house to evaluate the scope of the work and send you a free, no-obligation quote. Our cost breakdown is clearly outlined for full transparency. If you have any questions about our quote, we’re always happy to answer them.

6. Will we sign a contract?

Under the Home Building Act 1989, any job for which the cost of labour and materials is more than $5000 requires a written contract.

We’re stringent about meeting all the legal requirements for every job we undertake. You can rest assured that your rights will be protected with our industry-standard contracts.

7. How much deposit will I have to pay?

The Home Building Act 1989 states that the maximum deposit you can be required to pay before the work starts is 10 percent. If the job is over $20,000 and is required to be covered by HBC, your Landscaper isn’t legally entitled to ask you for a deposit until they’ve shown you the Certificate of Insurance. You can check the validity of their HBC insurance certificate here.

You’ve probably guessed by now that we follow all these protocols for every job we do!

8. How long will it take to complete the work?

Ask your potential Landscaper when they can start the work, how long it will take and if delays are possible due to material supply or staffing issues. It’s no secret that the unexpected can happen, but your Landscaper should take all eventualities into account. 

It’s also worth asking your Landscaper about the size of the team that will be working on your project. A one-man operation may take six months or more to complete the same job a team of Landscapers can complete in a matter of weeks.

It can become frustrating to live in a construction environment for an extended period and the timeframe can easily blow out further if your Landscaper becomes unwell. With FC Hortcare’s extensive team of Landscapers, you can avoid these frustrations.

We also have a proven track record of providing realistic deadlines for our projects and achieving them. We will do everything in our power to ensure your job runs smoothly and on time – and, most of all, that you’re happy with the final result.

Need a landscaping quote?

Our expert landscaping team is fully qualified, licensed, experienced and insured. Contact Steve today for a free, no-obligation quote on 0423 173 360 or

FC Hortcare Partners with The Design Hub to Create Epic Gardens

The leading landscaping company has added CAD designs for council submissions to its portfolio of garden design services.

FC Hortcare and Design Hub Garden Design

FC Hortcare has joined forces with leading full-service design agency The Design Hub to bring more quality and value to its clients than ever before. Adding to its extensive range of in-house garden design services, FC Hortcare will now offer clients computer-aided design (CAD) models in 2D and 3D.

“CAD models are essential for council submissions and they provide us with the technical specifications we need for landscape construction,” says FC Hortcare founder Steve Cuneo. “We’re thrilled to partner with The Design Hub to tackle an even wider range and size of residential and commercial projects in the Port Stephens, Newcastle and Hunter regions.”

With its wealth of experience in building and landscape design, The Design Hub will help FC Hortcare bring its conceptual garden designs to life. “We do concept designs for projects ranging from back decks and alfresco areas to full homes and developments,” says The Design Hub Director and Principal Designer Paula Hardwood.

“Our garden designs can include hard landscaping features like pathways, driveways, decking areas, feature screening and fire pits. They can also include soft landscaping such as garden beds, edgings, screening plants, trees and shrubs.”

By joining forces, The Design Hub and FC Hortcare will be able to make homeowners’ wildest dreams come true. “We’ll combine our strengths when it comes to creating the design and liaising with the client for those really specific and complex needs that can be both on a practical level as well as feelings that can be hard to put into words,” says Paula. “We’re really looking forward to partnering with FC Hortcare to create incredible gardens for their clients!”

FC Hortcare will continue to offer in-house garden design

While this exciting new partnership will allow FC Hortcare to take on large-scale garden design projects that require council submissions, the leading landscaping company will still offer the same in-house garden design services it has provided for over 25 years in Sydney, Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Hunter.

“We understand that not all our customers have big budgets to completely overhaul and rebuild their outdoor areas,” says Steve. “Our in-house garden design experts will continue to create amazing designs for gardens of all sizes and to suit any budget. No project is too big or too small.”

With over 100 years of combined landscaping and nursery experience encompassing sister company Plant Trade Nursery, FC Hortcare has an unparalleled level of expertise when it comes to choosing the best plants and materials for their customers’ gardens and ensuring they thrive. “We can source high-quality plants ranging from tropicals and natives to rare plants like dragon trees, along with a huge array of gardening and landscaping materials and accessories,” says Steve.

FC Hortcare offers an extensive range of landscaping and garden maintenance services to cover all its customers’ residential and commercial needs. They include:

  • Landscape construction
  • Paving
  • Decking
  • Retaining walls
  • Concrete resurfacing
  • Poolscaping
  • Turf installation
  • Earthmoving
  • Hedging and pruning
  • Irrigation 

About FC Hortcare

FC Hortcare’s team of experienced, qualified, licensed and insured landscapers have over 100 years of combined industry experience. Since 2006, we have transformed thousands of residential and commercial properties across New South Wales.