You know how it works. Landscape maintenance programs typically consist of a calendar of events that include: mowing, trimming, weeding, tree pruning, fertilization, herbicide applications and irrigation checks. Standard landscape maintenance scopes offer anywhere from 36 – 48 annual visits depending on what level of service is needed. These calendars are meant to provide comfort to minds and a belief that this work will make the property meet the expectations of all of the “shareholders”. But when you look at the fine print you will see something like the schedule is subject to change based on weather, conflicts, and judgements of the provider.
“Shareholders” can be the tenants, their visitors, prospective tenants, prospective tenant’s representatives, and the property owners; you know who yours are. Everyone wants and needs to believe the landscape will be maintained to a certain level all year long. This provides significant challenges because of the uncontrollable variables involved: season changes, drought, above normal rainfall, disease, fungus, insects, soil conditions, and water conditions. These variables are constantly changing and the activities necessary to adapt are probably not listed on the calendar mentioned above.
Here is a story that reflects some problems: An office building has a prominent courtyard with nice areas of St. Augustine turf. Over time, the grass goes from great to thinning, with some areas turning brown. Then weeds start showing up. The landscape maintenance scope of services has been followed very closely. The property manager receives a negative email from a tenant, then a phone call from a tenant representative after a showing. Both saying that things do not look right. Worried, the property manager reports the issue to the landscape account manager. The landscape company diagnoses the issue as a fungal problem and quotes a price for the treatment. The treatment is implemented and the grass continues to show strain. The property manager continues to get complaints, and over time everyone just learns to live with the issue – believing that this is just way this property looks. Excuses include: the trees have grown, therefore there is not enough sun, the St. Augustine should be replaced, the weather just has been too tough to expect healthy turf in this area. All of these thoughts were WRONG, but it is now assumed the displeasure has to be tolerated.
What the heck? You are paying real money to live with dreariness? Everyone involved trusted the standard scope of services for way too long! The thought of “staying with the devil I know” and the common fear of change was working against everyone. Later, a new landscape company is hired, soil and water tests were done, and simple adjustments away from fertilization to soil amendments were implemented and things improved quickly at almost no change to the budget.
When Landscape Management is being considered, anyone that is looking at your property should have a basic understanding of the “shareholder’s” expectations and some history (what has gone well and not well). Ask for recommendations on the way to accomplish this charge. Budgets are needed and beneficial. Make sure you get an accurate understanding of the costs necessary to make things look right to all shareholders. Have an open mind when it comes to the schedule, every landscape company does things differently. Most of the time there is more than one way to achieve a result. Ask for references and testimonials, then make sure to follow up on these!
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